Monday, August 27, 2007

From Plovdiv to Veliko Turnovo

Plovdiv is a really neat city in Bulgaria. Maybe neat isn’t the right word, it sounds a little 60's cliche, but I enjoyed my stay. There are a lot of remnants from the time of the Roman emperor in the city, and it was beautiful to see these remains next to the modern buildings. Plovdiv is the second biggest city in Bulgaria, and it is another city I could see myself living in; it is big, but not too overwhelming; cosmopolitan, yet ancient. All in all, an exciting city. It is also a college town, so there are a lot of young people in the city. I also like that there are less people that know English. I was able to practice my Bulgarian with the Plovdivians, and at one point, had a two hour period in which I did not use any English whatsoever.
Of course, at the hostel, English is once again the language of choice. There were people from all over the world, but once again the default was English. Our receptionist had an amazing grasp on the language, and working at a hostel must be great for language acquisition. I really like hostels, and am considering working at one in Prague. I’m not sure if I could balance school with the long hours, but it is a great way to meet people from all around the world.
I’m beginning to realize that Bulgarians are not very serious about their education. My friend Marjan said that when she went abroad, she enrolled in some classes but didn’t attend. Regardless, she was able to get a 5.5 out of 6 and pass the class. I’ve talked to Bulgarians who don’t take their education as seriously as it is taken in the US or Western Europe. For example, the hostel manager said that she skipped all of her classes that she wasn’t interested in, but it didn’t matter and she was still able to pass the classes. The style is quite different and a lot less effective. However, it is possible that they learn more about the subjects they enjoy... I’m not sure.
Yesterday, I took a bus, with my new Australian friends who are traveling Eastern Europe, from Plovdiv back to Veliko Tarnovo. The ride was gorgeous; we passed through the Balkan Mountains and the ride was very calming, though a bit bumpy. It took 6 hours, but when we finally arrived in VT, it felt like I was returning home. The town is still kind of weird since the departure of all the students at the seminar, but it is nice to be in a familiar location.

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