Thank you Amy for asking me what life is like here in Romania. Your question inspired me to write down my thoughts. My husband, daughter, and I are happy here and we have enjoyed many of the changes that came along with our venture.
Amy has a beautiful blog. Her love for God shines through her posts and she shares her thoughts in a way that make you want to keep reading. If you have not visited her site you should because you will be glad that you did when you do! 🙂
Here are all of my previous posts about Romania:
- Ociul Beiului
- Girliste & Griliste
- Honedoara Castle
- Salt Mines
- Izvorul Bigar
- Lacul Secu
- Arsenal Park
Besides the obvious difference in language, there are other cultural norms which make Romania differ from my previous home in the United States.
Religion & Tradition
The break down is as follows, starting with the most practiced leading down to the least:
- Eastern Orthodox is the largest practiced religion and it is my husband’s religion
- Christian denominations include the Catholic Church (both Latin & Greek)
- A small amount of Muslim who are Crimean Tatar and Turkish ethnicity
Saying grace before meals seems to be an American thing thus far. We do keep to our old tradition on this.
Candles are lit outside of the churches here, there is a designated place marked for the living (Vii) and for the dead (Morti). This is a very peaceful part of this culture that I have learned to love because it gives you a great sense of closeness to God due to its overwhelmingly spiritual feeling.
Traditional dress and folk dancing are not necessarily religious but they play a deep part in this culture which is still practiced today. The outfits are worn by many for special occasions, festivals, sizable get-togethers and holidays. The colors and looks do vary based on region so there are a variety of different styles.
Here’s a short video with these outfits:
This video is from Antoaneta Micsoniu YouTube channel.
Our new home would be better compared to a small town feel because of the warmth of the people living here. Walking down the street, for examle, many people say “Ceau!” very often, which is “Hello!” in English. Smiles are exchanged even amoungst strangers. Like in spanish cultures, the Romanians kiss on the cheek (on both sides) when greeting you. If you are a bit closer to them they also give you a half-hug embrace as well. This does not happen at every meet but it does happen often enough to give you that warm & fuzzy feeling.
Men and women have differnt greetings:
- Men greet women by saying “sarut mana” which means “hand kiss” in English. They usually only say it but older gentlemen sometimes actually kiss your hand as well. Funny story here is that I responded a few times with the same romanian phrase only to be looked at funny in return. When I asked my husband “Why ?” he said “No!!! Women NEVER say that to men because it is an insult!” he explained so I stopped but we still laugh about that one from time to time.
- Men shake the hands of men, they do not shake the hands of women.
Going out is usually a meeting for a drink (alcoholic or non) and eating out is usually for a specail occasion. Meals, for the most part, are prepared at home. We did cook in the States, but not nearly as much as we do here, because we had many more take-out and/or fast food options to accomodate our busier schedules back then.
I have learned that everything here has a unique name. The word soup, for example, can describe all kinds of soups in the States no matter what the ingredients, thickness, color or any other name changing possibility. Here, on the other hand, you have the following:
- ciorba de (insert whatever meat is used here) for thick soups
- supa de (insert whatever meat or veggie is used here) for the thin / watery soups
These two starter words, coupled with the ingredients of the soup, make for a gazillion names! Ok. Maybe not that many but you get the point. My favorite you ask? Ciorba de Varza (a soup with smoked meat and cabbage) is really tasty so I will share that recipe with you all soon. I have already shared my other favorite… Galuste Soup.
Besides the days of the saints, which are usually celebrated like birthdays, the following pictures help show the differences of the holidays in both countries.
Romania’s National Day marks the country’s unification in 1918. Romania’s full independence had been recognized in 1878 but it was not until December 1, 1918 in the city of Alba Iulia, when Romania – made of Moldova and Wallachia at the time – was united with Transylvania, Crisana, Banat and the Maramures area. National Day has been celebrated in Romania since 1990, after the fall of the Romanian Communist Party. This year is their 100 year anniversary of this day.
Money is a bit harder to make here so keeping it is more of a priority than where I came from. Consumerism is not as prevalent here because consumers are more cautions and buy based on needs. They also buy based on available space at home. My closet, for example, is half the size of one out of the two and a half that I had in the States and I have learned to adjust.
Before our move here, we actually moved from a house to a town house, and then to an apartment. This was over a 5 year time span and we downsized each time. Right now I have trouble wrapping my brain around what we were thinking when we bought all of that stuff we donated over the years. It was an absurd amount. Making less money helps us lean more towards cautious spending and we try to keep to our new learning of “buy what we need rather than buying everything we want” because it reduces waste.
When I was a manager there was this sort of underlying expectation to “keep up with the jonse’s” so I did. I was often complimented for being so well dressed. This made me feel good because I did put effort into my appearance. I still do but I do not need as much variety to accomplish this anymore. I mean, how many pairs of black slacks do I really need? I was a shopper! If I had a bad day at work I would stop at a store on the way home. When my days off fell on a school day, which meant I was home alone, I went shopping! Not now. When I find myself home alone I try to enjoy myself by reading, writing, walking my dog, cooking, crocheting, jogging, drawing, or watching a movie. I have finally learned that keeping busy and doing things that make me happy does not mean that I have to spend money.
Free refills are non-existent here.
Returns are nearly non-existent too. I have gotten used this but it did take me some time. I simply spend extra time picking what I really want so that I am satisfied with it becasue once you buy something it is yours. This may be a huge shock for those who take this “little service-oriented gimmick ” for granted. I managed an Olive Garden in the States and I saw returns for food that had been eaten inside or outside of the restaurant. It really did not matter the reason because customer satisfaction ruled. This also applied in my husbands field as well, he was a bank manager and he accomodated many people for their feelings about services rendered. Customer service lines are never seen anywhere here because of the lack of returns.
Freebies and couponing are not available either. They do, however, have sales especially when they want to get rid of something so that is a gimmick that they do use. Speaking of freebies… I have learned to never leave the house without paper towels and a shopping bag because these items are often not for free. If you shop and need a bag to put your purchases in, more times than not you pay for it. Same story goes for toilet paper and sometimes you even pay to use the bathroom as well.
The focus here is more economical versus the customer service satisfaction driven world of the States. In Romania the customer is not always right and they don’t try to be. If you don’t like something you still pay for it… you just don’t pay for it again by learning to take the extra time next time to decide what better meets your needs. Maybe it is simply not returning to that establishment but “What the hey… “ you live, learn, and deal with it.
Here are a few life lessons which I have learned as a result of our move:
- With wealth and low self control comes waste
- Learning to live with less will allow you to enjoy life more
- Communication can be different in more ways than one (hand shake story)
- Don’t take things for granted and appreciate the small things (bags & t.p.)
- You can communicate and make friends while you are learning a new language
Besides family, a few things that I miss as a result of our move are as follows:
- Customer service being something taught and upheld by establishments
- Space outside and inside the home… the closets, roadways and parking lots are tight
- Cashiers don’t bag your groceries so you have to do it in a rush or step to the side and bag them in the cart. This is okay if the store is slow but not when it is busy
- Freebies… Did I mention you pay for shopping carts? You do get your money back when you return it but if you forgot your coin you shop without a cart!!!
- The wide array of fast food establishments often meet a craving that is hard to fill here but I have lost weight because of this so maybe I don’t miss it afterall
Ultimately I do love both countries! I am enjoying my learnings from this experience a great deal and I also enjoy that my daughter is learning these life lessons too. I am still making adjustments and seeing what ways we can do things better in the future so that we enjoy our new lifestyle even more… it will come to us… God will make sure of that.
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of my longest post! No worries… the next few will be shorter once again… lol!
I hope that you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Boy am I glad Amy got me started on this topic because I had a real blast!
What differences do you see from the different countries you have lived in and/or visited?
As always, I look forward to hearing from you so please let me know what you think.