Tag Archives: experiente

Probigua. The Spanish School with a purpose

Con permiso, let me just tell you about my work here in Antigua, Guatemala. I signed up for AIESEC last year to be able to travel somewhere to Latin America. I didn’t have much trouble deciding which project to pick, the team from AIESEC Guatemala are very professional and did a great job in the invitations and decription emails. It is called “Ambassadors of Guatemala”. Who wouldn’t want to feel that kind of recognition for their experiences in another country? I was hooked. Guatemala is one of the most beautiful countries in Central America and I couldn’t wait to see what it has to offer. AIESEC together with the Govermental Insititution of Tourism and reputed Spanish schools are showing Guatemala’s beauty through all the participants’ eyes. Besides working in a volunteer project in my school, they are also offering me 2 hours of Spanish classes every day! How wonderful is that? 🙂

This is my sharp, gorgeous and very open-minded teacher, Gladys. I love our long conversations about the culture of Guatemala. ♥ Gracias.

Academia de Español ProbiguaProyectos Bibliotecas Guatemala is where I work, learn Spanish and teach English to my Spanish teachers. Probigua is a non profit organisation that has two main goals: teaching Spanish and helping education reach poor communities in Guatemala. I find this so incredibly interesting and such an unique experience because I have also worked on a similar situation in Romania through OvidiuRO. The Spanish taught to the students of Probigua comes with an intensive, total-immersion experience, featuring 3 to 7 hours of one-on-one classes daily plus the opportunity of living with a Guatemalan family to learn about the culture and broaden language skills! I am so lucky to be one of these students and to be integrated into such a nice family. Not only is Sonia a great cook, but she also has a lot of patience and helps us, chicos, with the language during meals. My room is great and I have a perfect view from my terrace.

Probigua aims high and thinks big. They are helping the children of Guatemala by donating the school’s profits to maintain the Library Bus. Additionally, they establish and preserve libraries in the many rural places whereby there is no access to books. I was heartbroken while travelling with el Bibliobus to two of the poor communities close to Antigua: Magdalena Milpas Altas – a village on Volcan de Agua and Alotenango – a village at the bottom of the active Volcan de Fuego, which actually errupted on Saturday covering Antigua with ashes for many days.

This is el Bibliobus (the Library Bus) in front of La Merced church.
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Magdalena Milpas Altas
The kids had an earthquake evacuation drill and the lucky ones got to ride with the ambulance/firemen, los bomberos. It was also the school’s anniversary so the all the kids had activities in the yard and participated in a football competition.

The bullies stand aside but keep an eye out for some new victims.

It is incredible to be here and see children that RUN for the bus.They are super excited to see books and try to keep calm although you can see their sparkles of joy in their eyes while waiting for their teacher’s instructions and the librarian’s offerings ♥


I sit down with them and tell them about my country. Most of them haven’t heard of it and ask me if I am a gringo. I then switch to fairytales like Count Dracula and Transylvania as the heart of Romania and they listen carefully. 🙂 One of them, Carlos, the kid with sad eyes but a kind smile actually knows where Romania is on the map. I’m very much impressed. He pays much attention to my stories and corrects my Spanish. He then buys some sweets with his 1 Quetzal only so I can try it. He is first on the left.

We have a group picture and the kids ask me for my facebook or twitter. 🙂

At the bottom of Volcan de Fuego lies the village Alotenango. The volcano shows a bit of anxiety as we approach, it exhales fumes every now and then and some of the forests lower from the crater are burning. The people of Alotenango live in harsh conditions of poverty and lack of water. The women usually gather in the main square to wash their clothes at the local lavatorium. Their kids wander around playing with boxes in the dust. They are happy, but shy at the sight of foreigners.

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Life is calm out here. Very tranquila. The time is not rushing anywhere and the people seem to know that very well. We park the 3000 book carrying bus by the main park and wait for new students to come in and ask to read something interesting.


This cutie saw me climbing el Bibliobus and decided to join. He goes in to do some basic maths practice afterwards. He is 8 and didn’t go to school that day because he hadn’t done his homework, he says. He can’t read that well, but he is good with numbers.

Out of curiosity we also visit some classes in the nearby school and find the children practicing their sewing on patterned tablecloths. They are happy to tell us the few words they know in English and then show us their masterpieces. When the picture time comes, they goof around. Kids will be kids. 🙂

Most of the children around the lavatorium are curious about us ‘gringos’ but too shy to interact.  I sit down since I’m actually quite tall here and start presenting myself and shaking hands to make them feel more at ease.

My days are full here and I always wake up with a smile upon my face. I am grateful for this experience. Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.

If anyone is interested in joining the projects of Aiesec Guatemala, you can find more information here 🙂
Until next time, keep on smiling!

Hola, I’m in Antigua, Guatemala.

The sight from almost landing in Panama.
Close to Panama

My first trip across the ocean and out of Europe: Don’t be nervous, everything will be just fine! I kept saying to myself. And then this became an involuntary soundtrack before my actual flights. Cheers, brain, I know I can always count on you for messing up my sleep and bringing up weird songs before any kind of travelling. 🙂

But now I am here (OMG!) and everything is so great and exciting and new and crazy different, but sometimes also out-of-this-world similar to the Romanian culture. It’s so hard to put in words. Maybe something of a harmonious chaos that we also master in Romania.

One other surprising thing, I understand a lot of the language, it’s incredible! It feels like it was all the time asleep inside of me. This learning process is very exciting for me. I only need to listen carefully and I understand the use of expressions. Love it so much! At times, I even keep up conversations for so long that I forget I am speaking Spanish. Now that’s really something 🙂

The people. Oh my, I don’t even know where to start on this topic. They are very hospitable, kind, patient, welcoming but also curious to know about you and your country. Here in Antigua they get a lot of tourists and they are used to sharing their lives with them. I have been welcomed with open arms into their houses (thank you Charly, Luis, Majo and Elizabeth), I met the extended family with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmas. I’m enjoying small talk during meals at my wonderful home and I have the perfect view on the terrace of my room. Antigua is surrounded by volcanos (Volcan de Agua, Volcan de Fuego and Acatenango)and I am lucky enough to see them all 🙂
What can I say, guys, it was love at first sight with Antigua. Here, el Volcan de Agua, first thing in the morning.

Volcan de Agua is the most beautiful one, standing alone with its blunt peak sometimes wrapped in white clouds. The more cheeky one is called Volcan de Fuego. As his name hints, he is still active and kicking. Sometimes more than once per day. It’s far away so we can’t even hear the explosions many times, but you get such an adrenaline rush to see it by night! Mirna from Probigua Spanish School took a great photo of it the other day. I was overwhelmed at its sight to even move a muscle, but she managed to capture it! Such good timing! The Spanish language schools here in Antigua are renowned all around the world and have become one of the main industries along with tourism.

Volcan de Fuego, Mirna

So enough about how amazing this entire trip is for me, let me walk you around the places so you can get the positive vibes in wonderful Antigua. The city has well preserved Spanish colonial style buildings and many ruins of churches. During the colonial times it also served as the capital of an administrative region that covered most of Central America.

View over entire Antigua from La Cerro de la Cruz.
cerro de la Cruz view over Antigua

La Merced church.

La Merced

Antigua is well known for having elaborate religious ceremonies during important Catholic events such as Cuaresma (40 days before Easter Sunday), the Holy Week (Semana Santa), Easter. I will be here just before Easter time so I will document all the flowers, fruits, pine needles and paint artworks made by the artists to celebrate these events. Here you see Cathedral of San José which is located in the Central Park.

Flare san jose

This is the sight from Palacio de los Capitanes, Plaza Central. In the background, the beautiful Volcan de Agua.
Main Park

The main market. Love the colors of everything here. So many new veggies and fruits I had no idea about. Now wish me luck learning their names in Spanish with no Romanian equivalent. Quiero un camion de nisperos.♥

el mercado

el mercado )


As for me, I wait for good light and spy on people, I’m really enjoying myself out here. 🙂 This is fast healthy food on the street. If you like how one lady is cooking, you usually stick with her. Guacamoooooleee tortilla wrap, yum! ♥

fast food



la luz



Oh, yes, this is me during lunch break soaking up the sun as much as I can before I return home. Keep bright 🙂

Varna, Bulgaria. Give it a go!

1.old city in varna

Varna is the maritime capital of Bulgaria conveniently located by the Black Sea (Cherno More) and it is home to many old stylish buildings with ornaments, churches, small paved roads and cute communist style apartment blocks. Chic, old, modern, vibrant night life, thus an exhilarating mix for the taste of new comers. This incursion into the Balkans should be welcomed with a cultural WOW, so here, meet Azis. 🙂

I’ve travelled only twice for a couple of days, but that was enough for me to want to recommend it to you. Here’s some good reasons to go there for a weekend with friends or foes:

1. You can keep it really cheap
. Prices for a weekend’s stay over in Varna or around are very accessible. The Golden Sands resort is just outside of the city with loads of all-inclusive hotels*. It’s well known and very popular, not that much special, though. I prefer the city for exploring and blending with its people. My recommendation for inside the city accommodation is mOdus hotel for a chic ambient close to city center.

2. Great culinary experience. Getting hungry? I’ve got you covered. Di Wine Restaurant and cellar is the best restaurant in Varna (and probably Bulgaria) to spoil yourself. While you’re here, ask the waiter for recommendations of Bulgarian wines, you will not be disappointed, they have a wide variety. The service is great, food is exquisite and wines are to die for. Also, cheese fans should definitely try the green cheese they make only here in Bulgaria. If only for this charming restaurant and you should definitely come to visit Varna.

3. Cocktail time with a panorama. The perfect view over night-time Varna can be offered at the sky bar with live piano performances on the top floor of Cherno More Hotel in the city center, which looks a bit like the Intercontinental in mid Bucharest, but it has more blue and pink lights inside the bar. Be prepared to cross the portal to at least a couple of decades back in time while you are here. Have a drink and move on to the shore before the Russians start singing out loud some 90’s hits.

4. Vivid night life.
I’m not much of a party person, but Varna brings me up from the dead with its Balkanic style of music, crazy drum plays and happy vibes on the beach clubs. If you’re into electronic/dance music, just walk around the beach line and be all ears and eyes. The music will lure you in the right spot, I assure you. That or some of the pretty girls. If you’re into Balkanic pop and dance, try Chas Pik (4as Pik). There’s no entrance fee, the DJs have a warm up session long enough to keep the tension rising until the music comes out with a blast. Before you know it, you’re hooked.

5. Enjoy the kitsch culture. I know deep down you’re a bon vivant with perfectly organised breakfast on Instagram, but try to loosen up and marvel at the colourful chaotic experience laid in front of you. Welcome to the Balkans, the contrasts will get you excited.

6.the ship

6. Tanning, swimming, beach time. Golden sands or Zlatni piasaci keeps its name for a good reason, the beaches are clean and sparkle under the summer sun. You have a choice of umbrellas and chaise-longues for the shade lovers and the water is bluer than you might expect. You can either hang out here or try Varna’s beach for a more retro feel. An interesting Caribbean lost ship seems to have found a place on the beach of Varna and offers fresh fish and other dishes. If you’re feeling lucky, you might want to try it.

2.summertime conversations

baywatch siesta

4.the golden view

* Yes, that means families with kids on a week-long sejour and more “No’s!” per square meter than you’ve ever been exposed to in your entire lifetime, teenagers from all over Europe going bananas, whales not dressed for the occasion and crazy drinking on the beach clubs in mid day. But super cheap otherwise.

Life is joyous

Or it really really should be that. In pursuit of happiness, we more often than not complicate our existence. Let’s go back to the roots for a bit and take a moment. Of marvel. Yes, I do mean the happiness found in little things. The ones that come unexpected and for free.

Enjoy this cute kid’s first experience with rain:

Kayden + Rain from Nicole Byon on Vimeo.

Now stop and ask yourself: when was the last time you felt like this? Childlike, not child-ish.
When was the last time you did something for the fun of it?

IMG_2922 - C

Moonlight Breakfast

Oooh-oh! Smiling days in the car despite the weather, traffic or mundane activities? Awfully frozen days in Northern Europe( Estonia) suddenly brought to life? Bright day out with infinite energy to deliver? Your secret must be really good music, then.  Mine surely was.

This bloody brilliant band with super energy and amazing sound is called Moonlight Breakfast. I first  fell in love with their music last year.  It was on Radio Guerrilla, Romanian radio station, and I found myself trapped by their charms. I just enjoyed the moment and left myself carried away into better worlds by their sound.

Moonlightbreakfast yellow

I mean, the voice, the instruments, the mood! The band simply has what the French would call that je ne sais quoi*. It simply gets to your soul. When I found out they were Romanians, my nationalistic heart burst with joy.

On their Facebook page, they describe their sound as:  “retroelectro” and vibe, topped off with jazzy vocals, that will keep you grooving. A mix of soul, jazz, dance, electro and more, taking you through the 40’s with their clarinet and Club Jordan to the 80’s with their synths, while well anchored in the present by the clever production.

Moonlightbreakfast purple

The interesting part about them is that songs first played became instant hits among the built up audience. Every single released so far („Still”, „Shout”, “Play”, “Hello” and “No More”) has reached the top positions in Romania’s best alternative radio charts (with “Shout” entering the charts straight at No1). In January 2012 Superfly Fm, from Vienna also started airing “Play”, “Silent Disco” and more recently, “No more”.

I had the pleasure of listening to them live last night and I was once again in the perfect mood they deliver with their sound. Also, they sang my favorite song. Twice. No more. Nothing but smoke comes out…

Enough talk. Let the good music play! ♥

Here is the band’s official YouTube Channel.

*An intangible quality that makes something distinctive or attractive.

Does it look familiar?

I just bumped into this short film and I thought it would be a good idea to share it. I am sure that many of you can resonate with this Romanian short film about the troubles your family goes through until they finally get the hang of using new applications or social media tools.
Talking to your family from abroad? Priceless. I would change the messenger with SKYPE and there you go! Situation updated to the Erasmus autumn semester of 2012/2013 in Estonia.

Now, enjoy!

I have to call my parents and tell them that I love them.

A slice of heaven. Haapsalu and Nova

Every day I love Estonia more. Although it is playing hard to get because of the lower temperatures here, we have been blessed with sun and warmish wind. Add the forests and the beautiful scenery to this and it somehow gets to sweep you off your feet before realizing you are in the danger of falling in love.“She’s got you high and you don’t even know it”.

Another great weekend has passed and I am grateful we have done nothing else than enjoying each others’ company while admiring nature. It was a well deserved resting time. Mari, our Estonian coordinator, cooked for us in Nova and we all were so very happy with everything. She is such a wonderful person, I am glad I know her. She had also organised a lot of fun activities including this photo competition that we very much enjoyed because we played in teams. Each group had to present a creative way of some given ideas (the pisa tower, a crime scene).

Haapsalu? I think I could die happy here. Otherwise, it is the place i would like to come every summer just for enjoying the view. I don’t know if it was just because of the lovely weather or the diversity of clouds showing off on the deep blue sky, but this place impressed me.

Passing by the sea, wind softly blowing through my hair, I wanted to remember everything accurately. A white tower, swans, blue water, white clouds, green grass, skyline, laughing friends. A.D.H.D. Calm down. Breath in, breath out. Live.

My instinct upon arriving to such lovely places is to take photos, or start recording in any way the good time. Just keep it safe. Take a panorama. Try to get the best light, figure out when people start moving and use the best moment to immortalize a good composition for the photography.

Keeping memories is really all that I do. I’m still wondering about what I will be ‘when I grow up’. The thing is, no one else could ever understand your moment. One could only get a hint and maybe imagine it. He will then portray himself standing in the beautiful scenery. A second, maybe two. He takes what he needs from the picture and moves on. And on. And on.

Devouring beauty.

Nova beach

Little Public Advisor

Ce sunt! Azi a fost prima zi de lucru la agenția de PR The Public Advisors. Sunt intern pe comunicare. Voluntariez vreo lună. Vorba aia: Omul cât trăiește învață.

PR the public advisors

M-am trezit greu, după niște nesomn. Sunt obișnuită cu dansatul pe melodii ritmate până ce scutur ultima picătură de adormire din celulele mele.

Ajung la timp. Mă întâmpină zâmbete tinere. Imi plac oamenii aștia, par senini. Îmi fac loc, mă instalez. E bine. Liniștea asta nu durează mult, însă. În nici o oră simt că am intrat în ghemul încurcat. Comunicate, festivaluri, fotografii, presă, online. Mă activez, sunt bine.

Agitație, telefoane, chicoteli, fotografii amuzante, amintiri din copilărie, energie pozitivă per total. Problemele apar din cauza neseriozității altora, echipa de consilieri stă bine pe poziții. Și-au respectat perfect angajamentele. Raluca se ține tare: Clientu, dom’le! E ne-ho-tă-rât!
Sunt curioasă cum o să fac eu față acestor situații pe viitor.

Multe linkuri despre evenimente la Iași mai târziu, încep să simt tensiune în coloană. Tinerețe fără bătrânețe încă n-am descoperit.
Un început bun la agenția de PR. Somn și de la capăt.

Jubileu 90 al Majestatii Sale Regele Mihai I

Viața e incredibil de frumoasă. O minune. Nu am simțit niciodată că trăiesc mai din plin ca în zilele de sărbătoare adresate regelui. Un privilegiu.

Am făcut parte din staff-ul de protocol care îi primea pe invitații cu sânge albastru cu ocazia Jubileului 90 al Majestății Sale Regele Mihai I. Titulatura exactă purtată cu mândrie în aceste zile a fost de „Honorary equerry”, însoțitor onorific al invitaților Casei Regale. Este vorba de un statut specific tradițiilor monarhice.

Însoțitorul invitaților Familiei Regale are responsabilitatea de a se asigura că sejurul invitaților de care are grijă se petrece im-pe-ca-bil, de la sosirea în țară până la plecare. Cu alte cuvinte, le este alături în toate momentele publice, coordonează și monitorizează toate aspectele legate de participarea lor la evenimente, declarațiile publice și comunicarea cu presa (acolo unde este cazul), participarea la sesiunile foto, rezolvă eventualele probleme neprevăzute, toate acestea în cadrul regulilor stabilite de departamentul de protocol al Casei Regale.
In general, este desemnat un însoțitor pentru un invitat regal sau o Familie Regală (dacă vin mai mulți membri) sau pentru un grup restrâns de invitați din strainatate (cazul meu particular) care, chiar dacă nu au titluri nobiliare, sunt influenți fiecare în domeniul său. Am să vă povestesc experiența mea din ziua cea mai importantă a festivităților.

25 octobrie. Ziua 0.
În Parlamentul Romaniei, Regele Mihai a adresat un discurs camerelor unite. Însoțit de principesa Margareta și de principele Radu, fostul suveran a punctat faptul că „democrația trebuie să îmbogățească arta cârmuirii, nu să o sărăcească. România, ca și toate țările din Europa, are nevoie de cârmuitori respectați și pricepuți.”

Deși nu am participat la discursul din Parlament, am urmărit cu sufletul la gură declarația la televizor. Eram emoționată în legătură cu primirea invitaților Casei Regale a României de care răspundeam în următoarele 3 zile. Pe canapeaua roșie de la Intercontinental nu puteam sta deloc confortabil. Mă ridicam și umblam agitată. Aproape că nu-mi mai simțeam picioarele. Eram pregătită pentru tot: cum să îi întâmpin, reverența, eticheta de adresare, cum mă prezint, cum să îi ajut, ce să le comunic, să le ofer programul tipărit al evenimentelor din zilele următoare ș.a.m.d. Cu toate astea, nu-mi găseam locul. Așteptarea e foarte grea, iar începuturile poate încă și mai grele.

Prânzul și după amiaza au fost liniștite. Cu mare emoție în glas, am reușit să atrag simpatia lui Sir Arthur Gavin, unul dintre invitații regali de care eram responsabilă, când l-am rugat să îmi fie complice pentru a descoperi din mulțimea de invitați cu sânge albastru pe cei pe care eram desemnată să-i coordonez. Treptat, cu mari neliniști și poticneli mi-am intrat în element și am reușit să mă fac cunoscută grupului de oameni pe care nu trebuia să îi scap din vedere.

Plecarea către Opera Națională din București, unde se ținea spectacolul de gală în cinstea regelui, trebuia făcută într-o ordine de precădere, stabilită în funcție de titlul și rangul nobiliar al fiecărui oaspete.

Nod în gât. Respirație pierdută pentru câteva secunde. Am fost anunțată de către directoarea de protocol a Casei Regale că biletele cu locurile unde se vor așeza invitații mei vor fi repartizate abia la Operă.
Sun șoferul. Ne așteaptă să ne îmbarcăm chiar în fața hotelului. Am fost norocoasă, invitații mei erau foarte îngăduitori și protectori cu mine. Aveau întrebări multe, dar știau că în stresul unei asemenea zile informația circulă mai greu de sus în jos, aveau răbdare. În amabilitatea lor, pretindeau a fi mai preocupați să îmi admire engleza vorbită fluent și rochia lungă de gală purtată pentru prima dată în viață și nu păreau a da importanță neliniștii mele sau emoțiilor puternice.

Ajungem. Indic direcția către intrare. Uralele celor adunați să-l vadă pe rege se aud cu forță. Mă emoționează puternic, însă strang colțul rochiei și urc scările în siguranță însoțită de unul dintre cei mai de seamă invitați, domnul Staffan Damistura. Glumește în permanență cu mine spunându-mi că mă descurc de minune și că am mare grijă de „oile mele”. După un scurt dar intens moment de panică, obțin biletele invitaților și îi îndrum către locurile fiecăruia. Televiziunea e peste tot. Dana Grecu se pregătește, își drege vocea. O văd incisivă ca de obicei vorbind cu operatorul ei și cu Ioan Luca Vlad, avocatul Casei Regale și totodată unul dintre coordonatorii noștri, ai equerries.

Seara a fost minunată. Invitații au ieșit încântați de la spectacol. Majestatea Sa a apărut ulterior pe treptele Operei, după încheierea spectacolului de gală, pentru a saluta bucureştenii. Pentru câteva zeci de secunde, emoția stârnește un inevitabil val de lacrimi, lacrimi de bucurie, de dor, de tristețe. Am simțit caldură sufletească, blândețe din partea tuturor și încredere din partea Majestății Sale. Este greu să înțelegi cum un OM poate cu un zâmbet sa emane atâta dragoste, speranță. M-a surprins pentru o secundă această Românie. Formidabilă, profundă, puternică, vie. Un moment deosebit pe care mă bucur enorm că l-am putut trăi.

A urmat Dineul Oficial în cinstea regelui de la Palatul CEC. O cină somptuoasă, cu o atmosferă mai relaxată datorată lipsei de agitatori din presă sau televiziune. Da, acolo am simțit cu adevărat că există pe lume oameni mari. N-aș ști cum să explic asta. Am simțit doar.

Deși nici nu visam vreodată că voi avea onoarea să particip la un eveniment istoric de asemenea grandoare, iată că anul acesta i-am putut cânta “La mulți ani!” MS Regele Mihai I cu ocazia sărbătoririi a 90 de ani de existență. A fost una dintre cele mai frumoase experiențe pe care le-am trăit. Mândră cât cuprinde.

Sursa foto> Mediafax