Showing posts from July, 2018

Missing You, Part 1

Just before breakfast, we received this WeChat message from Julia, who has now safely returned to Shenzhen from the USA.
This morning, when I took Diudiu for a walk, she insisted to go to the direction of your apartment in SZ. I let her keep walking until the exit of metro station, but she still wanted to go downstairs and keep walking to your place. Then I told her Uncle Simon and Auntie Irena weren’t there because they went back to Bulgaria. She seemed like understood what I’m talking about and she looked very upset. I think she must miss you guys so much.
And in case you were wondering what has been happening in Downton Abbey, it's all over between Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham, Carson has proposed, Robert has guessed that Marigold is Edith's daughter and Anna has been released from prison.

The Elephant and the Umbrella

The Elephant Bookshop is going to be one of my favourite places in Sofia. Well, I have only been there once. It's welcoming, friendly, quirky and full of reasonably-priced and very readable English language books. Nothing by P.J. O'Rourke, alas, but I left my umbrella behind and so that means that I will have to go back there again. (That sounds a bit like throwing a coin into the Trevi fountain in Rome. There was also the curious story about the RAF pilot who left his brush and comb in a London hotel. Years later, when the war was over, he went back to the hotel and there was his brush and comb set.)
English bookshops are few and far between in Bulgaria. Most of the BG bookshops do not have any English books at all or maybe a few worthy but dull classics.

So why was I in the Elephant Bookshop? Because I am going to be spending 13 hours (not 17, as I mistakenly wrote in a previous post) in an airport in Moscow. 13 hours instead of 17. It is a bit like telling a condemned man tha…

Learning the Lingo

A few months ago I wrote a piece for my blog about learning Mandarin, Character Building. Now I am going to write something about learning Bulgarian. I remember that I had a CD and a little book called Easy Peasy Mandarin. It probably is part of a series: Easy Peasy Brain Surgery, Easy Peasy Rocket Science and Easy Peasy Quantum Mechanics. Well, compared to learning Mandarin, learning Bulgarian really is easy, but then again learning just about any language would be easy, compared to Mandarin. So what makes Bulgarian (relatively) easy?
Well, first of all, there is an alphabet. Yes, okay, some of the letters are not the same because an H in Bulgarian is X, whereas an N is an H! The “ya” sound is made by a letter that looks like an R but it is the wrong way round, while the Bulgarian “S” sound is written like a C. While the Bulgarian alphabet is supposed to be based on the Greek letters, some things have been changed a bit over the years. So, yes, the alphabet is a bit of a problem, but …

The Fruits of Our Labours, Part 1

Yes, here it is. A real Russian visa! With the news about the poisoning in Salisbury still making the headlines, I was a bit worried that the Russian authorities would not allow British citizens to go to the Crimea, but hey ho! As well as the hassle of getting the Bulgarian residency cards, the Russian visas cost us 100 euros each, plus two trips into Sofia and the medical insurance (in addition to the medical insurance we already have for Bulgaria). In order to apply for the visas in the first place, Papa (my father-in-law) had to complete (and pay for) a special invitation and then we had to fill in two very long online visa application forms and print them out. When we get to Moscow, we will have a long taxi ride between the two different airports and that will not be cheap either!

On the subject of fruit, a neighbour from across the road heard Zlatka complaining to Irena. It seems that I may have broken the window of her old Lada three years ago, when she gave me a lift into Dragom…

Heaven and Einhell

I have written quite a few “Bad BG” posts and so it is time to look at some of the GOOD things about retiring in Bulgaria. Why should anyone choose SE Europe? Why not retire in the UK or France or Spain?

First of all, retirement means less time in school, not taking piles of papers and exercise books home to be marked over the weekend and no end-of-semester reports to be written in the educational gobbledygook and jargon that most parents will never understand. In a nutshell, retirement means less work and more time for me to spend with Irisha, doing the things that we want to do.
In her blog, Auntie Bulgaria, Claire Ruston points out that Bulgaria has to be one of the cheapest places in Europe because property here is so inexpensive, yet it is only a three-hour flight from the UK. Because Bulgaria is in the EU but it is not in the euro, prices are lower. (Quite a lot of Bulgarians I have spoken to recently seem to be convinced that prices are going to shoot up when BG really does adop…

A Letter from Ladygirl

I seem to be spending a lot of time writing to other teachers who have contacted me through the TES. Well, it is good to be able to help. I am going to include this message from “Ladygirl” because it might be helpful for other teachers who are thinking of making the move into international schools. Hi, 

Congratulations on your retirement! 

I'm sorry I am just replying. I am still learning how the details of the forum, etc. 

Yes, I have seen many of your posts in fact! I have been doing a lot of research on teaching abroad. 

In talking to my husband, we are probably going to wait 5 years to teach abroad. The reason being the county we teach in will pay for 60% of our health insurance if we wait 5 years to retire with 20 years in Virginia. One has to have their health insurance! We are thinking of teaching for 10 years and then returning to the states as we own a farm here. 

I have noticed that some prefer the International American Schools over the British schools. Why is this? Does one …

E-mails from Emily

As regular readers of my blog will already know, I also write (under my nom de plume, "the hippo") a few bits and pieces for The Times Educational Supplement. This means that sometimes one or two TES readers write to me for advice. Emily was rather worried about her work visa for her new school in the UK.

I was hoping you could advise me about what to expect or request in an unexpected situation.  I am freaking out over this, and am in an Eastern European country where I taught for the past 5 years: my colleagues all went home for the summer, and I stayed in a school apartment I have to leave at the end of July.  I thought I had a job lined up, but it looks like I don't.  I don't know who to talk to about this, and I'm sick with worry.  
This is complicated, so I'll number the events to make it easier to follow.
1.  I went to the Search fair in January.  I was thrilled to get an offer from a school in the UK.  It is an American international school, and I …