Where did the time go! Month two has come to a close. The month of March was as chaotic as expected. It’s hard balancing work, writing a thesis, learning a language, taking classes, and my other personal projects. I spent the first two weeks of March preparing myself for a two-week visit from Casey. I spent the first two Wednesdays of March camped out in the immigration office trying my hardest to see an immigration officer. There is only one immigration office for the entire Judetul of Cluj, and it is so overwhelmed that it is impossible to make an appointment. I’m starting to worry about my legal status here in Romania, but it’s out of my hands. Before Casey arrived, I visited Brasov to give a workshop on Youth Development, finished the second draft of my thesis, and began my fellowship with the Tzu Chi foundation. The Tzu Chi foundation allows me the opportunity to collaborate on climate mitigation projects with other changemakers, and will support my attendance at COP28 and other conferences.
During the last two weeks of March, Casey and I rented a car from the airport and did a roadtrip around Romania. NOTE: You DO need an international drivers license to drive in Romania and, yes, we are thankful we had it because we DID get pulled over. We spent a fair amount of time exploring art museums, cafes, and the Biserica Sfantul Mihail. I had another work event in Sighisoara, so we made it the first stop on our list. We spent two days exploring the old citadel, fortified ruins, and beautiful cemeteries decorated with the purple and yellow wildflowers that were in bloom. We also sampled the cafes and walked by the river. The days following, we spent time in and around Brasov visiting Biserica Neagra, Castelul Peles, and Castelul Bran. We got caught up in the little mountain towns exploring markets and enjoying the weather. Castelul Peles was worth the visit, even though it was a 40 minute climb up a hill to be able to enter the castle. Each of the extensions of the castle had a different influence (imagine a medieval style room next to a Turkish style living room). Afterwards, on our drive from Castelul Peles to Sibiu, we drove through a handful of Romanian villages and shared the road with plenty of horse drawn carriages before seeing neighborhoods and neighborhoods of colorful, Romani (not to be confused with Romanian) style architecture.
I am happy to say we had the opportunity to stop and Sibiu and enjoy the small but lively old town, and hike up to the bell tower. Sibiu is home to one of our favorite piata, and we sat and fed the pigeons as the sun went down, which was definitely the highlight of my day. We ended up spending the night in Alba Iulia at the nicest hotel I have ever had the pleasure of staying at. Before heading back to Cluj we thought it fit to see Castelul Corvinilor, AKA the castle where The Nun was filmed. We watched the movie in preparation for our visit and walked through the different wings where scenes were filmed. By far, Castelul Corvinolor is my favorite castle in Romania to date.
I’m exhausted, but looking forward to what the next four months in Romania will bring me. I was recently awarded another fellowship called FLAS that would allow me to extend my stay in Romania if I so choose. Stay tuned!