Last Thursday I finally met some other Americans in Sofia. Apparently there are four other Fulbrighters in Sofia; three of us are doing research and the other is an English Teacher Assistant (ETA). We met up downtown after I struggled through trying to watch a Bulgarian film without subtitles. The first girl I met, Katie, is here studying the Orthodox church. Her fiance is here as well, and they have a lot of travel plans. We talked about not really knowing exactly what we are supposed to be doing here and the difficulties of getting our research projects together. It is very helpful to know that I'm not the only one in this boat. Afterward, we met up with Kristin, Ellen, and Kate. Kristin majored in Psychology at Ohio State and is studying victims of sex slavery. Very intense subject. Ellen is the ETA in Sofia, and seems like a very pleasant and intelligent girl. Kate is living in the south. She is an ETA as well.
After a quick bite, we headed to a very fun bar called the Apartment. It pretty much was a huge apartment converted into a lounge/drinking area. Very unpretentious, very chill. It was a little hipstery, but in a fun way. I think it would make for a great bar idea in the states, but then again there are all those zoning issues in the good old USA that Bulgaria, for the most part, doesn't seem to care about.
We had a great conversation over some homemade wine, and I realized how much I need to work on my sign language. When Byeong-Hun gets here, I want to be able to translate what other speaking people are saying. Unfortunately, these new friends speak at a very collegiate level. I was trying to think how I would translate their conversation, and there were many instances where I knew it would take way too long to explain what they were saying. Katie and her boyfriend, Keith, expressed interest in learning sign language, so maybe I won't have to worry about being a translator. However, I'm sure to see all of the Fulbrighters throughout the year, so I need to brush up on my sign language hardcore, as well as continue studying Bulgarian.
I also finally ran into some Deaf people in Sofia. I was walking home, and noticed two older women using signs from afar. I approached and asked if they were Deaf and we had a very basic conversation. They were using Bulgarian sign language, and I can only slightly finger spell in BSL. However, we were able to communicate enough to be able to express where we lived, and what I was doing in Sofia. It amazes me the level of intercultural communication that Deaf communities have at their disposal, while, faced in a situation with a group of hearing people without a common language it would be very hard to communicate anything. Maybe this could be my next research project.