Bulgarian Spring Holidays

From June 2000 – June 2002 I had the opportunity to live and work in Bulgaria as a US Peace Corps Volunteer. During my 2 years in Bulgaria, I had the opportunity to learn about the culture, people as well as unique traditions and holidays of this country. While we may not notice the change in temperatures, here in Northern California, as much as other parts of the US or world, we welcome spring as a time of growth and rejuvenation.

March 1st – Baba Marta Day

  • Baba Marta (Grandma March) is known in folklore as a feisty old woman – and when she smiles, the sun comes out during the winter months. On this day, it is common for Bulgarians to give each other martenitsa (red and white yarn in the form of a bracelet or two dolls) and wish each other Chestita Baba Marta (Female) or Chestit Baba Marta (Male). The martenitsa can be worn or kept  until you see a stork, swallow or blossoming tree – then you are to placate it on a tree. This signifies the coming of Spring and it is quite common at the end of March to see trees adorned with red and white yarn. 

March 3rd – Liberation Day

  • This day commemorations the liberation of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire. The re-establishment of Bulgaria’s statehood during the Russo-Turkish War which occured in 1877-1878. In Bulgaria, there are 400 preserved monuments and on this day, flowers, wreaths, and notes are placed at the monuments in memory of the Russians soldiers who died fighting for the liberation of Bulgaria. 

March 8th – International Women’s Day

  • International Women’s Day defines this day as, “…a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women”. Growing up in California and prior to living in Bulgaria, I do not remember this holiday being celebrated. It is common for men in Bulgaria to give women a single rose on this day, to signify their support of gender equality. 

What special holidays does your country celebrate during this time of year? In learning about the traditions and holidays celebrated in Bulgaria throughout the year, it made me think of my own traditions and holidays that I grew up celebrating, and how I can share with others about them. 

Author: Suzanne Pendergrass

Assistant Director, International Student and Scholar Services

International Student and Scholar Services, SJSU

ISSS Immigration Reminders for the Start of Fall Term

Welcome to the fall 2020 academic semester at SJSU! We wanted to share immigration information with you, as we start the fall semester.

If you are in the US studying at SJSU, please keep in mind the following:

Advising Appointments: Have questions regarding your F-1 status – then schedule an appointment to meet with an ISSS Advisor. 

Academic Advisor vs. International Student Advisor: Please remember that ISSS Advisors cannot advise on course enrollment queries or department-specific eligibility requirements for certain courses. An Academic/Major Advisor should be able to address these questions. However, International Student Advisors can discuss the specific rules that pertain to F-1 students’ immigration status in terms of full-time course enrollment, online vs. in-person vs. hybrid courses, and concurrent enrollment/RCL possibilities.

Employment: You are eligible to work on-campus in F-1 status without getting ISSS authorization. Make plans to attend the F-1 Employment Workshop on September 2nd or September 30th, to learn more about employment options for F-1 students (on-campus, CPT, OPT). ISSS Webpage for Calendar

Completing your program at the end of Fall 2020: Review the OPT tutorial and make plans to attend a Fall 2020 Post OPT workshop. ISSS calendar has been updated.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for International Students:

*FAQ for Continuing Students

*FAQs for New/Initial Students (Fall 2020)

First Semester at SJSU: If you are in the US, then complete the required immigration document upload.

Full-time enrollment: You are required to be enrolled full-time. 12 credits for undergrads and 9 credits for graduate students. Last day for add/drop is September 8th.

I-94 Record: Did you travel outside the US this summer? Check your I-94, to see that your record shows your most recent entrance into the US, as well as F-1 visa status and admit until date of D/S (duration of status). If there are any issues, email ISSS international-office@sjsu.edu

Know your I-20 end date: We recommend that you schedule an appointment with an ISSS Advisor 1-2 semesters before you plan on completing your degree, to discuss options after graduation.

Travel Signatures:Travel signatures are valid for one year on your I-20. Starting September 15th, we will start to accept travel signature requests. Please submit the Travel Signature Request form.


Students Who Have Graduated from SJSU and are now on post-completion OPT: Know your reporting requirements of updating your SEVP portal within 10 days of a change in living address, and/or employment.


Students Who Have Graduated from SJSU and are now on STEM OPT: Know your reporting requirements of updating ISSS via the Employment Update Report, within 10 days of a change in living address, and/or employment plus 6 month validation reports.