I have been in Romania for a little over one week now and it feels like so much has happened already! This past week has been filled with all sorts of emotions. As I am still soaking up the new environment and trying to settle into my new routine, I found it helpful to organize my thoughts and adventures under these categories:
My Host Family
My host family is fantastic! The first night that Jill and I arrived into Sighisoara, they greeted us with a delicious fresh baked plum cake. Jill and I were a little exhausted from the 24+ hours of traveling, so after chatting for a bit, we retired for the evening in our room. Jill and I also have our own bathroom – which apparently is rare for students in this program, so we sure are lucky. 🙂
Fortunately, Romania starts school later in September, so Oana, my host sister who is also in college, is able to spend time with us before she leaves for her school of design in Cluj, Romania. Oana, who speaks English very well, is a lot of fun and gave Jill and I our first official tour of the citadel! There happened to be a Film Festival that first weekend that we arrived, so Saturday evening, Jill and I met with Oana’s friends in the citadel to watch a Romanian film (without English subtitles!), and on Sunday night we returned to the citadel to listen to a few local Romanian bands. Oana just so happened to have studied abroad in Latvia last semester (!!!) so we were able to bond over our similar experiences. It will be sad when Oana has to go back to Cluj, because she has been extremely helpful with adjusting to the Romanian lifestyle.
Growing up on a fruit farm, I was particularly worried that I would not be able to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as I am used to. What a surprise I’ve had! The majority of the food that we eat is grown in my host family’s backyard or is bought at the local farm market on Wednesdays or Saturdays. Our milk is straight from the neighbor’s cow, so in the mornings, I strain the fat out of the milk myself! Raspberries, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, herbs – you name it, we probably have it in the garden! It is a great season to be visiting. 🙂 Oh, and I absolutely love the neighbor’s fresh grapes! They’re incredible! My host family prefers to eat only organic food, and I love the healthy options that they provide for Jill and I each day.
As I mentioned before, the Romanians were still enjoying their summer break this past week, and therefore some of the Veritas programs (like Kids Club, Adolescent Youth Group, Kindergarten, and Special Needs Club) will not start until tomorrow (Monday the 16th). However, we, the RSP students, were kept extremely busy this past week in preparation for the start of the Veritas programs. Jill and I have a 30 minute walk each morning into the citadel where our classroom in the House on the Rock (one of the Veritas buildings) is located. This past week, our Romanian language class started at 8 am, and was either followed by a Romanian history class or a Romanian literature class. After classes, we would have a 15 minute walk over to the Family Center (the other Veritas building where most of the programs take place) where lunch was prepared for the Veritas staff and students (we will continue to have our lunches prepared for us during the weekdays at the Family Center throughout the semester). After lunch, our afternoons were filled with home visits, staff meetings, visiting elderly clubs, and listening to presentations on what each program consists of at Veritas. These presentations and informative meetings were crucial in helping me decide which programs I wanted to participate in this semester for my field practicum. Tomorrow, after language class, the plan is for me to attend an elderly club until lunch, and then after lunch work with the adolescent/teen club.The schedules are still very likely to change, but I have been told that after this first week it gets easier because then we’re able to settle into a routine.
Most importantly on this trip so far I have learned to: 1) stay flexible – our schedules are constantly changing, 2) force myself to try to get to sleep at night at a reasonable hour, and 3) keep relying on God for strength each day. This semester will be a challenge, but I know good things are happening here.