I have and Now, I think everyone should! Many friends I know have traveled extensively around the world and I am truly happy for them. Deciding to go on a vacation to some far away destination seems a wonderful diversion from the work-a-day life and it can be eye-opening, fun, and incredibly exciting! But going away somewhere to visit versus living there are two entirely different experiences.
My family moved to Romania (Dark Green on map) in 2006 and I can truly say my world was radically altered, and the way I look at the world will never be the same!
Romania is a small country in central Europe, not much larger than the state of Oregon. It has a similar geography as well, with a part of its boundary on the Black Sea in the west and the Danube River in the south. The plains as well as incredible mountain vistas bring variety to the aesthetic nature of the countryside. The climate is similar as well exhibiting the four distinct seasons as one would experience in New England.
Over 23 million people live in this post communist(December 1989) country which joined the European Union in January 2007. The people here still maintain a largely agricultural society, a large percentage of the population still grows food and raises various meat and dairy producing animals.
One of the most remarkable attributes of the Romanian people is the relational attributes they maintain. I really did leave a part of me there, it did take a while to get over the cultural barriers but after a while we were accepted and made to feel more like family than friends. One town that we lived in(Razvad), we had neighbors that we received a post card from here in the states after they went on vacation! I can’t remember the last post card I received from someone in the states, or one I sent to anyone else for that matter. This is just an observation not a judgement statement.
Living in another culture changes you in a variety of ways, first it changes your expectations. I had to make a copy of a key one time, it took literally half the day(something I could have accomplished in minutes in the states) and it only took half a day because I had a local Romanian with me, which leads to another change in
expectations…Time. Time has a very different meaning there, it is a much slower paced society. Another difference we learned about was invitations. Here if you are having a party and you invite 50 people you may end up with 25 to 30. The same party in Romania, inviting 50 people means you will end up with at least 50 and probably more. When you are invited to someone’s home this is a great honor and there is definite rules of etiquette to be followed, first upon entering remove your shoes and your host will provide house slippers for you, next you will be offered a drink probably tea or (sweeka which is not how it is spelled) but would be the equivalent of a shot of whiskey here only in the amount of a small teacup. this you would accept but would only sip, first, because if you finished it they will automatically fill it again, and second, because if you finished it you may start talking or acting inappropriately.
The biggest thing that impacted me was the history. The first city we lived when we arrived there was Targoviste. This was one of the major cities that was under attack during the Turkish invasion. You may have heard of someone called “Vlad the Impaler” (which is where the origins of “Dracula came from) As the Turkish invaders approached the front line that had been sent out first, were beheaded and those heads were impaled on spears as a very effective anti-invasion incentive. to the rest of the invaders!
The people of Romania helped me to understand that in many instances, just because you knew a different way to do something, didn’t necessarily mean it was the better or the best way to do something, They also showed in a variety of ways that people still matter much more than things.
There are many things that were different and many stories to tell, perhaps on another occasion I will post some of them.