This blog is supposed to be all about Bulgaria, but for five years we were in Shenzhen, in southern China. That is the reason for the weird title, "Bulgaria with Noodles". In June of 2018, Irena and I left China and retired to Bulgaria, to our villa 60km north of Sofia and to our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. This blog is really all about some comparisons and contrasts between China and Bulgaria, two very different countries.
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 it is not a very big problem and a molehill compared to the linguistic
Mount Everest of learning all of those different characters in Mandarin.
Secondly, my dear Irisha is Russian and so she already
understands a lot of Bulgarian. The two languages are fairly similar and Irena
also has quite a good understanding of Ukrainian, which is even closer to
Bulgarian. In some cases, the words are more or less the same and it is just
one letter extra. Malako is milk in
Russian and it is mlako in Bulgarian.
Thirdly, a few years ago I bought two very helpful CDs,
produced by a company called Eurotalk. These CDs were a really good way to get
me started, with a lot of helpful Bulgarian vocabulary and phrases. Today I
also received a helpful and generous e-mail from the company that produced the
CDs. They are now Internet-based and have made an app that is even better than
the learning programs and language games on the CDs. What is more, the kind
customer support lady has given me credit for purchasing the CDs, so now I can
use the Bulgarian app for free! Anyway, have a look at the uTalk website: it
really is impressive and you will find it at www.utalk.com. Maybe I would even have made some real progress with my
Mandarin if I had used this app.
Now you are probably wondering why I have included this
photo of me wearing an apron and doing some cooking. I don’t know why, except
that, for some strange reason, ladies love to see silly photos of men in the
kitchen, wearing an apron. So here it is for just you, ladies. I hope you like
it and no, I am not going to include some photos of me doing flower arranging. (Oh, the things we bloggers have to do, in order to keep our readers happy!)
I promised you a big piece of news and here it is: I
have a new teaching job in Sofia, starting in January. Yes, yes, I do know that
I am supposed to be retired and in many ways I was looking forward to being
retired. Now, however, I miss the buzz of school life and there is not much for
us to do in Kalotina in the winter. On Monday I went for what was supposed to be an “informal
chat” with the headmaster of St. George’s School in Sofia. The photos on the
school website make the new school building look quite posh (and huge) and the
head also has quite a posh name, Justin Kilcullen-Nichols. The salary is not quite so impressive, alas, but the important thing is that we are going to get an apartment in
Sofia as part of the deal. There is no way that I can commute from Kalotina
each day. (It is at least an hour and a half’s drive from our house to the far
side of Sofia.)
St. George’s School is an amazing place. I have seen
quite a few schools over the last thirty-something years and I ha…
I seem to be getting more and more teachers contacting me through the TES.
. I messaged you recently on the TES forum
regarding moving to Shenzhen and you were kind enough to give me your email
address. I am Charlyrainbow23 I am trying to apply for the visa and I am
finding it difficult to get clarification on a few points and wondered if you
could help. Firstly, I have to obtaining a non-criminal record certificate
for the last 12 months, would a basic DBS suffice? We've only been in Tanzania
since last August and HR say I have to get one from the UK.
Thanks, Charlotte Here is my reply. Dear
am always glad to be of help. Please remember that my advice is just that:
advice. I am by no means infallible and sometimes I am not 100%
yes, I would try to get something from Tanzania. Go along to your local copshop
in Dar or Arusha or wherever you are and get an official-looking document from
the police. It should not cost much. It is just a sort of…
Even though we left Qatar more than five years ago, many teachers still contact me through the TES and ask me what it is like to teach there. Hi Hippo
I hope you don't mind me pre-emptively sending you a conversation about my job
GEMS Wellington Qatar have offered 13.5k which I think is reasonable for three
years' experience qualified (five including unqualified experience).
However, they are not offering medical insurance for my family nor are they
covering flights for them. At the interview, the Director intimated that my
family might even have to stay here in the UK while stuff like permits got
sorted out. My gut instinct tells me not to accept the offer as a result.
Also, I've heard Qataris can be quite racist towards non-white people. How true
is this? I've always fought against this sort of thing in the UK as an Asian
man and don't want any trouble when I go out to work.
Is the cost of living higher than Dubai or London? Obviously, I'd not have to