Alumni Spotlight: Greg Harries

A history aficionado who loves to travel and meet new people.

What is your favorite travel memory?

Seeing an opportunity to travel to Romania, being fond of the history there, including being a fan of Vlad Dracula, I couldn't turn down an opportunity to see the sights and work with people to help catalog and collect a part of history in any way they saw fit. It just happened to be my luck that I'd be stationed to work in Transylvania so I could appreciate the history and the locations in person.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider assisted with living accommodations and communicating with others having a language barrier to work around, as well as being as helpful as possible with anything else that came up.

Just before I got started with working where I would for most of my time in Alba Iulia, I had a few days to spend in Brasov, which was a great start to my journey - being able to traverse the city all by myself after being greeted by someone who showed me around and got me lunch at a traditional restaurant to add to the experience of it all.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Don't be afraid to ask questions and be yourself. The program workers are always looking to make the experience as fun and easy as possible. Also, if you have somewhere you'd like to visit, let someone know and they will make it happen. Don't think people don't want you to be there or aren't willing to talk to you. I ended up talking to some people for most of the time on the site I worked on and there was never a dull moment.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Working on a particular site outdoors, if the weather is good enough other days, or if weather impacts the site, working indoors cleaning collected ceramics from the outdoor site is done typically those days.

Be ready to work hard for a few hours out of each day, but don't think you'll have to figure out what to do by yourself. Very easy to follow instructions, that after a few days it'll be another routine that ends up being fun and very good exercise.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Not being able to communicate or getting lost were two worries of mine. But even with a language barrier, I was understood and we tended to travel together if we actually had different places to go to.

Being bored with nothing to do was another worry, but the people in charge of your day to day activities will always have something fun to do outside of the volunteer work itself. I got a chance to see many castles and landmarks outside of working on the site and we always were looking forward to the next different plan for a weekend or an off day. One time, we drove out to an open field with small mountains to collect ceramics. I had a chance to climb up one them and get a killer view of the landscape, followed up by an awesome close encounter with a snake, so in short, i was never bored.

What is your favorite memory of this trip?

Near the end of my time with Projects Abroad, they were able to organize accommodation for me to visit a castle I had been eager to see. After staying with a host family, I was on my way to see the castle, or so I thought. I had taken the wrong bus and got lost, but thankfully, someone guided me the right way back step by step, as I was hopping buses to get there. So don't worry if anything goes wrong because the program is there to help in any way.