More About Our Trip to Romania

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About four months ago, we returned from spending 15 days in Romania. My sister and her family still live there, along with all my relatives except for my parents. My father passed away almost two years ago. My mother lives in Spain. She came over to Romania while we were there and this whole trip felt more like a family reunion than anything else.

Aunt with nephew niece inside a Bucharest mall

My sister with my children inside a mall in Bucharest

Not that we did not see things. We acted like tourists by renting a nine-passenger automatic Mercedes van and traveled through 10 cities. We did not stay anywhere longer than three days. It was a fast pace, but we had much to see and many relatives to visit.  Continue reading »

However, I think that next time I should like to just go home – where I grew up, in Slatina – and take daily walks, to show my children the places that meant everything to me growing up.

We saw my high school English teacher, several friends from grade school and high school, and many of my cousins. It was all fast, short and sweet. After being away for 10 years, it was hard to recap everything that happened to us, but some tried and succeeded to bring me up to speed. I really appreciated their opening their hearts to me. I felt connected all over again, in ways that one can only feel after one has turned 40.

There was something very therapeutic in watching my sister interact with my children. I don’t get to see that very often. She took them to a bakery to get cookies and cakes. She loved on them. She talked with them and marveled at their personalities. Only an immigrant understands how special such interactions are when they finally happen.

We took lots of pictures but, apparently, not enough. We have several memories without pictures to show for it. I like it though. It shows that we were so much in the moment, we were not self-conscious. Also, it shows that we are not obsessed with social media to the point where we must record every single interaction in our lives and share it with others.

The best part for me, besides meeting friends and family, was to watch my children use their Romanian more and more. If we stayed there for one month, I think they would start conversing in Romanian. As it was, after 15 days, they were already using Romanian words with each other. There’s nothing like immersion to stimulate language usage.

Our Trip to Romania

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More than a month after our return, I finally have the chance to write about it. I have had so much other homeschooling matter to deal with on the blog, it has been hard to squeeze the trip about Romania in here.

Hunedoara Castle in Romania

The four of us at Hunedoara Castle, on a cold and rainy April day. Universal was filming Dragonheart 4 there, but most of the castle was open.

We had so much fun and covered so much territory, literally and symbolically, that it has been hard to express it all in one post. A series of posts will do, but for now, just an overall post should take care of business. Continue reading »

We spent 15 days in Romania and nobody got ill. Last time we were in Romania, my husband got really sick and this is a major reason why I refused to go there with small children. So this was our first time in Romania with the children. They loved it, we loved it.

Our daughter asked if we could go back and spend three weeks instead of two next time. Our son asked if we could go to the beach next time. We were in the mountains and the plains for most of the time. They loved every minute of it. Our son said “Romania is another dimension; just like the US, but better.”

During our trip, we visited 10 cities, 3 castles, 2 fortresses, and 8 out of my 12 cousins plus numerous aunts, uncles, and several friends from school. I also recorded three broadcasts at Speranta TV, a Christian Romanian TV station. The topics were 1) homeschooling, 2) raising children in two cultures and 3) my life story.

Speranta TV studio

At Speranta TV with one of the moderators, recording a program about homeschooling.

My mom also flew in from Madrid, where she lives, so it really was like a family reunion. We rented a Mercedes van with automatic transmission, which seated 9 people. My sister and my nephew plus my mom and then the four of us and lots of luggage – we had plenty of room.

We used Rent Expres (only one s in Romanian) at the Henri Coanda (Otopeni) airport in Bucharest, in case you might want a rental car suggestion. We booked over the email and they called us to confirm a few weeks before the rental dates. They did not need a credit card or any other form of payment until we got there. They were professional and courteous and spoke very good English. I did not have to translate much for my husband.

It was lovely to catch up with everybody and to be in Romania again. The country has changed a lot in the 10 years since my last visit. I can tell the EU has poured a lot of funds into the infrastructure.

We flew Lufthansa and enjoyed it very, very much. The kids received wonderful coloring books and tangrams for the flights. The food was very good – we ordered veggie meals and they were delicious. Our itinerary was Charlotte-Munich, Munich-Bucharest, then back in the reverse order.

Children drawing in Munich airport

Layover in Munich

They also have lots of audio and video options, as every passenger gets their own screen with hundreds of movies, audio books, meditation and relaxation seminars, news, sports, and music. I am afraid we let the kids watch movies until they crashed, but hey, we did not want to hear “Are we there yet?” on a plane. Since we limit movies so much at home, they were glued to the screens and we did not hear a peep out of them until meal time.

I will definitely write other posts about our stay in Romania, as we found it extremely fun and educational.

Where Am I From? Romania

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I place a strong emphasis on foreign languages in our homeschool because I am a European. More precisely, I am from Romania. I learned French and English in school like most Romanian kids. Two foreign languages were mandatory school subjects grades 5-12. I am not sure what they do now, but I expect they still do two languages. We also took one year of Latin in the eighth grade. That’s when we learned “Gaudeamus Igitur” by heart.

Romania used to be a Roman province – hence the name and the strong presence of Latin words in our language.

Latin poet Ovid was exiled to Tomis (modern day Constanta, Romania, a Black Sea port). Back then, he complained nobody spoke Latin. Little did he know how much the local language would be influenced by Latin over the centuries.

Statue of Roman poet Ovid in Constanta, Romania - about two blocks from where I used to spend my summer holidays

Statue of Roman poet Ovid in Constanta, Romania – about two blocks from where I used to spend my summer holidays

Indeed, the Romanian language finds itself in the same group as Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French – the Romance languages of the world.

Just to give you a glimpse into the similarities… We say “casa de moda” – like in Spanish, “fashion house.” We say “merci” like in French for “thank you.” We say “noi” for “we,” just like in Italian.

We do have some Slavic words, naturally. We are surrounded by Slavic nations: Bulgaria to the south, former Yougoslavia to the southwest, Ukraine to the North and the Republic of Moldova (a bit of Russia) to the East. But we use the Roman alphabet and have been called an island of Latinity in a Sea of Slavic Languages.

No wonder Romania is part of the francophone world and even hosted one of their summits a few years ago. Here’s a map of the Francophone countries of the world:

Map of francophone countries, with Romania being one of them

Map of francophone countries, with Romania being one of them

My husband (who is American) jokes that we Romanians like to get in the news about once a week and, alas, he is right. Sometimes it’s good news. Most of the time, it’s not. Ever since we started dating, he noticed that American media reports on at least one weekly incident involving Romanians. You watch and tell me if it’s true.

They say there are a lot of Romanians working for Microsoft in Seattle. In fact, they say Romanian is the second most spoken language in those offices – after English. That’s according to this youtube video which extols some other great facts about my country. A world without Romania would be, well, not exactly what we have today. You will have to watch to believe. (Viewer discretion advised for some references to alcohol and a short provocative collage of Romanian fashion models.)

If you want to listen to some of Romanian pop/folk music, just youtube names like Angela Similea, Gabriel Cotabita, Mircea Baniciu and Tudor Gheorghe – these are some of my favorites from the 80s. I left Romania in 1993 and have returned several times, but have lost touch with most of the culture. For traditional Romanian music, look for names like Ion Dolanescu and Maria Ciobanu. I have never been a fan, but my mom loves it.

I am proud of my heritage – for the most part – and want to pass on to my children some of the things that made me “me”. Recently, my son told me, “Mommy, I wish I had been with you in Romania when you were growing up.” He is six.

This post is part of a Multilingual Kids Blog carnival, hosted this month my Stephen of Head of the Heard.