Katrina, Noora, and I decided to take out first out of Dublin trip this past weekend which involved a cross-country bus ride to the very beautiful and majestic Cliffs of Moher. After very little sleep the night prior, we got up at 6am and trudged the 20 minutes to the city center to catch our bus. We had bought day trip tour tickets form a local touring company so our whole day was planned out from the time we set off at 7:30 until we arrived back in dublin 12 hours later. We headed west and our bus driver filled us in on random tidbits of information as we drove through the scenic countryside of Ireland. Our first pitstop was supposed to be in Limrick but due to ridiculous amounts of flooding that have occurred throughout the country recently, we were not able to stop there and instead stopped shortly after Limerick in the quaint area of Bunratty Castle.
Half an hour later we were back on the road headed towards the cliffs. We spent about two hours at the cliffs, roaming around the trails and just taking in the beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean in all of it’s salty glory. We were lucky enough to pick the one day in the past 10 which has not involved rain so we ended up getting in some spectacular views despite some of the fog off enveloping the nearby Aran Islands.
After the cliffs, we drove about half an hour farther and stopped at the Doolin Cliffs which are much smaller but just as majestic. We followed up this second set of cliffs with a lunch at Fitzpatrick’s Pub which served an amazing seafood chowder.
The next stop on our tour was the Corcomroe Abbey which is a 12th century not too far from the coast. Shortly following the abbey, we stopped in the village of Kinvara for some Irish coffee [read: coffee with baileys and whiskey]. It was so amusing to me to be in an Irish village since the villages that I am used to from Romania are much more rural than what the western world considers a village. Around 4:30 pm we headed back on our way to Dublin to complete the journey. Paying 40 Euro for an almost 12 hour tour that included a lot of interesting information, various stops along the way, and a very friendly and knowledgable guide was a great deal in my book. Hopefully this rain subsides in the near future so more random day trips can be planned.
Fitzpatrick’s Pub in Doolin
Noora and her mom
Katrina and the wind
This week has been an absolute whirlwind of events and emotions. I have barely been at home and have been hanging out with everyone as much as possible. I got to say bye to most of my students and was given some amazing presents including a homemade crystal, jewelry, a traditional Romanian shirt, books, a big pink bear, a t-shirt with all of the teachers on it, dozens of flowers including a HUGE 45 rose bouquet from 9A, a personal serenade to my favorite song “Mi-e Sete de Tine”, a traditional Paunita, and the opportunity to milk a goat.
Friday during the end of year festivities I got the privilege to say a few words as the closing which started my emotional day of crying. The teachers planned a party for me afterwards which lasted for about 8 hours and where I got the chance to address and thank all of them individually, milk my goat, and was also given an absolutely beautiful cake.
My experience here has been absolutely amazing and I am so happy that I got to share it with so many wonderful people. Today is my last day in town and I am finishing packing up and then I have a birthday party to go to that I would not want to miss for anything in the world.
Once I get done with GLOW camp (which has been a barrel of stress planning for all of us) and return home i’ll post the pictures of these past few days.
For your viewing pleasure: Me milking a goat.
This past week was the most emotional week for me in Romania. I’m sure I’ll cry more when I leave, but as for now, this week takes the prize.
Thursday I had my last English class with my favorite class which is XIIA. I gave them each a memento to remember me by, a dollar bill with my favorite Shel Silverstein poem stapled to it, as well as some brownies. The rest of the class we hung out, they sang Gaudeamus to me which is a song that all the seniors sing during their last class with a teacher. It is a very old Latin song that has been stuck in my head all week long since that is all i’ve been hearing.
Friday was a day full of festivities. At 9am, the seniors were walked around to all of the classrooms in the high school as well as the general school and sung Gaudeamus to all of their younger colleagues. This was followed by the graduation ceremony that started at noon in the courtyard of the school. The seniors walked in singing Gaudeamus while the whole school watched on. My director opened the ceremony and then the diplomas were given out. They started with the afternoon classes from the technical school then with D,C,B, and finished off with A. After all of the students from XIIB received their diplomas, they took the mic and not only thanked all of their teachers individually, but also gave them a present. Luci and Crina were the ones that presented me my flowers and present and naturally I cried because I wasn’t expecting it since I hadn’t taught them this semester and was just very touched. After B came A. XIIA is the only class in the high school that has a 100% graduation rate and all of the students from that class will be taking the bacalaureat exams that start in a few weeks.
After the main part of the ceremony was finished, my director spoke again and this time, to my surprise, asked me to address the senior class. I was overcome with emotion and could barely speak because I am so sad to not only see my kids leave, but know that I am leaving as well within the next month. I am told that I made most of the audience choke up but I did not notice through my own tears. The professors finished the day at school with a trip across the street to the cafe where we had some drinks and hung out before we all went our separate ways to get ready for the banquet that night.
Last night at 8pm, the Senior banquet was held for all of the graduating seniors and their professors. The night was tons of fun and I never imagined that not only would I not shed a tear, but also that I would see some of my toughest students cry like babies. It was a great night being with everyone for one last night. The times that all of these students will be able to be together and celebrate this are few and far between so I am happy that there was such a nice turnout and that everyone had fun.
Here is a video of XIIB singing Gaudeamus:
I took a ridiculous amount of pictures and you can view them all at the link below:
This is for all of you back home. A fellow PCV came across this article that was written by a former Marine Corps officer as well as Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. His take on the similarities is really interesting.
Dear Peace Corps Romania Group 28,
Today, April 28, 2013, marks exactly two years since we stepped foot onto Romanian soil. Little did we know that we would become a family of 3o-something crazy PC Volunteers. I just want to say congrats to my fellow PCVs today and that I love each and every one of you. Thank you for being there for me through the good and the bad, sharing in the amazing moments that will be memories for the rest of my life, empathizing with me during my hardships, and rejoicing with me during my successes. Each of you has impacted me in one way or another and I am a much better person for it. You are all going to be in my heart forever.
This past weekend I met up with a group of my fellow PCVs to cheer on 4 members from our group in the Cluj Marathon. They ran as a team so each runner took one leg which was 10k. We had a great time at the race and were very proud of our team “Rompin in Romania” when the last runner crossed the finish line with a total time of 4:17. We followed it up by divulging in none other than American style hamburgers, fries, onion rings, and liter sized beers at a local brewery.
This was the last time that I am going to see several of my closest friends in Romania which means that my waterworks were flowing quite hard. It was difficult saying bye to these people that I have such a bond with and that are the only ones that know exactly what I have been through during my service. I was even emotional most of the 4 hour ride back to site just thinking of how much has happened in the past two years and some of the crazy memories that we have made. I know that I will consider every person from my group as a lifelong friend. I’m also very jealous that many of them will be close to Washington D.C. and will still have each other while I’ll be across the ocean but I know that our paths will cross again sometime.
So the main reason why I decided to take a week off of school is to celebrate the wedding of two very special people. After a total of 12 hours on a train and then another 2 or so due to a freak blizzard, I finally arrived to my aunt and uncles house Friday around 1am.
Despite my long travel, it doesn’t compare to other wedding guests’ such as the bride’s dad’s whom lives in Austria and was on one of the buses that got stuck in 3 meter snow drifts for about 20 hours in Hungary during the very same blizzard. Thankfully, he did make it in time for a quick shower before all of the houses guests were due for the wedding.
The day was very beautiful and sunny although quite cold and most of the ground that wasn’t covered in mud, was still covered in a layer of snow. Luckily for all of us, there was plenty of rakija to go around and keep us all warm throughout the day.
The reception was one of the best that I have ever been to. It was a fairly young crowd and everything from the location, decor, program, and music were just spot on. The newlyweds did a great job planning the wedding and we all had a great time helping them celebrate their special day.