Lads and ladies! I'm finally back and recovered from my whirlwind month and a half in which I visited Italy and Germany; spent a month teaching English in Romanian summer schools, traveling around the country and its neighbors; and experiencing the Fringe festival here in Edinburgh while my sister was visiting. She just left this morning which gives me a chance to pull my blog out again.
As you may have noticed i abandoned my plan to, what did I call it? "turn this into a travel-style blog, writing posts about what this experience is like and what I'm discovering". A combination of bad internet, lack of free time and most importantly not actually wanting to sit down and write everything out. BUT! I'm back now and decided instead to do Romania Week on my blog, with a different anecdote or tidbit or photo or something every day. Keep things interesting right.
Part of the crew as we set off towards nine hours of train towards our placements.
So, without further ado, my pearls of wisdom...
Eleven Things You Quickly Learn As A Volunteer ESL Teacher And Tourist In A Foreign Country...
1. Never leave your back turned on your students for my than ten seconds at a time. Ever.
2. Despite your insistence to the contrary, your level of Romanian does not improve with every beer you drink.
3. Think twice before getting over-eager and volunteering to fashion a 'Fountain of Youth'-- the candy filled trophy prize for the treasure hunt you're organizing-- out of nothing but a plastic bottle and some glitter.
4. Sure, phrases like 'please', 'thank you' and 'I don't speak Romanian' are useful enough to memorize, but you should really have spent your time learning things like "Vlad, stop folding origami cranes while I'm trying to teach", or "No thanks, no beer with my breakfast. I shall stick to juice for now."
5. Just because you saw the bus schedule clearly posted on the official website, does not by any means entail that your bus will arrive at the specified time.
6. Before you begin a game of Simon Says, mentally prepare at least twelve billion tasks for Simon to say, so you avoid the whole "Simon says touch the ground. Simon says stop, Simon says touch it again, simon says stop" routine.
7. Unless you want a really embarrassing 30 minutes of being laughed at by Romanian waiters, do not attempt to buy a gift certificate from a restaurant as a prize for the talent show winners. This concept is unheard of.
8. Taxi drivers will take one look at you and kindly decide to drive you the scenic, 25-minute route instead of the more direct, 10-minute one. Isn't that nice of them?!
9. If you want a lesson to last for four hours, you better spend at least six hours planning it.
10. When planning an elaborate outdoor pirate treasure hunt for your students, try not to schedule it the same day as a giant solar flare. Then, two weeks later, when you're doing the same thing for your next class, try not to schedule it when there's a rainstorm.
11. A nine-hour bus ride at the back of a non-air conditioned rickety white van in which your seat is a chair glued to the ground, there's a nun sitting on a plastic stool in the middle of the aisle, and luggage being thrown in through the back door just narrowly misses clipping your ear as it wizzes by at high speeds, while you wind your way up tight hairpin curves on a mountain, and the nun gently sways back and forth with every turn, will not be the relaxing experience you were hoping for.