Swaim had supported me financially in the past for my study abroad trip to Italy in the summer of 2009. Since she came to UA 46 years ago, Donna Swaim has led hundreds of students on voyages all around the globe, teaching them to "look at the world in a different way."
I remember one day being at her office and asking her if she has ever gone to Romania. Swaim, having already seen most of the world, was surprised she had not seen Romania and suddenly became really excited to plan a trip there. She immediately contacted Bonine who was her long time travel partner and began planning for a trip to Romania. Their interest was discovering the different trade routes that went through Romania as well as learning more about the Cucuteni culture. My personal interest was to learn about the tigani. As a student from the social psychology department I was able to do research through the McNair scholars program. The purpose of my study was to examine whether gypsies in college experience survival guilt in the academic domain.
On this trip there were 9 students and 2 faculties. The term we spent in Romania was from June 7-July 3. The first week we spent a few days in Bucuresti and in Tulcea at the Danube Delta. The second week we traveled to the republic of Moldova to visit a few monasteries and learn about the Gagauz people. The group and I only spent 1 day in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, where we visited the famous cognac factory and stopped at different monuments in the city. We spent the last 2 weeks back in Romania
and spent a few days in Bucovina, Maramures, Timisoara, Sibiu, Brasov, Sighisoara, and Magura.
My most favorite place was Timisoara, the city I was born in. It was a surreal experience for me to return back to my native country after 18 years and meet family members in Buzias that I've never known before. Going back to Romania was a pilgrimage for me where I learned more about my country and myself. I can definitely say that I am proud of my Romanian heritage and hope to return many visits back. In the summer of 2011, Swaim and Bonine plan to go back to Eastern Europe with a group of students to discover more about the Cucuteni culture. The countries they hope to visit are Turkey, Romania, Ukraine, Russia and Bulgaria. Currently, I am working on my B.A. in Psychology and minor in photography. I hope to graduate fall 2011 and continue on to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology. I also do photography on the side and a lot the photos I took in Romania can be found on my website at: www.priscilamatei.com