Study Abroad: Romania

This summer I went to Romania and took the Monitoring, Diagnosis and Maintenance of Drilling Equipment, a class taught by Dr. Catalin Teodoriu. The most notable parts of the trip were the company and site visits, the class set-up and the cultural aspects.

No other class that I’ve been on has taken us to as diverse of tours as this one. We went to visit companies, Bonatti International and Cameron. The Bonatti visit was extremely informative because they took us on site with their engineers, who helped explain to us what they do in their day-to-day job and how they monitor and maintain their rod pumps. The Cameron visit was also interesting because we were able to learn how greatly safety plays into worksites and how, step by step, fracturing pumps and manifolds are designed and manufactured. I believe that these experiences will be beneficial as I start work with Schlumberger in October!

These site visits were a great accompaniment to the course we had at UPG (the university of petroleum and gas) in Ploiesti. We would start class days with a few hours of lab, each of which were different. These labs ranged from getting to know the basic rig set-up to technical drawing to an overlook of refining to the basics of welding. These labs were particularly beneficial because, in on-campus classes at OU, we wouldn’t get the chance to have such hands-on, exploratory labs. After these labs, we would have lecture class with the Romanian students! This was exciting because during class breaks, we were able to talk about the lifestyles they have in Romania and their personal reasons for coming back to do a masters degree at UPG. Although their English was not the well practiced and our Romanian was basic at best, it was definitely a cultural experience to communicate and work together to solve class problems. We were also able to see the prolific history of oil and gas in Romania.

Did you know that the Mehedinteanu Brothers built the first refinery in the world in Ploiesti? And that Bucharest was the first city in the world to have street lamps lit by kerosene? I had no knowledge of the rich history that Ploiesti has as “the city of Black Gold” until we visited the National Oil Museum in Ploiesti. Housing some of the first logs ran in the world, this museum contains key exhibitions that capture the evolution of the oil industry in Romania and around the world. Visiting this museum, the Clock museum and the Museum of Natural Science in the city center, we were able to understand some of the history in the region and see what people in the region grew up with. We were also able to visit Peleș Castle, the summer home of the previous Romanian kings and queens, and Bran Castle, more commonly known as Dracula’s Castle! These impressive structures, grand and beautiful, were accentuated with the backdrop of the snow-topped mountains of Brașov.

I will say though, I believe the best way to know a culture is through their food. It is the most direct form of communication that all people understand. And boy did we get food! Dr. Teodoriu invited us over to his house in Strejnicu for an opening and closing BBQ in which we were served typical Romanian dishes made by his mom! The first barbecue menu included traditional eggplant salad, fish roe paste, various types of Romanian cured salami, a variety of smelly cheeses, fresh tomatoes, steaks, and mici (a traditional skinless sausage) served with mustard and bread. Let’s not forget the traditional sweet cakes and homemade cookies! The second barbecue menu showcased the ciorba (traditional sour soup), sarmale (ground pork/beef wrapped in pickled cabbage) that was served traditionally with mamaliga (boiled corn meal similar to polenta), and homemade gogoși (Romanian donuts). Needless to say, we were all stuffed up to our necks when we left their house.

Through the class, the company visits, the castle visits and the amazing food, I found an understanding of Romania and travel that I couldn’t have gotten only taking classes at the University of Oklahoma. I’m a big supporter of traveling when you can and thankfully OU has given me the chance to do so. Having been on 2 study abroad trips before this one, I can only say that each experience has been different and been it’s own. Each has taught me lessons that prepared me for internships, for better class and community involvement, for valuing my friends in ways I couldn’t have seen, for understanding differences in the people around me and realizing that that’s where we find our strength, and hopefully, for my job later on. My only advice? – if you get the chance, do it.

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