It was 5:30 AM on August 18th, 2009. Genadi, Moni, and I were listening to music and singing in the car. None of us had slept the night before. Genadi turned up the music. We were approaching Sofia Airport. Suddenly, it hit me: I was leaving the place where I grew up.
I checked in and was ready to go up the escalator to the gate. I took a deep breath and looked at the skyline. The Sun was rising. I remember going up the escalator smiling and waving at my parents, grandparents, and friends. Deep inside me, I knew I won’t be seeing them soon. Little did I know this was the last time I would see my grandfather.
Mululu and I almost missed the flight. We heard our names announced and hurried up. We landed at Boston Logan Airport around 3 PM EST. William, one of the American volunteers I had met during the summer, had kindly asked his mom, Elizabeth, to take us to Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s campus.
Here were we waiting outside Terminal E Arrivals, but we didn’t see her anywhere. I had her number, but I couldn’t call her because my phone had no service. We went to a pay phone, but we didn’t have quarters to make the call. This moment symbolized my departure from a world that was familiar and comfortable; I realized I had left my family, homeland, and culture behind yet to discover a whole new community, country, and new friends.
Fortunately, my friend’s mother circled around a few times and found us. She carried a big sign, saying “William’s mom” and had brought cold water for the two of us. During the trip, I was amazed by the size of the vehicles, the four lanes on the highway, the number of cars on the road. These were my first signs of culture shock.
An hour later, we arrived on campus, escorted by a police car. Mululu was on the back seat.