Monday, October 3, 2011

The University Opens for the Year

A road sign near my apartment: Please no horse-pulled wagons or trucks!
Saturday was a bit of a lazy day.  Mihaela showed me how to get to the mall using the bus, and I shopped around for a few hours.  I ate lunch at the food court there and tried mici for the first time. Mici are basically little sausages without the casings.  They were delicious, although the french fries with them were sub-par and soggy.  I ended up buying a "travelling scarf" that will be making its rounds 'round the globe among some of my girl friends from CUA.  I also bought a big, fluffy bath towel and a few extra kitchen items, such as serrated knife and a vegetable peeler.  It was a nice day out, so I decided to walk home.  It took a half hour, but it was very refreshing. 
The Mall

Are you sure this isn't the US?

The Mici and Some Soggy Fries

A church at the edge of Lake Tabacaniei, viewed from behind the mall.

Lake Tabacaniei, behind the mall

Lake Tabacaniei

On Sunday I woke up early to attend mass at Constanta's Roman Catholic Church.  It is only two blocks from Mihaela's apartment, so she gave me a ride.  One of the great things about being Roman Catholic is attending mass in many different countries and having the celebration have the same format.  I may not have understood the vast majority of the prayers or readings, but because I am familiar with the mass in English, I knew what was happening at every step.  I was really pleased with the church and the Catholic Community here in Constanta.

After mass, I walked with Mihaela to her apartment where she was preparing a Romanian lunch.  She needed a few ingredients, so I went to the piate with her.  We returned to the same piata as before and also to a new piata, where Mihaela bought a type of semi-soft sheep cheese, called urda.  The closest thing it is like in the US is ricotta, but with less moisture.

They just slice off a piece of cheese from the whole lump.

Other types of cheese.
An indoor piata.
Back at Mihaela's apartment, her niece, Flori, and Flori's boyfriend, Cornel, joined us for lunch.  It was really nice to meet some people around my age (they're actually a few years older).  After a lunch of ciorba and sarmale in foi de vita (a Romanian specialty version of stuffed grape leaves), Flori and Cornel showed me around the old part of the city.  I took a lot of pictures and they took some of me, as well, so now I have proof that I, Katelyn, am really in Romania.

Some very spicy peppers from Bulgaria.
One of our first stops was the big Romanian Orthodox church in the city.  We stopped inside, and there was a small ceremony going on; a baptism.  The first thing that struck me about the church was that there were no pews or seats.  It was richly decorated with scarlet and gold and very beautiful.  Normally you don't take pictures in churches, but since a photographer was capturing photos for the baptism, we figured no one would mind if I snapped a few shots myself from the doorway (no flash, of course).  Also, outside of the church were some metal boxes that looked a it like grills.  I had also noticed them at the Catholic church, but had no idea what they were.  Inside them are holes where people put long thin candles.  One set of boxes hold candles offered in prayer for the dead, while the other set holds candles lit in prayer for the living.
Constanta has this one mosque.
That tower belongs to the Catholic Church, which is on the other side of the block, out of sight.

The front of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Inside the Orthodox church, where a baptism is being celebrated

Outside the church are these boxes with lit candles

Candles here are lit in prayer for the dead.

and these are for the living.

We visited several other places as well, but I'll let the pictures tell that story.

Constanta is the oldest city in Romania; here I am in front of some  ruins from the days of the Roman Empire.
The Constanta Shipyard

The Casino is now out of use, but it is still iconic of Constanta.

Me and Flori

Those giant cement jacks were placed all along the coast of the city to prevent erosion from the sea.

A statue of Mihai Eminescu, Romanian's most-famous poet.

We found an ice cream truck.

Here is Ovid, the Roman poet who was exiled here to  the Roman outpost of Tomis (now Constanta).

Today was the opening of Ovidius University for the academic year.  At 11:00 there was an assembly outdoors with the president of the university giving a speech I didn't understand in the slightest.  Then there was some sort of religious ceremony and blessing by clergy of the Romanian Orthodox Church (one of whom I think is a bishop).  It was really interesting to see, since I've never attended an Orthodox ceremony before, with the exception of the baptism I briefly observed yesterday.
There were a lot of students there..not all were paying attention.

I'll be teaching in this building.

I will not be teaching in this nicer building.

After the welcome ceremony I stopped by the English and German office and got the keys to open the office and the classroom in which I'll be teaching.  At 1:00 there was a meeting for all the new students studying English in one capacity or another.

Afterwards I returned to my apartment for a short while.  Then Mihaela stopped by and took me to the bank to open an account.  It was really fortuitous that I had Mihaela to translate for me, because it would have been nigh impossible for me to open the account without a translator.


  1. actually the thin strips of dough wrapped around tubes of wood and roasted until brown and then sprinkled with sugar are called Kurtos Kolaks. They are traditional treets in the North-Western part of Romania. Kinda like corn syrup is in US :)).

    Also the giant cement jacks are called "Stafilopozi", and are used to block the waves of the sea from hitting the shore.

    Very nice blog. Very nice experience.

  2. Thank you for helping out with the Romanian names for things!

  3. Having taught in Constanta during the 1979-80 term, I can see that a lot of things have changed, but not everything. I have no idea where that mall or that lake is, and the pictures were quite surprising. On the other hand, the lack of toilet paper and the all-night party culture remain the same. I was happy to see my old apartment building in the background of the picture of the Roman ruins. I wonder where the present Fulbright apartment is.

  4. There actually isn't a set Fulbright apartment. I found one on my own through the help of a rental agency. It's actually quite close to the old campus of the university, off of Bulevardul Mamaia. Unfortunately, I don't teach at the old campus or have my Romanian classes there, but it is still a good location. The City Park Mall is at the corner of Strada Soveja and Bulevardul Alexandru Lapusneanu. The lake in my pictures (and next to the mall) is bordered by Str. Soveja, Bvd-ul Lapusneanu, Bvd-ul Mamaia, and a tiny bit of Bvd-ul Vlaicu. I'll put a map image in my next post.

  5. Thanks for responding. When I taught there, the institute (not a university yet) provided an apartment for the Fulbright instructor and paid for it and the utilities. I look forward to seeing your map.