In partnership with Reach the World (RTW), the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is publishing a series of articles written by Fulbright English Teaching Assistants participating in Reach the World’s Traveler correspondents program, which through its interactive website, enriches the curriculum of elementary and secondary classrooms (primarily located in New York City but also nationwide) by connecting them to the experiences of volunteer Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) and other world travelers who are currently studying and living abroad.
The end of March marked the end of my sixth month as a Fulbright grantee in Romania, which means that I still have one month left to go. The funny thing is that even though I’ve been here six months, I still feel in many ways like I’m just starting to adjust. It constantly surprises me how many new things I learn, experience or realize every day. I meet new people, hear new stories and even find new things in the grocery store!
This experience so far has been more challenging and rewarding that I ever could have imagined. My classes are nothing like I thought they would be, and a lot of that is because I learned how to adapt to the environment. I tried certain things with my students, learned what worked and what didn’t, and made changes. My teaching is still not perfect. A lot of times I expect things to go one way and then something completely different happens. I have also faced problems I never would have expected, like having issues with my health. However, having to deal with them has made me a more confident person.
Writing these posts for you all has also allowed me to have experiences I might not have had otherwise, and I am grateful for that. Whether it was taking pictures of my food (which made me feel self-conscious) or interviewing a twelve-year-old Romanian student, I have had to take steps outside of my comfort zone.
Sometimes they are small and sometimes they are larger, but each one brings me further into uncharted territory.
Even though I still a month left remaining in Romania, I already know there are things that I will miss. The biggest thing I will miss is constantly being challenged. Living in Romania means never knowing what’s going to come around the corner, and I will miss the way that my time here has pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I will also miss interacting with my students. Though I plan to keep in touch with them, I know from experience that this is always difficult to do from afar. I will also miss helping others learn about America. It has been fun representing the country I call home and helping people think about the United States in new ways.
At the same time, there are definitely things I’m looking forward to. I can’t wait to spend more time with family and friends, who I miss dearly. I look forward to eating some of my favorite foods and enjoying things that I can’t get as easily here. I especially look forward to American grocery stores, where I will always know what to find and the labels are in English! Finally, I look forward to returning to the simple pleasures of convenience in my daily life. I miss the comfort of everyday things in America very much.
Finally, I want to say mulțumesc frumos (thank you very much) to you! I hope that you have learned as much from my posts as I have learned writing them. I encourage all of you to continue learning more about other cultures and to visit other places in the future. Nothing is a substitute for experiencing it yourself, and while it may seem difficult or far-off, there are so many opportunities nowadays to travel.