Learn With Experience

By Dani Duistermars on October 19, 2017

This semester is definitely atypical compared to my past Northwestern semesters.  Most years at school I am constantly busy at school, I am working to meet deadlines and get to meetings.  I have three planners, one with my syllabus information, one with my actual assignments to currently do, and one that has my day planned out.  My weekdays follow a pretty strict schedule.

This is most definitely not the case here.  Time almost appears to not exist; everything is extremely chill and go with the flow.  We have a schedule set up, but there is chance of it changing within a days notice or not much planned at all.  We have classes set up, but that is often two to four hours a day.  Once classes are over the day is up to us.  Most of the time I feel like I can’t tell the difference between a weekday and the weekend. 

When classes finish for the day we can do what we like.  Some days we will go to one of the many second hand stores.  Another common activity is going to the Chill Lounge for a milkshake and playing some board games.  My host sister and her friends from school and church love playing volleyball, so we have a played a couple hours of volleyball at least once a week since we have been here.  There is time for these relaxing activities and to really enjoy getting to know the people and culture in Romania. 

A major component of the semester is a focus in experiential learning.  This means instead of classroom learning we are doing excursions and other experiences to motivate our learning.  This has included our Retezat backpacking trip we had at the beginning of the year.  We have also done trips to a rock climbing gym that works with youth in a nearby town as well as spending a day at a high ropes course.  Some class days have also included hiking in the mountains nearby.  With these activities we have time to debrief and process what we experienced or witnessed.  This debrief is an important aspect to the process of experiential learning because without it all you have is a cool experience.  Nothing has really come out of it. 

This combination of lifestyle here in Lupeni has resulted in one of the most relaxed semesters I have experienced.  It has allowed me to spend time with the people here as well as truly enjoy the experience.  I am not merely trying to get through each week and finish the next assignment.  I am truly living each day as it comes and enjoying each minute of it.