When I arrived in Stara Zagora, it was very cold and snowy. It was actually colder than usual. But my welcome to Bulgaria and the organisation was very warm, so I felt directly welcome.
Directly at the first evening of my stay, I was taken out for dinner, we went to a Bulgarian restaurant, which was very nice. And it was the first time I met my mentors. The next day I started my project. I worked in the office preparing teaching materials and I helped with some English lessons. My apartment is in a hotel, and was much more modern than I expected. But because it was in a hotel, there wasn’t really a ‘homey ambiance.’ To make my apartment more as a home, I tried to make it more personal, by making paintings, buying plants, and more stuff like that. After two weeks, Lydia, an other Dutch volunteer arrived, and now we living together. We have made our home more cozy in the last few weeks. And right-now it feels a bit like home, where we cook together while singing songs, watch series in the evening, talk about our work together and make plans to explore Bulgaria. Since two weeks we also started to do yoga and folk dancing, which is really nice. It is great fun and good for our health at the same time! And the Bulgarian folk music is very energetic.
The work I am doing here is diverse.
We scan old books in the library or work in the office. We teach English to orphan kids on Saturdays which is really rewarding and nice work to do, because the children really want to learn English. Furthermore, we go twice a week to a village school in Dalboki. The kids here are very nice and enthusiastic (and very noisy), they are 12-14 years old, and they really like it when we come to them. They like to give you hugs and talk to you (mostly in Bulgarian). Because they have so much energy, we always try to start with some simple energizers. After that we do some handicrafts, or now when the weathers getting better, we play outside games with them, so they can run and jump around.
I also went a few times to a math high school to encourage the 8th graders to talk English. We do some games and make discussions with them. Sometimes they are very motivated and almost everybody participates and sometimes there is no motivation at all, so you have to be very active all the time.
I love spring is coming now. With a little sunshine Stara Zagora comes alive and becomes more beautiful. I cannot wait for the parks to turn green and see the first Martinitza s hanging in the trees. But so far I think it’s been fantastic, meeting a new culture and new people in a new city.