Impressions of a new country

Category Archives: Culture

Quite a few houses here are decorated with mosaics. The most frequent type of images that you see are trees and other natural things. It is very unusual to see any mosaics on houses in the UK – so it is strange to see so many here. Many houses here are also painted in very bright and diverse colours.

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Flea markets are very common all around the world, they are a great way to sell your unwanted items, or even some new products.

From my past experiences at Flea or Thrift markets in other countries, they all tend to look quite chaotic. Lots and lots of items spread across tables or on blankets on the floor.

My experience at a flea market here in Romania was fairly similar to in other countries, but one thing I did notice, was the way in which some things were put on display. There were huge piles of clothes, leather scraps and shoes all around the market. Clothes were not hung on rails, were rarely even separated into groups of similar items and shoes were not paired together; which made it quite difficult to find anything! It seemed even more chaotic than in previous markets I’ve seen.

People in the UK tend not to sell broken things, or things that aren’t in an acceptable condition. It is different here – nothing is thrown away. I came across numerous stalls which were full of broken things – it seemed as though people were selling absolutely everything and anything they have.

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It’s not uncommon to find the bottom half of tree trunks painted white here. All over the city, most trees along streets and roads have this done – it is done primarily to deter insects from climbing up the trees. Although it must be beneficial for the trees and the nearby apartment buildings, it is not a particularly aesthetically pleasing way to repel insects. Trees in parks and woods are left alone and are not painted.

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In supermarkets here, it is common to ‘snap apart’ 4 or 6 packs of yoghurts and just take how many you need.

When I first saw people doing this, I was amazed that staff members weren’t intervening to stop this sheer act of yoghurt vandalism (as it appeared to me). However, you’re perfectly allowed to do that here. The same goes for many products that are ‘attached’ in similar ways. You do not have to buy the whole packet, just take however many you want! The prices shown for yoghurts and ‘grouped’ items – are shown per 1 item, and not the price for an entire pack (I learnt that the hard way)

I’m not sure if other countries across Europe have this practise or not…but we definitely don’t in the UK! There, you buy the entire 6 pack of yoghurts or you choose individually packed ones. Heaven forbid you start ‘yoghurt snapping’ in the aisles of Sainsbury’s – all hell would probably break loose.

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A common scene in an English supermarket is someone smelling a bottle of fabric conditioner to check whether they like the scent or not. In supermarkets here, it is just as common to walk down the household toiletries aisle and find someone holding up a 12 pack of quilted toilet rolls and doing the same. Of course, this seemed very odd on first impressions.  I had not really come across scented toilet paper very often in England, so finding it all over the shop shelves here came as a bit of a surprise. There aren’t just simple scents like ‘Lavender’ either – there are all kinds of scents! Some I’ve come across so far include, apple, peach, strawberry, orange, grapefruit, coconut and the more ominous sounding ‘bathroom odour’. I can see how this idea might give your bathroom a nice fresh and fruity scent, but other than that – scented toilet paper seems a little bit pointless in my opinion! I still can’t help but smile when I see people sniffing loo rolls in the middle of the shop though.

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It’s an unfortunate truth that some people, on hearing the word ‘Romania’, automatically associate it with the word ‘gypsies’. It is a stigma that I know really grates on many Romanian people. A lot of the people and families I’ve got to know here, have very strong feelings about the issue of the Roma (Romani or Rom) community, and their consequent negative reflection on Romania as a Nation.

Roma people are widely spread across much of Eastern and Southern Europe  as well as other parts of the world – their origin traces back to India and they first settled across Europe during the 1400s. They are of a completely different and unrelated ethnic group to Romanians and they should not be confused with each other – but more often than not, they are. It seems that due to their unfortunate likeness in spelling, Romanian people and Romani people have been thoughtlessly tied together until the end of time. A surprising fact is that the U.S.A and Spain actually have more Roma settlers than Romania does – yet these countries aren’t as strongly associated with Roma  as Romania is.

This negative association between the country and Roma community has caused many bad feelings to arise. Most Romanians extremely dislike the Roma and think that the government should do more to tackle the issues surrounding them.

Romanians want the world to know that they are not part of the Roma community. So much so, that in recent years I.D cards were changed here so that the Nationality code did not read ROM (short for Romanian) it was changed to ROU – due to the fact that Rom is a frequently used term for people of the Roma community. People here were furious that their I.D cards and Passports literally labelled them under this local term for Roma people.

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There are many Roma people here, it’s true – and with that comes an entire set of issues and opinions that could fill an entire blog. However, I think it’s about time that Romania stops being ‘pigeon holed’ as a nation full of ‘gypsies’ in this way. It is very detrimental to the country’s image, development and to the Romanian people who are just like you and me.

Equally, the Romani people themselves are subjected to a lot of negative stereotypes, which is just as unfair. The Romani culture is vast and somewhat misunderstood due to the lifestyle and actions of just a portion of the Roma community.


Look at most British countryside and you will see a checkerboard of fields all with their own individual hedgerow boundaries. In highland areas, there aren’t hedgerows, but stone wall boundaries instead. It is something that gives Britain’s countryside a very distinct look.

From what I’ve seen of the countryside surrounding Oradea, hedgerows and walls for marking land boundaries is almost non-existent. I haven’t even seen many fences! It creates a very different and more open appearance of the land in comparison to the way English land looks. The agricultural land I have seen so far has all been arable – so perhaps solid boundaries are more commonly used only within pastoral areas.

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Romanian countryside

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English countryside



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