My Study Abroad Experience

During our time at university, majority of us students think about studying abroad but barely half of us fall through with it. You see your friends, who do study abroad, change after and during their arrival back home. They talk about meeting new people, the places they visited, the new things they tried and become more globally cultured. I was always jealous of them and decided it was my time to study abroad. I knew I wanted to be placed in a program that would benefit my field of study which is Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Finally, after many visits to my university’s International Programs office I found a placement that best suited my needs. I wanted to go to a place that not many people go to and that was entirely different to westernized culture which caused me to find interest in Romania.

As I said earlier, you see your friends change during and after their study abroad experience, but I wasn’t prepared for how much I would change as an individual. Everyday was a new adventure from: teaching new lessons in the classroom, sight seeing around Brasov and other Romanian cities, decoding the Romanian language, trying new coffee shops yet all these things never got old. If you study abroad, you will meet different kinds of people and even ones who speak your native language. You are force to trust these people, who you barely know, even after all the lectures our parents gave us on how we shouldn’t talk to strangers. You open up quickly to these people and experience these new exciting things together. These people make the experience worth wile but you are the captain of your journey. You throw yourself into the unknown, I had experience working with English language learner’s (ELL’s) prior but only in America. I was not familiar with the European education system, especially Romania’s. However, I was determined to immerse myself with it’s education system.

Making lesson plans may seem like an easy task to people, who don’t have a job in the education or social work fields, but there’s a lot to keep in mind when working with ELL’s. There was a lack of technology and resources I came encountered with when planning lessons for my students. It seemed like everything I’ve been taught by my professors wasn’t useful because they express the importance of using technology in the classroom to make engage our students more. I had to step out of my comfort zone and get creative without relying on technology. I learned more about myself as a teacher this way. I put aside my western beliefs and reinvented my teaching ways, I found myself putting their culture first and mine list. I found myself making more examples for grammar exercises and conversation speaking activities following up these grammar exercises. More importantly, I found myself have more back-up exercises if my students didn’t understand. My students that I had in Romanian were truly inspiring individuals. Some of my students were professional dancers and skiers. This was shocking for me to find out because in the United States of America, you only hear about kids training every day in hopes of becoming professional when they reach adulthood. They also were inspiring by their out look on life.

They have many dreams and goals in life that they want to conquer. One day we were learning about present passive, I decided to make an activity called the “My Bucket List.” My students had to talk about the things they have done in life that they were happy to conquered at this age in present passive. They were also asked to mention things that they wish to do that were on their bucket list. Many of the students had interesting goals, but the one goal my student had was truly inspiring. He stood up in the front of the classroom and said “The only real goals I have are to travel and live a life worth living by having no regrets.” Sometimes it takes a young individual to put things in prospected for us. It’s all about how you perceive things and experience things without wanting more and I think many of us forget that. This made me think about the person that I turned into because of this experience.

Before this trip, my one good friend was supposed to come with me; however, due to the financial situation she was in she unfortunately couldn’t come. The hardest part of me traveling alone is getting over fear: fear of being alone, unsafe, scared and bored. Then I realized fear can hold anyone back and I rather face fear itself. As sad as I was that she couldn’t come, I was happy that I did this alone because I found this experience to be a self discovery. When you travel by yourself, I believe you become more aware of your surroundings and you force yourself to experience all different types of things. Even getting lost is an experience itself. Many times I became unsure of myself in terms of directions, the best thing I found to do was to ask for help. I was really surprised at how many people knew English when I arrived here in Romania. However, you also find yourself understanding the country’s mother tongue the more you around its natives by hearing roots of Latin words. I even became friends with the natives, I think it’s crucial that you connect with the culture and not feel like an outsider. However, I realize that I am a foreigner to this country and people will stare at you and somewhat be scared of you because you look different from them.  This is expected to happen anywhere you go, even in your own country. During my study abroad experience I even learned how to cope with tragic being far away from home.

Sadly, a close family friend of mine passed away during my second week here. Instead of this ruining my overall experience I thought to myself, what would that person want me doing: mopping around or embracing life? The second choice was definitely what my close family friend would have wanted me to do. Life is short and like a bull, you have to take it by the horns. Besides the tragedy going on back home, I found happiness here in Romania.

If you were to ask me anything about Romania five years ago, I would have probably mention something about it’s medieval and gothic architect. Surprise, I didn’t say Dracula? But if you were to ask me anything about Romania, I would tell you it has grown to become my second home. I have made so many memories here and grew into a better person. I am so proud of myself for accomplishing all the things I did here in Romania and have every desire on returning back to this beautiful country.


Carpe Diem!


A Weekend in Vienna, Austria

Through my teaching internship in Romania, I met some really fabulous people. When it came time for one of my fellow volunteers to leave Romania and leisure travel throughout Eastern Europe, she said was going to Vienna, Austria. Without asking her, I told her I’d meet her there. This past Friday, I flew out to Vienna from Bucharest. The flight was only an hour and a half long and the time zone was an hour behind, not enough to get me in the jet-lagged mood. After I got settled into my hostel, Burgh Hostel, whose staff was super friendly and funny, I wandered off on my own before my friend arrived. While wandering, I discovered the sacred Austrian soda Almdudler; it has a slight apple taste to it but it’s simply delicious. I am usually not one for carbonated drinks, but this I could drink every now and then. Of course, if it was available where I lived. When my friend finally arrived, we explored old town Vienna. Since it was our first night in Vienna, we wanted traditional Wiener schnitzel. We were in the homeland to schnitzel after all. We went to this restaurant called Wustenrot and I got the Weiner schnitzel. Words can’t express how simply delicious this dish was; it was also served with potato salad as a side dish. I think I could die happy now after eating that meal.

The next day we didn’t have an itinerary set – we simply woke up, got ready and headed out in town for the day. First and foremost, we got our caffeine fix at a cafe called The Juice and ordered cappuccinos. If you’re into healthy eating, I highly recommend eating breakfast or brunch at The Juice. They have smoothies, fruit bowls, and acai bowls, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from. After our caffeine fix, we went to Vienna’s tourist information center; there we decided how we were going to spend our day. We first went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral – it was simply mesmerizing with its fine architect and interior. If you’re on a budget, don’t worry – the first floor of the cathedral is free of charge. After visiting the Cathedral and walking around for hours, we decided it was time to eat. In Brasov, Romania it’s hard to find good sushi restaurants and we were both sushi deprived. We went to a Japanese restaurant called Akakiko – I recommend it if you need some authentic Japanese food. I ordered the sushi bento box, the sushi was simply fresh and the sides that the bento box came with were delicious. There’s no reason to order sides if you ordered a bento box at that restaurant.

Then we took a bus to the Belvedere Palace, which contains the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s painting. For me this was my favorite attraction that I saw during my stay in Vienna. If you were to ask me what symbolic images I have from my childhood, it would be Klimt’s most known painting “The Kiss.” My mother had a mimic of the painting in a stain glass form, and when I see that painting, I always think of that image. To me it represents love, which the majority of families are built upon on. Not only you will find Klimt’s art collections but you can also find paintings from Picasso, Kupka and other artists. I highly recommend visiting Belvedere Palace if you enjoy art; it’s divided into two parts – Upper and Lower Belvedere. After visiting Belvedere Palace, we decided to go on a guided tour in Vienna’s Spanish Riding School, since we missed the performance earlier that day. I am not an equestrian, but thanks to my first college roommate, who is studying Equine Business and Management, I had some knowledge of how stables are kept and the different types of horse breeds. (Taylor, if you’re reading this: thank you for informing about me this whole different type of world) It was a great tour; we explored the stables and riding arena. The Lipizzaner were absolutely gorgeous and it was nice to hear that the school still takes care of the horses after they’re retired from performing. Also, it was great to learn that the school has been accepting female riders since 2008, and they are being recognized in the riding world. I really enjoyed the tour, and for someone who’s not an equestrian, I’m sure you will as well.

Our last stop for the day was the famous Hundertwasser House. The artist of the house was named Hundertwasser. He believed that Vienna was filled with too many classical buildings and thus created an apartment building against the city’s architect rules. It’s very colorful and exotic; if you’re into “bizarre” art then check it out. However, keep in mind, you can only visit the store and cafe. They have video tours of the apartments inside the store as well. After visiting the Hundertwasser House, we decided to go for dinner at a restaurant called The Room. The food was great – I recommend trying the white wine called Gelber Muskateller-Hagn; it’s a dry wine yet semi-sweet. For dessert I ordered apple strudel and it was a great way to end my day in Vienna. The next morning I left the hostel to catch my flight at the Vienna International Airport. Public transport is easy to get around, so there’s no reason to spend money on a taxi. My adventure is not over in Vienna – one day soon I will pick up where I left off because there’s still soo much more that the city has to offer that I must see. Until next time Vienna!


Carpe Diem!

Why I am Choosing to Teach Abroad

When I tell people about my “future” job profession, I always get asked these questions: How many languages do you need to know for that? Are you sure want to teach one of the most difficult languages known to man? (My eyes roll every time I hear that one) How do you teach English to beginners? However, my favorite question that I get asked, and love answering has to be: What countries do you want to teach in? I always reply with the response “anywhere and everywhere. “

Maybe it was the travel bug that bit me in 2012 after spending a month in Costa Rica, but I love changing my daily “American” routine and experiencing how things are done in other cultures. Unlike most travelers who only experience the culture briefly when they reach their destination, I get to fully experience it. I have been teaching English in Romania; however, I teach at a Hungarian school. The other night I was invited by one of the English teachers to attend an end of the school year performance. Unlike your average school performance, there was not only singing, but also beautiful dance numbers, which included tango dancing and traditional Hungarian dancing. It was inspiring to see young adults still be true to their culture’s traditions and their desire to continue it for years to come. This is hard to come across with today’s modern society, especially in our future generations. Each time I am abroad, the experience changes me and shapes into a better person than I was before I left. It’s not only just the country and its culture that helps shape me into the person I am today, it’s the people I encounter that have the most impact on me, especially my students. My students inspire me to learn more about this world and travel to places I never considered before teaching them. If you’re a traveling ELL teacher too, you’ll know it’s better to ask your students where to visit when you’re new to a country. They’re better than any travel guide source you’ll come across. Besides being a great resource of destinations to travel, my students challenge me to think outside of the box and help me to become a better teacher. I am always coming up with new ways to make English language learning more meaningful and creative while still being respectful to their culture. I find that the uniqueness of your own culture is better put into perspective when it is compared to that of a foreign society; this allows you to more fully realize who you are and where you come from. Home will always be home, but the world is too big for me to stay in one place.


Carpe Diem!

A day in Sighisoara, Romania

This past weekend my friends and I went on a spontaneous trip to the medieval Romanian town, Sighisoara. This town is truly magical and deserves to be considered of the most beautiful medieval towns in Europe. The cobblestone roads and the colorful buildings made me felt like a child walking through a fairy tale. I have to admit that I am jealous of locals because they get to experience this amazing architecture everyday. When we first arrived to Sighisoara, we went straight to the our hostel to check in. We stayed at the Burg Hostel, which has a great staff and atmosphere. I prefer to stay at hostels because they’re affordable (I am a college student after all ) and you get to meet interesting people along the way. For once, I didn’t plan an itinerary for the day due to being busy with writing papers and creating lessons for my students. We decided to wander the medieval streets and if we saw something interesting we would go inside.We first saw Turnul cu Ceas (The Clock Tower) and was amazed with the beauty of its meteorological clock, which forecasts the weather. When you reach the top of Turnul cu Ceas, you will get an overlook of the Lower City. After Turnul cu Ceas we noticed that a building that said Casa Dracula, which is translated to Vlad Dracul House. Case Dracula is now a hotel and restaurant. It is known to be the birthplace of Vlad Tepes. As I mentioned in my post on  Bran’s Castle, Vlad was author’s Bram Stroker’s inspiration for Dracula. You can pay 5 lei to see the room that Vlad was born in. Its cool to say I saw it; however, it’s not worth seeing. There is a coffin placed in the center of the room when you walk in, while “spooky” music is being played in the background. The room is covered with cheap black and red fabric hanging from the walls. If you were to ask me if it’s worth going to, I would say to you its better to save the 5 lei. However, we did eat at Casa Dracula and the food was absolutely AMAZING. I ordered the traditional Romanian meal, sarmale and savored every bite. For those who don’t know what sarmale is it’s a stuffed sour cabbage that is filled with pork, beef and a little pieces of bacon. We walked around some more and ran into Turnul Franghierlior (The Ropemaker’s Tower)  which is also located next to the Church on the Hill. We also passed  Turnul Cismarilor in town, it’s one of the most attractive towers you’ll see in the town. It’s great for pictures if you climb up the steps. When in Sighisoara it’s a must to see art and souvenirs stores. If you are looking for authentic souvenirs for you and your love ones, I highly suggest getting them in Sighisoara. You’ll find wood carvings, paintings, handcrafted jewelry, and homemade wine and beer. The only thing I didn’t like about Sighisoara was its locals, majority of the workers were rude. Even the city’s little kids would followed us and yelled things to us. I don’t know if this has to due with being annoyed with tourists, but other Romanian cities I’ve visited the locals were very sweet and helpful. Overall, it was a great day trip to get away and relax.


Carpe Diem


Carpe Diem!


Thank you, Midori for the pictures 🙂

Bran’s Castle

Before arriving to Romania, I made myself a list of attractions and places that I wanted to visit during my six-week stay. This past weekend I finally got to visit attraction number one on my list, Bran’s Castle. I know what you’re thinking – didn’t I mean to write Dracula’s Castle instead? In fact, I didn’t, but you should be informed about the Dracula Myth. In 1897, Irish novelist Bram Stoker wrote one of the enduring classics of the horror genre –Dracula. Stoker found his inspiration for the horror classic in Romania. Romania is a land rich in folktales, superstitions, gothic castles, and endless mountains. Stoker was inspired by the gothic simplicity that Romania has to offer, and chose the northern Transylvania region as the setting for his novel. “The Castle Dracula,” as it is known, is located on Mount Izvorul Calimanului, which is located near the former border with Moldavia. Romanians were not informed about the story of Dracula, and the Dracula Castle, until after the fall of the Romanian Communist Party in 1989. At first, they were baffled by the concept, but later accepted it due to capitalism – Romanians view Bran’s Castle as Dracula’s Castle for the sake of tourism. However, there is no evidence that suggests Stoker has ever even heard of Bran Castle. A Connection can be traced from the historical figure, Vlad III Dracula, who provided much of Stoker’s vampiric antagonist.

Vlad III Dracula

Vlad III Dracula was born to the house of Draculesti in 1431. Vlad was known for his love for cruelty throughout Europe. He was given the nickname “Vlad The Impaler” due to having killed thousands of enemies during his reign, from 1456 to 1462. Vlad III Dracula loved impaling his enemies on long wooden spikes. It has been said that he hired surgeons to help guide the thick shaft to prevent damage to the vital organs. He was exiled during his reign and was jailed during his second reign. Vlad was only a guest for a brief time at Bran Castle.

Bran Castle

It’s easy to see how the 15th century Bran’s Castle can stir up this mythology. The dark wooden-paneled floors open into arched white corridors. The castle has numerous balconies and walkways that offer spectacular views of the Transylvanian mountains. The castle also contains many secret passages that lead from the first floor to the third floor. Some rooms are arranged with furniture that Queen Marie had as her decor, while others contain museum exhibitions. It was a busy Saturday afternoon, but nothing could take away the beauty of the gothic simplicity of the castle. There are a few suggestions I would make if you ever plan on visiting the castle: First, bring your student i.d. card to receive a discount. Also, wait to buy your tourist souvenirs until you get to Bran. The gift shop really should be called “gift town.” It’s a series of markets where you can buy t-shirts, mugs, magnets, bells, and Dracula-theme souvenirs. One should always remember when visiting Bran, Dracula is solely used for marketing and you will not find any vampires. The castle itself is incredibly impressive and filled with history. I’m sure Dracula himself would have loved living there.



Carpe Diem!

Feeling Right at Home in Brasov.

As I sit in my favorite Romanian coffee shop in Brasov, Kafe Pub, I say to the waiter “multumesc” [thank you] when he serves me my coconut café; I can’t help but notice something different within myself. I feel well at home in this country after only being here for a week and a half. This feeling is somewhat shocking to me. Prior to this adventure, I was worried about not liking it here or immediately going through all of the stages of homesickness. However, the second I stepped foot off of that airplane, I felt safe and an immense amount of welcomeness from the Romanians I met. As I walk down the cobblestone streets of Brasov each day, I feel moved by the history that each building holds. I always stop and stare at The Black Church in awe on my commute to work. I walk down these same streets and can be greeted with a simple smile or salute from a stranger. I hear the church bells go off in the morning, and evening, reminding me that I am no longer in Scranton, Pennsylvania. But when I look up at the Carpathian Mountains and see the “Brasov” sign, I am reminded that this is my “new” home. That sign doesn’t just remind me that I am home – it triggers inspiration. I feel inspired to go to work everyday and not only teach my students, but to learn from them as well. I am inspired to immerse myself in the Romanian culture and explore other cities. I am going to end this short blog post with a quote by one of my favorite authors, R.M. Drake. – “She was in love with her life, and for the first time, in a long time, everything was inspiring.”

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(Kafe Pub)

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(Council Square)

Carpe Diem

Weekend Adventures in Sibiu and Sinaia, Romania

I am always eager to explore somewhere new on the weekends. I arrived in Brasov, Romania, a week ago and immediately fell in love with its atmosphere. However, since I am living in Brasov, Romania, for five more weeks and there’s many other Romania cities that I must see before my return to the States. I will later write a blog post about the gorgeous medieval Romanian city. This past week I got the chance to explore two other medieval  towns, Sibiu and Sinaia.


On Saturday, I left for Sibiu at 6 o’ clock in the morning and traveled four hours by train to the destination. Sibiu was built in the 12th century by German settlers, known as Transylvanian Saxons. Sibiu is a friendly city that has two easily accessible levels: Upper town and Lower town. The Upper town is home to most of Sibiu’s historic sights. In Lower town, you’ll find beautiful colorful houses on cobblestone streets and bounded by city walls and defense towers that overlooks the River Cibin.2016-05-21 14.18.27-1

(Lower town, Sibiu)

Since Sibiu is a relatively large Romanian city, I didn’t get to explore everything.  However, if you are planning to go to Sibiu, I suggest staying for a weekend that way you have enough time to experience it all. The first stop of the day was Muzeul National Brukenthal (The National Brukenthal Museum). It is considered to be one of Romania’s finest museum. Also it is the oldest museum in Romania and one of the first museums to open in Europe. The museum’s building itself contains architectural and historical significance; dated in 1790. The museum holds about 1,200 works from the 15th to the 18th century. I highly suggest checking out the Romanian art gallery and the museum’s garden.


Podul Minciunilor (The Bridge of Lies) was built in 1859 and was the first wrought iron bridge in Romania. It leads you from Upper to Lower Town. Legend says that if you lie while  standing on the bridge it will collapsed. Young lovers come here to say they love each other.

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Pasajul Scarilor (The Stairs Passage) was built in the 13th century and is architectural masterpiece that contains staircases and archways. It connects the Upper Lower Town.

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Turnul Dulgherilor (Carpenter’s Town) was built in the 15th century. It is one of three towers that one can find in the city of Sibiu.

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Parohia Evanghelica (Evangelic Church) is truly an impressive gothic church. It has the tallest tower in Transylvania. It is also home to one out of two existing organs from the Wilhelm Sauer Company.

Other pictures from Sibiu, Romania


On Sunday, we took a bus to picturesque town of Sinaia. The purpose of this trip was to see Peles Castle. Peles Castel is a German new-Renaissance architecture commissioned by King Carol I in 1873. It considered to be of the most beautifulest castles in Europe. The castle that has 160 rooms contains the finest European art, German-stained windows, and Murano crystal chandeliers. I recommend visiting the castle on a week day because it was overly crowded and bring your student i.d. card to receive a discount. Tour options can get expensive.

After visiting the castle, the volunteers that I work with and I decided to go site seeing. To see an overview of the town of Sinaia, I recommend going to Gondola “Telegondola” Sinaia. It’s a ski and bike resort, that open its chairlifts in the summer for people to enjoy the view of the town. You can also hike up the  mountain if you wish. 2016-05-22 14.42.05.jpg

Lastly, I recommend eating at Bucegi Restaurant. It has a great assortment of Romanian wines and they up dish specialities like grilled bear, omelettes, version, and range of salads. Other places you should check out if you’re in Sinaia is the casino located in Dimitrie Ghica park and the Sinaia Monastery.

Stay tune for Romanian adventures!


Carpe Diem!


Dealing with Bad Luck Traveling on Friday the 13th, yet Beating Jet Lag

Flying out on Friday 13th, didn’t phase me when I booked my flight tickets this past February. In fact, I was never one to believe in the superstition, due to having a few birthdays in the past fall on this “unfortunate” day. However, as the day approached it seem timing and luck weren’t on my side.

If you have had flown internationally before, you would know that it’s best to arrive to the airport two-three hours before your boarding time. That way you have enough time to go through baggage drop off and customs and border protection. I left my house five hours before my flight was set to fly out to Paris. On a typical Friday afternoon driving through New York City can be more hectic than normal, due to it being the weekend. The traffic was so notorious that I almost had to rush myself through baggage drop off and customs. However, as soon as I reached the airport, I receive a notification stating that my flight will be delayed by a half-hour. This half-hour delayed turn into a two-hour delayed, which conflicted with my scheduled two-hour layover in Paris. The delay left me with exactly thirty minutes to board on to the next flight. I looked like a chicken running its head cut off through the Paris airport trying to find the right terminal and gate to make it through the French customs and border protection. I board onto my final flight with only a minute to spare. Unfortunately, my bad luck didn’t stop there. My biggest fear when traveling happened. My luggage was left at the Paris airport and didn’t make its way with me to my final destination in Bucharest. Luckily, Air France delivered my luggage this morning. Regardless of this bad luck with traveling experience, I promised myself that I was not going to be defeated by jet lag.

Jet lag doesn’t necessarily happen because of hydration and tiredness after a journey. Jet lag occurs when you cross multiple time zones which can affect the level of your appetite, alertness and sleeping patterns. Being the jet lag dodger planner that I am, I started to change my sleeping patterns days before my trip. I would take more frequent naps and going to sleep earlier at night to prepared myself for the time zone difference in Europe. Another tip on how to beat jet lag is to fuel your body by having light meals and less caffeine. It’s best to avoid alcohol before, during and right after you land. Dehydration is alcohol’s ugly stepsister. On the plane the flight attendants will ask you periodically if you would like something to drink, always choose water. B what happens if you can’t beat jet lag?

Melatonin has been proven to have great results. The hormone melatonin already regulates your sleep rhythms. A synthetic dose of it can help with your adjustments to the new time zone. If that doesn’t work for you, simply just keep moving. During hours of transit, walk around the airport terminal to get your blood circulating. Another suggestion is to hide behind your sunglasses. Make sure you pack a pair of sunglasses; you can always wear them on the flight to help you sleep. Or you can simple embrace jet lag and its attendant insanity.



Carpe Diem!