Nina Black - Journalism in Romania
When I began reading about the amazing range of volunteering trips that Projects Abroad offered one caught my eye in particular. I had never considered going to Romania before but as I read about the Carpathian Mountains and the stories of Dracula, I decided it would be an alternative and fascinating destination.
Touching down in Bucharest I was met by the Projects Abroad team who were incredibly friendly and reassuring. We drove a winding two hour journey, arriving in Brasov in the heart of Transylvania. All the volunteers were placed with host families who gave us a great mixture of hospitality and independence. My host mother immediately made me a delicious and traditional Romanian meal to welcome me in the household. We were always made to feel at home and part of the family – we were very sorry to leave at the end of the placement.
The next day we began our course; a two week photography placement designed specifically for high school students. Our teacher was patient and enthusiastic and over the two weeks we travelled across the region seeking out amazing photo opportunities. It allowed us to combine travel and learning and was a great chance to try something completely different in a brand new environment.
We learnt about different ways in which we could use our cameras to create better images. From adjusting the aperture to bursting balloons full of water to test the shutter speed, we really got to know our cameras and their abilities.
We worked together with the journalism students which also allowed for us to exchange creative ideas. At the end of every day we had learnt something new and improved our photography skills. I will always be able to use the facts and skills that I learnt in Brasov, showing the long-lasting importance of this trip.
During the trip we left Brasov almost every day to explore a new corner of the Transylvanian region. One of my personal highlights was our weekend trip to the Saxon village of Malancrav, where we stayed in a traditional guesthouse, sleeping on beds of hay. Our host cooked us a phenomenal meal and we enjoyed the wonderful Romanian summer weather. We also went on a horse-ride into the heart of the village and sampled some Romanian cheese, which was definitely a unique experience.
The culture of the people was completely different to the relatively Western way of life in Brasov and it really opened our eyes to the diversity of Romanian culture. It is a country full of contrasts and contradictions; two weeks is hardly enough time to explore it and I shall certainly be returning in the future.
Other highlights included a trip to the much celebrated Bran castle, the literary home of Dracula, as well as several other spectacular medieval fortresses such as Rasnov and Peles. We also visited Brasov zoo, several local photography galleries and climbed up to the legendary mock-Hollywood ‘Brasov’ sign. This tested our fitness levels but was definitely worth it for the stunning view at the top, looking down over the beautiful old town. I learnt that Romania was a country full of fascinating sights and it was a privilege to see a country which is still relatively unknown to tourists.
One of the great things about the trip was that it gave me the chance to meet people from all over world. There were Projects Abroad volunteers from Britain, America, Korea, Australia, Japan and many more countries staying in Romania at the time, and this was just over two weeks! It was a great opportunity to socialise with a really diverse group of people.
Every evening there was a different fun activity to partake in, from bowling to bar-hopping. We even visited the local water park and went go-karting, where our leader got quite competitive and managed to beat most of the volunteers. There was literally never a dull moment during my stay; time went by so quickly because I was having such a brilliant time.
I would recommend Romania to anyone who has a sense of adventure and wants to see something extraordinary. I have never been anywhere else like it before and doubt that I will in the future.
The two week specials are a great way to cram in loads of different activities if you have a limited time frame for travel. Otherwise there are loads of different placements on offer from Drama to Archaeology; there really is something for everyone.
The only thing that is left for me to say is go for it – you won’t regret it and you will have a unique experience.