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It all started off with a brief mentioning of BEST (Board of European Students in Technology) at our Engineering Societies Semi-Annual General Meeting.
That was all I needed to get myself hooked on this idea of taking an educational course in Europe. Which by the way is taught entirely in English. I later found out that CFES and BEST are partner organizations, which gave me the marvelous opportunity to attend this course as participant. There is also the option to attend as a co-organizer where you can help run and organize the course, which gives students a different learning experience.
I looked through all the different courses and Architecture of a Festival in Cluj-Napoca, Romania really caught my eye. I have a passion for music festivals and meeting new people, but also civil engineering and infrastructure. I found out I could learn about temporary infrastructure and how mini cities could be built in a matter of weeks. This topic tied together so perfectly for me. I later found out that there was a major music festival called Electric Castle happening 3 days before the course started and made my decision to fly in early and attend with some of the other course participants and organizers, also referred to as the BESTies.
Electric Castle was in a 15th-century Romanian castle located about 30 minutes outside Cluj-Napoca. I saw headliners like DEADMAU5, Alt-J, and Franz Ferdinand and experienced a completely different type of music festival. Did I mention the main architect of Electric Castle was the instructor of our course?
Electric Castle was in a 15th-century Romanian castle located about 30 minutes outside Cluj-Napoca. I saw headliners like DEADMAU5, Alt-J, and Franz Ferdinand and experienced a completely different type of music festival with some of the participants of the course and organizers aka BESTies. Did I mention the main architect of Electric Castle was the instructor of our course?
The course was structured in a sense to learn the basics from lectures and personal examples our instructor has worked with. Then we had some guest lecturers from Electric Castle come and speak with us about marketing and production. We visited the production company for the displays and signage. We then spent the next week creating and designing our own displays/structures in teams of four. My group designed a pavilion, with the purpose of central localization in the festival and space for artists to perform in ‘unplugged’ jam sessions or even have festival-goers perform, too. I received a very personal and unique learning experience from this course in a short two-week period.
The social aspect of the course was so interesting and a truly eye-opening experience as there were 26 participants from all over Europe. It was so great to meet and get to know everyone, but my favourite was all the hilarious memories we had together. We participated in a City Rally, which is a traditional BEST event where the participants learn abut their host cities. This is through completing challenges all over the city in small groups. Every night there were different themed events or parties, such as room crawling, gender bender, international night, pub crawls and many more. Another amazing opportunity we had was a two day “Savage Trip” to the Romanian wilderness. We went on a 25km hike and explored the wilderness with the help of our guide. We tented, cooked our food over a fire, sang campfire songs and looked at the stars.
My favourite part about this course was the BEST spirit and BEST culture. Everyone was so caring, kind, warm and welcoming. I cannot express my gratitude to Local Best Group Cluj-Napoca, Romania for such an amazing and life changing experience.
Emily Secnik is the current VP Internal at Lassonde Engineering Society. She studies Civil Engineering and International Development Studies at Lassonde School of Engineering – York University.