New Friendships, New Experiences
When first coming to Romania, I didn’t really know what to expect. What would the people be like? What would the culture be like? More importantly, what would I be like when faced with a strange and new situation? Needless to say, I was scared, and afraid of being alone. Lucky for me, there were four other students in the same boat, all experiencing similar emotions to me. The first night in Lupeni, Romania, I thought to myself, “Crap, what have I done? This place doesn’t look anything like I expected.” I had so many different emotions racing through me, but I couldn’t help but feel a little sense of dread that I’d made a terrible mistake. That feeling was quickly crushed, though, when the five of us and some other people in Fundatia were whisked off to Retezat. I slowly became more comfortable in my surroundings (at the time I was mostly surrounded by trees and rocks, but still). After conquering the mountains, I felt like I could do almost anything.
It wasn’t long after Retezat that we were placed in our host families. I went to the Pentecostal church with them where I met some high schoolers. Over the semester, I started hanging out with them more and more, and the other students and I went to play volleyball with them quite often. I’ve appreciated their friendship immensely, and their friendships have helped to ease some of the anxiousness I felt coming here. Coming into Romania, I was not sure what to expect. Maybe I thought the people here would be very different, but I was often surprised by how well my high school friends could speak English, or how well they knew American phrases and pop culture. We could laugh at each other when we attempted each other’s respective languages, and I found it so refreshing to see such joy and laughter in the youth compared to the somewhat dreary-seeming town.
I know the friendships I have made in Romania will stick with me for the rest of my life, as cheesy as that sounds. I’ve learned so much simply by observing the culture let alone actually getting to participate in it. I’m incredibly thankful for technology and social media, as much I sometimes get frustrated by it. It’s been a useful tool for keeping in contact with people back home, and when I go back to America, it will hopefully be helpful for keeping up with my new Romanian friends. It has been extremely challenging engaging in the culture here, but also so rewarding for me because I’ve made good friends and hopefully lasting relationships.