Before I got my placements in Romania, I remember googling different cities and imagining myself walking down their cobblestone streets and having coffee on colorful squares. I imagined visiting the cathedrals and museums of Brasov, Timisoara, Sibiu, Iasi. But something about Cluj drew me towards it–maybe the student culture, or its location in the center of Transylvania.
I was lucky to find friends in Cluj, and that both of my placements have been about the same distance from the city–about 3 hours by bus. I’ve gotten to know the mountains and villages and rivers between my own apartment and the “Tangerine Palace,” my friend’s very orange apartment.
I love staying in Cluj. I know the squares and the courtyards. I know which cafes serve food and which serve coffee with the best views and which serve Coca Cola with ice for Americans.
I’ve been when it’s so cold an inch of frost coats everything–I spent a night cuddling a radiator for warmth. I’ve enjoyed cold lemonade in sunny courtyards in a t-shirt.
I’ve had a few friends visit Cluj. They like it, but I’ve been asked why I spend so much time there. One of my Romanian colleagues answered it best: “Of course you love it there. That’s where your family is.”