Monday, December 12, 2011

Beard today, gone tomorrow

And then there were two.

Weeks, that is, remaining in the semester. Today was my first day back at school, and it was the first day in the final two weeks of my first semester in Romania. (We just had a 10-day break due to the Romanian National Day Dec. 1-2 and a weeklong Peace Corps conference.)

It's pretty amazing to think about, actually. People always tell you that time will fly, and I guess I always believe them on some level, but I'm somehow always surprised at how quickly.

Anyway, this week is testing and inputting final grades. Next week is looking at the test, going over some of the things we need to and probably having some fun because I know I'll have about 3% of the students' attention. Then it's time for break, Christmas, New Year's, a bloody rivalry hockey game in the coldest city in the country, and a short little jaunt to Paris. But more on that later.

Well, as mentioned in my face's artfully written letter to my beard, we had to put the old fella down. However, it went for a good cause, raising something like 370 lei for Peace Corps Romania's Gender and Diversity Committee. The winning design was peace signs, which may or may not have happened because a certain high-ranking staff member, who will go unnamed, stuffed the ballot box with a 50. Either way, there were a handful of participants, the highlights being two guys doing a yin-yang style cut into the back of their heads and even a female volunteer shaving one into her neck, under her hair. All good sports, all for a good cause.

So, here's the progression:

Full beard.


And, back to square one.

Due to a pretty tight, daylong schedule, and because the sun simply makes a brief flyby here in the winter, we did next to nothing during the conference, with one exception: a strange drifter competition on the street in front of our hotel. Don't worry, I got video. I guess I also can't complain too much with a a view like this from the balcony: 

Yep, we had a balcony. NBD.

However, I did make a weekend trip to Cluj-Napoca, a beautiful college town that was once the capital of Transylvania, the week before.

Here are a few highlights, but to see the whole album, start here.

First things first, we went to the opera! We saw the Barber of Seville for 15 lei (like 5 dollars!). It was a French play, turned into an Italian opera, sung completely in Italian and translated into Romanian subtitles on a projector. We cosmopolitan-ed the crap outta that place.

Cluj was also lit up beautifully for Christmas. (I apologize for the pictures my iPhone camera takes at night. They're sub-par, but I'm hoping you can at least sort of get the idea.)

We also made a day trip to the salt mines in Turdă, about a half hour away. All my pictures from there were kinda lame, but it was a pretty bizarre experience. They've basically turned this massive mine into an amusement park, complete with a ferris wheel, rowboats in the underground lake, mini golf, bowling, pool and a playground for your tikes.

That's all I got for now. I can't wait for school to end, and a pig-slaughtering, țuica-swilling Christmas break to begin.