Back in Bulgaria

Coming back home was a much needed vacation and it felt absolutely fantastic to my family again. It also gave me an opportunity to see America from a new perspective and understand how much I’ve changed (as well as much I’ve missed certain foods. Never would have guessed pancakes and bacon would have been so high on that list).
An American breakfast institution
Some of it was predictable and some surprising. At the very least, I am not the same person I was when I embarked on this adventure. I feel as if I’ve shed a part of me, a weaker part of me, by living at the standards of another society and becoming woven into the culture of another community different than my own. Granted, this integration isn’t nearly as intense as a PCV in a small tribal village in Africa or the Middle East (where, no matter how hard I could try, my skin color would betray my origin. In Bulgaria, I have often been mistaken as a Bulgarian).

Regardless, I still stood in awe -for several minutes- in the cereal aisle of the grocery store. How can any make a decision with so many options!? It felt comfortable going to stores I was familiar with, like Target. I always knew that such places where full of crap. Useless and trivial plastic crap. But now I had a heightened sense of it. This is coupled with being able to overhear and completely understand conversations after easily tuning out Bulgarian for 16 months. It seemed everyone in these stores were babbling on about nothing while buying clutter for their homes. It was a bit too much to handle, especially in the midst of the holiday shopping orgy.

Another thing I noticed was how detached I felt from my community. Granted, St. Louis is much much larger than Chirpan. However, when you live life in a pedestrian neighborhood/town like I do in Bulgaria and walk everywhere, you have a greater sense of belonging to that community. You get stopped on the street to chat with friends, you see people and notice changes on your route to work, the market, the cafe. In Suburbia, you sit and watch your community pass you by. You are left alone and disconnected from the world around you.

Despite noticing these aspects of American life, my return home was overwhelmingly positive. I had a wonderful time and it reminded me how thankful I am to have been born in a country with so many opportunities granted to me. I am lucky and proud to be an American

A short run down of other things I enjoyed/disliked about my return home:

Likes

  • Enjoying familiar food!
    Mom and Grandma’s homemade cooking! Sushi! Bar food! real pizza! Thai food! Mexican food! Real hamburgers! Dr. Pepper! Blueberry bagels! The list goes on!
  • Flushing toilet paper
    On more than one occasion I looked for a trash can. That habit is deeply ingrained.
  • Speaking English
    A huge plus. It was nice know what exactly was going on around me, not just a “rough estimation”
  • Being able to drive
    I was worried I’d forgotten how to. Turns out, it’s like riding a bike
  • Seeing friends and family
    Nothing can match this
  • My bed
    Despite owning a really nice bed in Bulgaria, nothing beats the bed you grew up in
  • Everything being easy
    Life in America is easy. I appreciate that more than ever.
  • Central heating
    After living in a freezer box last winter, this invention holds a special place in my heart

Dislikes:

  • Overwhelming
    Landing in Chicago was very overwhelming and surreal at first. So many sights and sounds. Having complete clarity with my surroundings.
  • Overhearing trivial/frivolous conversations
    My flight from Chicago to St. Louis was full of college students. I overheard several frat party stories. I also went to a mall.
  • Seeing lots of plastic crap for sale
  • Seeing lots of people buy said plastic crap

Pics from my Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving
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