Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Collection of Random Observations About Romania That Are Too Underdeveloped to Merit Unique Blog Entries

From Kiev, Ukraine; Bucharest, Romania
  • According to a librarian at a high school in Râmnicu Vâlcea, it is difficult to catch kids plagiarizing reports from the internet because the students generally steal reports written in English and then translate them, thus "laundering" the theft.

  • Increasing numbers of Romanian college students are finding that their degrees are useless outside of their own country, so more and more of them are applying for scholarships in the United States and other countries, which is likely contributing to the growing "brain drain" issue in Romania.

  • Communist traditions still survive: in Râmnicu Vâlcea you can mail an international package only on Wednesday, and from only one particular post office.

  • If you go to a restaurant you're more likely to observe Romanians drinking there than eating and drinking, presumably because it's cheaper to eat at home (but it's nice to go out for a drink).

  • Romanian advertising firms are scarce. Romanians interested in advertising and marketing generally go to other countries. My theory behind this is that after 1989 foreign companies swooped into Romania, and those companies tap their own countries' advertising firms for their marketing needs. TV commercials in Romania are generally generic, Euro commercials, the sort where there is either no speaking, speakers speak off camera, or the lines are dubbed. Unless there are Romanian-made products worth marketing on a large scale within the country, there will not be a demand for Romanian marketing firms.

  • Sighişoara makes a perfect Valentine's Day vacation spot. In addition to being beautiful and boasting many charming hotels, there is a strong "red" theme (red curtains, red candles on tables, etc.). The Valentine's Day connection is accidental, stemming from the fact that the city is Vlad Ţepeş's birthplace, hence a heavy "Dracula" theme that emphasizes all things (blood) red.

  • In a restaurant with candles on tables, with all things being equal (size of tables, number of chairs at tables, and time of placement of candles on tables), the "best" table should be the one with the shortest candle.

  • Racial profiling of gypsies is the norm. When one tried boarding a bus I was on, the driver asked him to produce his ticket (I was not asked to show mine). It worked, since the gypsy did not have a ticket. I guess the question is: Were any non-gypsies on the bus traveling without tickets?

  • The tendency for ATM machines to dispense large bills that no merchant wants to break must be a technique invented by Ukrainians and Romanians to help quickly ID tourists.

  • Iron Maiden is more popular in Romania (and other European countries) today than I remember them being when I was a teenager. Does Iron Maiden have a signature song?

  • Romanians are crazy about pretzels. In Iasi every morning there was a line for pretzels at every place that sold them.

  • Romanians are also crazy about pizza. In some cities literally every other restaurant advertises itself as a "pizzerie."

  • Romanians love old Italian pop music, which plays in many restaurants.

  • Romanians consider a trip to Paris to be an important pilgrimage, since France and Romania were so strongly linked culturally before communism.

  • Embroidered on luggage carried by a Baia Mare couple on train: "A Series of Wiebao Tradelling Bags and Knatsacks."

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