Monday, January 31, 2011

Snowman Surprise

The other day I was in my kitchen cooking lunch when I started hearing someone whistling cheerfully. I didn't think much of it as I thought at first it was my neighbors upstairs, but then it got louder and louder-it seemed to be right next to me.  I went to the kitchen window and peeked out the curtain...this is what I saw.
It was one of my 7th graders, making a snowman outside for me! All cooking stopped as I opened the window to greet him. "Look what I make for you!" he said, so excited.  I thanked him profusely and he continued working on his masterpiece, whistling the whole time.  Then, he ran off before I got to thank him again. But here is the finished product.
Complete with carrot nose, rock buttons, and a snow hat. It made my day. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011


I ran across this picture, which is taken from the riots going on in Cairo and the rest of Egypt this week. I just thought this picture was so powerful...shows what people do when they truly believe in a certain cause and change in their world. praying for safety of those in that area now.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


This morning I walked out of my house to head to school and I was greeted by millions  of beautiful snowflakes.  It was still quiet outside, and the thick heavy snow clouds seemed so close I could almost reach up and touch them.  I headed towards the center, bundled in a two jackets, gloves, scarf, and hat.  Hunkered down to escape the endless torrent of snowflakes entering my eyes, I squinted and wondered why I didn’t also wear my snowboarding goggles-they would have been useful. I laughed out loud at situation, thinking to myself, “If I were back in NOVA, there is no way we would have school today…”

I love walking to school when it’s snowing.  Yes, it’s true that we don’t have snow days here and yes, I sometimes fall on the ice in the center of town. Yes, my jacket and hat are soaking wet by the time I reach my classroom, but who wouldn’t agree that snow is just so entirely majestic, so magical?  I’ve found that I’ve loved living in a place that gets a snowstorm pretty much every week-a constant and heavy snow that lasts for two, three days without stopping.  In those moments the village seems to take a deep breath and enjoys the silence. I too get lost in my cup of hot chocolate or my tea, staring out the window of my kitchen and snapping pictures of my very own winter wonderland.  

Today I’m thinking of you all back home who are getting hit with some pretty heavy snow. Take a minute, a few deep breaths, and enjoy the quiet white blanketing the ground, the trees, and your eyelashes. Oh-and never take those snow days for granted.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First Semester-Check!

 I cannot believe that I have finished my first semester teaching here in Romania.  Tests, projects and journals have been graded. Grades have been given, I’m sure tears have been spilled, (I told them those English journals would count!) but after a challenging semester of getting used to the Romanian education system and trying to learn 300 student’s names, I have successfully completed my first of four semesters.
So the question is, what now? Well, we have a week long vacation between semesters, so I will either be A: Going snowboarding. B. Traveling around Romania visiting new places or C. Traveling to Italy to participate in a “Youth in Action” program with our students. Still waiting on news about whether we are going or not, but Italy-yes please!
After the break, we’re back at school for the second semester. I am working on my secondary, extra projects with the school and with my community aside from teaching.  Right now, I’m in the process of starting Adult English Classes for my community and also the professors at school.  I have a cooking club for my students that will meet twice a week to prepare American and Romanian foods. I am working with my counterpart on a bi-weekly English film and discussion club for the High School.
Recently, I have also just joined a committee for an ecological project at the school.  We are a “scoala verde” or “green school” recognized by the Ministry of Education and therefore participate in activities and projects to improve the environment.   

On top of that, I will be working with Vali to organize, design and implement a wall mural to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of Peace Corps Service in Romania.  We want work with the students to design a mural that will promote world peace and friendship.  Lastly, Katie and I are in the process of planning an English Summer Camp for Timis County in July!  Whew…so I’m busy but I’m loving it.  Time seems to be flying by here in RO and I want to try to get as much done as possible. I like being busy so it works for me!
Plans for traveling this semester are in the works as well.  Belgrade, Serbia is on the list, as well as Maramures in the north-west part of Romania. If possible, I would also like to see Istanbul, Turkey as I’ve heard it’s the most amazing place near here. 
As we say here, “o sa vedem!” or “We’ll see!” As you know, I’ll keep you posted on all my adventures… 

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Number 1: LL Bean Moccasins.

I just arrived home from the train station, and I'm freezing. Snow has arrived again in Recas and the Nine West boots I wore to the city are NOT, I repeat NOT waterproof.  I was wearing two pairs of socks and legging but I'm soaked to the bone! Note to self-purchase better winter boots to survive the next few months of winter...

As I sit here drying off and trying to get warm, I've been thinking of all the little things I have here that I am so grateful for.  The things that from the outside don't seem like much, but in all actuality keep me comfortable and a bit sane here. :) I've decided to make a list of just a few of them. Thank you to all of you who have sent me some of these things! You have no idea how much they help.

Ok-The moccasins from LL Bean are AMAZING. I'm sure you've heard from me that here in Romania, people wear slippers in there house, at all times.  This is something that I've really had to get used to, but its been easier with my moccasins. They are incredibly warm, comfy, and have a hard rubber sole so that I can even go outside with the, if necessary. (Ok "outside" means to another apartment above me, not outdoors.) Thank you Down's family for buying me these awesome slippers. They have traveled all over the country with me!

Disclaimer-this isn't MY machine, but close enough.
 The next thing I'm incredibly thankful for is my washing machine. It's small, its loud, but its PERFECT. I know a lot of volunteers who have to hand wash their clothes, and with winter here, the occasional loss of hot (or any) water, I am happy that that is something I don't have to worry about.  And by the way, I will never take a dryer for granted again.  Going back to the states and having my clothes dried in 30 minutes is going to be amazing. For now, my drying rack located next to the heater works just fine!
Number 3: The most amazing hair product I have here.

Let's talk about hair.  The water that comes out of the showers here is hard, untreated water.  It has wreaked havoc on my hair, making it dry, brittle, basically destroying it.  I mentioned this to Amanda back home, and she surprised me with this Pantene intensive treatment in a package!  Thanks to Amanda for this-something small but that has made a world of difference to me here. Anyone going into the Peace Corps should write this down, and have family/friends send it to you. A lifesaver!
Number 4: Who would have guessed I would love it so much?

Next on the list, scotch tape-heavy duty. I have wanted to nail some things on my apartment walls, but my walls are concrete, and I can't get any nails into the wall.  When my parents came, they brought me some heavy duty tape and I was able to hang cards, maps, pictures, and other things on the walls, making my apartment more cozy and warm. Everything that I used before just didn't cut it. So now, all of those cards and pictures you send me are securely posted on the walls, and make me smile each and every day.
Number 5: A little bit if American heaven.

Now back in the states, I didn't like marshmallows. Well, OK, I didn't like small marshmallows in my hot chocolate. (Who doesn't love S'mores?!) But here in Romania, where we can't find marshmallows, I have had a craving for them weirdly enough. I received this box of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, complete with marshmallows, and on days like today where I'm chilled to the bone, there is nothing like it.  Another thing that I will never take for granted again when I'm home. Thank you all my friends (and family!) and Hale Carlson Baumgartner, PLC for hooking me up!
Number 6: I seriously want to shake the hand of the person who invented Reeses.

Anyone who knows me well knows that my absolute favorite candy is Reeses. Anything Reeses. The cups, the pieces, the Reese's Christmas trees, and Easter eggs that come out during the holidays...even the ice cream gets my vote. So when my parents showed up from the States with two bags of these, well-Merry Christmas to me. We can't get these here, hell I can't even find peanut butter in my village, so to Reese's Pieces-Yes please.

 Lastly, we have wool socks from REI.  Before I came to Romania I stocked up on these socks and they have been a LIFESAVER.  (Especially now, when it's freezing outside). I usually double them up when I go out in the snow and my feet stay warm and dry all day.  I have also used these socks hiking in the summer, and after 9 hours I didn't even have one blister. In fact I am wearing them now.  Grateful for these socks and for my mom who brought me two more pairs at Christmas!

                    Number 7: My feet thank you, Wool socks from REI.                                 
Like I said, these are just a FEW small things that I am thankful
for during my service here in Romania.  There are so many things
that you all have sent me that I am so appreciative for, including
baking supplies, makeup, magazines, food, teaching supplies, and
even clothes and books.  I am so grateful to have YOU all supporting
me from home. Thank you for everything-especially the small things!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Last weekend I traveled with Katie to Bucharest.  Before I continue, I first want to show you how we travel to Bucharest.  We take a night train (cuseta) because it is about 9 hours away.  Now each cabin in the cuseta has either room for 4 or 6.  Katie and I were lucky enough to get the top bunks in the cabin...
I'm 5'3...and I couldn't even sit up. Cramped!

Katie is 5'1....we were trying to figure out how anyone over 5'5 even got up there.

We visited the Peace Corps office, stocked up on teaching supplies, and even found a Mexican restaurant for some real( well...almost real) tacos!
Margaritas and Tortilla chips. First time in 8 months!

Best Cheese Dip in Romania...hands down.

After our time in Bucharest, we visited our fellow PCV Nick who lives near the city.  We spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, watching movies, cooking, and taking care of a little puppy we found outside of Nick's door.  Introducing...Jenny.
Begging to come in!

 It was a bit cold outside, so we brought her in, cleaned her up, and let her watch movies with us for the afternoon. Then, we cooked her some chicken fat-she was the most spoiled stray pup in Romania, for sure.
Cleaning her up

Movie time with the pup. She's getting real comfortable.

Real, REAL comfortable. So cute!

Oh Hey little girl!

Waiting for Nick to drop some chicken meat.
After awhile, she was ready to go back outside with the dog pack, so we set her free. But not before we made Nick promise he would look out for her in the future...right Nick?

Katie and I made it back to the West side in time for school Monday morning. Another successful trip across the country with one of my favorite PCVs!
Katie and I at Nick's house.

And I leave you with this jawbone..which we found in Nick's yard. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


This is just a picture I took walking home form the Train Station one night..Love my site.


Mom and I at the town Luncheon.

The Mayor honoring my parents!

My students presenting traditional dance and song.

Walking through Timisoara, winter wonderland!

More adventures in Timisoara

Dad relaxing at the mall in the Massage Chair. Haha.

So glad my momma was here!


Mom and Dad walking through Budapest.

A church door, created in the 13th Century!

Walking around Budapest.

At St. Stephen's Basilica! Budapest.

View from St. Stephen's...Budapest.

Dome inside the Church

The front of St. Stephen's

I like to creep on them..walking through the streets of Pest.

BEST hat ever. Central Pest, New Years Eve

At the Palace, Buda side.


Looking across the river to Pest

Harold at the Palace!

Coffee break...we were FREEZING!

Church in the Castle District, Buda.

Parents with Pest in the background.

Me in the Castle District

Looking through the walls to Pest

A trained Eagle.

Hanging out in front of Parliament!

You have no idea how cold we were here...

Hanging out on NYE!! Central Pest, Hungary


My dessert on New Years Eve, Pudding and Caramel.

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25 minutes left!