Cata, Outbound to Romania

Buna ziua everyone!

How can I even begin to explain what it feels like to be in a different universe. In my short time here, I've absorbed many new things about myself and the world around me. I feel so alive here. You never really grasp how dull life was, until your world completely changes. By dull I mean that my life had been one giant routine before. Even the way I felt and thought had some sort of routine pattern. Adjusting from living that life has been so difficult, but beautiful at the same time. in my path of self discovery, I have uncovered many truths about myself. The biggest being the control I have over myself. I have to power to steer my happiness, and be the best version of myself I can be. The craziest part about it all is that i had to fly 5,430 miles to uncover this simple yet complex idea.

I arrived in Cluj~Napoca on September 3, so I have been here for a month and a half. Getting off the plane I was greeted by my host family, and club counselor. My host family consist of my host mom, my 16 year old twin host brothers, and my dog puffy. They drove me around the center of the city before finally getting home. To my surprise, there was never a dull moment or any awkwardness during the initial interactions. I think that is because i got to know my host brothers pretty well before arriving. The first week was magical, I was instantly captivated by my cities architecture and the over energy throughout. it's one of those places that can change your mood in an instant. Everything was so new and good the first week. In short, I felt high on life.

Then, school began and reality crept its way in. The second week was probably the worst out of all of them. School was complicated, no one really helped or approached me. The teachers treated me as a burden, and it was rough. That week I read articles and talk to some of my close exchange friends and ask for some wisdom. I had the power to turn my situation around, and I realized that if people weren't going to talk to me, I had to talk to them. I had to step up and out of my comfort zone to make school bearable. As soon as my mentality changed, and I started approaching my classmates, and introducing myself. I realized how friendly and welcoming these kids were, now I am eternally grateful for how they took me in and accepted me. Going back to what I said earlier about self discovery, I realized that no one and nothing owes anything to me, I have to work to achieve something, it isn't just granted. I really enjoy school, something that I love about my class is that they're all friends with each other,and the energy of the general class is so positive. I attend an art school here, were I have hours of one singular art task. Although I take an art class in the US, this school is a whole other level. I'm not use to being creatively limited in an art project, here I have to complete all art pieces according to a strict criteria. Apart from my art classes, I also have my core subjects. I would say I pick up about 20 to 25 percent of the material. My favorite classes are english and geography, where I actively participate.

My schedule:

Mondays : Drawing (3) History (1) Math (1) English (1) Music (1)

Tuesdays: informatics (1) Sculpture or Painting (4) Visual Education (1) Physical edu (1)

Wednesday: Monumental art (1) Math (1) Romania (2) Entrepreneurship (1)

Thursdays: Tutoring (1) Romanian (1) Physics (1) English (1) Religion (1) Phycology (1)

Friday: Physics (1) Biology(1) Art History (1) Human Geography (1) French (1) Chemistry (1)

Romanian and eastern European culture is so interesting and rich. I would say we have a misconception about this area of the world. The people here are genuinely kind, and welcoming. The food and very tradition and can vary from area to area. They cook food according to the weather, which I love. Having a nice bean and pork soup on a cold day is the perfect medicine for a cold. Because of the previous era of poverty, the diet consist of a lot of the same foods, these are also relatively inexpensive items as well. Polenta and cabbage are huge in Romania, common protein is pork and fish. Food is something I really miss from back home. Of course the food here is good, but food is one of your largest habits. I didn't realize this until coming here. The Romanian language is complicated. I struggle to speak, but I would say I understand 30 percent of it. Using key words I'm able to understand the context of most conversations. The pronunciation of words and letters is very complicated, they use sounds that don't exist in the English and Spanish language, such as the ( â, and ț ). I begin Romanian lessons at my school soon. The winter is coming soon and as a Floridian, I'm not prepared. The autumn has felt like winter to me, and I've already come down with a cold. The altitude of my city has also thrown me off.

Homesickness: Sometimes I feel like I'm on top of the world, happier than I've ever felt before. Other times I feel empty inside, a sadness I've never experienced before. Homesickness is something that i have dealt with few times so far, and i'll tell you it's really hard. I find it hard to understand this myself but it's almost like a magnet, you get pulled by old memories and photos and you can't help but to feel sad. Once you're in that state you have to push and push to get out of the hole or away from the manet. it's all in your control, you control your happiness.

Places I visited: the city I live in is one of the most famous in Romania. it is the heart of Transylvania, and a historical area. Transylvania is surrounded by the Carpathian mountains and coming from a very flat area, mountains are very new to me. My second weekend here I visited the medieval city of Sighisoara. Sighisoara is where Dracula was born and is the last medieval city in Romania left. The place is surrounded in mountains the historical part of the city is colorful and the architecture is beautiful. We spent a day there, and I bought a touristic Dracula t-shirt. Two weeks later my host family took me on a road trip to the Moldovan province of Romania. The car trip was breathtaking, the trees were turning color on the mountains and its looked spectacular. The first day we visited 2 monetarias is Suchava. The second day we spent the day in a monastery close to the city Iasi. My host mom is good friends with one of the monks there and he gave us a personal tour of the place. That day I felt so peaceful and at ease, the weather and the place were perfect. I had a truly religious experience that I will never forget. While getting blessed by a priest, I felt very emotional and affected. in that moment, I felt so intensely blesses for everyone and everything and opportunity I have. The last trip I took was to Braila, this is a city on the Danube river. We had our first Rotary event here. I finally got to meet the amazing people I had talked through text in person! The first night we had our orientation and we present ourselves in front of the rotary club of Romania. Then we had dinner and we watch and participated in many Romanian traditional dances. After the dances we walked around the city, then came back to the hotel for a dance party. in the morning we got up and went on a boating trip on the Danube. On the boat there was traditional food, drinks, and dancing. After the boat we went to a local restaurant where they served Danube fish and clams. We got back to the hotel at around 6 and we hung out all together. Later than night we went out into the city walked, then we went into a drug store and bought lots of candy, chips, and ice cream. We went back to the hotel and danced and ate and listening to music. i got close to so many of my fellow inbounds, and i look forward to seeing them again in the future.

This is a very brief summary of my short time in Romania. I really can't picture myself anywhere else. I'm so thankful for everyone that has helped me get here and for the people who have welcomed me. For any future exchange student reading this, I wish you luck on this beautiful journey. Take every single second of it in, even the months before, because it goes by too fast. Multumesc Rotary!

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