Who knew that there's so much new out there?
Photo : Dominique Cox
From the moment I felt the thud of the plane landing in Bucharest, I knew this experience would be unlike any other. To Americans, Romania is not much of a thought, besides the stories of Dracula and vampires. I’d be lying if I tried to claim that my opinions prior to being here were different. Even though I’ve only been in Brasov for a just 3 and a half days, I feel like I’ve learned more than I could have ever possibly imagined while sitting at home in America booking my flights to come here. Little did I know then, that I would be immersed in a world of old and new.
I had traveled to Europe before, so I thought I knew the real groove of the rest of Europe. I was pleasantly proved wrong. Each country is unique in its culture, traditions, languages, geography and much more.
Daniel was the first person I came across as soon as I exited the baggage claims area, holding up a small Projects Abroad sign. He took my heavier bag and off we went. The drive to Brasov was an experience of its own. The diversity of the land and the things among it fascinated me. One side of the road would be homes, and across the highway, there were rows and rows of tall, bright sunflowers, that seemed to go on forever. A young man carried bundle of wood that seemed too large for his small, rusty bike, as people engaged with fruit sellers on the side of the highway. Ahead of us the silhouette of the Carpathian Mountains appeared, as we passed an old, run down natural gas factory, filled with shattered windows, towering grey columns, and vast hour glass shaped tubes, which were once filled with one of earth's most precious resources. As we entered the mountain range, we climbed higher and higher into the clouds, and passed several charming mountain towns, which vaguely reminded me of towns you would see in Alpine Switzerland. Finally, we passed the Brasov sign.
Driving into my home for the next 5 weeks, I noticed old remains of the communism era, and the true difference between modern and historic. The start of Brasov looked more grey, concrete, and industrial, but once we got into the historic area, colors began to pop and the architecture changed for the better. Before I came, I certainly wasn’t expecting to see the more “modern” concrete remnants of communism, but I also wasn’t expecting such a radiant assortment of colors in the historical district, such as pinks, greens, and bright blues. I’m still so shocked by the organization of the round-a-bouts in the more central parts of Brasov.
In America, we have more modified and safe versions of these, not the massive ones here with 3 or 4 lanes. Because of Americans lack of care and patience, such structures would be a recipe for chaos. After what felt like hundreds of turns and panicking about how in the world I was going to be able to navigate these streets by myself, we turned on to Str Castelului, and approached my new home.
The grand doors to a historic home swung open. A white haired woman was standing there, eyes sparkling and arms open wide, ready to greet me into her home. I also met my roommate, whom I’ve found to be a loyal, wonderful friend. I’m excited to see how my views of Romania and the world surrounding us, continue to change during my stay, and how the bonds I make with the people I meet evolve.