Tag Archives: school

Romanian School System

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Mary came over the other night and we got into a long discussion about the Romanian school system and how it works and what not so here are some facts that I have learned.

  • School starts September 15th
  • First break is from Christmas which starts December 23rd and will go until January 15th. This is different from previous years. Before, Christmas break would only be 2 weeks and then there would be another break somewhere in February that classified as the semester break. The Ministry of Education has decided to get rid of that break and extend Christmas and I think spring break a week.
  • School ends sometimes in June
  • Students choose what area they would like to specify their studies in. These are usually broken down by Math/IT, Philology(Social Sciences), Languages, etc. (my school is kind of different is this respect)
  • Each grade level is broken up into A,B,C,D, and the letters continue depending on how large the highschool is. The letter of the group the student is in usually depends on the student’s intelligence. The smartest kids get into the A group, next is the B group and so on. So within the Math/IT specialization there is 9A,9B,9C,9D,10A,10B, and so on. then there is  Philology 9A,9B,etc. After the year is over 9A becomes 10A, 10A becomes 11A and so on. I know that movement within the groups does occur but I don’t believe it happens very often. (my school is different in this respect as well)
  • Since my high school is fairly small, the specializations and the letter groups are paired together. In my school the A group is Math/IT, the B group is Philology, the C group is Chemistry/Bio and the D group is Economics. Since the Math/IT specialization is said to be the most difficult, the best students usually tend to gravitate for that one and going into their freshman year, they choose to go into 9A. Philology is said to be the next in terms of difficulty and therefore that is 9B. The next two is where it gets a little confusing. Chem/Bio is 9C but I was told that in general, 9D(Econ) has better students compared to 9C which is Chem/Bio. I was confused as to how Chem/Bio could be the “least smart” group of people when neither of those sciences are easy and I was told that  although that is their specialization, the other groups, especially A, has more intensive bio and chem classes than the bio and chem specialization does. Some things I just don’t fully understand.
  • Students are not required to take an entrance exam to get into colleges within the country such as our SAT or ACT
  • At the end of their senior year, students are required to take the Baccalaureate which is in some ways a comparable to our final exams. The bac. encompasses everything the students have learned and these are one of the main things that colleges look at.
  • Admittance into colleges depends heavily on one’s grades since it is a rating system. The students with the best grades can secure their spots and then those that are left open are available for the next category of students with lower grades and so on.
  • In college, the number of credits a class is worth is not hour based like it is in the states but importance based. The most important classes for a student that are mandatory for his/her major can be worth 6 or 7 credits, while other classes that are also mandatory for one to graduate but don’t necessarily encompass elements of the student’s major might be worth 4 or 5 and so on.

I think that’s about all I can recall from our conversation. Hope I remember everything correctly!

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Aside

My first week at site has passed in a flash. Starting from day one when i nearly flooded my apartment, I feel as though I have already come a long way. I’ve been hanging out with both of my counterparts quite a bit and they have definitely been amazing when it comes to welcoming me into the city.

Thursday night I went for a walk with Loredana (my community counterpart that knows no English) and she showed me throughout the city. Despite our obvious language barrier, we have hit it off from the beginning and get along very well.

Friday, my English teaching counterpart, Mary showed me around town a little bit. She showed me where the police station was, the post office, bank, and where the Friday market takes place. After my errands with Mary, Loredana and her husband (whom is the gym teacher) had me over for an amazing lunch that consisted of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted carrots. The appetizer was vișinata (cherry brandy) and the desert was beer. Couldn’t have asked for a better meal! The company was fabulous and we talked a lot about mainly me, my past, why I chose to be a volunteer. Ya know, the usual questions I expect to get asked at least 1,000 times more.

Saturday I planned to just hang out in my PJs all day since the morning was very gloomy and my power was going in and out. Around 3pm, Mary called me and asked if I wanted to go on a bike ride with her, since I will refuse no invitation that is within my control, I naturally obliged.  Mary, her boyfriend Danny, his neighbor and I headed north on our journey. After an extremely bumpy yet picturesque bike ride, we ended up at a little picnic site where we joined a handful of their friends. We hung out at the site, grilling, talking, and shooting bows and arrows (which proved to be very difficult for my finger tips). When we were about to leave, the group put one last thing on the grill so naturally, when I found out it was rabbit, we had to stay and wait till the meat was done so I could taste it. After what seemed like an hour, the rabbit was finally done and I got a chance to try this adorable, fluffy, and EXTREMELY tasty creature. All I have to say is thank god the meat was already prepared and cut up so I didn’t have to witness the gory stuff.

Today was my official be a bum day. Once again, it rained and I didn’t do much of anything. Mary came over around 5pm to discuss the English day camp that we will be holding for the high school students during the first week of August. I have the next week to plan a whole day camp from scratch, hopefully I think of something! I’ve already gotten about 4 volunteers to commit to helping out at my camp so I’m happy that I’ll be able to see my friends and if it crashes and burns, at least I’ll have some people with me 🙂

In other news, my gazda family called me up the other day and told me that they will be visiting some family in Târgu Mureș, which is about 2 hours south of me and planned to stop by Sangeorz for a day to visit me. I am so ecstatic and that is a HUGE gesture that they are coming to visit. I guess I must have left at least somewhat of a good impression. Denisa plans on staying with me for the remainder of the week which im very excited about and have already started planning what we will do and where we will go.

Starting tomorrow, the rest of my summer will be quite busy and I’m so excited about it!  I haven’t done much this week and although it was a nice change of pace, i’m over it. I can’t sit around for too long with nothing to do so even though planning the summer camp will be hectic, i’m ready for it!

Until next time,

Va pup!

One Week Down

Counterpart Conference

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This weekend was pack filled with rules, regulations, expectations, and role play. Our counterparts came into town to get to know us and learn more about the adventure that we will be embarking on together. We had a “meet and greet” activity planned where we got to know our counterparts and started the conversations that everyone has been dying to ask for weeks. What is the city like? Where am i going to live? Will I have my own place? Does it have a washer? How is the school? etc…

 

For those of you that aren’t aware, a counterpart is a current teacher of English at the school where we will be teaching that will act as our mentor and community liaison if you will for the next few years. There are many different uses for the counterparts from integrating into the community, getting to your site, and just knowing the ins and outs of the Romanian school system. I found out that my counterpart’s name is Maria and she is what seems to be the slightly older version of me. She is 26 and has been teaching high school English for about 3 years now. We hit it off right away while discussing our love of travel and the need to be outdoors. We shared some random facts about each other like her dislike of eggs and cheese and my dislike of milk. We had a breakout session where we broke out into regions of Moldova, Transylvania and Wallachia/Dobrogea. We talked about what we found out about our counterparts and got to know the other counterparts within our areas. There were some matches that seemed perfect for each other and others that will be interesting to watch develop. Maria and I spent the whole day discussing our likes and dislikes and we are literally the same person. I have a feeling that we will have an amazing working relationship and an even better friendship.

 

We were initially supposed to take a train from Ploiești ( a city about an hour away from Târgoviște) straight to my site of Sângeorz-Băi. The ride is supposed to last about 12-14 hours and we were originally supposed to depart from Târgoviște at 2pm and end up at Sângeorz-Băi around 4am. Luckily, another counterpart that came from Bistrița(about 50km south) offered to take us along since he drove down to pick up his volunteer and there is room for the two of us in the car. I am excited about this because we will be taking the scenic route and I’ll get to see the gorgeous landscapes of Transylvania. Since my apartment is all ready, I will be able to take some of my luggage and leave it at site so when I move, I won’t have to schlep around 2 suitcases and 2 backpacks. We are leaving at 10am tomorrow and we should get to my city around 7ish. Claud, the other counterpart, mentioned how he wants to make a stop in the mountains to grill some mici (cevapi for you serbs, a type of amazingly delicious grilled sausage that is found in EE). Here are some pictures from this weekend.

 

Shoutout to Whitley’s dad: The running joke is whenever your daughter and I do anything together, she just tells me “don’t forget to blog about it”. I have made sure to include some pictures of her so you know that she is alive and well 🙂

 

I Just Got Flashed by a 2nd Grader

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Today was my first day teaching in our new practicum school which is a “middle school” but really it has what seems to be all the grades up to 8 in it. I was in charge of teaching the 2nd grade class about clothing. The kids start learning English in the 3rd grade but they have the option of starting in the 2nd grade so I taught the “optional” class. I brought in a bunch of clothing items to help teach the words. The students really got a kick out of the dress and my scarf. Everyone wanted to wear the scarf..i’m not sure why. After going around the room and asking them what it was, I taught them a song about clothes to help them remember to the tune of “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” but it was “hat, tshirt, jeans, and shoes” They absolutely loved the song and picked up on it instantly. I didn’t have to repeat it at all and by the end they were singing it by themselves without my help. Since these activities ended up being shorter than planned, I also had them draw what they wear during the weekend since they are in uniforms at school and had a few kids come up and tell the class what they draw. I ended the session with a short game of SLAP where i wrote the words on the board in English and said it to them in Romanian and they had to compete against another student to find the word and slap it. It was definitely much more interesting teaching primary school as opposed to high school but i really enjoyed it. I’m sure my high energy and just flat out goofyness. The last class in the day was cut short due to the “carnival” the school was having to celebrate the 1st of June which is Children’s day. We got to see some of the students participate in the costume contest which was adorable. When we got back to the classroom, a girl that participated in the costume contest came in late and started stripping in class. No joke… her top was open…she took it off changed her shirt and her bottoms as well. CULTURE SHOCK. I have seen little kids running around the beach without a top on but never imagined that it would happen in school….WOW. That’s all I’ve got for today. Until next time! TE PUP!

Carnavalul Florilor

Some of the kids waiting for the contest to start

Cute!

Rooster

Adorable

Typical Romanian Garb

My walk home on the gorgeous "Old Blvd"

The one of many gorgeous houses on the old blvd.

Another one

Jovankai îi Plac Lei și Vodca

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Once again, the weekend came and went in the blink of an eye but it was thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless. Friday was our last day of practicum at our current high school and it was definitely bittersweet. I really enjoyed teaching our classes and getting to know the students and of course our mentor teacher Monica. It was a great experience to watch her teach because you can see that she truly cares for her students and is very passionate about teaching.  Since the normal school schedule was altered this Friday due to an appearance by the mayor of the city along with a creative writing awards ceremony, we didn’t teach. While the mayor was giving his speech to the teachers, my teacher was telling me some interesting facts about our practicum school and how after communism the population dropped and now many high schools are starting to consolidate and close down due to the smaller number of classes. With this, there are many jobs that will be cut and so on. I never really thought about these types of changes that the end of communism caused and how, 20 years later, they are finally starting to come forth.I also experienced my first form of culture shock at the school that day. My training group and I were standing out side of our classroom admiring some of the students artistic abilities. Kevin and i were discussing something while 2 of our freshman walked by us. As they walked by, they both stared right into Kevin’s eyes and said “Kiss, Kiss…te pup!” Our mouths dropped…. Yes Kevin is a young teacher and our school has mainly girls in it. I never expected any of the students to have that much courage to so blatantly hit on a teacher. We were both left speechless for several minutes after that and it was just another reminder that we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

After language class we did the typical PCT thing of going to the blue bar and then heading out to dinner after that. I was fairly tired so Jeremy-WB and I walked home around 10pm. When I got to my house, I was very excited to get into bed and just relax but naturally, that didn’t happen. Denisa was in the process of getting ready to go out to a Romanian hip/hop concert at a local club that was made to resemble a castle. She ended up talking me into joining so i quickly changed, put on some make up, and headed out the door. When we pulled up to the club, I was definitely amazed. I wish i would have gotten a picture of it but it was pretty remarkable. The outside was designed to look like a castle, towers, doors, armor and all.  The inside was beautifully decorated. The walls were made of stone and made to look like the inside of a dungeon. There were 3 floors with very posh looking tables and couches as far as the eye could see.

Most of my night was spent sipping on my drink and people watching. If you have seen the movie Euro Trip, you can picture what this very typical Eastern European club looked like. There were topless dancers, whom no one really paid attention to that also baffled my mind. My favorite aspect of this club was the music selection. Before the main act came on, the DJ mainly played what sounded like Romanian techno. About 20 minutes before the rapper came on stage, the DJ switched to American music and I couldn’t help but laugh. The selection started off with songs from the 80s/90s with Ice, Ice, Baby and Hammertime. It then progressed into some Missy Elliot and Not wanting to lose your love tonight. The last song right before the main act was, I kid you not, Carl Orf’s Carmina Burana. For those of you that are not aware. carmina Burana is one of my favorite musical pieces. It is centuries old and was originally written and performed by Benedictine Monks. Anyways, this song came on…it is a very deep and ominous piece and i was so shocked I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry. The crowd went wild. Everyone threw their hands up in the air and jammed to, not a techno remix, but the original song. Listen to the song below and picture myself along with 500 Romanian youth, rocking out at a rap concert to this song. Priceless.

Saturday was a lot more tame. It was Jeremy-WB’s 31st birthday and since he is one of the people that I consider myself the closest to within our group I decided to make him a birthday cake, with the help of my Gazda mom, naturally. Since I apparently lack the creative ability and soft touch to make a cake look pretty, I was given the grunt work. I cut up the fruit aranged it within the cake and frosted the inside of the cake. Basically I did everything that would not be seen. Luckily my host mom is very creative and together, with my cutting skills, and her creative imagination, we successfully made a quite tasty cake.  Since the weather this weekend was nothing but sunny, we decided to head to the park again and just hang out. There was about 15 of us and we played uno, soccer, talked, listened to music, and just had a great time. After many hours in the sun, a smaller group of us decided to stop by a local restaurant and get some dinner. We found their wine list, saw how cheap bottles of wine here and noticed that this particular restaurant carried my favorite type of wine which made me that much happier.  The wine in this country is usually arranged by color and sweetness, no names. If you know exactly what you like and what you don’t you can go about ordering a glass of wine but it is very rare that you will get the same rose semi-sweet wine at different restaurants. After dinner we took a stroll to the park where we hung out and eventually got serenaded by some locals with a guitar. Below is the video (actually more like audio) of the PCTs and Romanians singing along.

This morning, I was woken up by my host father screaming which I assumed to be profanities and I had no idea why. Denisa came running into the house and grabbed something and said “I need this for the chickens, the dog bit one of them”…..WHAT?!?!?!?! Apparently Ion, my host dad bought who I call Mamasita, my host grandmother a bunch of chickens. I assumed he bought some to take with us when we went to go visit her to cook on the grill. When I get into the car….I hear something moving and realize that the chickens Ion bought were still alive….the story was finally pieced together. The whole 20 minute ride I kept on hearing the chickens squawking and flapping around in the trunk. Wow…

The rest of the day was spent in the country side at gma’s house hanging out in the sun and walking through the garden. Now it’s off to do more Romanian homework! Until next time, te pup!

Long Week and Even Longer Post to Match!

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I can officially say that I have made it through my first week of Pre-Service Training! It definitely wasn’t any easy task with all the language lessons, technical sessions, talk about poop, and practicum intro but all 39 of us somehow survived! Since I’ve had minimal access to internet this week due to the fact that my gazda’s router is effed up for some reason, I haven’t been able to post/talk to anyone for longer than a 5 minute period. Here is a rundown of how my week went:

Monday:

We met at one of the local high schools that will act as our training center at about 9 am where the whole group spent a few hours going through basic administrative things such as receiving our PST manuals, learning the basic do’s and don’ts, etc… After several hours of that, we had lunch and then went into another building on that is also part of the high school where PC has rented out the entire floor for us where the offices, PCT lounge, and language classes are located. We were broken up into groups of approximately 10 for our language classes with 2 professors each for this week. After this week, we will be broken off into smaller 5 person language groups with only 1 professor.

We will be re-grouping our language classes bi-weekly I believe based on our progress and will be paired with other PCTs on the same level as us.  We started off with the basics Monday such as greetings, the various regions of the country, the verb to be, counting, and telling time.  Looking back on my notes, I am now fully realizing the true meaning of “intensive language sessions”. The teachers manage to pack a lot of Romanian into a short amount of time with a surprisingly high success rate.

Tuesday:

Our “normal” school schedule is language from 9-1 lunch from 1-2 then technical sessions from 2-5ish. Tuesday was the first true to schedule day and we had language in the morning. My professors are Maria and Simona. They are what I believe to be in their late 20s and this is Maria’s first year teaching for PC while it is Simona’s third and she is very well versed with the ins and outs of the PC and the language program itself.

In class we started putting together basic simple conversations that included things like what is your name? Where are you from? And what is your occupation? We also learned a very long list of vocab words that mainly dealt with objects found in a classroom such as pen, desk, light, dictionary, chair, etc. we went on to learn some grammar with regards to indefinites and definite and the transformations that occur based on gender and switching from one to the other. We also learned possessives and the location of objects such as on, in, under, next to, and between.

At 2pm all the trainees met back up in the big classroom where our technical training consisted of intro to the country of Romania and the culture along with an intro to the Peace Corps service within the country past, present, and future.

We decided to go and get phones today so a few of us went in the general direction of our houses accompanied by a currently PCVL(PC Volunteer Leader aka a PCV who has extended his/her service for an extra year or in some cases 2.) We found a no-name store that does repairs on phones and I went in asking if I could possibly get my iphone unlocked which was unsuccessful. After spending about an hour in the store while the other PCTs were getting their phones, I decided to call it a day and go home. I got home and Denisa and Iza already had dinner prepared so we ate and then they helped me with my homework. I decided to make flashcards with the set of 500 index cards I brought to country. My funny moment of the night was when my host mother came home from work (around 9pm) I tried to ask her if she had a rubber band and instead managed to ask her if she had a spare tire….whoops!!

Wednesday:

Wednesday’s language class was fairly low key due to the fact that most of it was review from the past two days of language bombardment. Part of our homework due Wednesday was to come to class with three new vocab words and either draw them, describe them, or act them out so the class can guess what the words are.  Mine were bowl, tomato, and orange…can you tell I did my homework in the kitchen? We got a lot of good vocab with some random words thrown in like amazement, and craftsmanship which were next to impossible to figure out and left me wondering where the hell these words came from.  The only new things were learned were introducing a 2nd and 3rd person and how to say high five in Romanian. In case any of you were wondering; it’s “Bate palma”

The day’s technical sessions dealt with learning about the Romanian educational system, overview of our possible sites and what our roles in the community will be. A current volunteer also came in with a few of her students and her counterpart to give us a firsthand account as to what she does, how she has impacted her school, and what the students have to say about her. The second part of the session was the introduction to our practicum.

The practicum is basically our training to become sufficient enough teachers. I know all of you teachers are reading this and cringing at the fact that I am supposed to learn enough teaching skills in the next 10 weeks when you earned a 4 year degree on the subject matter and I agree with your thoughts of “How the hell will that work?!” I know that I will be nowhere near as good of a teacher as an actual teacher but I’m going to try my hardest to get the basics down! We were introduced to the 10 or so teachers representing about 5 or so middle schools and high schools that we will get a chance to observe and teach at. We will be the schools two days a week and get about 12-18 hours of experience in a high school (9-12) and another 12-18hours in a middle school (middle schools range from 4th-8th grade).

Since I didn’t manage to get my iphone unlocked on Tuesday, I decided that today was going to be the day that I would go out on my own and get myself a Romanian phone and sim card. Luckily for me, when we left school, it was absolutely POURING. Being the stubborn individual that I am, I was not deterred from my previously mentioned task and headed straight for the center with my umbrella in hand. Luckily, there are more wireless carrier shops here than Starbucks in the US. Without exaggerating, on one block, we found 3 Vodafone shops, 2 Cosmote shops, 3 Orange shops, and a few independent dealers as well. I managed to get a dinky Vodafone brand cell phone with a pay as you go plan for a total of 126RON or about 15 dollars. I always forget how much of a rip off cell phones are in the states…

I accomplished a huge milestone today and that was having my first successful conversation with my host parents in Romanian without any of Denisa’s translating help. We talked about what my parent’s do, where I come from, how long I lived in the states and other random facts that I can’t think of off the top of my head. It’s amazing to see how many language barriers intonation, body language, and pantomiming break.

Thursday:

Thursday’s language session was, of course, another intense one. We learned a crapload of new vocab including what the rooms in the house are called and the names for most of the objects found in a house. Today was also national “Man’s Day” so our professors sang “La Multi Ani” (The happy birthday song that doesn’t have the same melody has our version and can work for many other events such as this one). We also learned how to say here, there, this, and that and of course these are said differently depending if the word is masculine or feminine. We learned the verb to have and its forms along with to need.

Our ideal house we drew. It includes: a liger room, a waterbed room, a large kitchen, bathroom with jacuzzi, discoteca, cinema, solar panels, library, dracula's dungeon, an elevator, an indoor pool, and several other rooms. We had a lot of fun with it.

Today’s technical sessions were very amusing mainly because the main topic was about diarrhea and it was present by Dr. Dan who looks EXACTLY like Lieutenant Dan from Forest Gump and is absolutely hysterical with a sarcastic sense of humor. We learned about how all of us will most likely get pin worms at least once, how the food is the best tasting in the country but might not always be the safest, water safety, and nutrition.  The second session was about safety and security and our chances of getting hit by a car vs. attacked by a stray dog in country.

I came straight home after school and hung out with Denisa and Iza for the day. We have become close with each other and enjoy each other’s company. I love practicing my Romanian with Iza ( the 12 yr old) she has a sarcastic way about her and I mess up some words and she just shakes her head at me because she is repeating the same word for the 10th time in a matter of 5 minutes. My favorite moment with her was when she was helping me study with my flashcards. I couldn’t manage to remember the word for “the light switch” which is intrerupatorul and we sat there for a solid minute or two repeating intrerupatorul over and over and OVER again. I couldn’t help but laugh thinking if I were on the other end and her some random Romanian in the US repeating “the light switch” like a maniac. I ended the day showing my host mom some pictures of my friends and family back home.

Friday:

Ahhh Practicum observation day! Our schedules were a little flip flopped today since we were in the schools in the morning observing our teachers and classes that we will be working with for the next few weeks. My group of 5 consists of Ashley, Whitley, Megan, and Kevin which I can say is a very solid group. This group will also be our new language group for the next few weeks. We observed a 9th,10th, and 12th grade English class and the day was very amusing and our teacher is awesome. You can tell she really enjoys what she does and has absolutely amazing and detail lesson plans. We were also surprised with personalized cups. Our teacher each gave us a coffee cup with our name painted on it which was so cute.

The cute coffee cups we received at the highschool.

We went back to the training center once we were done at our schools for a shorter language lesson. Today was another review and another day where we brought in new vocab words and once again, there were some ridiculous ones such as heap, ancestor, and business deal. Yeah…don’t ask… I would like to point out that as much language we get thrown at us, we have actually learned most of it and have already started implementing what we know. The PC language program truly is astonishing.

After training, we deiced we needed to blow of some steam and went out to dinner. We went to this cute pizza place that I went to with some others the night before. There ended up being around 15 of us and we had a blast. Melissa’s host brother Mihai (17)joined us and we fully welcomed his company entertainment. We hung out at the pizza place until around 10. The group separated and I stayed back with Nick because his host father called him and told him that he was coming to join us for a beer. As Nick and I are sitting waiting for them, we see most of the family walk up. We go into the closest café, sit down, and start communicating in awful Romanian on our part, and English on their part thanks to the help of Nick’s bilingual host sister.

His family is precious and his host dad is a very jovial man that likes to enjoy himself. We were enjoying our drinks and beers which most of the conversation was about due to its name. It is called Ursus and its logo is “The king of beers in Romania”. Urs means bear and there is a bear on the label. Megan and Matt joined us later and we had a great time hanging out with Nick’s family and other PCTs at some obscure café that we basically took over with size and volume.

From left to right: Matt, Nick's host dad, me, Galileo, Nick, Nick's host sister and host mom.

All in all this week was absolutely amazing. I can’t remember the last time I have been so busy yet still enjoyed myself so much. I’m not finding a large issue with the language and getting around yet. As you all know, my sense of direction is fairly accurate so that’s a plus at least. The people here are very helpful and hospitable and it is very surprising how many people speak English. I enjoy the company of my training group and we have already started becoming fairly close friends, granted we don’t have much of a choice when we are the only people we know but traveling and being in a foreign country always seems to have some magical affect on people it’s a huge catalyst for friendships.

Hopefully I won’t have many more of these novel length posts and will be able to update everyone more frequently. Love you all  and hope you enjoyed! Here are some pictures i’ve taken in the past week, if you want to see the rest, just go to my picasa album via the link on the right.

 

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