Philippa Bliss - General Teaching Projects in Romania
My trip to Romania in one word? Brilliant! Having finished working abroad, I wanted to have one final fun adventure before settling back home in the UK. Teaching in Romania was just that. I’d travelled with Projects Abroad before so knew I was in safe hands.
The staff in the UK office and in Romania were all fantastic and their support really helped me get the most from my trip. On my first day in Romania I was given a full induction (and was treated to a yummy lunch!) and there was always somebody on hand to solve a problem or just simply for a chat.
My base for my time in Romania was the gorgeous Saxon town of Brasov. It’s surrounded by mountains and forests and has some incredibly beautiful buildings. The Hollywood-esque ‘Brasov’ sign on top of the mountains is the place to go for the best view of the city and beyond.
During my trip I stayed with a wonderful host family. Although they didn’t all speak English they were incredibly friendly and welcoming and went out of their way to help in any way they could. I actually discovered that sign language mixed with the odd word of Romanian was a very effective way of communicating. There were several volunteers staying in the house which made making friends very easy. However, it also meant that we had to plan our early morning bathroom routines with almost military precision!
I spent most of my time working at School Number 3. I was able to help with a range of activities from teaching colours in grade three classes to tackling some pretty tricky grammar and comprehension questions with the eighth graders. I was also allowed to take some classes by myself and had great fun designing games and thinking up new ideas to try with the children. Some of my favourite moments were watching some fifth grade pupils trying to act out ‘elephant’ during an impromptu game of charades and listening to the seventh grade debate about Eminem and Miley Cyrus.
All the children were very keen to find out about me, where I’d come from and why I’d chosen to go to Romania. They loved the photos of my family and of England and I would encourage anyone going to teach to take some photos too. They’re a great ice breaker.
Everyone at the school made it so easy to fit in. I was always made to feel very welcome in the staff room and one of the English teachers took me for lunch in her favourite restaurant. The children were always dragging me out into the playground to join in their break time games and several of them made it their role to escort me from the bus stop to school every morning.
School usually finished at 2pm which meant I had the late afternoons free to explore Brasov. And there was no danger of ever getting bored. There was so much to do from walking or horse riding in the surrounding mountains to shopping on Republicii and visiting the many museums. There was also the crucial task of working our way round ALL the many cafes and ice-cream parlours, giving us plenty of opportunities to practise our extremely limited Romanian. This often had us, and many of the local Romanians, in hysterics.
We tried to use the weekends to see more of Romania and had some great trips, including one to Bran Castle and a very memorable visit to the fortress in Rasnov where we ended up having lunch with a local football team. And then of course there were the great nights out. Karaoke at Deane’s Irish Pub, dancing at Black and Silver, going to a jazz concert and sampling the traditional Romanian spirit Polinka were some of the highlights.
My overriding memories are of the stunningly beautiful setting and the friendliness of everyone I met. I would definitely recommend Romania to everyone. It may be in Europe but at times feels worlds away. The teaching was incredibly rewarding: some of the pupils told me that they always looked forward to my lessons and really learned a lot from them. Add to that the great friends I made and the fantastic memories I have and I couldn’t ask for more.