Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


22 April, 2009

We’re been having a few thunderstroms recently in Chirpan and they’ve knocked out the internet in my apartment. This, of course, is nothing new. My LAN cable goes out through a drilled hole in my window frame and up to the roof. Yep. Just a regular old cable. Exposed. On the roof. As soon as I get the internet back at home, I’ll post about my expirences at Rila over the Bulgarian Orthodox Easter last Sunday. Do skoro!



17 April, 2009

The LPI, which stands for “Language Proficiency Test” is the test Peace Corps Volunteers take to get their language skills ranked and rated. There are a total of ten levels. In order to “pass” training, volunteers must get a score of at least “3” (Novice High). This rating varies from post to post but the standard is “4” (Intermediate Low). Bulgaria is lower because Bulgarian is a tougher language than say, French.

I’m writing about the LPI because last week I took the test again for the first time since MSC (Mid-Service Conference) in September. At that point, I had stalled at Intermediate Medium (“5”), the ranking I received at IST (In Service Training) in February of 2008. They say you need at least three month before advancing levels. What do these levels mean? Out side of completing PST (Pre-Service Training, the first thee months of PC service; before you become a volunteer) not much. Though if you plan on going to grad school, a government language assessment usually gets you out of the requirements. I took it again to see my progress as well as fulfill this prerequisite at my grad school.

I surprised myself and receive “Advanced Low” (“7”). The questions got much tougher. No more “describe what you do every day”. I got questions like “do you think Bulgaria entered the EU too early?”, “What can Bulgarians to do fight corruption?”. Yeah, no fluff there.

The description of “Advanced Low” do a really good job describing how  feel about my Bulgarian: Fluency within certain areas (for me this would be describing life in the US, my work, what I do everyday, etc) but trailing off with an expected twist or complex topic (say, how to defeat corruption in Bulgaria).

All in all, I’m impressed with how far my language has improved. I’ve gone from “I am a banana” to “I believe in some areas, Bulgaria joined the EU too early”. And this from a guy who too 12 semesters of Spanish.

So, for the B-25s fretting about the Bulgarian language: just worry about the Cyrillic alphabet for now (which, once you get the hang of, is super easy). The rest will be beaten into you. There is no escaping that. Also, you’re going to make an ass of yourself. Every day. The sooner you accept that, the more confident you’ll become and the faster you’ll be able to speak.

Quote of the Day

13 April, 2009

Jimmy, are you coming to our party?
Sure! When is it?
Whenever we make it.

I love this country

Quote of the Day

17 December, 2008

Diyado: “Are you going to the bar?”
Me: “No, to the store”
D: “Why aren’t you going to the bar?”
M: “I have to go grocery shopping”
D: “I think you should go to a bar”
M: “I had some rakia with dinner at the Flamingo last night”
D: “That was last night”
M: “I plan on buying some vodka from the store”
D: “Eeeeeeehooooooo!”

Double whammie!

“I can’t come this weekend because I have to kill a pig”-a fellow B-22

Back in ‘Murka

27 November, 2008

Dispatches from the free world to follow shortly


28 August, 2008

I’m back in Bulgaria from my annual leave in Austria and Slovenia as well as Peace Corps related work. I’ll post photos and stories when I get some free time. Stay tuned!

My Bulgarian Barometer

18 March, 2008

From time to time I get a gauge to see how far my Bulgarian has progressed. This also just happens to be the exact same time I get my haircut, which works out well. I’ve been going to the same place to get a new ‘do since I moved to Chirpan. The first time I went there, I needed the help of a colleague to help set up an appointment and tell the hairdresser how I wanted it cut. The second time I went there unassisted, but mumbled foolishly and pointed to her date book when I wanted to set it up. The previous time things went more smoothly and I chatted with her about my upcoming projects. “Malko po malko” (little by little) as they say here. Yesterday, I swung by her place and causally asked if she had any free time to make an appointment for me tomorrow. It was after I left that I realized how that conversation have been impossible months ago. It also put in perspective how far I’ve come in eight meager months (eight months already!?). She remembered that my brother and uncle had visited last week. As she cut my hair, I recounted my exploits with them; all the cities we visited, people we met and things we did. We also talked about the weather, the problems facing the country and my wanting to buy a tv to help me improve my language. She’s a wonderful lady who does a fantastic job. I am pleased to hear that every time I get my haircut, she tells me that my Bulgarian is improving. Month by month, I’m making strides with this terrifically difficult language.

Group Blog!

7 March, 2008

Several B-22 who keep up-to-date with their blogs and I have started a group blog. Each of us will write about a subject once a week. You can find it here: B-22 Blogstars. You’ll be able to get a more expansive overview of culture in Bulgaria as well as mindless drabble from B-22s. Either way, it should be an interesting read.

Won’t be around for a bit

10 February, 2008

I’m headed out the door to In-Service Training (or IST) in Hissar. I’m sure it’ll be largely redundant but at the very least it will be good to see my fellow 22s again. I’ll be back on Friday. Дo sкoрo!!

And Everything Else

28 January, 2008

On Friday, I went to Stara Zagora to have dinner with two PCVs who live there. I planned on taking the 21:30 bus back.  However the bus station was closed so I headed back and met up with them again. We stayed at a bar until my train at 1am. There was a cover band there that was really good. His English while singing was excellent but I don’t know if he could speak much. When he sang a British song, he got an English accent and when he sang Lynard Skynard, he got a Southern accent. The packed with drunk Brits. Like, they couldn’t stand up, they were so drunk.