Chapter 1: Intro
There was a history class from the University of California that decided to spend one weekend in Transylvania. This was announced one week beforehand and that the trip shall take place a couple of weeks before the exams begin.
The trip was meant as an inspirational trip where one could gather ideas for one of their exam topics in history. This was an essay about the legend of “Dracula” and it was first due the 1st of September.
It was meant to keep the students active during their summer break and to sum up how much they had actually learnt about Romania during the year?
It was sometime in June that the class got to know about this trip. The class had 24 students who had been attending the university since September.
My story begins when I entered University of California
I chose University of California as my first choice in places to study. Second was Harvard and third was College of Durham. I chose University of California because of the beauty of The State of California. It was not only the beauty of landscape or integration of migrants making it into a multi-national state, or the difference in climate from state to state in the U.S. But all of this combined together with culture, food, entertainment, politics and business life. Makes it an ideal vantage point in seeing how cultures and people of different nationalities react to one another in everyday life.
Also, since California would not be that far away from my family who live in Columbia as it would be if I were to study at College of Durham.
Second as can be seen is Harvard or College of Harvard, where I would be taking a business perspective of looking at things of life together with a business approach to life altogether.
Third I have College of Durham because I do share an interest in the history of the United Kingdom. It would also be interesting to have studies abroad as well.
It was the 1st of September, a Monday. The University of California was opening up its doors to a brand new semester. The universities doors started opening at 6:00 O’clock though the students both new and old were to arrive at 8:00 O’clock.
The 1st of September being a Monday would be a preview of how the whole year would run more or less. It also was the perfect time of getting a first impression of everybody, a start where the seniors would get to meet the new students either at their university, campus or maybe as a new roommate.
This part of California was a busy part mostly due to the large amounts of students attending colleges, campuses and universities. A student’s day usually started around 5:00 O’clock and ended sometime around 22:00.
Everyone knows that the school day starts at eight in the morning therefore the hour leading up to it was a total rush hour. Even though you know that everyone else knows it, it is the fewest that actually wake up earlier to get to school. Most students have the aim of getting to school earlier due to the rush hour. Meaning they will have to go to bed earlier the previous night. But somewhere along the line it goes wrong. Whether it is because of your girlfriend, friends or simply because you lose track of time, you always end up rushing out of your house forgetting some very important things.
Followed by the slow traffic, which sometimes makes you, think why not walk to school? This thought sometimes proves to be true, while at others on your way to school you remember everything that you have forgotten back home. You think you can make it all work out if you just move a little bit faster, forgetting all the other time costing things e.g. finding your home keys.
At last when you reach school you often find yourself being a bit frustrated. Although you made it, giving you the feeling of confidence that you can handle all that life has got to put up against you.
You have students studying mathematics, history, investing or science and chemistry to the very core of modern day technology programming and creating their own software programs.
Students motivated to change the way of life beginning each day with the mind-set that they would unravel the undertakings of the world.
The first day at the University of California was decided to be a welcoming day by the lecturers a couple of days before school start.
Students would be introduced to their university, class room, meet with their lecturers and get to know their classmates.
The lecturers in the school were all given a class to introduce the new school year for. It was decided which lecturer for which class given the number of subjects they had. Evidently the lecturer showing your class around did not have to be your class teacher. The only thing you knew with certainty was that the students who were in your group would be your classmates for the next semester.
The University of California being one of California’s most popular universities was also one that had the highest rate of dropouts yearly.
Students became known as dropouts because they simply were not in class, had difficulty following with the lectures or had difficulty getting good marks, even though they did do all the needed homework.
The majority of these students had already had talks with their student counsellor months before as a preparation of if this was to happen.
Each of the classes represented a team. It was on beforehand expected that there would be some who did not want to participate in the sport, for them there had been done other activities e.g. cheering for your team.
The alternatives that had been decided were football, soccer, volleyball, killer ball or baseball all dependent on the weather.
Since the weather forecast had promised it to be a very nice weather on that day the lecturers had planned to select football from the alternatives.
The event was to take place right in front of the university. Where there was a big road with fields of grass on both sides of it, making it ideal for two football matches to be held.
There were going to be stands where you could buy a hot dog and a Coca Cola, Fanta or Sprite to drink on the road, as well as four benches for each team playing. So that if your team coach (lecturer) had to change players they could easily call one in.
Originally being given a football game is of 90 minutes plus additional time and the six hours of school on the first day. This gives you a top limit of having five hours on the playing fields after having deducted the tours around the school block plus any additional information.
The groups were of 30 students and each team had 15 minutes to play their matches.
Bottom line being for the first day that through all these social activities one could make connections and therefore when school truly begins be off to a good start.
They had a big playing field in the middle of school as well.
So i.e. each teacher could deal with a certain sport given that they were good at it and thereby also organize the teams that would be playing against one another.
I came to University of California by bus. The bus stopped nearby to the university. It was about a five-minute walk from the bus stop to the university.
When I came into eyesight of the university’s front door it seemed to me that I was not the first to arrive. In fact there were so many that the way to the front door would have to mean squeezing through crowds of people.
I decided to stand in eyesight of the front door and of the crowds. So that when it would become 10 O’clock I could follow the crowds in whichever direction they were heading. Or if maybe there were to come out a couple of professors then I could hear what they were saying.
I saw students outside who were talking to one another after their summer break, some sitting on the stairs to the main entrance, some standing by the trees and some standing on the stone road that led to the stairs. It was difficult to tell who was new and who was not. But the one thing I did notice were groups of people having been formed. It was not as if the people in the groups had a whole lot in common besides their facial expressions and body language. But due to the position and placing of these people it was easy to see whether one belonged to one group or the other.
I thought at the time that there would be no point in trying to make my way in to the university building so I stood there where the university was in sight but away from the crowds. I put my black briefcase down and my left hand in my pocket while I stood and observed the situation.
Someone: “Observing the scenery” came a voice from behind.
I turned my head and there was a guy with a dark bluish pack back on.
Someone: “I see you have gotten ready for the university start,” he said while looking at my briefcase.
Smith: “Yes, I have” I replied with a little bit of a curious look on my face.
He smiled at me and offered me his hand.
Wilson: “My name is Wilson” he said.
Smith: “Smith” I replied while shaking his hand.
Wilson: “Are you from around here?”
Smith: “Yes, I am. How about you?”
Wilson: “I am from England. But I live in a dormitory not that far away” moving his hand to one side of him.
Smith: “Have you been long in this school?”
Wilson: “No I am just starting. You?.”
Smith: “Also just starting.”
We could hear a bell go off.
Wilson: “See you in class” before heading his way into the university.
October till December
Throughout the next couple of months I got to know the class a whole lot better especially Wilson. It came out that Wilson lived in the same dormitory as me just another building block. It also came quite apparent that we shared the same interests since we chose the same subjects.
The subjects we both had chosen apart from others were investing, economics and marketing.
Out of the three I found investing the most interesting with marketing being a brilliant method of how to tap into the customers mind and economics being there to get a global perspective of the financial world.
In one investing class what was about assessing risk I pretty clearly remember how Wilson looked back at me since I was sitting behind him and said.
Wilson: “I have heard that the Facebook shares are up beyond what they were at the beginning. Maybe we should consider buying in while the chance still is there?”
I looked at him.
Wilson: “Hey isn’t your father CEO of IBM” while getting a smile on his face joking around?
Wilson: “We can altogether choose to buy them out” giggling about it and slapping me on one shoulder.
The differences between Wilson and me were also there. Wilson often had the habit of ending his school day at the bar, where one could take a beer talk with their friends while keeping an eye out for all the beautiful girls around them. I on the other hand preferred going home doing my homework and dispersing my free time on other activities.
It took me the first month to get everyone’s name in place. As you can imagine in a class of 24 it is not everyone who you interact with on a daily basis.
I would say everyone has his or her own specific characteristics. I even made notes of everyone’s special traits. In the way they differ from all the rest the one’s you can see and the one’s you cannot see.
It was January.
For the Christmas break Wilson had decided to travel to England where he would spend his Christmas holiday with his family. I on the other hand did not have that far to travel in the states to see my family. When we met in the dormitory a couple of weeks before start of school Wilson told me how his winter holiday had gone.
Wilson: “Nothing new happened. My old aunty who we were worried about would die of diabetes is actually as good as ever, which is ironic if you look at all the goodies she consumes. How about you? Meet anybody in your holiday?”
Smith: “No, nobody special besides my family. It was good, quiet but good.”
Wilson: “Right, well in any case now we will get to rest the last couple of weeks of our holiday from our family quarrels.”
I nodded trying to show that I understood him even though I was a little bit confused.
Wilson: “Do you know if there are any parties being held in the dormitory or if anyone in the dormitory is going to hold any private parties?
Smith: “I do not think so.”
It was June.
The way the class and university was run around it.
There were a few subjects given to all of us such as mathematics, biology, science, history and English. Other than that there were a whole lot of electives, these electives or as many as I can remember were agriculture, economics, investing, medicine, marketing, shipping and transport.
One morning at about 8 O’clock when class begun most of the class students had arrived except for four who were missing Mary, Donna, Patricia and Williams.
The history class teacher was called Mr. Taylor; he had just entered the class. He came with his books under his right arm and holding a coffee cup in his left hand. He came to his desk put first his coffee cup down close to the right edge of the table. Then he took the books from under his right arm and put it right in front of his chair on top of the table.
He then had a look around the class.
Mr. Taylor: “Good morning class.”
Students: “Good morning Mr. Taylor” said with a smile.
Mr. Taylor: “Right the first thing on today’s agenda is the trip which I have gotten permission from the principle of the school to take you on.”
Wilson: “What trip might that be?”
Mr. Taylor: “It is the trip to Romania so that we as a class can come and see all the historical sites there is to see. Plus do some additional research by ourselves..”
Smith: “You mean to learn more about the legend of Count Dracula and how he ruled throughout Transylvania,” said with a smile on his face.
Mr. Taylor: “Yes, and he did also exist” taking a bit more of a stern look while talking to Smith.
Susan, Margaret and Dorothy who were the three girls sitting right in front of him all had their own opinions about this.
Susan who was sitting right in front of Smith did not approve of that question. Anything that had to do with horror was not she. Susan also believed that Smith knew about this being the underlining cause for the question, resulting in her saying.
Margaret who was sitting to the left of Susan knew this so she had a look at Smith. When Smith saw this look he shrugged with both of his shoulders. Just like saying “I don’t know.” While Dorothy who was sitting to the left of Susan giggled because she thought it sounded funny.
Mr. Taylor: “Though I do believe you have read about it Smith” taking a look at him to see his reactions.
Before Smith could answer Wilson came in.
Wilson: “I am sure that Smith has read about it. He prioritizes his homework first anyhow. Regarding the subject of Dracula, how can anyone do something as cruel as him?”
Mr. Taylor moved his head to one side while opening his mouth to say something and taking his hands out but let Wilson finish.
Wilson: “Therefore I do understand what Smith is telling us that he does not believe that he existed because it is too unrealistic. I mean it is like the legend of Hercules. Yes, he could have existed. But with all the things we have heard about him? That he was the son of Zeus, that he could lift a building with one hand sounds a bit too over exaggerated.”
Mr. Taylor let out a short laugh.
Mr. Taylor: “I say” smiling to the class.
Wilson: “Question being could have a man truly committed as many harsh crimes as Vlad is said to have done? If so then where does the author kick in with his imagination? Leaving us with could it be that many of the things we know Vlad for are purely up to Bram Stoker’s imagination?”
Mr. Taylor was very impressed by what he had just heard from Wilson.
Mr. Taylor: “I take it that you are a prudent pupil in my history classes.”
The words sounded a little bit paradoxical as they left Mr. Taylors mouth. Since Mr. Taylor did not find Wilson to be one of his most enthusiastic students.
Wilson: “I try my best” looking down towards his table.
Mr. Taylor: “I see your point especially towards the end. To your first question I can answer with, yes. At those times it was rather usual for one to express superiority and power through pain inflicted on others, usually the ones who are below oneself. The reason being to have everyone follow suit one is obliged to show ones power at regular intervals. In Vlad’s case it was through having people impaled. But it was also a reflection of Vlad and of what would come to happen to anyone who ever were to betray, mislead or simply provoke Vlad.”
The class was looking a little bit confused.
Mr. Taylor: “Imagine in a time of no public media people believe what they are told. Through these impalements of Vlad’s prisoners he got to show that he was in power but also that his rule should be followed. If anyone were to step up against him then they would also be risking with impalement resulting in the orderly state of his towns.”
Margaret: “So you mean to prevent what later happened in France in 1789 by the overthrowing of Louis the 16th and his beheading?”
Mr. Taylor nodded.
Mr. Taylor: “While the situation could have been much other outside of the country or even for that matter region.”
Wilson: “So that was why people believed in sea monster and other beasts” rubbing his chin while leaning on one elbow.
Susan rolled her eyes in the air. Just like telling Wilson “Wasn’t that obvious?”
Mr. Taylor smiled and said: “So the trip shall be next Friday one week forth.”
Carol: “So soon?”
Carol was sitting on the third row from the teacher’s desk.
Mr. Taylor: “Yes, since I got the permission to do this first today.”
Carol: “But why next week? Wouldn’t it be more optimal if it was in one month’s time? Given the fact that probably a lot of us have already plans for the week to come?”
Mr. Taylor: “As you know it is already June and the exams will be starting late this month. Given that usually it is good to prepare for the exams one- to two weeks before. I thought it might be wise if we had more time. I figured that the trip should be next week giving you still enough time for your preparations for the other exams. Therefore I went and proposed this idea to the administration of the university already in early January. Unfortunately I first got notified today about being allowed to take you on a trip to Romania. I am very sorry for the sudden reminder of the event.”
Wilson: “Sudden? I would say so,” he muttered to himself.
Susan: “How many of us do you think will come?”
Mr. Taylor: “Well since it is on so short notice I do not have so high expectations, but since I also do know how interested you all are in the history of Romania my expectations are high” said Mr. Taylor.
Basically leaving Susan clueless of the actual response, one could read it off of the nod that Susan gave.
Mr. Taylor took his coffee cup up and had a sip.
Wilson: “Yeah right.”
This made Mr. Taylor also have a look at him.
He was sitting straight backed and looking out the window when Mr. Taylor got to have a look at him.
Mr. Taylor: “Sorry did you say something?”
Wilson turned his head towards the teacher.
Wilson: “Look it is not like any of us prioritise history so high up that it comes before all the other things in our daily schedule.”
Mr. Taylor: “So that means you will not be coming.”
Wilson: “I do not know yet. I will have to check my schedule. All I am saying is if we do have anything else planned then most likely we will prioritize it higher.”
Mr. Taylor knew that Wilson was not so interested in Romania as he gave out to be earlier.
Mr. Taylor: “No one says you have to come if you do not want to. But who knows you might end up to like the history of Romania?”
Wilson had a look at his pencil that he was moving through his fingers while his hand lay on the table.
Wilson: “I will come no doubt about that but I am just saying you should not get your expectations so high up.”
There was a small confusion throughout the class because Wilson earlier had said the precise opposite of what he was saying now. It looked like Mr. Taylor moved his lips as if he was saying “Didn’t you just say.”
Mary who was sitting at the desk right next to him said.
Mary: “And what do you know? You do not even know us that well yet. I personally would love to go there.”
Wilson turned his head towards Mary.
Wilson: “It looks as if I was wrong Mr. Taylor, you can in any case expect one to be there” frowning towards Mary.
Mr. Taylor remembered something.
Mr. Taylor: “Do not forget you have an essay about Vlad the third or the legend of Dracula. Due for the 1st of September. I believe that a trip to Romania might give you a little inspiration of what to write in the essay.”
Wilson: “Great till right after the summer break,” muttered Wilson.
Wilson: “Now we have got to join you for your trip to Romania” while running his eyes around towards the ceiling and down again.
Donna had a quick glance at him. She was wondering about had something bad happened to Wilson lately? This was not like how Wilson usually is.