Friday, June 17, 2011

(a small sampling of) things i love about living in romania

In no particular order:

--Public transportation. There are lots of reasons not to like this, like the fact that it's crowded and smelly and takes forever. But it's cheap (altogether I spend about $20 a month to get around the city with the metro and the bus) and at least in my experience it's reliable. And you actually get to experience the outside world this way--you don't pull up to the front of the building, walk ten feet and immediately you're back inside under fluorescent lighting again. You walk, you get rained on and dirt blown in your eyes and you breathe in pollution. This isn't a backwards way of saying the city sucks and so does its transit. It is worth appreciating. It seems to me if you want to live in a city, really live in it, use the public transport and walk around in it. You know it this way. You're not just in your 'convenient Lexus cages' (flashback to 2003, anyone?) or Popemobile (not hating, I don't want to see the Pope get shot either), but you are literally breathing in the city. Lots of fun metaphors come to mind, images like blood pumping through the body. Feeling like a Bucuresteana.

--The mountains. As always, it's no use at all trying to describe it. This country surprises you with how beautiful it is. I'm thinking of Piatra Craiului, those jagged rocks the color of white sand, how it was too big behold. Going back to Rasnov for a week in July and I can't wait. Clean air, cool night, all that good stuff.

--The fact that I haven't seen one single gun. Not wanting to get political here, but it's something I've appreciated. And besides, let's be honest, the fat-bellied Scorseze guards in the metro with their nightsticks? Any idiot can (and will) shoot a gun, but somehow the idea of beating the living daylights out of someone with a nightstick is way more intimidating.

--Also, Romanians, say what you want about the people here: there is common decency in this city too, and lots of it. It's a little thing but I see people helping women lift strollers into the bus all the time. Whether it's that we in the States are too afraid of being called sexist or getting sued, I didn't see much of it there. And there's generally more gallantry here--maybe it's just the circles I am in, because yes there are plenty of dirty obnoxious men who yell after you. To the gentlemen I say: you are appreciated!

--Volleyball on Saturdays! I'm not a great volleyball player--meaning I'm inconsistent and can serve like a baller but can't play the net--but it's good fun. I somehow manage to get hurt each week in a different way. A few weeks ago I got my head stepped on (when I played soccer I was the fall-down girl and it seems this has not changed) and last week a pretty solid individual stepped on my bare (dirty hippie) feet with his tennis-shoe-clad ones and by the end of the night it was so swollen and blue I couldn't put my shoe on. But again, a blast. Soon my court-side conversation will be up to par the Romanians. Heh. Anyway, afterward we usually get rained on and then play Settlers, another game I'm not great at but learning how to heckle and tease and be dura and/or smechera in Romanian is always an adventure. Wonderful group of people, wonderful way to spend a Saturday.

--OSCEB, of course. The main meetings are done for the school year, but they were so good. Missing my Tuesday nights already.

--My small group and how they love God, the interesting things we talk about and the genuine sense of community there and how loved they make you feel :)

--While we're at it, my church. Pretty baller sermons.

--Just the fact in general that I'm here and getting to do what I love, even when it's hard, even when I miss people. And on top of the students and the work, getting to immerse in this beautiful, complicated language. It's coming, it really is. I had my last lesson for the next few months with my professor this week and when I was asking her what I could work/focus on during that time, she told me I had no accent. Which of course is silly, I do have one and can hear myself slipping sometimes--and it's easy to say a few words together and sound like a native, but stringing together whole conversations is another thing altogether :) The point though is that it was encouraging, the people with whom I talk are encouraging, and despite my endless impatience, it is coming.

--The fact that I didn't have to sit for hours and try to think about things that are good about living here. And this isn't related but I realized it today and just wanted to throw it out there, but I have not seen one single squirrel since I've lived in this country (should that be something to appreciate or no?)... maybe it's a dumb question, but are there squirrels here?


  1. There are squirrels but not like those in the US. There are European squirrels which look different and are smaller: I see them all the time in the forest (in Brasov)
    Here's a video with one:
    They are very shy.
    Public transportation in Bucharest is awful... In Brasov you can get anywhere in 15 minutes with it.

  2. Here's one squirrel in Bucharest, in Herastrau park: