Between 27th and 30th October, 10 ESN Iași volunteers and 114 Erasmus students from Iași travelled to Brașov to participate in one of the biggest national events organized by ESN Romania, Halloween in Transylvania. It was the 10th edition of Halloween in Transylvania event and it brought together over 800 young people from 32 countries in Brașov.
Halloween in Transylvania is an event that aims to open the arms of Romanian culture and welcome the Erasmus students and volunteers. All of the ESN sections from Romania participated in this event that everyone waited for so long. This trip takes place every year in Brașov. During these days, the volunteers organized lots of day and night activities for the participants such as Treasure Hunts, the Erasmus Generation Summit, or the Halloween Party, where we had a costume contest.
Looking back with fond memories, we will tell you about the beauty of Peleș Castle, then about our thematic parties. We will also recount our adventures at the famous Bran Castle, followed by those that happened at Erasmus Generation Summit. Last but not least, we will tell you about our beloved Flag Parade and the challenging Treasure Hunt.
First Day – Peleș Castle, Glow Party
On Thursday we had the visit to Peleș castle, and in the evening the Erasmus students and the volunteers from all over Romania had the chance to get to know each other in a challenging manner during the Glow in the Dark Party.
Peleș Castle at a glance
With its incredible history, surroundings and architecture, it is no wonder that Peleș Castle is the second most visited castle in Romania, topped only by Bran Castle.
When Prince Carol of Romania visited Sinaia, he was overwhelmed by its beauty and decided to acquire some land and commissioned a castle to be built there to be used as a summer residence for the Romanian royal family. Now we can understand why he simply fell in love with the area when he first saw it.
That’s why no trip to Romania would be complete without a visit there. Full of history and art, surrounded by nature, Peleș Castle is eye-catching and it surprises visitors with its fairytale-like beauty.
What can be better than seeing hundreds of people having fun together?!
Our Glow in the Dark Party was a great choice to start our informal series of activities. Dracula might not be able to stand in the light, but he sure likes a good party. On the first night, this event brightened our souls. Our talented volunteers helped with the face painting, so everyone can shine like the star that they are.
Second Day – Bran castle, Râșnov citadel, Erasmus Generation Summit
Friday was a busy day. The visit to Bran castle was the way that the day started, followed by all the activities that happened in Râșnov for the Erasmus Generation Summit.
Chasing vampires at Dracula’s Castle
Bran Castle is one of the country's most important tourist attractions that inspired famed writer Bram Stoker to create one of the most popular novels of all time: ‘’Dracula’’.
Legend and reality come together at the castle to impress us with the haunted atmosphere, hidden passages, narrow staircases, and medieval furniture that will make you feel like you've traveled back in time.
If you want to see the home of Count Dracula for yourself, you must make a stop at Bran Castle in Transylvania.
Erasmus Generation Summit
As we are celebrating this year the European Year of Youth and the 35th anniversary of the Erasmus+ Programme, part of the social programme for this year's edition of Halloween in Transylvania is represented by the Erasmus Generation Summit, that took place at Râșnov Citadel - a set of activities organized in collaboration with Europe Direct Râșnov, meant to connect you with other international students in Romania and bring up topics related to culture, youth participation, biodiversity, and environmental sustainability!
We had activities for any taste!
Our creative participants had the opportunity to show off their skills or to relax through a few workshops. During the upcycling workshop, they made eco-friendly masks for the Halloween Party that took place on Saturday. They did an amazing job, blending random materials, cloth or plastic, resulting in unique pieces of art.
As we have already mentioned, the Halloween Party had some spooky decorations - carved pumpkins! The special thing about them is that they were made by our talented participants during the ’Pumpkin crafting’ workshop. They enlivened the pumpkins with their hands and their passion.
Because we were in Râșnov, a lovely city surrounded by nature, we couldn’t not organize a few nature walks. Some of them explored the underground, the “Valley of the fortress” cave, which was a bit spooky, we would say. On the ground, the participants cleared their minds during the “Silent walk”, admiring the forest, with its autumn colors, connecting with it, connecting with the others.
We couldn’t miss the opportunity to walk around Râșnov’s citadel, to admire its architecture and the astonishing view of the valley and the mountains.
Also, the “City hunt” challenged the participants to think outside the box, searching for emblematic places of the city.
We know, Halloween in Transylvania was a very fun trip, but it also had some formal activities, for the ones who wanted to keep their mind active. There were 4 participative workshops, where the students had the opportunity to learn and discuss Democracy and Youth Participation, Intercultural Dialogue, Environmental Sustainability, and even Mental Health.
And some of them had the opportunity to learn about Romania’s nature and wildlife by watching the awarded ’Wild Romania’ documentary.
Later at night, our section organized a cozy Pyjama Party at the accomodation. The dress code allowed you to dance your heart out and to show the most epic moves.
Third Day – Flag Parade, Treasure Hunt, Halloween Party
Erasmus is about inclusion and representation. The Flag Parade that happened on Saturday in the Old Town of Brașov is the main proof that ESN values the differences between nations, and between people. Some volunteers did face painting with the flags of the home country for each Erasmus students. We had a big flag that includes all the flags of the countries that are part of the Erasmus program and the ESN flag as well. We walked around on the rhythm dictated by the drums of the Bălașa Percussion Crew waving our flags and sharing our pride in being Erasmus students, volunteers, and citizens of our home countries. After some free time in the city center, we challenged our detective skills in a Treasure Hunt.
Spooky Treasure Hunt
Filled with clues and challenges, a perfect event for the Halloween season, the Treasure Hunt could not disappoint us. We split into teams and followed our route to victory. On our way, we discovered the beauty of Brașov through famous places like The Black Church, Nicolae Titulescu Park, Rope Street (a very old and narrow street in downtown Brașov, which can fit just 2 average people walking shoulder by shoulder), First Romanian School Museum and many more.
And of course, we couldn’t have had a better end than a Halloween Party filled with many surprises like scary venue decorations, a photo booth to capture your Erasmus memories, and a costume contest. This event was a chance to express your originality in terms of Halloween, but what makes it special is the costume diversity that you could see in only one place.
The time passed fast and on Sunday everyone had to say Goodbye! And go back to their cities and keep the pictures and memories that they gathered as close to their heart as they can, because Halloween in Transilvania 2022 was the event where people learned in a fun way, connected, and built long-lasting friendships.
Our memorable trip was fulfilled with all kinds of events (cultural, educational, informal, and entertainment), so that everyone could find an activity for their own heart.
Author: Alexia Cojocaru, Otilia Pintilii, Bianca Iuliana Mironica