study abroad adventure

Photojournaling and blogging study abroad adventures…

Leaving Cluj to Sighetu by train…

Attached to this blog are photos I recently retrieved from my mini (the charging adapter broke and I just replaced it).  You will see the beautiful countryside and small towns and villages I captured along the way.  The train was comfortable despite the heat.  I met a very kind, smart and sweet University graduate who then took on the task of showing me his beautiful town.  I have already posted photos he shared with me from his camera and you might recognize his vibrant smile and sweet eyes.  Upon arriving we first toured the Merry Cemetery, followed by the poor man’s cemetery.  Afterwards we visited the WWII Jewish prisoner memorial (see previous blog post) and then ate a delicious dinner followed by ice cream.  It was the next day that he took pictures of us at the outdoor ethnographic museum.  We visited some other museums in the town as well, but our camera batteries gave out.  This town is full of history and bustling with new and old business.  It is larger and more to date than I had perceived it to be, but I didn’t try to capture that.  I was too enthralled with its historic preservation and ability to maintain culture in the midst of Western influence. ❤ I hope to return.  Last, you will see the beautiful villa I stayed at. The owners spoiled me in every way possible.  So to, that when a miscommunication arose about my departure, a personal friend was called upon to pick me up and take me to the bus station.    It was there that the exciting part of my trip took place as we wound in and out of the mountains to Suceava.  But that is another post.

Sighetu

Train in Cluj Napoca railway station

Train in Cluj Napoca railway station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I left Cluj reluctantly to Sighetu.  Part of me was saddened that I could not go stay with the organic goat farmers and learn about their sustainability methods.  Alone I sat at the train station wondering if I had enough space for my heavy pack and sack of food.  In fact, the train wasn’t marked and had I not interrupted some men to ask, I would have missed it altogether.  I sat with a grandmother and her two grandkids, and a single woman.  They were kind and quiet.  The whole train was quiet.  As it rumbled out of the station I was relieved to be in a comfortable seat, even though it was steaming hot inside.  By the time we left Cluj, the breeze had cooled the small 6 seater rooms and I began to walk around the cart freely.  There were rows of rooms and large windows on both sides of the carts.  I stood in the hall looking out the windows as we crawled by each town.  I recognized the name of a town of a new friend I had made and quickly snapped a picture so as not to forget.  Then I noticed a young mane stand in the hall and smile at me.  I had bumped into him coming in on the train and so I thought nothing of it.  He walked over and said hello.  Little did I know he would soon be hours of interesting conversation, good laughs and become my personal tour guide while in Sighetu.  He even shared a delicious meal of pork, cucumbers and cabbage at a very good restaurant (reminder to self to return there).  I am very blessed to have known Simion and keep in contact with him on facebook still.  Here are some pictures from his camera.  As you know my camera acted up.  I downloaded the pictures on my mini and that charging chord has broken since.  As soon as I get a new charging chord, those pictures and videos will immediate go up because I was snapping photos like a maniac.

 

For now, enjoy the Merry Cemetery, the poor man’s grave site and the Jewish Memorial. Afterwards we visited the outdoor ethnographic museum.  I promise there will be many more pictures on Sighetu part two and afterwards I can tell of the heroics of my Bus driver who took me to Suceava. 🙂

Prague: palace, cathedral, St George, gardens

Vienna

Learning Beyond Borders

Learning Beyond Borders

I’m so excited and blessed!  The article is live on ASU’s website, please click the link above to check it out…

I’m currently working on my exit essay with the Gilman Scholarship fund.  I still have to write one more paper about my project (Skyping with and writing for the two 2nd Grade classes in New York).  I still have to post more pictures and videos, too…I haven’t forgotten you…

Why the delay?  My son, Antonio, was awarded a full ride scholarship to dance with the AZ school of Ballet!  We now trek almost one and a half hours round trip to get him to school.  But I know it will be worth it!

If all goes well, Antonio will spend a summer at a summer intensive.  Meanwhile, I will be going to the University in Cluj next year to continue my studies in the Romanian language and culture.  I even made friends I look forward to seeing again.  And if my eldest son gets straight A’s, he’s coming with me to study.  I’ve reserved an excellent Tennis coach (and new friend) to work with him while we are there. I have a friend in Germany who welcomed me to visit her and her family next year as well. 

I’m grateful to have had the opportunities in my life to accomplish great things.  Now, the challenge is to get a job that doesn’t need me in the summers while I finish my Masters.  I might end up doing more volunteer work and hopefully at least an internship.  Any recommendations (other than the school district)?

Budapest at Night

So we decided to take the night cruise down the river after dinner.  It costs us 2500 Forints but with the exchange rate it came out to next to nothing, really.  I wish I had time to do the full cruise with dinner and all but our faculty was dead set on staying together for the dinners.  With no time to shop the stores, much to my disappointment, we hurried down to the piers.

After waiting only 10 minutes in line and making friends with a pleasant Polish couple on their honeymoon, we were all told to board the ship at the next port.  People pushed, shoved and trampled to get on first.  After being cattled to the front we were told we had to return to the first port we were at.  With big smiles we gathered our group to return and waved goodbye to our new friends.  They were so sweet they offered us their own tickets but we declined and went back to the first port laughing and good spirits.

I admit some of us wanted to go shopping or walk back to the hotel but we stuck it through (the hour wait) and got on the next, and last ferry of the night.  My pictures were awful and the batter died half way through the cruise (the camera has been returned for full refund, btw).

Enjoy these shots of Budapest along the Danube at night.  Prague, Vienna, Bratislov, Sighetu and Suceava are next. 🙂  Any videos will posted at studyabroadadventure on Facebook.  You should find the link to the right of this blog.

 

Budapest

 

Home Sweet Home

I haven’t completely abandoned this blog.  I honestly have some many pictures to up load.  Unfortunately, my battery stopped keeping a charge just as I got to Sighetu and so most of my experiences are recorded on other people’s cameras.   :/  I am still waiting for pictures from them but fear I will never get them.  Some pictures are probably still on the road being hitchhiked  around Romania.

I arrived home Saturday and I have been trying to adjust my sleeping patterns to make up for the 10 hour difference between my home and Romania, plus the 36 hours of travel time. 

I started in train leaving Suceava where I met a very nice couple who lived in Spain for over 10 years.  They were on their honeymoon and had so much to say and ask. They spoke perfect Spanish, better than I do, and were great conversation.  I actually slept some on the train to my surprise considering it stopped what felt like a thousand times along the way.  When we arrived I got out and immediately looked for the metro station.  To my surprise I could not find the ticket booth anywhere.  Frustration began to settle in.  So I ascended back up tot he train station and asked information how to get to the airport. She told me to take bus 780. When I asked her where I can buy my ticket she pointed behind her and said the “casa…bilet”.  Great, so I went around the corner and I found it!  Only it was for the train tickets only.  I asked the next person in my best broken Romanian where I could buy a bus ticket and she said she didn’t know, only that I had to take bus 780.  Then I asked, well, do I pay the bus driver?  Now before travelers and Romanians snicker at me – I want it known that all bus tickets in Suceava are paid directly to the collector on the bus and not at a bus station/ticket booth.  This woman actually told me, “Yes” and I went out to the bus stop.

When the bus arrived I happily hopped on and looked for a collector only to find locals effortlessly swiping magnetic cards on fancy little boxes.  I looked for a slot to insert my 5 lei bill in vain and when I realized I was on this bus with no pass I was embarrassed!  When we arrived at the airport I jumped out and tried to hand the driver my 5 lei bill while explaining I didn’t know where to buy a ticket.  He looked at me, winked, and blew me a kiss. I was humbled and grateful and reminded of all the wonderful, kind-hearted people I had come across on my trip so far.  

After nestling in on a chair at the gate I missed the announcement regarding my gate change.  Lucky for me a kind gentleman I met at the airport woke me up to let me know.  I made my way to the new gate groggy and confused only to find I lost my boarding pass.  In a panic I retraced my steps, first the ladies room, then the old gate.   My new friend rushed around and tried to help me look, never leaving my side.  I rushed to the counter where they were boarding and rudely cut in line to breathlessly ask if anyone had turned in a lost ticket.  The man looked up at me and smiled.  “I remember you, he said.”  He was the same person to check my HP Backpack that I totally could have brought on the plane with me.  That is important because there is a story about that pack later.  He pulled my ticket up, scanned it and told me to get on the first bus.  I smiled with my hand over my heart and thanked him.

Upon arriving in London, I saw my new friend and we chatted a bit more.  He lives in London and was studying medicine in Constanta, Romania.  He took down my facebook address and I thanked him for his help and kindness.  We gave a quick hug and I was on my way to my gate for Dallas.  Once we arrived some of us were given “express transfer” passes which were meant to ensure we would get through faster in order to make our connection.  I went through customs, and picked up my HP Backpack, which was small enough for the plane.  But I thought to myself, “Heck, why not recheck it so I can just relax?  I never check bags, plus this was checked for free!”  So I drop my bag off at the re-checking station, perfectly in tact.  Little voices were now saying, “But you’d be able to go straight home from the gate, Edlih!”  I shushed them and skedaddled on to my gate.  A bumpy ride and some 20 micro naps later I arrived.  I was one of the last off my plane and walked out thinking my husband was probably downstairs picking up my backpack that very minute.  Instead I see tall, broad shouldered hunk stand up with a sign: Love of My Life.  He wins me over every time.  We kissed, hugged, yada yada and moved on to get my bag. 

Downstairs at the luggage belt we stood until it stopped moving.  My heart sank. The few gifts I could manage to pack were in there.  My asthma medicine, inhaler, thumb drives…arg.  My regret instantly settled in.  Whose law was it…if anything will go wrong it will?  “It was put on flight XYZ for arrival tomorrow morning, ” he told me at the AA counter.  What?!  It was a small bag, why wasn’t it put on my plane?  Why did they hold it?!  He explained it didn’t say why and that upon arrival they’d deliver it to my home.

Fast forward to today: the bag arrives.  I was ecstatic but the minute he put it in my hand I blurted, “Why is my front pocket open?”  He didn’t even look back to yell “I don’t know” and he skidded away.  Confused I began inspecting my bag.  One of my locks were missing!  I open the pockets and find a note with my broken lock telling me they inspected my bag.  F&^%$#rs!  They kept my bag almost 24 hours just so they could cut my locks and rummage through my bag.  As if it were suspicious in any way – my small HP bags whose contents were dirty laundry, a zip loc bag of clean underwear, school books and oh, yeah, ceramic teaspoons, delicately painted eggs in clay pottery, magnets, keychains, and small wrapped cakes.  Yes, suspicious indeed.  There was a dire need to do what they did.  In fact some ceramics were broken, they mishandled the clay pottery, and left my HD video camera lens cover open and it was exposed to get scratched.    I was offended and furious.  Screw the patriot act on this one, there is no defense.   A simple scan of my items would prove it didn’t contain anything dangerous or illegal.  And this, folks, is why you never check your luggage with any airlines.  All those little voices where my own, from past experiences telling me to do what I’d always done, premonitions of what happens when you entrust your luggage to a country and company that simply doesn’t care.  They were silently telling me, “I told you so.”

It’s okay, I’ll just pay another two grand to visit Romania and pick up new one of a kind, locally produced products that can’t be bought online.  No big deal.  Jerks.  On the positive side I have the best husband ever…and going back next year kind of sounds like a good idea.

Peninsula Music Fest in Cluj

Had a blast!  Two days at the Peninsula Music Fest in Cluj-Napoca.  Videos on the FB account…

Transportation Field Note

Getting around in Cluj and Romania…Later on I will be on trains and Tour Bus (Bus Coach).  But for now see pics of how our group’s van and my tram:

 

Transportation Field Note.

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