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We are Lauren and Elien, 2 students of orthopedagogics at the Karel De Grote Hogeschool in Antwerp. For the course 'Transcultural challenges across borders' we were instructed to push our boundaries and to make a trip abroad. We didn't chose  a standard city trip, but we challenged ourselves to choose a country that we didn't know. After some thought we decided to go to Romania. Soon we discovered the "VZW Geels Roemeniëkomitee". We decided to contact them to get some more information for our trip. Ria and Paul joined us and helped us to plan the trip. They were looking for a host family, contact persons and  other practical matters such as a glossary and a map of the village.
On Tuesday 30 January, it finally happened: we left for Romania! After a short flight we arrived in Timişoara. Two persons from the committee were waiting for us. They were   picking us up at the airport and also gave us a brief introduction to Romania.


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After a short car ride we arrived in the village where we would stay: Slatina-Timis. Here we were immediately exposed to Romanian hospitality. Johny and Gaby welcomed us into their home and were so generous to let us stay there for the next few days. Also all the other inhabitants of Slatina were very friendly. Everyone was greeting us on the street and there was a real solidarity in the village. In spite of poverty, nobody backed out to help the other person. They may not have much, but even the few that they had they wanted to share with us.    

We quickly lost our hearts to Romanian pastries and Romanian hospitality. Before we started we had a negative image of Romania. We thought that Romania would be a cold, dark, beat up and closed country. However, Slatina-Timis proved the opposite. Everyone was incredibly warm, open and hospitable. This surprised us enormously. Despite the poverty that prevailed, most of them are still trying to brighten up the streets: think of colorful facades. The village is also surrounded by an incredibly beautiful landscape and there is still a genuine nature.

2 studenten

 

Gaby and Johny took us under their wings. Gaby visited together with us various facilities in the vicinity of Slatina-Timis:  a school for special education. It was a great help for us that she accompanied us. She also introduced us to the Romanian culture and showed us, among other things, the traditional costumes. She told us a lot about the Romanian customs. Johny made us familiar with the village, took us to home visits and told us a lot about the medical center.

Thanks to Gaby and Johny, our trip to Romania was a memorable experience. They showed us all kinds of things that a normal 'tourist' would never see. We were talking with them a lot about our experience during our trip and that's how we learned a lot from each other's culture. We spoke not only about cultural differences but also about the similarities between Belgian and Romanian culture. It was very instructive for us to talk and reflect with them.

We can conclude that we have lost part of our heart in Romania:   to the country, the village but especially to the people and their hospitality!

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