Going to Romania is a very exciting news to me. I have never been to the eastern side of Europe and I do not have any plans for that until the ESN Milano told me and Markos to represent for the Student4EXPO there. We got on the plane on Thursday morning and arrived in Bucharest around noon. The president of ESN Romania, Alexandra, and the president of ESN Dublin, Kenny Ho, met us in the airport. After a short ride on the bus we arrive in her place, they packed their belongings and we all headed to the Central Station. To be honest Romania wasn’t really fascinating me til as the new part of Bucharest is not really my cup of tea with abandoned buildings and the greyish tone all over the city.
We met another girl, Maria, the vice-president of ESN Denmark and my new best friend during the weekend in the Bucharest Central Station. Just like in the movies, we ran after the train heading to Brasov as it was leaving but with the door open. Our amazing journey officially began.
It was a long ride because we picked the cheapest slow train tickets which cost 25 RON/LEU (around 7 EUROS). But the scenery of Romania is very eye-catching: snowy mountains, old train stations, valleys with small traditional houses… I really would have drunk myself into the views if the train wasn’t that crowded and warm.
At around 6 we arrived Brasov, one of the most touristic cities in Romania. We met the president ESN Brasov, Andrei, in a fast food shop while we were having our early “traditional” Romanian dinner. I thought Brasov is the place we are going to stay and the thought was so wrong. We met more other people from ESN Romania at the taxi stand and we all took the taxi to our next destination.
It was longer than I was expecting. The roads were so dark and it seemed like we were in the middle of nowhere. After 30 minutes ride we arrived in a very huge traditional wooden house. The house is just amazing. Me and Markos got the room on the top floor with a small cozy balcony. I swear I have never seen that much star in the sky in my entire life. (I am from Hong Kong in case some of you don’t know why I was so fascinated.) We got a late dinner, some alcohol, and we went to bed.
The second day was a pretty chill day as well. Me, Markos and Maria climbed up the snowy mountain right behind the house right after the breakfast. Our new little friend, a cutie dog was our guide. He followed and climbed the mountain with us and showed us a easier way back. The mountain was very muddy and covered by snow which become way to slippery for me when climbing down. At the end I just slide down with my butt acting like a sleigh. The view from the mountain “top” is spectacular. It looks like the European fairytale dream I ever had in my childhood.
Activities started in the afternoon. We had some team building works which was aim at letting their new members get to know each other better. We had competitions of snowman building and the most serious snow fight ever. After the fun afternoon, we head back to the house, we had some traditional Romanian barbecue for dinner and some more parties and alcohol to wrap up the lovely day.
The “real deal” started on Saturday. We had a whole day conference right after the breakfast. Every sections of ESN Romania have to report what they have done during the past months and their thoughts about the national sector. And congratulation to their newly join ESN Criaova section. Me and Markos got a 15 minutes presentation time about the Student4EXPO in the afternoon. We tried our best to make it sounds like it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a volunteer in the EU Pavilion of the EXPO which it definitely is, and also the summer school program from the Bicocca University. We got a bunch of good feedback not just because of the “too good to be true” opportunity but also the clear and interesting way how we presented that. Special thanks to Kenny who made a very good conclusion for us at the end of the presentation. We got lots of questions and left a lot of contacts for the members who are interested and nearly all of them are going to promote it when they are back in their own section.
The conference went pretty good and we finish around 6. It comes with a workshop section which 3 different topics including career development and team working skills. Everything ends around 9 and in order to prepare for a small party on that night, we went to a market near the Dracula castle for beer. It is just another “Romanian wonder” to me with the stunning castle standing in the dark.
Sunday was the last day in Brasov but a short conference is still needed in the morning. Everyone was well prepared to leave right after it in the afternoon. We officially say goodbye to everybody and thank you for their hosting and took group photos. After a 30 minutes car ride we arrived at the train station and took the long train back to Bucharest.
We arrived Bucharest at around 7. We had a slow walk in the old town, shopping for souvenirs and had traditional Romania cuisine. We didn't have enough time to see the whole city. But I can tell I will go back and discover more about this mysterious city behind the thick winter fog. Thank you again for everybody giving me such an amazing weekend in Romania. Special thanks to my new weekend best friends Maria Georgiana, Roel Hengeveld ,Froggy Alexandra, Markos Hughes and my new love doggie. It won't be the same without you.