Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania. This week she follows up on her story about applying for a master’s in Bucharest.
In my last article about my application to study a master’s in Romania, I wrote that the first day of school was supposed to be on Monday the 1st of October. That was the information I had received from the school; everything was in order and I should just show up on October 1 in the evening for the first day of the master’s program, with exact time and place to be given at the end of September. So everything seemed in order, and I was happy.
Thursday the 27th of September I got a text message from a friend who has helped me with the school application. “You have to go to the school, register and pay RON 150, otherwise you can’t begin the program on Monday!” So much for everything in order. “Well,” I thought, “I’d better go to the school.”
I was there at 09:00 Friday morning, just to find out that the administration opens at 10:00, so I spent an hour in the entrance, sitting and waiting, and while looking out into the blue beyond, I noticed a man working in the entrance. Each time a person came over to ask him for help or something like that he responded “nu stiu,” (in Romanian, it means I don’t know), this happened with five people in a row. After the fifth person he sat down to take a ‘pauza,’ (‘break’) cleaning the sweat from his forehead and began to read the paper, looking exhausted like after a hard day’s work.
At 10:00 I went up to the administration, and here I found a girl also waiting, it turned out that we were going to be classmates, she was very kind and told me that we had to pay in this office to let them know we want to begin the school and sign a registration paper.
As this was Friday and school was supposed to begin Monday, I asked her if she knew anything about at what time and where we had to go on Monday. Her answer surprised me a bit – no classes Monday evening, beginning instead on the following Monday, but this Monday we had to go to the People’s Palace to register. She said we could go together and I was very happy for her help.
So on Monday I went to the People’s Palace. Many other students were also there and I felt curious about what was going to happen. I had imagined that we were going to talk with some people from the Education Ministry to sign some papers and get them stamped. Considering the amount of people, I was sure this was going to take a long time, and, of course, I had forgotten to bring a book.
We entered a long line of people and my friend told me that we had to get an invitation to enter the building, “An invitation, how nice,” I thought, so I was a bit disappointed when I was handed a mini scrap of paper as an invitation. Then another huge line, typically we didn’t stand in line, pushing a bit and jumping places, a sort of survival of the fittest. We had to pass security control, and I was thinking how different the whole procedure had been so far compared to back home. In Denmark we send in a form, on which we apply for max three educational institutions, as I recall, then we get a letter back saying which school has accepted us and later details of the time, place and date of the first day of classes are sent. After that, students just need to turn up and start studying. I talked with some people in the line about the differences in approach; they asked if that was really all there was to it in Denmark, while I explained how the Romanian system’s contrasts had piqued my curiosity.
We did not talk with anyone from the Education Ministry, instead we had to find a seat in the Government room, and on the stage there were 11 people, one of them the Mayor of Bucharest, which I found quite special, the Mayor in Copenhagen had never been a part of my first days of school in Denmark. Well we all sat down, and then we had to stand up again for the National Anthem.
Then one speech after the other began in Romanian, I was a bit unsure if I had to register somewhere or not, so I stayed, but I must sadly admit that after long speech nr. 8 in Romanian, I gave up and left.
The following Monday in the evening I began my first class, and I found myself being the only foreigner in a class of 60 students, which is the biggest class I have ever attended. The first day went very well, even if I was a bit astounded to see that when the teacher’s mobile rang during class, he actually took the call and finished the conversation while the students had to wait.
So all in all, I’m enjoying the experience, the subjects are very interesting indeed and I am sure I will really love attending this Master’s Program, I have already learned a lot. On to the next tale…
By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist
Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. She is currently working in Bucharest as the Executive Director of UAPR the Romanian Advertising Association. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out more about Romania especially Bucharest, and enlighten the small differences in the culture between Denmark and Romania.. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expats life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.