Associate Professor from Western Carolina University

visiting Technical University of Sofia, Bulgaria

as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar

Ciao Ciao

In informal conversations, the Bulgarians use "Merci" more often than "Благодаря (Blagodarya)" to say "Thanks", and "Ciao" more often than "Довиждане (Dovizhdane)" to say "Bye". In Italian, "Ciao" can mean both "Hello" and...

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Bulgarian pride

The project topic in a project-based learning (PBL) course is important as it determines what skills are needed, if the students will be inspired to work on them, and what equipment should be prepared. I enjoyed seeing what the students...

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Gorna Banya

Gorna Banya is another town with great mineral water. It is also on the western side of Sofia, like Bankya. The water here is bottled and sold in stores like the Bankya water. As usual, the locals can...

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1500 Dog Gang

Having been away from our two furry girls at home for so long, I really missed them, especially when I saw all kinds of dogs taking a walk or a run in the park on my way to university every day. Then I noticed a random post on...

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The first snow

We have seen snow this season in the mountains but we had only seen rain in Sofia. Well, here came the first snow this year in Sofia on Nov 30, 2021. The weather forecast had been accurate. The snow is very pretty,...

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BEST Debate and Speech Competitions

Imagining yourself debating or interpreting a poem or a prose in a second language as a high-schooler, and then seeing Bulgarian high-schoolers doing exactly that in English at such proficiency and competitiveness, it was a marvelous experience. I was able to witness...

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German Christmas Market in Sofia

I saw the news about the German Christmas Market in Sofia that would run from Nov 19 to Dec 21 from 11 am to 10 pm every day this year in the city garden, right behind the “One Man” LCD display art structure. Since I was in town, I went there to take a look. The...

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Bankya

Having been in Sofia for a while to have covered most of the touristy places, I wanted to know where a local would love to go. My current host recommended Bankya. He’s typically busy with organizing events that tend to be crowded, so he appreciates the quietness in a...

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Boris’ Garden Park

In early Nov, the air was still warm, the leaves were colorful, and the families were seen to enjoy themselves everywhere in the Boris’ Garden Park in the town center. This park was constructed in 1884 and has been the gathering place for many generations. The young...

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International Biennale of Glass

The International Biennale of Glass was from Oct 6 to Nov 7 on the top-most floor of the National Gallery Square 500 in Sofia. Fulbright Commission invited an organizer of the exhibit to give us a tour, and we appreciated the tremendous...

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Semester so far

It’s been a month since my Project Based Learning (PBL) course started at TU-Sofia. The students are mostly from two programs (Industrial Engineering taught in English and Electronics) and they are from all year-standings from freshmen to seniors. The course...

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Fall colors

This fall, it rained quite a bit and became cold quickly. Even our Bulgarian colleagues are saying that it is typically warmer than this fall. However, it might have helped the leaf color to be more vibrant. The first photo is the view out of my office window with...

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Transportation in Bulgaria

During our three months of stay in Bulgaria, we’ve seen all kinds of transportation means here. The electric scooters are very popular in summer, not only in Sofia but also throughout European cities. It’s nice that some biking lanes are clearly marked. The shared...

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Baba Vanga’s Museum in Rupite

According to what I heard, Baba Vanga (1911-1996) was a prophet who brought peace and healing to people. When she was a teenager, she was sucked up by a tornado into the air and dropped to a field causing her eyes to bleed. She lost her eyesight since then, but she...

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Seven Rila Lakes

The first time when I heard of the seven Rila lakes, I thought that they might be a list of seven most famous lakes in the Rila Mountain National Park. Well, it actually meant a loop trail with seven lakes along it. People have named these seven lakes mostly based on...

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Vitosha Mountain

Vitosha Mountain is so close to Sofia city and visible from almost everywhere in town. The affinity made me feel as if it was some kind of backyard hill for an easy hike. We didn’t do any research on how or where to hike, and headed out...

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St. Sophia Church

St. Sophia Church in Sofia was what got Sofia its current name, and it seems to be still a busy place as every time we went there, there was a baptism ceremony or two. If one could recover the St. Sophia Church in Nessebar from its ruins, that church might look very...

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Bulgarian Archaeological Museum

Having been to the archaeological museums in several other cities except in Sofia, we had to laugh at ourselves for being perhaps too homey in Sofia. Our time in Sofia is dwindling down, and the Bulgarian Archaeological Museum is right at the corner. We should...

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Kudos to Bulgarian service!

I can only speak for myself but I have to say that I am truly blown away by the kindness and professionalism of many Bulgarian when I need their help the most. I have mentioned it a few times before that my colleagues at TU-Sofia and the staff at the Fulbright...

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Fulbright International Seminar

This weekend I attended the three-day Fulbright International Seminar 2021, entitled "Strategies for Strengthening Democracy: The Crisis of Representation". It is not my research area, but the topics are thought-provoking on various aspects of...

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The tail end of summer

Since I came to Sofia on Aug 1, the air gets cooler after each rain, some leaves have turned yellow, and some autumn flowers start to blossom. There can still be some hot days occasionally, and before the tail end of summer slips away, I want to mention a few...

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Plovdiv

Sozopol boasts 7000 years of history with an exhibit of ancient pottery and gold leafs even at the entrance of a grocery store, then I can’t help imagining Plovdiv saying, “hold my beer”, or, “hold my rhyton”, as there has been 8000 years of civilization in Plovdiv...

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The Linden tree

In my first week in Sofia, my colleague had already pointed out the Linden tree to me. I was told that the Linden tree blossoms smelled really good in spring. It is easy to identify a Linden tree as the stems of the seeds are connected to the center of a leaf-like...

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The first day of K-12 schools

September 15th is the day when all the K-12 schools start their winter semesters. Although I knew the date, I didn't expect what this date meant. On my way to my office on September 15th (I didn't even notice what date it was), I could immediately tell that something...

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Peak Musala (2925 m, 9598 ft)

The highest mountain peak in the Balkan Peninsula is Peak Musala in the Rila National Park in Bulgaria, with an altitude (counting from the sea level) of 2,925 meters or 9,598 feet and a topographic prominence (counting from its foothill) of 2,473 meters or 8,114...

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Conference in Sozopol

The 10th Automatics conference organized by TU-Sofia was during last weekend in Sozopol, a coastal town by the Black Sea. I left the Fulbright orientation in Sofia early and went to Sozopol to catch the latter part of the conference. Due to COVID,...

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Nestinari (fire dancing)

The Nestinari (fire dancing) ritual is a UNESCO World Heritage legacy of non-material culture in Bulgaria, and many people are wondering how it is done, including me. During the Fulbrighter orientation this week, we had a dinner in a restaurant outdoor and we were...

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Layered Sofia

My family arrived in Sofia later on Sat, and we took a stroll around town on Sun. They liked Sofia at once. They think that Sofia is full of layers from various periods, and it is very vibrant with colors. I finally entered the Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski but...

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Back to Sofia

When I came back to Sofia from Rome, I knew exactly where to go, just like a local. I even found an open-air market near here that perhaps only locals would frequent. It is a good feeling to feel settled down here. Orpheus was a famous Thracian in the ancient Greek...

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Ah, Rome!

For some reason, in my mind, I had always assumed Rome to be like those ancient capitals such as Xi'An, Kyoto, or somewhere in the temperate climate. It never crossed my mind that Rome is actually subtropical, with palm trees and all kinds of cactus, like in Florida...

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First Impressions of Sofia

On the morning when I arrived in Sofia, there was a crowd at the exit of the airport with flowers and cameras to meet a lady and her family. The lady put on her silver medal from the Tokyo Olympic Game, and the crowd couldn't be more proud and pleased. Her name is...

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Impressions of Istanbul

Istanbul is the biggest city in Turkey, being the economic center and where the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire used to reside, sitting across the boundary between Europe and Asia along the Bosporus strait. It has seen the history and the transition of Turkey into...

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Where are you from?

Where are you from?

My project in Bulgaria starts on Aug 1, and my family and I have planned a few days in Istanbul before I leave for Sofia. The external forces that influenced Bulgaria the most included Byzantine and Ottoman, and it would be nice to know more about those cultures,...

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Mourning Dean Ray

Mourning Dean Ray

Dr. Ray had been our College of Engineering and Technology's Dean since 2014, one year after I joined WCU. He had been a constant support and advocate for us all, students and faculty & staff alike, throughout the years. A week before my trip, Dr. Ray kindly made...

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Accelerated Learning

Accelerated Learning

What excites me in this Fulbright project is for me to get the strong support from TU-Sofia to offer a special topic course using project based learning with vertical integration between year standings and COIL (collaborative online international learning). Today, in...

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Get to know Bulgaria

This video made by Rick Steve has captured quite a few key characteristics of Bulgaria. If you have the time, it might be worthwhile to watch it at the youtube site and read the comments, too. Quote from Rick: “Bulgaria, so...

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Welcome to share my journey!

Welcome to share my journey!

I am counting down the days when I will be in Sofia, Bulgaria, which is on August 1, 2021, with excitement. I have worked closely with several colleagues at my host institution, Technical University - Sofia (TU-Sofia), from spring 2020 when I got the announcement that...

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