Bulgarian journey in Sitka, Alaska

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By Yulvie Izet, YES Bulgaria ’18

It’s already March and my journey in the states is fast approaching its end. Luckily, I have the opportunity to share with you some of my impressions before some of the enthusiasts among you come and have your own. It’s been…let me count them – 6,7 months since I arrived. Seven months of gradual development, friendships, delicious,non-plastic wrapped foods and many firsts. Who’d know that the combo of fish and cheese isn’t deadly?

To be honest I promised my English teacher before I came here that I’ll try and keep a journal with all the new kinaesthetic and semantic discoveries I make,however I got caught up in the melody of the American dream and lost track of what I’ve done so far.

Undeniably, there were hardships initially. It is very courageous of you to fly to the other end of the world and take on a journey with people you’ve never seen before. The first two weeks I was still jet lagged and confused- How should I start conversations? Will I ever make friends? Does my host family like having me?

All these questions flooded my mind, once I landed in Sitka, Alaska last August. You’ve probably never heard of it, have you? Unless you know me personally you wouldn’t be aware that there are only 14 miles of road, approximately 9 thousand people, just one movie theatre and not even a mall! How could you be happy in such place? Now, let’s look closer…Sitka, the former capital of Alaska, also the place where the Alaskan purchase took place and due to which on October 18th the whole town gathers together and holds one of the greatest parades and re-enactments in the state.

Sitka, inhabited by the most welcoming, tolerant, helpful and cheerful people I’ve ever come across. These same people do their best by voluntarily hosting exchange students and organizing events to ensure acknowledgement and appreciation of the differences between themselves and the world. One such event was the “Sitka tells tales” in which I took part and told a story – “How 18 minutes changed my life”. Another one was a community conversation we held at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Tribal Community House, in the beginning of February.

image10All the seven exchange students brought deserts characterising their country so I thought what is better than kozunak. Believe it or not they loved it, almost as much as I loved my first Thanksgiving, no ptomaine turkeys I promise.

image11I’ve also got to travel and do volunteering, while keeping my grades high which don’t be misled, is a bit challenging. When on the topic of school, all there’s to say is that I’ve never been more engaged in classes. Especially my social studies teachers manage to stay in constant interaction with my classmates and me.They were also the ones cooperating with my cluster coordinators to provide me with the opportunity of giving numerous presentations about my home county during International Education Week, and the ones provoking my interest in DDF(drama, debate, forensics) and Mock trial. Swimming on the other hand helped a lot in building my self confidence and concentration, as my coach would say “Concentrate and balance your body Yuli, now another 200!”. I’m done with swimming! Don’t get me wrong I love it, but it’s softball season now, another one of my firsts.

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Do you remember my second and third questions? Concerning family and friends? Well, not only have I realized how caring and affectionate my family is but I’ve made multiple friendships!

We’d go on hikes, as there’s more to hike on than drive on, make bonfires, cook food, go to the one theater in town, learn some Bulgarian dances and make future plans for visits in Bulgaria!

In all, it’s been seven months full of pleasant surprises and I believe with the spring, which for my friends now means wearing a martenitsa for a month, more exciting adventures are ahead of me!