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First View on Romania written by Nicole Chim, Hong Kong   (published in Romania)

September 9, 2016 by   Comments(0)

Two plane rides that took half a day in total and a 3-hour car ride brought me to typical household in the city of Brasov. It was in the middle of a welcoming town up a little slope that reminded me of the streets of Spain, but something was different. Somehow I sensed a vibrant energy coming through the colour variation on buildings, which correlated with Athena (the name of the host)’s unmovable determination to help me settle down despite the language barrier. I realised that the universal language, a warm, kind-hearted smile does the job.

After a restful sleep, Damian (my Projects Abroad coordinator) picked me and other volunteers up from the house. We started with some basic self-introductions and it took us no time to start joking around each other, which made me feel at home and comfortable as myself for everyone was very down-to-earth. We travelled to The Village’s office where Mircea held a discussion on the basics of Journalism. It is common to think that a successful leader or organiser should be feared of in order to enforce the discipline of the group; yet Mircea does it equally well by using interactive games. He is inspiring as he encourages us to see things in different perspectives and illustrates that through a simple game of flipping a coin. Through our active participation and his encouragement, the lesson is quickly learnt and well remembered as well.

If you look closely, Romanians are very considerate. In the restaurant we had lunch at, the waiter served all six dishes together rather than one by one so we would not have to awkwardly wait for each other’s food to come. The anticipation also meant that we had plenty of time to discuss about contrasting cultures among the countries that we come from; for instance Serena and I translated everyone’s names into Japanese and Chinese. It is fascinating to see the explosion of curiosity when it comes to learning your name in another language.

The walk-around tour around Brasov followed and more European architecture came before my eyes. I liked the Romanian spirit of enjoying life and living in the present that I felt by walking as slowly as I want to on the wide streets where I would have no chance to do so back at home. Also, back at home, the gaudiness of expensive clothing brands, the spark of the jewelry and air-conditioning that slips through doors of towering shopping malls would be all you see and feel at home. Whereas in Romania, every shop I come across such as the supermarket, money exchanges, telephone shops and local clothing boutiques by the street sold extremely mundane goods, making it a very personal experience with every Romanian I come into contact with. Under this stark contrast, the warmth, friendliness and amiability of Romanians were extremely moving.

Lastly, the sounds of Romania make it a very close community. The voices of people’s conversation and their chanting from their gardens awes me with how one house and another can be in such close proximity. Looking down from my bedroom window, red and pink flowers generate the freshness in the air and the lively energy of the town that hits me like vibrating sound waves. The noise of the rooster “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO” is surprisingly not irritating, but it wakes me up to the pleasant breeze in the morning; which I know I will be immersed into the joyous Romanian spirit of life again.


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First View on Romania written by Nicole Chim, Hong Kong
First View on Romania written by Nicole Chim, Hong Kong