17 June 2012

This Post is Not Entitled "The Final Countdown"

But it started to hit me this week that I have, as of yesterday, two weeks left in Bulgaria. 13 days from now, I will be leaving this good land.

This will be the last post of this blog's typical quotidian, mundane nature before I turn it over to my alter ego, who, despite remaining nameless, specializes in sentimental and poetic writing.

Anyway, yes, this was my third-to-last week here in this wild, wonderful land so recently behind the Iron Curtain, and I've started to realize how much I'm going to miss it. It has been such an enormous year in terms of, well, everything, and that isn't something I will ever be able to forget.

The first draft of my thesis is done, and, as of Friday, reorganized into a coherent narrative that builds a case for my findings in a logical, step-by-step manner. This next week I will rewrite, consolidate, and edit down, leaving four days in my final week for proofreading before I hand it in on the 29th, after which I will enjoy one last day in Sofia before departing the next day for the start of my Epic Trip of the Century.

This, I suppose, would be the most opportune place to tell you about the trip that I've been hinting at for months. From Sofia, I depart for Skopje, Macedonia on the 30th of June, following which I will spend the next five weeks traveling through Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, and Spain, culminating with a few days in Madrid, after which I will fly to my Urheimat of Pennsylvania and officially end my Great European Year Abroad.

I will be relying on nothing more than buses, trains, carpools, Couchsurfers, hostels, family friends, a small amount of cash in my pocket, a sizeable backpack on my back, my ukulele, a couple years of education in foreign languages, and the wits in my head to survive as I traverse and explore, in all facets of its great, exotic mystery, the boondoggle that is the European Continent. This will be a trip more expansive and ambitious than any I have ever undertaken in my life, but though it comes with a certain amount of risk, I am maybe-a-hair-inordinately eager to put myself to the test, just as a final proof that I can survive out there in the world. In that respect, this year could be seen as a prelude to that test, but that view would be injudicious to the enrichment and experiences I've had here and the ones I will have out there. This year abroad has been more than just a test - it has been a portal, a crucible, an adventure; so will the next seven weeks be.

I always get sentimental around this time of year, with lots of things drawing to a close, which inevitably means I have to say goodbye to certain people and things. But I'll try to save that sentimentality for the coming two weeks. These last four posts will be so replete with saccharine platitudes, they will give you a headache.

For now, my feelings extend little past overwhelming happiness to have had an entire free weekend to relax and breathe a little. Friday, I met Irena, Fulbrighter Melissa, and her friend Diana in the Center to participate in that quintessence of Bulgarian social culture, lounging in a streetside café at the culmination of the workday in the early evening, drinks and snacks at hand, unwinding in pleasant company. Yesterday, friend of the Fulbright Program Georgi was in town from Pleven, and we repeated in largely similar fashion. 

Today has been a day of reading (my current pursuit being Stephen Hawking's classic A Brief History of Time) and, most enjoyably, picking up my drumsticks and beginning the long process of getting my hands in shape suitable to come out of retirement from competition, which I will do in September. I also went out onto Vitosha Blvd. for the last time and busked, turning my normal hour into a 100-minute barnburner, figuring, as it was my last time, that I would pull out all the stops, and the people of Sofia rewarded me well for it. It was even--dare I say it?--a little fun.

The result of these two days of by-now-seemingly-gratuitous abstention from work has been a vastly more pleasant weekend than any I've had in a while. I needed it, and it's been nice to have a little time to enjoy this place like I used to before I got busy in January. Rediscovering how pleasant the city is--especially in the warm weather, which has been accompanied by a general uplift in the collective mood of the people here--I realized that I really am going to miss it, the people, the things - but like I said, that's a topic for the next few posts.

It has been really great and even intermittently therapeutic to be able to talk about my days on this site. If you've stuck with me for the entire year, wandered off and come back, or even been a latecomer to this blog, I am honored to have your readership, especially considering the frequently unexciting nature of my day-to-day, which has, of course, translated to frequently unexciting content on this site. To be quite honest, I wasn't entirely sure I would either have the discipline or the readership to support a year-long travel blog, but I'm glad I made the commitment to do this. It's been a place where I've been able to work out some things for myself, as well as a place to record events I might otherwise have forgotten, so that, in some distant point in the future, I might stumble back across it and be that much more able to lucidly Remember When.

It's given me a nice dose of perspective to be able to go back and, with the benefit of distance and hindsight, recall moments from this tremendous year abroad, how they made me feel at the time, and compare those feelings to the ones I have now, now that the year is mostly behind me. I've certainly done a lot of changing these last 10-odd months, and a lot of things that once seemed alien to me are now commonplace, just as my life has changed in numerous ways.

But, before we go down that road, I'll leave you to your pleasant Father's Days, and wish my own Father a very happy one, accompanied by my love. I'll be back in a few days to begin wrapping up this wild, startling, totally unexpected but gratifying and momentous year.

1 comment:

  1. Carolyn McGovernJuly 9, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    There always tons to do even if you know that you were near the end. And thesis writing are always tedious and hard so it would be good to really make sure that you are finish with all the task of thesis or dissertation writing. Anyway, what happened to your thesis? Did you already finish all the task of it?