Rules of ThreeSeptember 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Transylvania | 12 Comments
Tags: Challenges, Children, Expats, Food, Humor, Language, Parenting, Perspectives, Romania, Travel
Yesterday marked an anniversary of sorts. But between the college football on ESPN–Romania, the expat friends who came over for dinner, and the sweet puppy and chocolate cake they brought with them, we kind of forgot about it.
Three months. We’ve been in Romania for exactly three months.
It feels like we’ve been here forever. (And I mean that in a good way.)
As I stacked and unstacked pillows and tucked blankets around this limb and that one last night, desperately trying anything and everything to get comfortable, I thought about all the things I’ve learned on our adventure so far. Here’s a sampling.
1. Buying something made in Romanian is like rolling the dice. It might work. It might not. We are the proud owners of a timer that doesn’t ding, a fan with a blade cover that falls off eight times a day, a power strip with three out of five working plugs, and queen-sized sheets that do not, in fact, fit a queen-size bed.
2. Driving rules are mere suggestions. The sidewalk totally counts as a parking spot. And if no one saw you hit the fence or the bushes or the trash cans, it doesn’t count.
3. Sliced, smoked pork fat looks a lot like french fries. Don’t be fooled.
4. Social services are like high school. Health care, visas, customs — if you’re in the “cool clique,” you’re totally set. Otherwise, get ready for a slushie facial.
5. Romanians may not have a lot, but these things you can count on: a cell phone, a satellite dish, and really, really uncomfortable (but stylish) shoes.
6. Whatever you do, don’t touch the cashier’s hand when exchanging money. And don’t try to pay with a bunch of coins. And bring your own bag or be prepared to buy one. And the store where you found your kids’ favorite cookies? Will not have them next week (or the next or the next) so stock up.
7. Having a baby is better than having a key to the city. Romanians will go out of their way to talk to you, help you, answer your questions, or give you directions if there’s baby cooing on your hip. They will also remind you that the baby needs to wear socks, shoes, a sweater, and a hat at all times to stay healthy. All times. Even when it’s pushing 32 degrees.
8. They measure things in Celsius. (See #7.) And liters. And kilograms. Bookmark Google for fast conversion.
9. You can’t buy gas at the pump. You just can’t. You have to go inside and buy it from the clerk. Trust me on this. (You can, however, also give the clerk money for your cable bill.)
10. M&Ms do not taste the same. Skittles do not taste the same. Dr. Pepper does not taste the same. And the closest thing to Cheetos are peanut-flavored. But the sarmale, zacuscă, clătite, and mămăligă more than make up for it. Poftă bună!
Has somewhere that’s not home ever felt like home to you? When’s the last time you paid inside the gas station? And have you ever confused pork fat for french fries?