Chisinau is like other post-Soviet places I have been. The same Soviet-style apartment buildings. The same Soviet society. Food on the street is the same. Pop-up restaurants. Corner aptekas. The same slightly-off air. The same not-so-great transportation system. Babuskas. But also the same friendly people. The same welcoming attitude. This was at first very displeasing to me, as I had hoped for something just a little different, but also extremely comforting.
I knew before coming that most people know nothing about Moldova, let alone that it is even a country. I myself only knew that it was a post-Soviet country with strong ties to Romania and Russia. I knew that it is famous for having the world’s largest wine cellar. I knew that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe. I knew that the languages spoken are Romanian and Russian. But I learned that Moldova has a beautiful countryside. Moldovan as a language is essentially Romanian. I learned the currency exchange rate from USD to lei. I learned most of all that Moldova is HOT. Holy cow, I have never been anywhere so hot. And Moldovan food – are you kidding me? The best food I have ever had.
My host family during my first week here took me to both a baby shower of a coworker of my host mom and a countryside trip to monasteries. The baby shower was a helluvah time. It gave me the opportunity to experience Moldovan youth culture and meet local people. And I was blown away by the beauty of the countryside. My host family and I took a large tour bus with around forty other people to Saharna monastery, about a two-hour drive. The monastery is like a tiny village up in the mountains. I felt like I was in a movie. We took a long hike up the hill of the monastery for a magnificent view of lavender fields. Then we drove two hours to Tipova monastery, which is an equally hard hike with an equally worth-it experience. This monastery is molded from a hill, so that it is like a rock hole within it. But the view was worth it.
I am very pleased with my initial experience in Chisinau. Now that I feel comfortable living abroad, I am trying to put myself out there more. Meet local people. Try local food. Walk around the city. While the summer will be hotter than I am used to, I am ready for more.
By: Savannah Modesitt
Term: Summer 2019