© 2011 Daniel 041

Kürtőskalács & Коледа

Dear friends…

This has been an eventful month, so I unfortunately have another completely unedited post. I promise I’ll start getting my act together as soon as I finish my grad school applications; I’m just so sick of writing and editing at the moment. I lent my Canon S90 to Jackie for the remainer of service so all of my photos from now on will be shot my iPad. The iPad sports a 0.7 megapixel camera, so my photos will look mildly hideous from here on out.

I went to Bucharest, Romania a couple of weeks ago to take my GMATs. The score report is back and it’s mostly good news: I passed the 700 mark! However, it was a little shy of my goal so I’m heading back there in January for a retake. I’m hoping for admittance to the College of William & Mary to pursue my master’s degree in accounting. My application is almost completely assembled, so wish me luck!

My original travel plan had been to take the bus into Bucharest, take the test, and then take the bus out. However, the city turned out to be far more interesting than I anticipated and I ended up spending a full week there. The first thing I learned about Romania was that it, despite sharing a long border with Bulgaria, is not Bulgaria. The language, food, and architecture are all completely different. I was hopelessly lost when I arrived at the bus station because people spoke neither English nor Bulgarian. I was eventually saved by dumb luck when, after deciding to just walk in a random direction, I wandered into the city center and found a WiFi hotspot.

A lot of the architecture in Bucharest was influenced by Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Neoclassicism. You can see the same influences in Sofia, but Sofia has much stronger Brutalist influences from its time under Communism.

I heard that much of Bucharest’s city center was leveled by Nicolae Ceaucescu, the former Communist leader in Romania, when he leveled dozens of historical buildings on Boulevard Unirii to recreate the Champs-Elysees in front of the parliament building. It’s a terrible loss. The area near Unirii is chock-full of beautiful buildings, but city’s heart was torn down.

Besides the parliament building (the largest administrative building in the world), there isn’t very much to specifically see. Bucharest isn’t like Istanbul, with destinations; Bucharest is an experience, the culmination of mixed architecture everywere coupled with delicious Italian food.

The best part of my trip was meeting new people at the hostel. The hostel owners themselves were wonderful; one of them, Roxanna, greatly encourages camaraderie by putting together dinner outings and trips to the mountain. The other guests were great, too. I met three very polite Canadians, four Americans, one Turk, four Spaniards, two Bulgarians, and a Frenchman. One of the Americans gifted to me a hammock which I’m going to be rocking in as soon as the weather warms up.

The food was also very good. Apart from the perfect Italian food, there’s a real variety of restaurants in the city. My “adventure meal” for the trip was fried pork brains while eating at a Hungarian restaurant. I also had gulyasleves, a goulash soup and the Hungarian national dish of sorts, and kurtoskalacs, a type of chimmney-shaped pastry.

I had a lot of free time in the late evenings, so I played Internet Hangman with Crystl.

Overall, the trip was a blast. It also gave me some time to unwind and mentally prepare myself for writing applications and organizing Christmas activities for my students. I also made a ton of eggnog to share; it was a big hit and I think I’ve created a new generation of eggnog-addicts in this part of the world. I had a hilarious time visiting different schools to see their Christmas celebrations. One of the all-boys high schools had Christmas karaoke and an eating contest.

I’m in good spirits this winter. My apartment is warm. The doctors have concluded that I don’t have a brain tumor. Most of my students behave, and none of them are ever truant. I had spinach & artichoke dip on Christmas Eve. I have a place to go for New Year’s. This concludes a crazy year in which I’ve been to Thailand and Istanbul, lived at two different sites in Bulgaria, and worked at dozens of programs around the region. I’m blessed for everything I’ve managed to experience and am looking forward to launching into a strong finish as I wrap up my time in the Peace Corps, plan for my vacations in Barcelona and China, and prepare for graduate school.

I hope you all had a merry Christmas. Have a happy new year!


P.S.: Mrs. Collier, I haven’t gotten your card yet. However, I’ve gotten some mail at my address already this year, so I’m sure it’ll arrive with time.

One Comment

  1. hc
    Posted January 3, 2012 at 11:03 am | #

    Hi, Dan,
    We were hoping the card would get to you in time. :( But it looks like you had a great Christmas. Happy New Year! Gong He Fat Choy! William & Mary? is that in Williamsburg, VA.? That would be great! Williamsburg is Mr Collier’s favorite place to visit. BEST WISHES! for the New year and getting into the program you want! Stephanie’s Romanian friend’s husband did his graduate work on Romanian history I believe. He is an Aussie- both he and she are verrry nice. We have enjoyed meeting Stephanie & David’s friends. Enjoy the rest of you time and May God bless you abundantly!

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