Impressions of a new country

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It was quite surprising to find an entire corner of this thrift market dedicated to selling animals of all kinds. Many people were selling puppies, kittens or older pets that they didn’t want anymore. There were also stalls selling fish and all sorts of birds. Groups of puppies, kittens and rabbits were simply sitting on tables waiting to be bought – it was a very strange thing to witness. The animals were all in good condition and weren’t being neglected, which is something, but still…the general scenario was quite sad. This particular day was very hot and sunny; so having the animals sitting out without shelter, for goodness knows how many hours, just seemed wrong.



Cheese is incredibly different here in Romania in comparison to the UK. Fresh cheese here is known as brânză – it’s white in colour and its texture is soft and crumbly (not unlike Greek Feta). Brânză can be sweet or salty and is used in many ways for lots of different dishes. It is usually made in the countryside by people who own farms, then brought to cities to be sold at markets. The smell of the ‘cheese section’ of the market always surprises me. It isn’t the normal cheese smell that you experience if you were stood by a cheese counter in an English shop – it is an incredibly sour and pungent smell that really hits you. For cheese that makes such a pong, the flavour is actually quite mild – it is very creamy and doesn’t have a typically cheesy taste but more of a gentle sour taste. Also, when you heat it, it does not melt as readily as you would expect a cheese to melt.

Most blocks of cheese that you find in supermarkets here are not considered to be real cheese by locals. It is known as cașcaval – yellow in colour, hard or rubbery in texture and very similar in appearance to what you see in English shops. The taste is very mild and not intense at all – in fact, the flavour is almost non existent.

So cheese is quite interesting here, I am yet to discover one that has a truly strong cheesy taste like that of a good old block of English Cheddar. 



Here it’s a necessity for all taxi drivers to display their credentials, photo and name on the passenger side of the car. You sometimes see this in the UK – but more often than not, you can’t usually see this information so easily. I think it’s a good idea and can give the passenger some peace of mind to know that they know the driver’s details incase anything bad should happen. 


Melons are everywhere during the summer; you can’t walk down a street without seeing a heap of melons. The most popular seems to be watermelon. It’s not a surprising thing that refreshing watermelon is so popular here when summer temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius; but what is surprising, is how and where they are sold. 

In the UK, it is not usual to see anyone selling things in the street, except at organised markets or events. I am unsure as to whether people here in Romania have to obtain permission in order to sell melons in the street – but from what I have seen and experienced, these ‘pop up’ melon stalls seem as though they don’t have any rules or regulations surrounding them. 



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.



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!).


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.





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.


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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