When I was at University, I was lucky enough to join the BREDEX programme. This is a programme for students from Oxford or the University of London to teach English in Romania. I wanted to travel, so this was a perfect opportunity for me. I was in Romania for almost 3 months, at a university in Iasi. I taught with three other teachers and my accommodation was provided. Since then, I have visited twice, to visit my old friends and students. Here is some insight into what it was like to go from the UK to Romania.
I arrived into Baneasa Airport, which was basically a small room (think Skins series 1 when they go to visit Russia). The customs officer barely glanced at my passport. I met the other teachers, we partied for a few days in Bucharest, (the Old Town),and each went to our different University town. Some of the teachers had trouble with taxi drivers, including my good friend *Aidan getting locked in a taxi, and being robbed of 200 euros. I have heard this seldom happens now as recently the airport taxis have become regulated. Also, this did not just happened to tourists. Many of my friends in Iasi have told me that taxi drivers in Bucharest are notorious for ripping off Romanians too.
I boarded the ten hour train to Iasi. Men with boxes of chickens would crash past us. Beggars would leave notebooks and tissues on the seat next to you, if you touched them, they would demand money for them.We met a friend, Dragos, who told us that in Romania if you got sick here, it was difficult to see a doctor until the next day. He left the train, shaking hands with the men. I love that in Romania everyone kisses on the cheek as a greeting. I find it lovely, on the flipside men very seldom shake hands with women, only men.
Arriving in Iasi, we met our friend *Donna who took us to the student halls. I was sharing a room with one other teacher. The next day we met our students, dividing them into three groups of ability, beginner, intermediate, advanced. We each taught 2 levels a day, morning and afternoon. Our classes usually finished around 4pm. The people I taught were taking master’s degrees and doctorates, and some were from around the town who had joined the course. These people were the warmest and friendliest people I have ever met in my life.
Once, two of my students surprised me with a flower and a bottle of transylvanian wine, just before the end of the summer course. I was so shocked. Many of the students became our friends, and we would go for delicious Romanian Pizza, go drinking on the terrace or go to Underground metal club. I had the best time of my life. I took a trip with the other teachers and some of my friends to Brasov, my favourite place in all of Romania. We visited the Black and White churches, Brasov Zoo, the market square and many bars and restaurants! I loved the community feel of the train journey, everyone would share food, bring picnics, beer, we would play cards and sing.
From Brasov, we travelled to Vama Veche, the party town. We stayed in a hostel, 3 of us in a room for about 5 euros a night. We were a stone’s throw from the beach and attended many of the infamous beach parties. People would crowd in groups on the beach and share beer, vodka, food and stories with strangers. Everyone would ask you for țigarete, unlike the UK, you could smoke inside bars and restaurants. We would listen to Deepside Dejays, Never be Alone on repeat and dance on the sand. This communal mindset is why I love Romania so much. If you are looking for a simple holiday in a beautiful country, you should visit.
Romania gets a bad wrap as a poor country. Yes, there are gypsies and stray dogs walking around. There is also so much more. The people there are so hard working and yet able to enjoy their life fully in a frugal way. I made some of the best friends of my life. My good friend *Antonia inspired me to complete a masters degree, which I did later. Antonia would wake up, cook breakfast for her father and brother, then go to university 9am – 5pm and after that would work until 11pm. She was always happy and helpful and on of the most caring people I have ever met in my life. I owe so much to her and my overall experience in Romania. At last, I want to thank everyone who I met in Romania, may we always remain good friends. I could fill books on everything we did, but for this post, for me, it’s enough.
If you would like to know more about the BREDEX programme you can visit the website below:
Thanks for reading.
Vă mulțumesc tuturor.