People living in Europe – especially Western Europe – usually have a very poor opinion about fellow Romanians, so I decided to try and tackle this delicate subject: in the end, if there are so many countries who frown upon Romanians, they can’t be all crazy, right?

The truth is that they are not completely wrong either, unfortunately – but the reality they know, the reality they are faced with on a daily basis is just part of the big picture. Because “Romanian thieves” and “Romanian scum” are not words that should be used to describe all of us.

It all started with the “documentary” The Romanians Are Coming which enraged a lot of Romanians because they only showed part of the picture – the ugly part that most of Europe already knows and (which is not, by any means, untrue). It’s just not how things actually are as a whole in this country.

No, not all Romanians are beggars, not all of them are thieves and plain bad people.

Romania is an extremely poor country and also one of the least educated countries in Europe. This results in some strange individuals who consider petty crimes a way of living, who have no hopes for a better future and who are unfortunately living on a day to day basis, not even trying to figure out the bigger picture, not even trying to climb up the ladder and turn the odds into their favor.

Many of these people have already left our country and became parasites in Western countries – where there is more to earn, even from their petty crimes or begging. And even though it is believed that most of them are actually gypsies (the darker skinned Romanians), they are still Romanian citizens and are a product of this country. Because a country is the sum of its best and worst people.

It’s these people (the worst, the scum, not gypsies as a whole) who manage to paint a dark picture of the Romanians. I am talking about beggars, people who consider petty thefts a way of living – the only possible way of living, liars and generally bad people.

We still have these bad people here in Romania too and I am sure that every country has more or less of these individuals… they just exist in our society, no matter if we like it or not.

It just happens that ours go abroad. Most of them. They do stupid stuff. They don’t learn. They do it all over again. They’re the Romanians. And as a result, most people living in those foreign countries believe that ALL Romanians are bad people.

And because of this, the Romanians are frowned upon all over Europe. There are way more highly trained and skilled individuals working and living in European countries and all over the world – I’m talking doctors, nurses, engineers and skilled workers – but it’s not the good people that shine, it’s the bad ones. And this really hurts.

And unfortunately the bad Romanians are all over the place for the same reasons why our most skilled people leave the country: because Romania itself is so poor that any other country in Europe would do. For crime or for honest work – it’s just more money to be made.

But no, it’s not that all Romanians – not even most of them, not even a big part of them – are the petty thieves that Europe believes they are. Yes, it is true: we are extremely poor. We are uneducated. We generally lack the means to get the lives we feel we deserve and the more you look on the streets, the fewer smiles you can see on the peoples’ faces… But most Romanians are doing their best to improve their chances, to change something and make their lives better.

Most Romanians are still honest people, good people, hard working people that keep pushing and hoping for a better life. They would not break the law, they would not do the stupid things that the “others” do, they would just live their life, like any other normal person on this planet.

Not by moving abroad and stealing other people’s possessions. Not by setting camp in parks and occupying derelict buildings – no, those are not all Romanians, those are just a minority. The scum.

Living in this country, I have interacted with a ton of extremely simple people who lived in shocking conditions, who had no running water and no means to own a TV or a fridge or to have EVER eaten at a restaurant.

I have a met a ton of different Romanians and even though some of them were the mischievous creatures Europeans think all Romanians are, most of them weren’t. They were people whose hands were bleeding at the end of the day because they worked so hard – not to get rich, not to feel good, not because they were forced to, but because they wanted to survive.

Because they wanted a better life and that was the most they could do. But they wanted more.

I’ve met an old lady who barely knew how to read because she hasn’t been sent to school – but she still took a newspaper or a silly book for children and spent hours trying to decipher the words there. She wanted more.

I’ve met families of six living in a studio looking at a grim future, and I was extremely impressed when I heard that one of them got a scholarship and went to college. Some really want more.

Some accept less and give up the fight. But this is not how all Romanians are. We are frowned upon by fellow Europeans not because of what we are, but because of what some of us are.

And you know what? Despite all these, despite the fact that we all know that if we go in a Western European country and we admit that we’re Romanians (many have stopped doing so), we’ll be, most likely, frowned upon, we still go there. We still get better jobs than we would get in Romania and we still manage to live a better life.

Because we want more.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Calin:
    Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel;-) (You are beginning to sound like me about the Americans;-)
    Well, it’s pretty sad all over. I think some of the problems arise from too much alcohol (guys get together in a pub, argue over football, drink too much, then go out a cause mayhem). Of course as the economy is suffering, the young without jobs sometimes act like delinquents.
    Is your new president able to bring any solutions to the table? Why not public works projects to give people work and pride. We had public works projects during the Great Depression in the 1930s which did a lot of good in the USA. At least your country isn’t like Greece owing everyone.
    But yes, I agree it’s sad when a minority of anyone’s country brings down the entire country’s reputation. I don’t know what to do. Maybe the family needs to instill a better sense of ethics and morality. I know your country is very religious. Why doesn’t the church step up and make it known such misbehavior should NOT be taught or tolerated.
    Sure, it is sad. At least there are good folk like you who make up for the bad guys.
    Kind of a depressing article, but certainly a heartfelt one, I can tell. Let’s hope for better days everywhere;-)
    ~Teil

    • Hello Teil,

      The church is still very influential in Romania, but their influence is on the decline and they just suffered a massive hit – religion is now optional (instead of obligatory) in school. Also, they have financial interests too and are pretty satisfied with how things are right now.

      The new President seems to have things going pretty nicely right now, but so far the focus seems on catching and sending to prison our corrupt politicians, which is still extremely good. Big names in Romania are either in jail now or prosecuted and hopefully things won’t stop here, which is a really good thing because most used the EU funds and the tax funds to their own advantage mostly. So things are starting to move, but like anything major – it takes time.

  2. I’ve lived & worked in Romania for since 2008 full time & been coming here since 2003. My wonderful partner is Romanian, the nanny for my mentally disabled brother in the UK who provides exceptional love & care is Romanian by strange coincidence & my 2 offices with 10 great people are Romanian.

    I have as many loves & hates for Romania as any Romanian. The fact is, it remains a great place, despite the people who bring it down. I wholeheartedly agree with ‘C The Romanian’. But there is much more than that. The good Romanians also need to hang their head in shame too. Whenever I go to any Irish music event, even disco’s strangely, the last song that is sometimes played is the national anthem & almost all Irish blooded people stand tall, straight & proud throughout. A strange sight at 3am in Temple Bar to find a club full of still witnesses. Romanians do not carry that pride I feel. You can see it in the lack of tourist care, in the litter in the countryside, in the scruffy gardens & privately owned green spaces, in the graffiti & dirt. Bucharest is the only capital in Europe without a Tourist Information office. That tells you a lot. Also, the average Romanian is not charitable outside his own family. I don’t refer to the gypsy kids at traffic lights, because i am not charitable to them at all. I refer to the disabled people you never ever see on the street. The lack of wheel chair access is not only due to lack of money or ingenuity. Its about a lack of care. In my humble opinion, for Romania to be respected, as Poland is for example, Romanian’s need to start respecting themselves as a race, their surroundings & their own society. Through that, others will view them with different eyes. Of course I am over generalizing here to make a point. But as I sit here now in London, I see all around me all kind of care initiatives, from helping homeless to helping drug addicts. When I return to Bucharest next week, is it likely I will find anything like that? Of course not. I like to convince myself it is not about greed & money & that it can be reversed. Am I too idealistic?

    • Good points, Damian. Fortunately, things started to move in the right direction in this area too, more people have initiatives like the ones described by you and we’re slowly (unforunately not faster) moving in the right direction.

  3. Love this, C. This reminds me of how some people here view Mexicans. They’re “ALL” criminals in some peoples’ eyes. Yet, I know several immigrant families from Mexico who, like you said, work very, very hard to provide their families with better lives. One simply can’t judge an entire ethnic group by a few rotten apples within that group.

    • Yes, true! I was wondering if there are other people in the same situations – I knew for sure about the Bulgarians, but they’re our neighbors so they’re mostly the same thing 🙂

      • Society is full of stereotyping. Better or worse we live with it. Probably best to focus more ourselves and make sure we are trying to do good. It is all we can do to help fix it. I am american but i am not rich or arrogant as society has labeled me. I go through my day trying to do the “right” thing. The right thing for me is not to buy into the idea that Romanians are thieves. They are not.. some are.. as some are in all countries. Seeing how the media latched onto this like in England was so wrong. We should speak out and do what we can to set it right. The idea that poor Romanians would flood the country.. only the uneducated would believe that you would think. The fact that the politicians and the media used it the way they did is what keeps that stereotyping alive and well and they are the ones that need to be addressed.

        Nothing wrong with Romania. What is wrong is what the uneducated believe. What is criminal is how the educated use it to their advantage as they did in England for example.

  4. This is so well written C. Well done!!! I feel you. Being Nigerian, l view how people treat us too in the rest if the world. When you pull out the passport, you get pulled aside. Everyone knows that all Nigerians are scammers right?? People are so quick to paint a whole nation with the same brush. My father, my mom, and the first 5 kids lived in a single room, with a shared outside toilet with the whole building. My dad put up a sheet across 1/3 of the room and used that as his office/storage space for the car spare parts he was selling. He saw the big picture, and did things the right way through hard work and perseverance. He never forgot and when things got better, he used his money to improve so many people’s lives. There are so many more stories like his, but people prefer to think of the few bad apples. The press love to scare people, sells more l guess. I judge people by how they behave, not by their nationality. It’s another reason why l think people should travel more if they can, it really opens your eyes and make you realize how lucky and blessed one truly is when they see the sufferings of others. When your biggest worry is that you have to go all the way to the next mall because this store does not have your shoe size and you complain to the manager etc..you know you have it good! 🙂

    • Thanks, Kemkem. If I could write in English as well as I can in Romanian, we’d have more well written articles here 🙂

      I am always impressed by the stories of people who manage to make it on their own and I believe that people who were not born rich, but made it there (or at least improved their lives a lot) are extremely open minded and should be appreciated for managing to make it on their own. I personally had no idea that Nigerians are also on the “blacklist” as many other nationalities are but I can only hope that slowly we’ll start to understand exactly what you said – we shouldn’t judge people based on the few bad apples, but their behavior.

  5. Thanks for tackling this difficult topic. I know one should never generalize or base one’s opinions on anecdotes… but here goes anyway!

    There are veritable palaces, obviously recently built, right in the middle of very small Romanian towns. These were built with the “winnings” of those “Romas” who have gone to Western Europe and engaged in every possible criminal activity to make money. It is a way of life. The most benign of these activities is begging. Small babies are used by their mothers to beg money from Western Europeans. When these babies get older, they are turned into mothers who go begging with their babies. When they get enough children this way, they “retire” back to Romania, living off the “winnings” of their children and they build a palace.

    Next anecdote: I often went to a small town where we were renovating a church. We needed some new gutters for the roof and a German local (saş) recommended some Gypsies who had done the gutters of a church in another town. When the Gypsies came to give an estimate for our roof, I wasn’t there and we had failed to warn the other Germans that some Gypsies were coming to give us an estimate. Needless to say, when the Gypsies showed up, the Germans told them to get lost. It was my job to call them up, apologize, and ask them to come back again. They did, gave us an excellent price and they then did an excellent job.

    Another anecdote: We visited a Romanian school. The kids were thrilled to have a real, live American in their class. They were so proud of their English, they asked so many good questions. I noticed the dark-skinned children at the back of the class weren’t participating, so I went to the back, shook some hands, and started asking them questions in Romanian. The teacher ran to me and dragged me away, saying, “They’re too stupid, don’t ask them anything.”

    Another anecdote: I was in the main plaza in Sibiu when I was approached by a Roma beggar. She asked me in Romanian for some money. I tried to blow her off by saying, “I don’t speak Romanian.” She answered me in flawless English. I then tried German, “Ich verstehe kein Rumänisch.” She answered me in flawless German. Then I tried Spanish, “No hablo la lengua romana.” She answered me in flawless Spanish. Then I tried Italian, “No parlo la lingua rumena.” She answered me in flawless Italian. Finally, I said, “Va rog sa ma lasati in pace.” And she left me.

    These are a few of the many anecdotes and stories I collected in Romania. They suggest to me that the Roma are no less intelligent or hard-working than other people. They are just responding to the incentives as they perceive them. As long as Western Europeans give the Roma beggars money, they will be beggars. As long as they are discriminated against in the Romanian school system, they will not rise above their place in Romanian society. I have also met a college-educated Roma who I am proud to call my friend. He is an activist trying to bring life back into a small forgotten Romanian village. Okay, thanks for reading this.

    • This is indeed a difficult topic and I believe that the Roma situation (one that I am not ready to tackle on its own right now) is different of what I wrote about here. In the end, as I always said, no matter what their situation is, the Roma population in Romania has Romanian nationality and therefore they are all Romanians. “They” are “us” and there shouldn’t be any “them” or “us” 🙂

      Thank you for your anecdotes, they certainly show that indeed there are bad apples and great people. It’s easier to generalize, but we shouldn’t.

  6. Regardless of the negatives presented in this blog am thinking of retiring to Romania. Why?
    Because i met a lovely woman there and eventually wooed her to form a relationship. I can testify that most Romanians, notably the women, are very polite, charming and caring. As for the men, well all i can say is that they are not Romania’s greatest asset. Enough said.

    What i do find annoying is the general Romanian’s habit of camouflaging the truth and reality. This verges on blatant lying and leads to cheating and deliberately misleading . They don’t make friends easily and indulge in the pagan belief that only family and the church can be trusted.
    What i find most disgusting about Romanian men is their willingness, or rather eagerness, to put their women and girls to work. This extends into pimping their own sisters, daughters and wives by installing webcams at home for “privacy and decency”.
    In fact so many young girls, single and married, do this that it is one of Romania’s most profitable industries. I suspect these sites have some form of government support , i.e. corruption, to “protect” the special interest groups who exploit and operate them.

    Romania is fast becoming the Thailand of the Eurozone. Is this good or bad?

    I am not a moralist so you can work it out yourself.

    • You would be surprised to find out that many of these girls do this without being forced by others. There might be some bad apples here and there, but usually men can’t force their wives of sisters or other girls to do things that they don’t want to do. However, it is true that this is a thriving industry and there are a ton of girls who are attracted by the huge earnings (by Romanian standards). It’s just the way some girls manage to make ends meet – it’s easy for them and it pays well. That’s the harsh reality. However, as I said, it’s their choice and not somebody else’s (unless you consider poverty “somebody else”).

  7. Not buying his. Deeper sting the scum and the skilled workers is a fallacy. I’m English and started seeing a Romanian in the uk. He has a very well paying job and skills. However, he is a serial cheater. He left me pregnant and alone. Then I see he has four Romanian women on the go. Nurses, doctors etc. They all know about each other but stay engaged to him anyway. I think Romanian women need to wake up, this behaviour is not acceptable. Sad really…

    • This is not something that usually happens in Romania. This is not something that only Romanian men could do, nor something that only Romanian women accept. These things have happened and will happen everywhere in the world. It happens.

  8. You know that old saying about show trust and get respect, well it does not work with Romanians. Even those working their way up the Western European system and shown trust by the natives of their adopted country are bare faces liars when it comes to paying their dues. I gave a Romanian trust because I believed someone who admitted responsibility and was capable of paying for damage caused was a responsible person. As it turned out everything done by this Romanian, all the twists and turns and change of intent over a month were a choreographed lie to hide the true intention of welching on a debt. Janus may have been an ancient Roman two faced god, but he is still much present in Romania. Be careful if you meet I. Rado and the boat Compass Rose K504. He is NOT to be trusted.

  9. I am Romanian. I have the citizenship of Romania. And I am also ethnically Romanian. When you say Gypsies are “us” you mean we all share the same citizenship. You may also say ethnic Hungarians are “us”, ethnic Turks are “us”. Just as true, because we have Hungarian-speaking and Turkish-speaking minorities in Romania. But that won’t change the fact that ethnic Romanians are not ethnic Gypsy. I cannot say I am Gypsy anymore than I can say I am Chinese.

  10. I found this article because I have a question about Romanians.. My brother married a Romanian girl and she came to Canada less than a month ago. She was from a working class, not rich, family. She is educated however never had a well paying job. I was very excited to meet her, and now that she’s here nothing seems good enough. We are a middle class family and my brother provided a nice house. But she only wants to ride in new cars, nothing remotely old in the house, ect. She is rude to the service industry people and I just generally feel like she expects buckingham palace or something. But I didn’t write this to vent I want to ask, is this a Romanian mentality or is it her personality or a orthadox thing? I took her to church and she slept. I thought that Romania being many poor that she would be easy to please. Could it be an inferority complex? Has anyone had this experience?

    • As a Romanian girl, I assure you this is not Romanian mentality, you can get weeds like this in any country. I am NOT easily pleased because I am a Romanian, or because I was poor. I am easily pleased because I was raised to respect people and work. My advice to you is ignore her. You are not the one who has to put up with her behavior, your brother is, and my guess is he already knows her well enough that HE decided to marry her. I don’t like the type you described either, I got rid of friends like that because the materialistic type usually is selfish too, and only thinking about themselves. I’m sorry you got disappointed, you probably expected a new friend, a new sister, and you got someone that thinks about her needs and luxurious comfort before real needs. OR maybe she feels like everything there is yours, because she didn’t choose any of it, and for her to feel like home she wants to put her touch in her new home.

    • People react differently from making the switch from being poor to affording more. Remember that middle class in Canada equals “very rich” in Romania. She’s either unable to adapt to the switch or she was like that, sort of a trophy wife from the beginning.

      It is true that Romanians are generally not the most polite people in the world although there are improvements with the newer generations, thankfully – but also her behavior is not what you could expect from all the ladies (or gents) in Romania.

      • https://youtu.be/g3I4fCMnCF4
        Check this short movie to see how others are judged in wrong way like they judge Romania, taking in evidence only the bad sides. Who never been in Motor City will believe. If you’ll look at the bad sides in US, it’s away worst than Romania. We can make a movie with the best restaurants and places from Romania and compare with the ghettoes from all over the Europe and North America. (I’m just kidding you’ll have to build a wall to stop the emigration from outside) All the Romanian gipsy together didn’t stole more than Bernard Madoff, over 50 billions dollars.
        Romanians have low education, probably some of them, a waitress in a fancy restaurant from USA ask me “where are you from?” I said, I’m from Romania, Europe, she said “It’s Europe in Russia?” The question it’s: All the Americans have the same education? In Canada at the register I cannot get my change back because the register lost the power just in time, until I said “you have to give me back 65 cents” Then she ask the next cashier how much she have to return me and she said I don’t know, then she gave me 65 cents. Similar stories we can take from all over the world you don’t judge a nation from one story.

  11. This article is flawed from the start.Saying that gypsies and romanians are the same is just a lie.Gypsies are known for being nomadic and refusing to be assimilated.They simply have next to nothing in common with romanians.I wont say romanians don’t steal or beg ,but without doubt the great majority of these so called ‘parasites’ are gypsies.
    Don’t get me wrong,there are nice,well educated gypsies out there,just that there aren’t that many of them.It seems to be more negative examples than positive ones(just my opinion).

    The education system is indeed outdated but isn’t nowhere as bad as you make it seem.You can get good education here nonetheless.
    You said cause of lack of education people start doing petty crimes.Wrong again.There are more and more people that seem to neglect education because the models praised here are not people with education.Somebody that can’t even speak correctly can be prime minister,so why bother learning when so many people lacking education can get this far.Why bother?

    Romania is a poor country,but if you work hard and invest time in education you can have a life that doesn’t just cover basic needs.You can go in holidays abroad,buy a nice car,go to a nice restaurant from time to time.
    The problem for many is that the life was so hard for them that they couldn’t afford to take education that seriously even if they wanted.The parents couldn’t support them financially and had to give up school to get money.
    Most romanians abroad take jobs in constructions,restaurants,etc. and work for their money,don’t beg for it or steal it.A good portion of them send some cash to their families left behind.

    Eastern Europe is a sad place at the moment from which a significant amount of people try to run from.
    I read some bad experiences some people had with us and I won’t say not to judge us.Stereotypes exist for a reason and is better to be safe than sorry when approaching some category of people that have a bad reputation.My advice is to try and keep an open mind:some of us are awful human beings,some of us can be potentially friends.
    An individual is not just the country he comes from,but also the choices he makes and behavior he exhibits.

  12. Salut !

    Interesting post. However, something in it makes me sad.

    In this article you should try to show the best things of România. But, why do you keep repeating over and over that Romania is a “extremely poor country”? Where did you get this? It is simply a lie. Eritrea is an extremely poor country. Kenya is an extremely poor country. But Romania?

    I’ve met some people from East Europe, and it seems to me that, sometimes, the only thing they can tell about their countries is “we are a poor country”.

    See, I’m from Brazil. My fiancée is Romanian. When she came here, no one said to her “we are an extremely poor country”. No. Everyone were very excited to show her everything good from here, and to show her how we are the best country in the world! Maybe this is an attitude that lacks in Romanian people, and East Europe people in general: while Brazilians try to convince you we have the best country in the world, some Romanians try to convince us that you have a bad country.

    We always have what to learn with Brazilians =)

    La revedere!

    • Hello Pedro,

      Fortunately, there are many positive articles on this website and not all are on a sadder tone like this one. I am sure that when you visited Romania, everybody here was also happy to show you the beautiful things around, as I would do and just like everybody in any country does.

      But the truth is that many Romanians are and feel poor. It’s not as bad as in other places in this world, but it’s not good either. I do agree that the way you look at things and how you tackle the hardships makes a big difference and us Eastern Europeans are on the grimmer side unfortunately but I am doing my best to show the big picture here, with goods and bads.

  13. Omg I live beside them. There is an overcrowded house beside us. Him her, 4 kids a mother in law and some mean looking guy. They rent we own outright. Spent a lot of money on our home. They live like pigs apart from their 100k car. So wouldn’t they be better buying a house instead of squashing all those people into a small house with one bathroom. Disgusting. And all of their friends have to drive Audi’s as well. Money misplaced. I do not speak to then. They gave a sense of entitlement. Probably rent is paid by the state. They should not have been allowed into Europe. They cooked their books. Surprise surprise. I read a book!!!

  14. I traveled across Romania and met so many people. In general, they are nice people, but you can see that they are tricky and not straightforward. I also felt very bad when they start talking about their fellow Romanian Gypsy fellows in degrading way, even though they themselves are not better. It was sickening to me because I was taken advantage of by Romanians who are blond with blue eyes. It is the culture!! especially in big cities.

  15. I was in Lyon, France on July 20 2019. A Romanian guy, pretending he is Danish, checked in the hostel and stole my backpack when I was sleeping. Basically, he learned how to unlock the lock. My trip plan went to hell after he stole almost my everything. I lost all my cash, credit cards, Eurail ticket, wallet, tablet and my passport. I was stuck in France because of this Romanian guy. I worked hard so that I was able to take a vacation in Europe.(I am Asian) Couldn’t believe a Romanian guy ruined all my plan.I ended up cancelling all my trip because I got no money. I had this Romanian thief’s passport information and the videos of him stealing my bag. However, the policemen in Lyon did not do much. So he is still on the loose.
    I happened to read your article and understood why some Romanians are like this. Sad to know that a poor country leads its country people to a wrong path of life and stole what other people’s fruit through their hard work. One thing I would like to ask is since theft seems common in Romania, how is the punishment? Is is serious or not?
    I have all the information needed to put this bad guy in prison.

    Alex

    • I am really sorry to hear about the things you went through, Alex, and even more so that it was a Romanian who caused it.

      Regarding punishment, since this happened in France, it would be up to the French authorities to punish him if they are to catch him. Hopefully with all the data you have, they will do it sooner rather than later.

  16. Most Romanian immigrants I have seen are some of worst people I have met. Most people to whom I told this, confirmed that Romanians have a strange sense of extrovert aggressiveness and enjoy hurting others. They are generally very different from mostly nice people of Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Bosnia, and Italy. Very nasty pieces of work!

    • Can’t agree more. I think Catalin’s article is not objective. I lived in Romania for a few years with work. They are bigots, homophobes, women are not seen as equals and shallow. Catalin, although I swear God you seem to a very nice lad, you’re not objective in this matter. Most Germans in WWII were good people, however, atrocities… Most Muslims are not terrorist, however … The majorities in numbers are irrelevant in your examples. Let me know if you don’t see my point.

      • I see it. Most english are trustworthy and not thieves and land grabber migrant invaders, however the american indians, aboriginals, indians, the subtle but rigid class system…
        Also are nice and cultured, however the hooligans and the drunkards on the streets…

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