Just signed my apartment lease today! I’m one step closer to calling Arad “home” (so many papers remain to be filled out before I obtain my residency card, but I’m hoping to sort them out as soon as possible to avoid having visa issues – fingers crossed!). 

All in a day, I visited apartments, signed my lease, paid my first two months, and tomorrow I move in! I can’t believe it all came together in just one day. I’m usually so indecisive that I have minor panic attacks when trying to decide what to order in a restaurant… Here, I decided on the second apartment I visited that it was the one. Call it a matter of strong first impressions (read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink if you haven’t already). The apartment is in the city center, positioned one street behind the main boulevard (Bulevardul Revolutiei), and it’s just midway between the university office I’ll be working at and the train station. My landlords are incredibly sweet: I’ve already been invited over for tea, cakes, and food all the time throughout the winter, which is a sure sign that we’ll get along just splendidly. 

Between all of that, I dropped in on a university senate meeting with all of its departmental and administrative heads, met the University Rector [rector meaning “ruler” in Latin, is the term used in non-English-speaking countries for a university chancellor, or even more simply the highest academic official of the univerity], and a student leader (şef de an) with whom I’ll brainstorm ideas for student activites this semester. Things are moving so quickly, but I’m so glad to hit the ground running and have an action-filled semester here. 

Now, I’m seeking refuge (read: Wifi) in a cafe as I write this and jot down my course ideas for the semester, as I have my first day of classes tomorrow. It seems a little late to be planning the semester given that this is the second week already, but I’ve been assured that everything is done “in the moment” here (which I’ve apparently become very good at given today’s rapid course of events). Tomorrow is a rather informal affair: I’ll get to meet the students and assess their language competency with the professor I’m assisting; then, we’ll develop a course structure for the semester. 

It’s not all sunshine and daisies though (in fact, it’s rather gray and gloomy here, but that’s not what I’m getting at). I was held up by the university’s doorman/security guard for nearly 30 minutes today as he launched into a tirade condemning the great evil that is the US and its actions in the world. In sum, his perspective is that America is a nation of liars, who say one thing and do another, and stole the entire landmass that they now inhabit. To say the least, it was my truest moment of person-to-person diplomacy so far, as I tried to tactfully engage with this stubborn old man – and hopefully I’ll be able to change his rigidly negative perceptions of the US over time (at the very least by proving that not all Americans are terrible).

Overall, I’m in awe of my experiences so far. I’ve already met so many incredibly individuals along the way and I’m so excited for what’s yet to come. More and more, I’m also realizing how lucky I am to have a solid fluency in Romanian as it’s helped me navigate everything so smoothly. My three months here until now have helped me to progress so much in my language skills; I’m conversing much more rapidly and easily in Romanian now than when I first arrived here in July. Hopefully I’ll be able to lose my American accent completely this year! 

Thank you all for your support and well-wishes – it means the world to me!  

Until tomorrow, noapte buna (goodnight).

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