So the past week was tiring. School is going pretty well, but sleep is a precious commodity of which I’m bankrupt.
I took the day off on Monday to go to
So, I arrived at the vama (customs), and sheepishly held up my package-notification ticket. To my surprise, the attendants there were very helpful. I showed them my ID, and had my package in a matter of minutes. They didn’t even open it and examine the contents! I had worried for nothing. I didn’t even need to flash them the paperwork I had prepared to prove I’m exempt from customs fees.
While I was in
On Tuesday I was interviewed by a local television news station about student/teacher relations. They said they had two questions for me: how Romanian students differ from students in the states, and how schools in both countries differ. First they asked me about the schools , but I thought they asked me about the differences between students. So, I talked about that. They didn't stop me. Probably because I responded in English, and they might not have understood everything I was talking about. Then they asked me about the differences between students, and I realized my mistake. Oh well. So, anyway, I talked about the differences between schools. Because I was talking in English they'll probably just dub me over and edit my responses to match their questions so I don't look like an idiot. Let's hope anyway.
I started a secondary project on Thursday. The town of
On Thursday I also had the opportunity to meet an interesting fellow: a Dane named Ole (pronounced ‘Ooleh’). He runs a Danish NGO that promotes democracy and does humanitarian work in
In the morning following my meeting with Ole, I went to school as usual. I went to my first class of the day, a group of 8th graders. I had hardly begun the lesson when someone knocked at the door. It was the principle’s secretary, asking me to leave the class and go to the principle’s office. I couldn’t help but wonder why. Such a request brought back memories of elementary school. I think that whenever anyone is asked to go to the principle the natural reaction is one of “what did I do?” The secretary assured me it wasn’t something bad, but she couldn’t tell me exactly what it was because it was a surprise. No kidding I was surprised! I was in the middle of a class! I gave the kids a worksheet and told them to start it. In the meantime, I went to the principle. When I entered his office, I found a television crew waiting for me. Guess what, they wanted to interview me. I thought, “man, what is it with me and the media?!” I told them I had a class in progress, and they said, “great, can we come film your class?” So they did. The poor kids, I hope they weren’t too freaked out by a cameraman walking into their English class. Anyway, my interview should air on Monday. I finally set the facts straight, and told them I’m from
Today, Saturday, I got up really early to catch a train to a nearby village with a Physics teacher from my school (Petru Schlupp) and some the students from the German class. Mr. Schlupp is a good guy to know because he’s been hiking and spelunking in
I’m also happy to report I did get to see some foliage; a little bit at least. Up till this point I had only seen bright yellow leaves. But, today I did see some oranges and very faint reds as well. It wasn’t much really, but it did my heart good to see some color, otherwise it just wouldn’t feel like fall. As I mentioned, the day was very rainy and muddy, and so we decided to leave, which meant making a two-hour journey to Lapugiu de Jos (the nearest village with a train station). As we were well on our way to the station, the sun finally decided to shine—go figure. When we got to Lapugiu, we waved at our train as it pulled out of the station. We had just missed it. That meant we had a few hours to kill till the next train, so we waited by the side of the road, hoping to see a bus that was headed our way. No luck. So, we did indeed catch the next train, which happened to be going the opposite way we wanted to go, but it was our only ticket out of Lapugiu. Traffic to such small villages is usually pretty sparse, and only a few trains may stop at them. In fact, the traffic to Lapugiu is so infrequent that the train station is locked and doesn't look like it's been opened in years. There was a little sign taped in the window listing the daily trains. Since the station was locked and quite unoccupied, there was no way for us to buy tickets, so we simply got on the train and each paid the nasu a leu. The train took us 20km to Ilia, but, as I said, we needed to go in the opposite direction. So, when we got to Iulia, we picked up a train that would take us back the other way, to Lugoj. We may have had to go a little out of our way to get home, but such are the inconveniences when working around train schedules in the smaller towns.
I think maybe I'll get some sleep tonight...