Impressions of a new country

Tag Archives: Observations

English roads are full of double yellow lines. They signify areas that you cannot wait or park your car on. These lines are a very frequent sight and can sometimes make finding a parking space a difficult task.

Here in Romania, double yellow lines don’t exist. Occasionally you see a standing sign to state that you can’t park in a particular place – but there are no painted signs on the floor. Parking seems to be quite a relaxed issue – but as a non driver, I could have a misinformed view of it. However, on first impressions parking rules seem much more relaxed when compared with the UK. People tend to park in all kinds of places, and anywhere they can (which here, is everywhere!).

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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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My first few experiences with veterinary practices here were not particularly good ones. The first thing you will notice about most vets here, is how small the building is, and that there is usually only one veterinarian running the practice.

In England a veterinary practice is usually a substantial size, with a reception area, at least 2 or 3 private consultation rooms with separate rooms for performing operations and for holding pets over night. The veterinarians themselves are almost always dressed in smart lab coats or special uniforms that keep hygiene under control and look very professional. From what I’ve seen of a few veterinary practices here in Oradea, things are done differently.

The veterinarians do not always wear such professional clothing. The very first vet we saw here was a young man wearing a sports tracksuit, dirty trainers and a lot of jewellery.  The consultation room was not private – so as you talked to the vet, the people waiting for their turn could watch and listen to your conversation. This struck me as quite unprofessional, especially because people would come up to the door and interrupt to ask the vet questions (which he would more than willingly answer in depth) whilst he was supposed to be giving his attention to us and our pet. With regards to cleanliness and treatment – it wasn’t too bad. The building was very clean and all treatments were carried out just as they would be in England, however, we were given a lot of bizarre advice here and subsequently decided that this was a vet to forget.

Our current vet is a lovely lady running her own small practice. On appearances she looks just like an English vet does – dressed professionally in clean vet style clothing (the little things do matter!), but it’s the appearance of the building inside that is very different. Incredibly small and very simple, it consists of just one main room with a waiting area, that must be less than 2 metres in width, attached to it. The examination room is used for everything, consultations, check ups and operations too. The glass door cabinets look like they’ve been transported from a doctor’s office in the 1800s and contain some very old fashioned looking instruments. Due to their such small scale, the majority of veterinary practices here all run on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and (unless booking for operations) they do not take bookings for appointments – you simply turn up. I think this system tends to work quite well, but only due to the sheer amount of different vet practises here. There seems to be one on every street, so you don’t tend to get a huge queue of people waiting to be seen by one single vet – which is just as well considering the size of the waiting areas.

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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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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


Paying for things in Romania is largely the same as anywhere else, except for one small factor. Shops tend to be very relaxed on the issue of small change. For example: If your total came to 10 Lei and 3 bani (which is a around two English Pounds) – the cashier would just ask you for 10 lei and let you off with the 3 bani. Similarly, if the change you are owed is less than, say, 10 bani, the shop cashier will often not give you anything. If they have run out of small change altogether, they will offer you some kind of sweet, stick of chewing gum, or a box of matches as a payment! I’ve also noticed that many people leave the small change even when they are given it.

This practice feels normal to me now, but I remember how odd it seemed at first in comparison to how we pay for things in England – where you rarely get let off with a penny, and almost always want your 3p change.

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