First 3 weeks in Sofia (So-fia)
Miracles do happen. Despite the world’s current visa-locks and travel restrictions, an amazing HR woman at our school got us “past the border” safely and securely into Sofia, Bulgaria. Without a hitch with three flights (BTV to DC, DC to Munich, Munich to the beautiful Sofia) and six checked bags. After our issues getting home from China, we were owed this convenience. We had paid our dues.
A welcoming team from the school met us at the airport and drove us to our school-approved apartment. The school stocked the fridge and cabinets (very sweet gesture), and the view of the epic Vitosha mountain welcomed us into our new place.
With two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a large living room, full kitchen (Grant FREAKED out when he saw TWO burners instead of one) and a balcony, we are happy as clams with the crib our school fixed for us. Within 24 hours, we had pinpointed a couple plumbing and electrical issues; symptoms that it’s been some time since another family lived here. Three weeks in, the kinks have been worked out and we are putting some homey touches around the place (photos, prayer flags, pizza stone, etc.).
When we arrived, we hit the ground running with a jam-packed full week of orientation to Sofia and its surroundings. We got to know the 12 other new international hires (quite a lovely bunch):
…and see some highlights of this country. I took MANY good notes as we toured through Sofia and Plovdiv; let me know if you need a tour 🙂 Through media, here is the week of orientation organized by the school:
Day 1: Free Sofia Tour & Lunch downtown
Day 2: Red Flat & History of Sofia Museum
Day 3: Hiking Mt. Vitosha & Watermill restaurant for dinner
Day 4: Plovdiv (city two hours away) – Lunch & Historical Tour
Day 5: Literary Tour of Sofia & Lunch
Since the completion of the orientation to the country, we have been full-on with an orientation of the school. Reminiscent of Elmira College (Alison’s alma mater), this campus is gorgeous, stoic, and well-manicured. A peaceful oasis from the highway and surrounding suburbs, we can see why there is a demand for on-campus faculty housing. We are a ten-minute walk to campus (past trash felines, 1 friendly Pomeranian and three other protective dogs).
Orientation to the school has been thorough related to the handbook, campus layout, who to go to for what, and technological methods for teaching.
This second week has been with returning teachers. What an inquisitive, helpful, and eclectic faculty! Grant and I have been beyond grateful for the returning teachers who have helped us get our bearings, sign into the school’s online grade book, bring us to local eateries, and go on jogs in the morning 🙂
This past Monday was Unification Day here in Bulgaria so we just had a three-day weekend! With this time, we explored downtown Sofia a bit more, had a small group of friends over for homemade pizza (yes, with the new stone and peel), got some schoolwork done, and figured out how to get food delivered through ebag (will be a must if we switch to online learning). Three-day weekend through photos:
One more week in pre-service as a full faculty awaits us. Kids arrive on the 15th. We are preparing for plans A-Zed – online, blended, or in the classroom. As of right now, we will start in the classroom (masks for ALL teachers and students, no questions asked, we were grateful to hear this during an all-faculty meeting last week). The Bulgarian ministry of education has the ultimate say regarding in-person or online. Currently, they say in-person. We feel confident/safe with this current decision due to the masks-on communication, safety plans, and other approaches the school is taking.
More updates soon! Peace, A&G