It was the year 2000, the turn of a millennium and here I found myself walking along the streets of a small charming village in the north east of Romania, not far from the border of Hungary.
Oradea was a village town – small population and no franchises at that time. I remember small children hiding behind their parents and pointing at me because they had not seen someone with a darker brown skin in person. A 11 year period after the fall of communism was not that long a time in terms of culture. Cultures take way longer to change, so the tightness of the communist state was only just beginning to unwind its hold on the culture.
I was living as a digital nomad at that time and was there to meet a friend from South Africa who was working his way through medical school at Oradea University. While having beers at a bar we both shared our loves of the country we were only just getting to know. It was here that we came up with the idea that Romania would be an ideal destination for international medical students. Both of us had studied at another med school in the Caribbean two years earlier and we remembered using the services of a placement agency. It was here that we began talking about starting a similar service.
When I returned to South Africa, I immediately began building a website to market Romania as a study destination. Meanwhile my friend met with the Dean of Oradea University and established a working agreement where we would recruit students for the university and fill up the many empty seats for the recently launched English language program.
Oradea University was the first university in Romania to offer an English language program for foreign students and I built a website for them marketing this opportunity. And so it was here that Romania started to enter into the international circuit as a study destination.