Day 8 – Peles Castle, Dracula, and Dancing!

In the morning, we are required to meet on the bus by 0800. I make my way to the Cantina before 0730 and see a few of the Romanian students say “you’re the first one here!” That cannot be right -then I remember that we sit in the faculty room for breakfast. I ask for my daily cup of coffee, and pick up my breakfast bag. Once we settle into the bus, the students realize we are still one person short – Maria. One of the RAU students call her, and she thought we had to be on the bus at 0830. She arrives in ten minutes and we are on our way towards Peles. The ride does not take long. About two hours later we arrive to find many Roma vendors trying to sell tourists fresh fruit. They sell strawberries, raspberries, and other berries I cannot see from my seat. It is a funny sight; the entire group trying to sell homemade baskets with fruit – I think it is a terrible business plan – too much competition. Later, there is a lone man selling his goods near the entrance gate. A smart businessman indeed! At the entrance, a few of us pick up postcards and minor souvenirs to take home. At the Peles Castle, the home built for the first Romanian king, Carol I, we are told again to pay for another camera fee. As Joshua has brought his SLR, we again determine to use this camera for memory capturing.  Because the building is immaculate and the preservers want to keep it that way, we slip on gigantic slippers over our shoes. Mine, as well as others, keep trying to detach themselves from our feet. To not spoil how gorgeous this place is, I will only mention that King Carol I had great taste. He was the first person in all of Romania to install electricity throughout the palace. He also installed heating and cooling systems all while maintaining the exquisiteness and endless amounts of collections. The servant’s quarters were so large, even I would think about leaving my home just to live in that section! My favorite area was the queen’s music saloon. Not only was she a talented musician, she also invited over nationally recognized musicians to come play. In the room, there are three paintings of the seasons, and a woman to represent each. We find out that because winter was omitted because it was her most disliked season.

For lunch we have a reservation set at the Bran restaurant. To get there, we hike up stairs and walkways that lead us high into the mountains. This walk is the least bit handicap-friendly. It is a late lunch and because we arrive there at 1400, we are hungry, and starving by the time we exercise our way up there. There is a marvelous view from the top and at our table. Mirabella Dauer sits not more than 20 feet away from us. The RAU students tell us she’s a famous singer of Romania. She is slated to perform and is currently staying in the area. Lunch consists of a tomato vegetable soup, bread, meat and cheese plates, and papanasi. The papanasi is my favorite [but most sweets are my favorite]; it is a donut-like dessert topped with sour cherry preserves and sour cream. 

Next adventure is to Bran castle, aka Dracula’s castle. This fortress, as famous as it is, does not strike as exquisite as the Peles. Because the government seized the building and their assets, most of the furniture and items are now gone and replaced by newer pieces. Our tour guide speaks impeccable English, and she is only 17! She is funny to be around, and with our group, she has given this tour at least 2730 times (she got bored with the many child groups she had so she started counting). Fun fact: Vlad III (the Impaler) is thought to have lived there but this is not the case. Although Dracula was based on Vlad’s personality, both have little to do with one another other than living in the same area. Much of the gruesomeness to observe include used, antique torture devices, each with a story and a picture to go with it. Most of the boards depict tortured women, and I ask our tour guide why. She replied that most of the victims were women thought to be impure, or followers of witchcraft. It is disturbing.

Afterward, the group splits to shop while others, such as myself decide to go to the haunted castle. I’m not scared of activities like this, but it is hilarious watching the others.  Most of it is because as an engineer, I understand the mechanics that make a lot of this happen. The sprays of pressurized air coming from the floorboards, the hydraulic system that drops the bridge to make it feel like you’re falling, and even the men wearing scary masks does not faze me. I even say “buna ziua” to one and he replies the same back! The group in front of me screams their heads off. They tell me afterwards that the man in the mask chased one of the girls as she ran backwards shrieking in fear. We check into the Apollonia, our beautiful hotel. I get my own room as I do not want to disturb my classmates’ sleep with my snores. It is nice to have cool air, a clean room with comfy beds, and wonderful facilities since living in the residence hall. I feel so spoiled! My favorite is the moon/sun window atop of the ceiling. There are curtains covering in the sunlight and a bit of me hopes I can move them to see the stars before my sleep, but alas, I’m too short.

After checking in and freshening up, we make our way towards dinner. I am unsure of the name of the restaurant, but it is located in the shopping district. We walk our way there and finally get seated. Another three course meal is brought with each plate as lovely as the previous one. There is entertainment; the Romanian dancers frolic around us exemplifying each district’s traditional dances. Some of the professional dancers reel our students in for a quick one-on-one dance. Before the main course arrives, the dance floor is open. The band and singers belt American and Romanian tunes. Our group is torn between foods and dancing. Most of the group chooses dancing, and boy, can the Romanian students dance! Leo teaches me a traditional Romanian dance that is done in pairs, and the tempo gradually picks up until it is almost impossible to dance to. It is most fun! There are group dances involving a group circle dance using four steps, and even “the train.” During the four-step group dance, I hold an old gentleman’s hand. When it ends he kisses my hand. Although there is not anyone translating for me, I think he is impressed with my dancing or is thankful for holding his hand. We are sad when the dancing is exhausted, but extremely tired. Some continue their way to more dancing and clubbing for the night. I am an old lady and decide getting rest is the best course of action. Dr. Potecea helps us find our way back. With a deck of cards on the trip with me, I invite the remaining students (after refreshing and/or showering) to come to my room and play card games. Eugen teaches us “Macaua”, aka Macau, a Uno-like card game with different variations. Afterwards, I teach the other 3 players “Rich man, poor man,” also known as President, or Japanese Daifugō. We play until the extreme exhaustion from today takes over, and we go to sleep.

Categories: Graduate Studies, Social Life, Study Abroad, UAHuntsville, What Matters

Meet Admissions Counselor Nathan!


Hey Charger Nation!

Most of you haven’t met me before, so I will take a second to introduce myself to you all:
I’m Nathan Mack, a proud Charger and an Admissions Counselor here at UAHuntsville. In case you
are wondering what that means, I help incoming high school and transfer students from Texas
and the surrounding states apply to and enroll at UAH.
As we approach the fall semester, I decided to spend a few minutes (or paragraphs, technically)
explaining to you all what people like me do, and then how you can make the most of this
upcoming term.

In a few short weeks, you all will be back in class, and I will ‘hit the road’ to see
all of you! I will visit your schools during class periods or lunches, stand behind my
table proudly at college fairs, and host special events to tell the UAH story. My job
is to communicate to you everything that makes UAHuntsville unique, so that you can
determine if our school might be a good option for higher education. I am not a sales
guy, and I am not going to pressure you to come to UAH, but rather explain what makes
us awesome, in the hope that you find it awesome too.

So, now that you know what I will be doing this fall, let me tell you a few things I think
you should do to make the most of the upcoming term:

a) Seniors – apply to colleges AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Activities only get busier, classes only
become more challenging, and homework piles up as the semester progresses. Do yourself a favor
and start now.

b) Go to College Fairs. Just do it. Walk around and speak to universities. Again, our job is
not to pressure you to ‘choose our school right then and there,’ but rather give you information
so that you can decipher if we might be a good option.

c) Take advantage of school visits and special events. As I mentioned above, I will visit your school
and I will invite you to events. Come say hi! Come ask questions. I love having the chance to talk to
students like you.

d) Keep those grades up and don’t forget about ACT/SAT. So many scholarships are tied to test scores
and GPA. I’d hate for you to be a few points away from potential $$!
So, as you and your family sit and prepare for the fall semester, I hope you will take the time to think
about the items above, or what I like to call, your ‘college plan of attack.’ Ask yourself: When are the
college fairs in my area? What schools am I interested in, and do they have events listed on their website?
When am I going to ask my counselor about universities visiting my school? What questions do I want to ask
schools? What do I want to know?

I know I’m excited to see all of you, and I hope that you are just as excited to take the next step in your
educational journey. Please see me as a resource for you and your family, in any way that I can.

With Charger Pride!

-Nathan Mack

Texas Regional Admissions Counselor

Categories: Uncategorized

Day 7 – Bucharest City Tour and McDonalds

We “touristize” the place by waiting for the city tour bus and hop on. RAU students are with us too. They feel silly as they are normally not tourists, but are joining us nonetheless. The bus takes us all around town, and those who understand only English are given a headphone set with prerecorded messages at different highlights of Bucharest. However, the audio is a few seconds too late, and I converse with Leo and he helps me with all of the landmarks, and even adds extra historical narratives. By having him around, I got the extended tour!

Most of the group decides to go to the center of Bucharest (downtown) afterwards to get a drink and quench our thirst on another hot day. I order myself delicious mint lemonade as others binge on their fresh orange juice, as well as other refreshments. From here, Ami and I separate from the group as she has spotted many bridal boutiques. Because she is getting married in October, her enthusiasm for these shopping areas is at its peak; as I am her unofficially designated two week long maid of honor, I must support her. We search for a garter, but do not find one that fits the bill. Our hunger takes over and we make our way to try the McDonalds as a comparison to what we have back home. A Big Mac meal and nice air conditioning, and we are in heaven. It is nicer than the ones in America; the McCafe section sells many coffee or smoothie drink, beautiful desserts, and the furniture is posh and chic. I would attach a photo, but while trying to take one, employees stop us saying that it is not allowed. Ami and I share a chocolate chip cookie and try not to be too homesick.

During the night I do not feel well, and it reminds me of a moment before from a work trip. I figure it is traveler’s food poisoning, possibly from the water as our Romanian counterparts even warned us that even they do not drink the tap water. Luckily there is a spare pack of antibiotics with me. Within the first hour, although hungry and dehydrated, I finally fall asleep.

Categories: Graduate Studies, Social Life, Study Abroad, UAHuntsville

Advice for Pre-Health Professionals

Deciding a future career is a choice one does not take lightheartedly. To make my decision easier, I gained broad experiences, tried classes in several different disciplines, applied for and accepted internships, and reflected on my experiences. If, after reflection, you feel you would be happy as a doctor, optometrist, dentist, or any other health professional, seek experiences shadowing those professionals, and volunteer in those areas.

Shadowing and volunteering will not only help make decisions, but are required for admission into most health professional schools. Shadowing is a great way to gain perspective while observing a specific profession. To start shadowing, ask a professional who you have met before and works in an area you are interested in pursuing. I shadowed dentists, endodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons and periodontists.

Volunteering is also beneficial. Become an active member in an organization and donate your time; the personal rewards you receive are worth the effort. I volunteered by interpreting for Spanish speaking patients with Cahaba Valley Healthcare in Birmingham and with the Salvation Army in Huntsville.

Studying for classes and entrance exams are critical. Your academic success is a reflection of your dedication to become a health professional. Classes for admission into professional school help prepare you for entrance exams. However, practice is the key to success and studying months in advance give you an advantage when taking entrance exams.

You have the power to shape your future. Gain from your experiences and follow the path leading to happiness. If you are intrigued about the possibilities of being a doctor, veterinarian, or dentist, then start working towards your goal and be dedicated to your success.


Pre-Health Student at UAHuntsville

Categories: Career, Freshman, UAHuntsville, Uncategorized, What Matters

It’s About to Start…!

The semester’s about to start. I have  exactly one week to adjust. There isn’t much that I have to actually do though, it’s all psychological, I think I’ve forgotten how to study.

The summer was just as it should have been, I had a brief internship in England, worked on a research paper and relaxed abroad for month and a half. It was a good balance of productivity and relaxation, especially considering that it is my last summer as a student. So after a nice summer, I’m getting excited to see how the semester will turn out! E-mails keep coming about classes, schedules and so many Week of Welcome events! Every college is having an open house and my favorite’s College of Business Hot Dog Roast of course! BAB is where I spend most of my time and I’ll even be helping out at the Roast. They have a picnic, midnight movie, foam party and something for everyone’s taste, which poses a problem for me since I’m the one who tries to check out everything!

Beginning of the semester is always fun. You get to catch up with all the people that you saw non stop just few months ago, see who’s new, see what changes the college has made during the summer. Classes are even more exciting because the first week offers a chance to see what you’ll actually be discussing the next few months, without a pressure of an exam. It’s fairly good to be back.

Categories: Social Life, UAHuntsville, Uncategorized, What Matters

Day 6 – Palace of the Parliament

After class, Mrs. Despina organizes a reservation for a tour in the Parliament building. Cristina mentions that we should meet at the lobby around 1400, but this is changed to 1430. When we arrive, our group is a few minutes late due to payment of the tickets, gathering the money and student ID cards, and paying 30 Lei to be able to use a camera. On top of this, they allow a group 5 times our size, all from China, to enter before us as well as a few other groups. This has the Romanian students outraged. While waiting, the Romanian students, who love their photos taken, pose. Security asks them to delete the photo, as to not be accused of taking pictures of the entrance area to avert espionage.

The building is filled with elegant marble from around the country, statues, paintings, and endless expensive chandeliers. Room after room is beautifully crafted in this manner. Custom oriental rugs, trim, and ornaments adorn each area. After the one hour tour, we only see 8% of the entire building.

Next, we walk to the Unirea shopping center to find dinner in the food court area. We enter in, and different restaurant representatives see our large group as an opportunity. We settle on one that offers our large party a 30% discount off of the bill. All of the UAHuntsville students agree to cover the RAU students’ dinner, as a thank you for them taking time to take us around and ensure we are safe. We fill ourselves of delicious food, drinks, and desserts. When we receive the bill, only a 10% discount is applied, and it is disputed. We pay approximately 275 Lei (near $95), which to me, is a steal for having 15 people eat.

On our leaving, Adellina grabs us a taxi, but accidentally puts us into a 3.49 per kilometer vehicle (price difference for having a cleaner, roomier, and air conditioned vehicle). Thankfully the driver has to leave for a minute, giving us an opportunity to go into another taxi. As Adellina is explaining the situation to both drivers, I close the door not realizing that her pinky finger is in the way. She is okay, and the RAU students make their way home. Our taxi driver is funny and the safest thus far. He drives carefully, tells us of each of the different landmarks and Romanian universities with their students that like to party. Once we arrive, I attempt tell him in Romanian that he is the best driver we have encountered. He enjoyed our company and kisses my hand goodbye.

Our highlight of the late night: finally, there is internet access in our rooms!

Categories: Graduate Studies, Social Life, Study Abroad, UAHuntsville

Day 5 – Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida”

The class travels to the Romanian National Opera to watch “Aida.” Many of us should have done homework prior to our arrival. The subtitles provided are in Romanian, and those of us from UAH can only make out a word or two. We use what we could infer from body language and interactions between the characters to determine the storyline. Afterwards, I hop to Wikipedia to get the skinny. It is a love story about Aida, an Ethiopian princess, slave and friend to Egyptian pharaoh’s daughter, Amneris. Ramades, an Egyptian military commander, is forced to choose between his love for Aida and his loyalty to the pharaoh. To complicate matters, Amneris loves Ramades, although he does not return these feelings. After the finale, a few of us are still confused. Joshua thinks that Amneris is Ramades’ mother. I dramatize the story thinking that Aida is pregnant with Ramades’ child. I infer this from the touching and caressing of her stomach. Who knew that wasn’t the case?!

Upon our return, Joshua and I are up until 0200 in the lobby trying to figure out international calling. He has problems with the mobile phone SIM card and international minute provider as they claim he used all of his minutes. I try to find other options through Skype, changing of phones and SIM cards, online calling cards, etc. I know it is too late in the night when classmates known to go to the club come back before we go to sleep.

Categories: Graduate Studies, Social Life, Study Abroad, UAHuntsville, What Matters

UAHuntsville Admissions