Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | January 23, 2012

Winter in Blagoevgrad

On fitness: It’s the end of January and this is the first time it’s felt like winter here. There’s snow and ice on the ground from a little storm on Sunday. The roads are covered in sand and the shady spots are icy and slippery. It’s too dangerous (for me, at least) to go for even a quick spin on the bike, so I’ve resorted to, um, running. I walk up the steep hill near our house and jog down the road toward Barakovo. I run to a little rutted uphill trail that I sprint up a half-dozen times (Walter Payton style) and then walk/jog back home. I hope biking weather makes a quick comeback, but until then, a fat man does what a fat man has to do.

On teaching: I’m teaching two classes this semester. I spend most of my “work” time prepping and grading; that won’t change. But I’m feeling more comfortable in the classroom. Of course, I’m sure I’ll under-prepare for some class and bomb. Until then, I continue to learn while teaching. I hadn’t understood until we arrived here at AUBG the joys of this craft. I always recoiled at the thought of it, worried I wouldn’t be good at it or that students would be unpleasant. Here’s what I’ve found: Teaching is fun and the students are great. It’s just me and about 20 students per class trying to make week-to-week progress on a subject I know and they seem to enjoy.

On learning: I’m learning from the students, and this semester from a fellow professor. I’m taking Introduction to Bulgarian I, my first college class in 28 years. I don’t remember much from high school and college German, but since we live here, I am eager to learn at least enough Bulgarian to carry on small conversations with the locals. We’ll see if my brain can absorb the lessons.

On life: From the very beginning I’ve wondered when we’d be done “parenting.” I know, I know … we’ll always be parents. And I loved every step of the way (well, maybe not EVERY step). But Jenna’s making her own decisions now, paying her own bills, living her own life. We’ve become witnesses, part of the audience. I really like it. She’s her own woman. We’re here for support, for unconditional love, to share in life’s ups and downs. But we’re not involved in the decision-making. It’s kind of cool. … From a parent’s perspective, it’s pretty monumental, though I’m not sure how the kids feel.

On travel: We visited Paris and Amsterdam over the holidays. We love both places, in part because they’re so beautiful and cultured, but also because we’ve got great friends in both spots. Melody and I will head back out on the road at spring break. It’s looking like Croatia, maybe Slovenia and then Greece. This part of the world is one fascinating locale after another. There just isn’t enough time to visit them all. But we’ll keep trying.

No helmet cam this time. Maybe next time I’ll be able to get out on the road and crash for your entertainment.



  1. Okay, so I was following along, chuckling, until I got to the part about parenting. Then verklempt. You’re a sweet dad, Mark!

  2. Don’t be too quick to assume you’ll bomb when you under-prepare for class. Your ability to improvise under pressure (see: Deadlines, Wally’s experience) just make those classes better than you think.

    • Thanks, Paul. … And of course I realize I can bomb even if I FULLY prepare. But I got your note right before class today and it gave me just the boost I needed. 🙂

  3. Hey Mark,

    Just a note to say I’ve really been enjoying your blog! Thanks for sharing your adventure… Running, you say? I’m impressed. Must have been inspired by all that running-related copy you had to edit…

    • Yeah, well, maybe calling what I do “running” isn’t altogether fair. Thanks for dropping in!

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