Junior Alexandru Matusz spent his senior year of high school in Idaho after spending his entire youth in Romania and based his decision to come to Geneseo solely on the school's page on the College Board website. In his undergraduate search, Matusz wanted to see more of the East Coast for his college experience after being in Fruitland, Idaho. Matusz first came to Geneseo from 2007 until 2010; after taking a break at home in Romania, he is now back to complete his majors in international relations and history.
“I heard that New York has a better education system,” he said. “Geneseo was a totally new experience, like going into a new world.”
His host family in Idaho, he said, was like his own family, so Matusz's first semester was more emotionally challenging than expected.
“I was used to being with family, like mine in Romania is very caring and very friendly,” he said, adding that he struggled at first with living alone and balancing his studies and activities.
“One thing that's distinct about the Romanian education system is that, in the classes, you don't get separated,” he said. “Here, students go to classes, but in Romania, we have the same class with the same people all day long.”
But Matusz is sociable and open-minded, something that he attributes to his many travels over the years. The city where he was raised, Timisoara, is on the western edge of Romania, nicknamed “Little Vienna,” where he was surrounded by other countries, cultures and backgrounds. He said this location helped him develop into who he is today.
“It starts with diversity, and you get to know and understand people from different viewpoints like ethnic and religious,” he said. “I don't ever regret having the opportunity to travel.”
Timisoara “has a rich history of over 1,000 years, beginning with the Roman Empire, where I can trace my ancestries,” he added. The city was part of the anti-communist revolution in 1989, and out of all of the countries where communism fell, Romania was the only place where blood was shed. Matusz said it makes his hometown a “martyr city.”
When Matusz was one year old, he “lived a period of time that was a transition toward democracy and the integration of that.” Living in a city with such history is one of the reasons he pursued his major, and he hopes to continue into international law after he graduates.
“I like history because it's a study of the past and helps people not to repeat things. I like learning all about the past,” he said, adding that history helps him to “set a foundation for studying international relations.”
Through international law, he said, “you can see the world; you can meet different cultures.”
While Matusz has traveled the world, and pinpoints some of his favorite locations to be the forts and castles of Germany, the Valley of the Loire in France and his medieval favorites like Florence, Italy, he said, “I must say I like very much the 'Wild West.' I think that's the real American experience to be there.”