Bună ziua (hello)! I’ve been in Romania for almost a week now, and here is a bit of what I’ve learned so far:
1. Streets don’t need names displayed.
You can just use landmarks. We were walking on the streets in Iasi with our Romanian friend, we’ll call her Mary, and she was showing us how to get somewhere. She said something like “when you get to this street, you turn left.” I asked her what the name of the street was and she said “I don’t know, you just turn left here at this building.” Then I noticed that there were no street signs, so I asked her about them. She said “It’s not like there in America with fancy street names you can read. Sometimes you will see a street name on a building, but you don’t need them.” And she was right! It’s been a week and we’ve figured out how to go many places, just by using landmarks.
2. Trams don’t need flashing lights.
Just be aware! Right outside my window there is a big traffic circle, with tracks running right through it. When a tram comes, it just comes and cars have to notice it. And they do! I haven’t seen an accident yet! And when you are walking, you walk right across them, and if you see a tram coming, you just have to stop. Even kids know this – I saw two young girls walking around, and they looked, stopped, and waited for the tram to pass before they crossed. Yes, they were standing very close to it, but still. No flashing lights to warn them, they just knew. We just need to be observant. I think that’s how it should be.
3. Make linguistic mistakes.
I told my Romanian neighbor and friend, Bianca, that we had onions and pepper for dinner…not what I meant to say. I couldn’t figure out why she was laughing, until she was able to collect herself and explain it to me….boy, that would’ve been disgusting! It took me less than 24 hours to make my first real Romanian linguistic mistake…it took me about a year in ASL. Romanian is hard!
4. ASL is not a substitute for Romanian.
I am struggling to learn Romanian, even though I am practicing every day. When I am out and about, I find myself using ASL (American Sign Language) when I don’t know the Romanian word for something…not my best tactic, I know. It turns out alright, though…I start with English, then pause as I try to think of the Romanian word. During that pause, I use ASL, and when I see that it’s going nowhere, I use gestures, which seems to work itself out. I just really need to learn Romanian….fast!
5. Skittles taste better in Romania. And so does chocolate.
My friend Emily said that the US probably has some FDA regulation about candy tasting too good. I might have to agree. I mean, why does European chocolate ALWAYS taste better than American? It’s just not fair. At least I can enjoy it while I’m here. And the Skittles…I don’t know how to describe it, but let’s just say they have a more intense flavor.
6. American music is popular worldwide.
I didn’t realize how far American music travels! At the mall on our first day, we heard songs from Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Carly Rae Jepsen, and people I don’t even know, but I know the songs. Oh, and most of the songs aren’t censored. Also, at the orphanage we are volunteering at, they have the radio on. The DJs are talking in Romanian, but playing American songs in English. I was pretty excited when Return to Innocence by Enigma came on, that’s for sure!
7. Not everything needs to be told.
Some people asked me to update my blog all the time about everything I do. First of all, ain’t nobody got time for that. Second thing, you don’t have time to read that. Third, I want to keep some of these experiences between me, the other people who are here with me, and my journal. Not everything needs to be told. Yes, I will update y’all about what is going on in general, or specific trips that I make. However, a lot of things that happen, you may never know about unless you sit down with me, or call me on the phone, and ask to talk about it. My roommate, bless her heart, is a Freshman and I don’t think she’s lived away from her family for very long. It’s been 7 years for me, so we are just on opposite ends of the college spectrum. However, I love her! She Skypes or emails her family every day, I think…and sometimes when stuff happens, like dinner becomes a disaster, she says “I have to tell my mom what just happened!” and I’m over here like “I’ve ruined so many dinners in my lifetime, my mom wouldn’t expect anything less.” Home will be there when I get home. For now, I’m living in the moment, and loving it!
8. WiFi is not essential.
I do feel that internet is essential, especially because I have assignments to do for my internship here in Romania. However, there are other things to do besides being on the computer. In my apartment, we have a USB that connects us to the internet. If my roommate is using the USB, I have to wait until she is done. That happens a lot, considering my point above, and I’ve come to not mind so much. I find myself doing things like studying Romanian, writing in my journal, and reading. If we had wifi, then my iPhone AND my computer would always have internet, and I’d just be on Facebook all the time, probably. I think that when I move back to Texas in June, I will not have WiFi on my list of essentials as I look for my new abode. I think I could settle for USB internet.
9. It’s important to make it feel a little bit like home.
I left Utah (A on the above map) and 30 hours later I am in Iasi, Romania (B on the above map). However, Texas will always be home, and flamingos will always be “me,” so I brought that part with me. No matter how far I am from home, I have a little piece of home with me.
I think it’s important to take familiar things with you when you travel. That way, when you get “home” after a long day, it feels like home. And I foresee many long days ahead of me for the next 3 months.
10. Bread is hard to cut without a bread knife.
Yes, we could just buy a bread knife..but we’d rather save money. Well, considering how cheap the bread is, we can probably afford a bread knife. This beautiful loaf (pictured with my beautiful roommate) was only 2.50 lei (75 cents).
It is some of the most delicious bread I’ve ever had! We bought a smaller and more expensive loaf today, which is easier to cut with the knife we have…but we ended up just tearing pieces off, anyways. I love the abundance of fresh food here.
I know I still have a lot to learn. I’ve only been here a week, and I have 11 weeks left!
Here’s to a lifetime of learning ahead!