60 Things a Foreigner Learned by Living in Romania

9

I often think about the fact that, since I have been born and raised in Romania, I might not have the best opinions and advice for people interested in visiting Romania or moving to the country, simply because I’m used with the way of living here. Some things that really upset me might be no big deals for others, while other things that don’t bother me could be game changers for foreigners visiting the country.

I have recently stumbled upon, on Facebook (sic!), an article written by a Brazilian that spent quite some time in Romania. Fernando Castilho Cintra is his name and he decided to create a well written and funny list of 60 things that he learned by living in Romania. Check them out below:

1 – Dracula is a vampire outside Romania.

2 – The same dude, Vlad Tepes, is a national hero.

3 – While vampires drink blood, the real red thing I loved to drink was Visinata. (my note: a home made alcoholic drink made from sour cherries)

4 – Another devilish drink is Tuica, Hungarians call it palinka, but it is the same thing.

5 – Most Moldavians, Muntenians and others have no idea what happens with Hungarians in Ardeal

6 – Romanians smoke an absurd amount of cigarettes. They smoke inside their houses, restaurants, and even shopping malls.

7 – Romanians always take off their shoes when entering home

8 – I believe Romanians prefer to keep their floor clean rather than their lungs.

9 – Traveling in Romania is one of the best memories I have. Rivers, canyons, hills, mountains… They have it all

10 – While traveling in Romania you will go through Romanian roads. They are in good condition, but they have an absurd amount of curves.

11 – Also when traveling in Romania, you might want to pee. But worry not; there are so many houses by the side of the roads that it’s easier to end up in a bathroom than behind some bushes.

12 – Maramures is a happy place. Happy people, happy costumes, happy colors, even happy cemetery

13 – The only thing that isn’t happy in Maramures are shepherd dogs. They are not happy. They don’t like you. Run.

14 – In fact, unless you are inside a city, whenever you see a dog in Romania, run.

15 – Another tactic is to always carry mici with you. As I’m vegetarian, I wouldn’t mind giving mici to dogs.

16 – As a matter of fact, as a vegetarian in Romanian I can definitely say: Romanians love meat

17 – Sarmale, tocanita, slanina, carnati… you have it all, meat eaters.

18 – Romanians have soup every single day of their lives.

19 – Taxis in Romania are ridiculously cheap. In Bucharest they can cost as low as 1,29 per km. (my note: that’s lei, which is about $0.30)

20 – Another extremely easy way to go around is Hitchhiking. Romanians do it, and give it in return.

21 – Romanians also expect you to pay for giving you a ride. You can, of course say “nu am bani” (I don’t have money) before hopping in, but you can get a frustrated driver to shout “INCHIDE USA” (CLOSE THE DOOR!) at your sorry moneyless face. (true story)

22 – My favorite mean of transportation though was by inter-regio train. They are cheap, comfortable, on time and often not crowded.

23 – However, you can end up inside a 12 hours train trip from Suceava to Mures back from New Year’s holiday. Then you will know what “crowded” really means. (true story)

24 – Romanians love skiing.

25 – Skiing in Romania is absurdly cheap.

26 – It took me 3 full days to be taught how to ski. Skiing is not for Brazilians or tropical countries inhabitants.

27 – Once you learn, though, you will love it and open another door to my favorite part of Romania: Mountains

28 – Romania has the most beautiful sceneries I’ve seen so far in my life. All of them from mountain tops.

29 – Romanian mountains have incredibly well signed paths for hikers, cabanas for travelers to stay overnight and places for the more audacious to camp.

30 – By now you should have guessed that doing such a trip will be absurdly cheap.

31 – Interesting though is that many Romanians have never been to such mountains.

32 – Even more interesting is that Romanians will often overestimate some rather average places (e.g. Mamaia or Bucovina Monasteries) and underestimate awesome places (e.g. Bucharest).

33 – Bucharest is a great city. Sure it has no such architecture as Budapest, Krakow or other eastern European cities, but it has the museums, parks and nightlife that few others have

34 – People say there are many stray dogs in Bucharest.

35 – I had more dogs chasing me in any given day by bike that I had during a week in Bucharest.

36 – Truly, I didn’t see stray dogs in Bucharest.

37 – Romanian language is beautiful. It sounds beautiful and is achievable for Brazilians to learn

38 – “Cu carne de vaca nu se moare de foame”… And my Google chrome translator thought I was writing in Portuguese. (my note: that means “You won’t die of hunger eating beef”)

39 – However, the most obscure part or Romanian language is Dativ.

40 – AHHHHHH DAAAATIIIIV!!!!

41 – You can say “mi-e foame” “mi-e sete” “mi-e somn”… but you can’t say “mi-e oboseala”. (ny note: you can say “I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’m sleepy, but not “I’m tired”. Not that crazy if you really want to learn the language, though).

42 – AAAAHHH DATIIIIIV!!!!

43 – Romanians talk with their shoulders. Observe it! When someone says “pai, nu stiu”. (well, I don’t know)

44 – Follow the same exercise mentioned above and observe their mouths and the chin.

45 – Hungarians won’t admit, but they have THE Romanian accent. The way of saying “nu stiu” is the same of saying “nem tudom”

46 – My preferred way of practicing Romanian is with drivers that have me a ride by the road.

47 – They would often say what the hell am I doing in such a country if am Brazlian.

48 – These drivers didn’t know that Romanian healthcare system is great, it has a lower murder rate than Norway and is the fastest growing economy from eastern European countries.

49 – Generally Romanians complain about Romania. They will find a way to complain about it. Politics, economy, society…

50 – They are wrong.

51 – I learned what 4 seasons mean: Hot summers, cool autumns, cold winters and fresh springs.

52 – Romania has all the 4 seasons with two huge advantages from northern countries: In winters they have sun. In summer it’s not cloudy.

53 – Romania has a nice wildlife: Dears can be seen frequently, black goats can be seen on occasion (been there done that), bears and wolves are invisible
.
54 – The closest we’ve been to a bear was its footprints

55 – Romanians are Latin in language, but not as Latin in blood.

56 – When you enter an office, you have to shake hands with the men but you just wave to the women.

57 – Romanians expected that me as a Brazilian would play football really well… Terrible mistake

58 – For months after the world cup I would hear “so, do you like Germany” from people. Go to hell…

59 – Most Romanians at their 18’s have two dreams in mind: 1 – Moving to the UK. 2- Moving to any other country that isn’t Romania.

60 – While Romanians dream to leave, I dream once I will come back.

I really liked the “lessons” he learned from Romania and probably the last one should say a lot to all those interested in coming here…

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Calin: I am glad you’ve a new article! (I got tired of seeing that guy with the cigarette dangling from his mouth, and the baby looking like (s)he is none too happy about being held;-)
    This Brazilian gentleman is certainly a great ambassador for Romania. I wonder what he thinks of Brazil–ha, ha!
    Are people gradually realizing that smoking is a killer? Are there any PSAs on TV or radio to warn people?
    I don’t drink any alcohol, but I am sure to enjoy the many “unfermented” juices available;-)
    Great idea about removing shoes. I don’t wear socks, but I guess bare feet are okay in the house?
    I love soup–Mmmm, Mmmm Good! Meat–not so much. But any type of bean or lentil fills in just fine.
    Dogs are pretty decent animals. I just prefer NOT being chased by a pack of them;-)
    I don’t go looking for bears, and (hopefully!) they don’t come looking for me;-)
    So do women NOT like to have their hand shaken as an introduction? (I don’t do air kissing;-)
    Do you and Wife Romanian ski? I tried it once and ended up head-butting a tree–ouch!!!
    I’ve always loved “Dracula” movies–whether played by Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski, Gary Oldman, et al. I can’t wait to visit the “castles.”
    Do you and family take the inter-regio train, as a rule?
    Thanks for sharing this point-of-view!
    ~Teil

    • Yes Teil, it’s always nice to see what a foreigner thinks about your country! Now let me answer your questions:

      1. I have the feeling that more and more people stop smoking, even though the number of smokers is really high. It’s been years since they started campaigning against smoking, raised the prices and basically did everything possible, but the results are relatively slow. I quit smoking 7 years ago and there are more doing the same.

      2. It’s not really that you have to remove your shoes everywhere, but generally you should expect this if you go visit somebody. Bare feet are OK, but there are houses where the owner will have slippers ready for their guests.

      3. When you first meet somebody, you usually shake hands, but otherwise men usually just say “hello” to women they know. Air kissing really depends on how well you know the person and if she does that or not 🙂

      4. I think that my wife did ski for a bit in the past, but I never did and I don’t plan on doing so. I love my bones without any cracks 🙂

      5. Since it’s the CFR company that almost has a monopoly when it comes to train rides, it’s difficult not to take their trains. But they’re usually late, from a few minutes up to an hour, unfortunately (it’s usually just a few minutes though).

    • “My wife did ski for a bit” – means I put on some skis for the first time, went up the slide 300 feet or so, put my skis on and let go, and cuz I didn’t know how to stop, I put my bottom down until I eventually stopped.

      And yeah, our hands can be shaken when we first meet someone, but we kiss, hug (or just say hello) the close friends and say hello to people we just know, like neighbors.

  2. Thank you again for such a great article .. Both funny & informative
    I am hoping to visit Romania this year and personally get to experience such a wonderful place.
    I have always wondered why everyone thinks it’s better living someplace other than where that are … Odd isn’t it ?
    I look forward to your articles always and thank you again for sharing
    By the way I agree with the snow skiing as I have never done it
    Water skiing in the other hand isn’t so treacherous , water will break your fall

    • I am glad you liked it, Tom! And I hope you will have a great stay in Romania when you visit this year. Making a living in Romania is pretty difficult, the salaries are low so probably that’s why most people here want to leave – people visiting or moving in usually only experience a part of the story since they have funds from somewhere else.

      I haven’t tried water skiing either, I would be too afraid for that too 🙂

  3. Aaahh! They say the grass is greener on the other side.. I think it’s human nature to always want to leave where you grew up because you think it’s good elsewhere. I like his observations, especially about Dracula and the stray dogs. I just run the other way myself when l see strays. They scare me, despite having dogs. My experience with skiing was similar to wife Romanian, once..and never again as the instructor patted me on the back after the class, and l just took off. I finally fell. I am too afraid now , too afraid, and as you said..l like my bones. 🙂

  4. The old tradition of kissing a woman’s hand (Sarut mâna!) has finally fallen by the wayside? I always thought Romanian datives and genitives were cool, although it is hard to remember to use them in conversation.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here