A wonderful, life-changing semester in Romania. Past Review

By (International Development Studies, Calvin College) - abroad from 09/01/2012 to 12/15/2012 with

Northwestern College: Romania Semester

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
-Understanding about and a love for a part of the world (Eastern Europe) that I had never experienced before. -Relationships with my host family. -Deep relationships with my fellow students that still persist several years later. -Though participating in our internship with IMPACT youth clubs, we were able to see how the theories we learned about in our Experiential Education class played out in real life.

Review Photos

Northwestern College: Lupeni - Fall Semester Program in Romania Photo Northwestern College: Lupeni - Fall Semester Program in Romania Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Though there are many classes and I learned much from my classes, so much of the learning that occurs is outside of the classroom. Time with your host family, class trips around the country, going to museums, guest lecturers, and conversations with the other students. I really appreciated both the time required for academic study and the free time given to engaged in experiential education.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My host family really sought to engage me--especially the parents. They loved to take me to different places around Romania and show me the things they are proud of in their country. My host mom was always so willing to share her life with me--cooking, grocery shopping, putting up Christmas decorations, and joining in family meals. And though my host father did not speak much English and my Romanian was rough, we got along well with drawing pictures, charades, and lots of laughter.

* Food:

Romanian food is DELICIOUS. Very seasonal--lots of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the summer/fall and root vegetables in the winter. Bread, pork, and cheese all year long.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Fluency in Spanish
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Study and PRACTICE!!!! If you learn it in your head but never practice, you will never learn it. Don't be afraid to try and fail. All the Romanians I came into contact with were very kind and helpful to novice speakers. Use your hands to make gestures. Speak in Romanian any time you can.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • Host Family
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Traveling extensively around the country of Romania, not just around Europe in general. It gave us a much fuller picture of Romania.
  • Homestays--Opportunities to speak Romania, eat traditional food, and see what day-to-day life is like for a Romanian household. Plus, making relationships!
  • Climbing to the top of Mount Peleaga on a week long backpacking trip through Retezat National Park
* What could be improved?
  • The teaching style of the Eastern Orthodoxy class
  • Increase the length of Romanian study so it spans the whole semester
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had studied Romanian before arriving so that I could have had more conversations right from the start--but it's a hard language to learn in the States, because there are so few Romanian speakers.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Romanian Culture and History

Course Department:
Instructor: Local Romanian History Teacher
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course was split into 2 parts--the first half of the semester was mainly lecture on Romanian ancient history and geography. Though the lecture-style classes could get tedious after a while, they provided a solid and necessary foundation for our understanding of Romanian culture and people. Because to understand WHY a country/culture is the way it is, you must understand it's background and the events in its history. The second half of the class consisted of many trips around the country to visit historic and culturally important sites--monasteries, the Communist museum, Elie Weisel's home and museum in Sighet, a local center of pottery, the wodden churches, Cluj, and Bucharesti, to name a few.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Sustainable Development

Course Department:
Instructor: Dana Bates
Instruction Language: English
Comments: As a senior year International Development major, I was already well acquainted with almost all of the material taught in this course. However, for many of the other students who had not studied development, it was the first time they were exposed to the information. I think the course provides a good overview of basic development concepts, focusing especially on how GDP is not always a good indicator of a country's overall level of development and encouraging students to consider other factors as well (HDI, Happiness, health, literacy, etc.)
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Experiential Education

Course Department:
Instructor: Dana Bates
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I loved our experiential education class. Perhaps because I came to Romania pondering about many of the things we discussed in class--namely what the "good life" looks life. We discussed the ancient Philosophical theories behind well-being and then moved to more modern understanding of well being as well as the theories of Praxis (learning by doing). This resonates strongly with the work that New Horizons is doing and we were able to implement our knowledge with internships with local youth empowerment clubs once a week.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Romanian Language

Course Department:
Instructor: Local Romanian English Teacher
Instruction Language: English/Romanian
Comments: Romanian, while a Latin langue, is a complex language full of exceptions to the rules. I enjoyed learning Romanian and found it very useful--as much of our time was spent with host families and out in the community. At first, the class was not well organized, but after speaking with our professor, she made a concerted effort to go step-wise through the material and it significantly improved our learning. I only wish that the class would have run all semester, because I think my learning of Romanian plateaued after the class ended half-way through the semester. However, I believe there is discussion about having a full-semester Romanian course in future semesters.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Eastern Orthodox Religion

Course Department:
Instructor: Local Orthodox Priest
Instruction Language: Romanian with English Translation
Comments: This course was a real frustration to me and to the majority of students on the semester. The priest who taught our class did not follow any kind of lesson plan so that he would talk on and on about whatever was on his mind that day, with no regard to the topics we were studying. We all struggled to learn about Orthodoxy from his teachings. However, the textbooks for our class were very good and I learned a lot through my readings. Also, Dana Bates, the director of the program, gave several lectures at the end of the semester giving an overview of the basic concepts/theology of Orthodoxy, which were extremely helpful.
Credit Transfer Issues: