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Studying abroad: Tea native explores Romanian landscape

Tea native Molly Townsend traveled to Romania this fall.

Her travels were not merely for fun. She spent three and a half months this fall in Romania in Northwestern College’s study abroad program.

“It was incredible,” Townsend said. “I was with a host family for the first half of the semester and they really welcomed me in as one of their own, which is a really wonderful part of the experience.”

The senior psychology major from Tea decided on little more than a whim to do the study abroad program. After talking with her adviser and a few people who had gone to Romania, she thought it was a unique opportunity.

“I was looking at all kinds of programs in Europe and they all looked the same to me. I’d never left the country and learned about how Romania has a really interesting history having recently overthrown their communist government,” she said.

Townsend, along with another Northwestern student and a student from New York, studied in a small town and had classes in a building owned by the organization associated with Northwestern.

They started with studying experiential education, which included hiking and doing high and low rope courses. Then they learned about sustainable development, Eastern Orthodoxy, Romanian history and culture and a language course.

She said two of her professors were Romanian and taught in a lecture style. Townsend said that was different from what she has grown accustomed to.

“Being from a small liberal arts school, I have grown accustomed to more discussion-based courses. That was interesting to have a switch to that,” Townsend said.

She lived in the city of Lupeni in the Jiu Valley of Romania. She said the climate was similar to southeast South Dakota and northwest Iowa, but the nights got cooler faster.

During communism, the city was a glorious place and wealthy from coal mining. However, after communism fell, the mines were closed due to being inefficient. Townsend said unemployment in the region is at or above 50 percent now.

Townsend said Romania was a beautiful country. However, the ugliness of communism remains.

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