And so here I am in Arad, Romania. After three months of adventuring around Romania (and a few other countries – Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Greece) this summer, the Fulbright experience is underway! Here’s a succint rundown of my life in the past week:
Last week was absolute chaos, but filled with so many incredible experiences and people. The two days of Fulbright orientation consisted of a one-day session at the Fulbright Commission, where we were briefed on the security, political, economic, and academic environment here; on the second day, we went to Peles Castle, which is about two hours north of Bucharest in the Carpathian Mountains near Sinaia. Built by King Carol I of Romania in Neo-Renaissance style between 1873 and 1914, it is one of Romania’s most famous attractions (and rightly so). Everything from its dramatic surrounding landscape to its imposing neo-Renaissance style and richly ornamented wood interior evokes a stunning impression of cozy grandeur. (See the attached picture – one of which is from the Internet to prove that my own pictures don’t do it justice).
On Friday and Saturday evening, I had the opportunity to sit backstage at Romania TV and watch the live television screenings. Romania’s news media is heavily dominated by sensationalist yellow journalism, which makes watching rather frustrating. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for all the insight gained through this experience.
I arrived here in Arad by train on Sunday afternoon with just enough time to settle into my temporary accomodations at Hotel Academica (which is the university’s temporary accomodations for professors here) and wander the city a bit before sundown. Luckily, the city is easily walkable and the weather made it possible for me take almost the entire city by foot. Compared to other Romanian cities I’ve seen so far, Arad’s city center is relatively free of the Soviet-era blocs that dominate the visual landscape of other Romanian cities – most of the blocs are in the surrounding neighborhoods, while the center houses a mix of buildings in neogothic, neoclassical, and renaissance architecture.
Today, I met with my department advisors to plan out this coming semester. So far I have two classes of Economics students and one class of students in International Relations and History. The extra curricular opportunities for involvement are numerous and I can’t wait to see how the semester unfolds.
Tomorrow, the apartment hunting continues with an AM meeting with the real estate agent to visit several apartments. Here’s to adulting and figuring out the apartment renting process here.