Hello again dear readers 🙂 For those of you who are following my blog, you might have noticed that I did not post anything last Thursday. That is because every great mind needs to pause the flow of his/her thoughts for awhile and rest. I am no exception (though, I cannot refer to myself as a great mind, but….)
Unfortunately, fall break is over. I am on the train, travelling from my hometown Varna to Blagoevgrad, for another one and half month of torture.
You know, I do not like trains. I have never liked them. They are slow, stinky and you cannot even fall asleep to kill time because it so uncomfortable. I hate trains. But this time it was going to be different.
I met a guy on the train. His name was Borislav. He was sitting right next to me and was going to Sofia, too. We started talking. The interesting thing about the conversation and about him, in general, was that he did not annoy me and I did not try to cut him off right away. That is what I usually do… “Just leave me alone, I want to read my book so that the trip is more bearable” I say and I turn my back on whomever. But he intrigued me, he was not one of those guys that would just try his charms on me and see if he is going to get something out if that. He just wanted to talk to someone. So we talked. We talked about AUBG, his university, politics and how Bulgaria is doomed, we discussed the craze about the Cooperate Trade Bank and how everybody claims to know everything about it, but in the meantime they are just a bunch of rattle-brained people. To my surprise, we ended up discussing his Work and Travel experience. How did we reach that point? He was amazed to hear how much the tuition at AUBG cost and just asked me, straightforwardly: “Where do you get that money from? Do you rob banks on regular basis or what?” And I told him that I do what most of the students here do- I go, work in states, come back and transfer my earnings to the university’s bank account. That triggered his talking and he told me the story of his time abroad.
Borislav went to Put-in-Bay, Ohio after his first year of university. He was working as a housekeeper and a dishwasher and his shifts were craaaazy. Bobi told me that sometimes he had to work 20 hours a day and after such a day, he would be so tired that would not remember getting home. He did not choose to work with one of the big Work and Travel companies like Orange or Usit, but put his trust in a small company which name he does not even remember. What I found a bit hilarious, but also interesting, was the reason he chose the hotel chain he was working for and the position. He was completely honest with me and told me “My English was not and is still not very good and I saw that that company was hiring people without even interviewing them. Things could not be better, I figured, so I went for that company.”
Bobi’s impression of the states is a mixed one. He really liked the place he was working at, the state and his co-workers. He was working as a dishwasher with Americans at an Irish bar and he was so thrilled to see how open-minded they were. In the end, they even started listening to Radio Veselina (a Bulgarian chalga radio station) and dancing to the folklore rhythms of our music. Bobi had so much fun with those people. But he hated his bosses with a passion. He told me that they were pseudo-demanding and that they did not really care if the rooms were ACTUALLY clean. What was more important was for them to LOOK and SMELL clean. He had a housing provided and the word he used for the place he was sleeping made me laugh out loud. “A bomb shelter. Me and 5 other people were sleeping in a bomb shelter and shared the same bathroom.” Despite the living conditions he had to put up with for 4 months, he was always looking forward to go back “home”, back to the bomb shelter. You might think that it was because he was tired and just wanted to rest his feet. Noooo… He had beer there and his favorite radio Veselina, which he would listen for hours to. The beer, he told me, was something you could find abundance of. Even though he was only 20 and most of his co-workers were also 20 (and by the way, most of them were Bulgarians), while they were cleaning the rooms, they would sometimes find cans of beer that visitors had bought, but had not consumed. They were not allowed to take them, the owners had expressly warned them not to do so. But who cares? They would get an extra large garbage bag, put all the cans they could find in it as if it was trash and put it in the trash can. When they got off, one of them would go, get the trash bag and bring it to the bomb shelter. What can I say, we Bulgarians can get creative when it comes to booze.
Bobi also went travelling. He went to the US with his girlfriend and wanted to surprise her with a trip to Hawaii- her dream destination. He did not share many details about their stay there, but said one thing “If you ever decide to go to Hawaii, go with a looooot of money because everything is so expensive there, you cannot imagine.” Bobi said that it was a really romantic and beautiful place and the people were sweethearts and would try to provide them with whatever they needed.
I was surprised to find out that there are still people that just want to talk to you, nothing more. I really enjoyed talking to Borislav and if I would met more people like him, then I would probably be using the train more often. From this experience, I realized one thing- you can find a story everywhere- you just have to ask for it.