I am someone whose iPhone Notes app is a part of their personality. I record endless notes that act as an extension of my thoughts to help my brain feel a little less scattered and my life a little more organized. Recorded in these notes are: My grocery list (in order of where I will find them upon walking into my preferred grocery store), upcoming deadlines (the ones that are also listed in my calendar and on the fridge, but need their rightful place in the notes app as well), travel destinations (in no specific order), words I wished I had shared (whether in jest, in conflict, or in repair). Since my time in Sofia, I have been collecting a new list: What Can Happen in Twelve Weeks. This list contains thoughts I have had and my responses to them. I recognize

  1. Cyrillic is not an alphabet you are familiar with
    • You have since made the alphabet your phone background and will pause in front of signs until you decipher what they read
  2. Bulgarian is not a language you know
    • You have good morning, hello, and goodbye down
    • You still cannot read Bulgarian so after you finish translating signs you still need to translate them into English, but you have all day with nowhere to be and will happily use this time to learn sign by sign, translation by translation.
  3. Walks to/from work feel strange
    • You have been taking a new path to and from work since the beginning allowing you to become familiar with a large majority of Central Sofia. You may arrive sweating because some paths take “the scenic route” but any path not travelled is a wall of graffiti left unseen. So, you always make sure to take the scenic routes.
  4. The market is intimidating
    • It still is but now you are simply smiling your way through it. You have embraced the culture of vendors smoking under tents while selling you tomatoes the size of your head.
  5. Eating out alone is fine but feels like a chore to get yourself into the culture
    • This hasn’t changed.
    • You’ve shifted into not forcing yourself to go out to eat because after the second time you felt better continuing with your jars of homemade salads and sitting in parks with books.
  6. Eating salad out of a jar loses its novelty after week three.
    • Maybe even week two. Repetitive meals is the price you pay living alone to minimize food waste, and fresh food goes quickly in the Bulgarian heat.
  7. Grocery shopping is now my favourite activity
    • You have befriended a small grocer who sells fruits and vegetables and is friends with a small art space owner with whom you’ve become acquainted with.
  8. There is an abundance of urban green spaces.
    • No one sits in the grass here – I mean this. I have asked new friends and co-workers and people avoid the grass because it’s dirty. I am still sitting in the grass.
  9. The coffee shop I frequent knows my order and I have reached “the usual” status
    • No complaints here, this is a dream come true.
  10. The fig tree at your accommodation’s entrance is the most beautiful tree you have ever seen.
    • THE TREE HAS BEEN REMOVED! Luckily, you foraged leaves in time and can remember the tree when you are enjoying fig leaf tea.
  11. Reading and running are your two go-to free activities
    • It has been rewarding steer away from participating in a hyper-consumer driven world. It helps to know few people, cook at home for every meal, and not be tempted by signs that you cannot read without the effort of pausing and translating. Therefore, you read and you run.
  12. You have become introverted
    • Maybe you have always been an introvert? Maybe you feel most energized by a small few and those few are back home in Winnipeg. This is okay.
  13. Goodbyes are hard.
    • I have befriended the most generous people in Sofia. They have shown me the city, the country, the best low profile bars, and the locals-only restaurants. These goodbyes are hard. Dobre Zavaril.
  14. How will you bring everything you have learned (about law, Eastern Europe, and yourself) home?
    • TBD

I recognize this post is less conventional than those of my peers but this is how I have been functioning, thinking, and feeling over the course of twelve weeks. Thank you for joining me.