Here’s a hint: it’s not one of my five credit cards.
As you may have noticed, I will be spending a lot more time in Cluj. I’m not sure how much time; that would require planning for my future. I really had no intentions of staying here when I first arrived, but quickly decided that it would make a perfect base of operations in which to recharge my batteries and hunker down for the winter. Although, as I just stated, I had no intentions of postponing travel, it should come as no surprise that I would have chosen Cluj as my surrogate home. I visited last year and it quickly has become my favorite European city. The people here are (ahem…mostly) pretty awesome. The weather is a bit rainy, but I guess that just happens to be the season in which I arrived. I’m still hoping it doesn’t get too much colder this winter, as I have so far refused to buy appropriate clothing.
Becoming a citizen of another country, even temporarily, is a process I have never considered before. Don’t get me wrong, there are many places I would much rather live than in the United States, but to actually go through the steps of getting a visa is something I wasn’t sure I would have to do anytime soon. The hostel workers (owners? I’m still confused about that) have been invaluable in helping me, not just with information on the process, but also helping me find a job here in the city. Apparently I need to open up a Romanian bank account and buy some local health insurance, and from what I was told the application process is pretty straightforward after that.
Yes…I am going to have to find a job soon. If I am really frugal with my current savings, I can stretch it out for about two more months. Of course, if all my debtors back in the States were to pay me what they actually owe, I could probably survive another six months, not that I would want to. I think, after about five months of traveling, it is fair to say I should stop looking forward to getting the monies I am owed. This is a bit disheartening, as maybe in the ten people to whom I was closest, three of them still owe me money. Let this be a lesson to everyone: make sure you settle your debts while you are still in the same country in case it comes down to breaking legs.
This last month (and actually the last full month of my previous trip) I seemed to have hit a brick wall. I just assumed I was doing something wrong. Traveling is supposed to be fun, right? Everything is always new and exciting; it could never get boring! But from what I have read on the topic, this happens to many travelers. Imagine, if you will, living out of a backpack for six months. There is no point in ever unpacking more than clothes and toiletries, because you are just going to have to pack them up a day later. You are constantly on the move, with your only belongings in the entire world stuffed into a bag on your back that you have to lug around just about everywhere. Sure, it is always new and exciting, but when new and exciting becomes routine, then it’s not really new and exciting anymore. I know, it’s a weird contradiction – like chaos, really. If a system becomes entirely chaotic, then it’s almost orderly in its chaos. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but shut up about that.
Is there a way to keep a travel blog going if I settle down for a few months? I really have no idea. Someday soon I may entirely run out of things about which to talk. This may last for several months until I decide to start exploring the world again. This may be my last blog post ever! Again, I really don’t know. I will hopefully have enough fun and meet enough people to have talking points at least twice a month. Hell, yesterday we had a movie night at the hostel, and eight of us sat around drinking beer and watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show (a few of us agreed on it because…well, we are in Transylvania). I also do have a few pieces of advice I would like to give any travelers reading my blog, but I will try to dole these out in pieces over the coming months, so as to not run out of material too quickly. There is, however, one topic I would really like to cover in this post…
Something I brought with me that I can’t live without, and something I brought with me that has caused nothing but problems. First, my Kindle. I absolutely love this device. It took a little bit of usage to grow accustomed to not flipping the pages of an actual physical book, but now (as I said before) I can’t live without it. Okay, I COULD live without it, but I wouldn’t want to. I have read more books in the past five months than the last five years, and with very little effort and money have brought my Kindle library to well over 100 books. Books, too, are incredibly cumbersome for travelers. We just don’t have the real estate necessary to pack more than one or two. And yeah, most hostels have book exchanges, but the books people leave behind are typically not the books you want to trade out. Nor are they very often in English. Travelers from all over the world speak English when globe-trotting, but the books they buy, in their home country, are of course in their mother tongue. In Europe, that mother tongue more often than not is German.
Now to the bitchy part. Before I left the States I wanted to get a fast, light computer. I had only a tablet last time, and it wasn’t ideal for the situations in which I used it the most, such as blogging (if you recall, one time the keyboard was damaged in a rainstorm). I didn’t really want to bring a 10 kilogram behemoth laptop along on my trips, either. Enter the Chromebook. I just assumed that buying from a reputable company such as Hewlett Packard would ensure a quality product. Wrong. WRONG. This thing spends more time crashing than my high school computer running a bootlegged copy of Windows 98 beta (true story). And then there are the Chromebook specs, granted through no fault of HP. The solid state drive is fast, yes, but also only 32Gb. I can’t do anything with that. I had to bring along a portable 3Tb USB HDD just to have my movie collection with me. I feel that packing extra components kind of defeats the purpose of owning a Chromebook. And then there’s the wifi aspect. This thing is essentially bricked without wifi. I can’t do ANYTHING without wifi. It took me a few weeks to figure out how to even use a word processor on a train. I had to have my mother send me a document that I could download and then keep open in Chrome (because everything uses Google Docs) so I could use it as a blank template. Ugh, it’s just too much hassle for way too little payoff. I would much rather have a small laptop that weighed a bit more and I could actually use in any situation and without it crashing all the time. So, lesson learned: Chromebooks are NOT portable.
One last thing I could mention: I have a Romanian phone number now! I’m not going to give it out because apparently international text messages cost about €1 each. And yes, I still have my American phone number, because of another flaw in the system. Google Fi is, overall, an acceptable international phone service. But I can’t cancel it or even change sim cards, because then I won’t ever be able to use it again without first returning the United States…? This makes no sense. Thankfully I read the disclaimer before I left home and brought my older Galaxy S4 along for the ride. I plopped a new sim in there and now I have very cheap Romanian 4G LTE phone service and data plan.
So that is the first, if unofficial, step to becoming a temporary Romanian citizen. I will try to keep this blog updated in the coming weeks with my progress. I also encourage all my friends and family back home to come and visit me; you’ll love it here as much as I do!!
This blog: briancosey.com
Travel photos: flickr.com/briancosey