As in collaboration with the Ratiu Foundation and the LSE Ideas, the students on the trip to Romania were welcomed in to the country from the outset at Cluj-Napoca International airport. The delegation was then hosted for a 3-night stay at Casa Ratiu in Turda, where each delegate stayed in an ensuite room each. The 3 nights in Turda helped students to introduce themselves and exchange ideas with one another about the trip and what they wanted to gain from it – most of this was done over wine and a generous array of Romanian foods. The delegates were also able to learn more through the workshops provided by the Ratiu Foundation, discussing topics such as populism, ethnopolitics and the recent history of Transylvania. The delegates then spent a whole day in Cluj-Napoca to meet the mayor of Cluj, along with some talks organised by the Babes-Bolyai University.
On the third day, the group travelled to the city of Sibiu in central Romania. Known for its Germanic architecture in it’s old town and sizable German minorities, the delegation would visit the German consulate who told the group about the history of Sibiu and how the consulate plays an important role within the region. Once the time in Sibiu was over, the group continued to travel out of Transylvania south-east for 4.5 hours towards Romania’s capital, Bucharest. Over the two days in Bucharest, the delegation met with former and current Romanian politicians, visited both the Russian and British embassies and residences and toured the equally unique ornate Parliament and Presidential buildings.
But, the biggest takeaways from the trip as a whole was the large emphasis on how diverse Romania was. This was particularly amplified due to the fact that the group travelled through four different locations within Romania and experienced a vast array of architecture and communities, all originating from various countries and cultures. The group also learned the strategic importance of Romania in regards to the recent Black Sea security concerns and the significance of Romania playing a fully integrated role in the development of the EU, amongst an age of populism.
Given the amount of travel that the group did, it was not uncommon for the some of the delegates to comically bemoan the ‘are we there yet?’ phrase to the trip leaders. The group were also able to award titles such as ‘the person most likely to get the group removed from a meeting’ due to some of the difficult questions asked. A number of other various 'social activities' were held too, helping to top off a very well-rounded trip.
A large thanks from the Romanian delegation goes to the Ratiu Foundation and LSE Ideas for their generous donations and assistance in running this first successful trip to Romania!