Monday, February 23, 2015

Where in the world am I?

A few Irish friends have been saying they want to read my blog. No pressure guys!

So I have been thinking what will I say to you ?

No doubt you have questions about Romania. What is it like? Why should I visit?

I am going to deal with your questions below!

Firstly , what is Romania like?

Well this is a topic that really can't be covered in one blog post.
It is a country of huge mountains, lakes , rivers and one small sea side. The countryside in autumn and spring is an explosion of color, trees changing on a massive scale. That brings me to something I have already discussed in previous posts, but that is space. The mountains, hills and valleys are HUGE . The sense of space is incredible.  It is truly a huge country that I will be very lucky to even explore a fraction of her during my ten months here.

The Romanians are welcoming and warm and always up for a bit of fun! The food here is in a word, yum. Romania is wine producing country and home made foods such as placintas, sarmale and wines are common at a dinner. There are also liquors
such as Palinka and visnete which I consider both lovely and lethal!

Any of you considering to visit me Romania has it all! Mountains (Yes I know I already mentioned them but they are pretty incredible!) , a fascinating culture and history , beautiful old fairy tale castles, skiing, hot thermal baths (mmmmm I already tested these for you and they are incredible!), healing salt mines and beautiful churches which are so different to what I have ever seen before. They are an explosion of color and life.

I've said a few times this is a huge country! So where exactly am I in it ? I live in Baia Mare (not much help?) I live in the Northernmost point of the country and am only a few short hours from the Ukrainian border. The county I am in is Maramures . The Telegraph called Maramures "a rural fairytale" and I can't agree with them more. Traditional costumes are still worn on special occasions and festivals. And many traditions are still practiced.

It's an incredible place and I am here waiting for you!


Monday, February 16, 2015

The sun has got it's hat on!

Hip hip hip hooray!! The sun has got his hat on and he's coming out to play!

After a drab, dreary and cold winter the sun has awoken and begun to shine! I am so happy to see him and feel myself slowly coming out of hibernation.

This week I find myself reflecting on the activities of the past week and months.

The activities we are creating are going well and the children are enjoying them! But it's not a picnic! We need to think on our feet and keep those who fly through their activity involved while we encourage those who are still working methodically through their work. We are learning how to do this bit by bit but there can be a times when the class runs wild!

This week being so close to Valentines day we made valentines cards with our kindergarten class and with the Hungarian school. Our four year olds and a fair amount of the older Hungarian class dedicated theirs to their mother. I think this shows that it is your mother who is your first love so our future partners have a hell of alot to live up to! But some love triangles did emerge among the ten year olds! And one girl dedicated her card to the only friend worthy of her affections, her cat.

In the Roma center we decided to make a giant heart collage and everyone worked together as a team and made a huge valentines card for the center.

It's safe to say my art workshop was a valentines free zone!! We painted and finished off our masks. The ideas and creativity used in the decoration was incredible! This week we will be doing printing and I can't wait to see what we will create together!

Spring brings a season of new possibilities, new growth and change. I wonder what this one will bring!!

Monday, February 9, 2015


So this week I decided at the last minute to head off, and what an adventure it turned out to be =D I visited Bucharest, Cluj, Brasov, Rasnov and Sigisoara!

I have realized in my blog that I have not spent much time actually discussing Romania. So this week I will discuss a little of this beautiful country.

1) She's BIG, 238,391 Km squared to be exact. Compare this to my bonny Isle of  8,4421 Km squared. Last week I hitched down the length of her from Bella Baia Mare all the way to Bucharest. (The equivalent of going from Malin head to Mizen head). According to Google maps this trip takes just under 8 hours by car, 12 by train. Hitching took us about 11 hours. Not bad eah? And on the way we met so many interesting people who told us alot of Romania! However the style of driving had me saying my prayers in my head!

2) She has awesome food! OK so your not going to get a cup of Barry's or a carvery to save your life but the Romanian cuisine has alot to offer!  There are many delicious dishes such as Sarmale, which is cabbage leaves stuffed with pork and rich # yummy! Mamiliga is also pretty damn good here too (once you get over the yellow meal prejudice that seems to be part of the Irish national memory) it accompanies delicious stews and can have smantana (sour cream) mixed through- noom! And the pastries... a very dangerous area for me because they are DELICIOUS! One of which is Covrigi, it's a bread pretzel but here in Romania its stuffed with chocolate or jam or vanilla cream. There are also delicacies such as Papanasi, which is deep fat fried dough served with jam and beautiful smantana. Moving swiftly on as I am beginning to get hungry!

3) Language.... Many people have been asking how I am coping with the language barrier that is Romanian. And I seem to be coping just fine! Romanian is a Latin language so has close links with Italian, Spanish and  French. If you have learnt one of these in the past it is a huge help in understanding what is going. However I am often completely lost and this is when my acting skills come in handy =D

4) Landscapes - They are beautiful and have huge extremes and variety. Mountains , lakes and beautiful countryside. And let's not forget the architecture, it's beautiful , elegant and colorful in places and then strong and imposing and colorless
in other places!

I'm all out of comparisons and hungry! So that's all for this week!

Monday, February 2, 2015

"The only thing we have to fear... is fear itself"

"The only thing we have to fear... is fear itself"

This was first said by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his inaugural speech in 1933. He was talking to a country that was recovering from it's biggest economic crisis and was seeing a war on the horizon. Now that I think about it, it feels like the world has not changed so much, now we are currently recovering from an economic crisis , albeit not our biggest and we are feeling the tremors of war in the East.

These similarities aside I believe that these words can be applied to my life. I do not live my life in fear , however at times find myself terrified when facing the unknown. I don't think this is an unreasonable reaction, especially as my recent past is filled with instances where I have neither been able to control the situation nor the outcome and just had to hope for the best. Just that hope... which no matter how active you are in your hope, no matter how many candles you light, how many prayers are said on your behalf, it's just hope. Hope can be one of the most powerful resources we as humans have, it has enabled people to survive a multitude or horrendous situations.  But once negativity, which in this case is fear you feel the hope wavering because it is "just" hope, it not fact , there is no guarantee that everything will work out. So fear can often kill what hope we have, driving us to make different decisions, taking the safe option that offers a logical and certain outcome.

I was a victim of fear in my past, I believe all of us were at some point. And now when I look back one single thing made me afraid, throughout all of the times in my life when I had fear. What was that one thing? Fear of the unknown. This fear stems from being unable to see beyond the action or the event. To ignore this fear is easier said than done. But we must remember it for what it is , it is "just" fear, like hope is "just" hope and it can be turned into a positive thing  as easily as hope can be made negative. Because what it is fear, often it is uncertainty , it means you don't know what is going to happen.

Unfortunately no matter how safe a life we make for ourselves , no matter how much insurance we have, or pensions we pay into we cannot control everything in our life. So what exactly am I saying? I am saying fear is one thing , it is uncertainty. And also that uncertainty is something that is unavoidable, no matter how much we want to we cannot stop this world from turning.

I will leave you with the words of the great Baz Luhrmann:

The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mindThe kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday

Remember it is just the fear of what you don't know that is stopping you!!