Ah yes, we cannot forget the foreigner in Romania, of which there are far more than one would guess at first glance.
So whom shall you expect to meet on your travels besides the native peoples? Let’s start with groups.
Missionaries – Ah yes, praise the Lord. Save up your pennies and come stand on the street corner in Romania, passing out pamphlets and having fun singing.
Enjoy total acceptance by the local culture, zero threat or hassle of intimidation, especially if you’re some kind of Christian as most of the people already are Christian. It’s like asking someone to switch from vanilla ice cream to caramel ice cream.
On the other hand, beware the ever-tenacious Mormons. They go the extra mile and learn the language.
Peace Corps – Almost always stuck way out in the country, digging those wells. Sometimes they write good blogs but the organization sends ‘em out in the field with basically zero useful practical knowledge. Since these (usually) kids are coming straight out of academia in a western nation, even their “commonsense skills” are fairly useless here.
If you are planning on joining the Peace Corps and they say the word “Romania” you better bookmark this blog!
University Students – This is what I call echipa scortisoara or “Team Cinnamon” because their skin hues range from a light dusting of mocha to downright swarthy. A real hodgepodge of people from Arab and African nations, sometimes with multiple citizenship issues.
In general, these students tend to stay in fairly homogenous groups amongst themselves for a wide variety of reasons. Nonetheless, the best foreign speakers of Romanian I ever met (besides my genius self, of course :P) were all members of Team Cinnamon.
While these people are often somewhat estranged, outright hostility is a very rare occurrence.
Sports Teams – Often from far-away countries to play sports you may have only vaguely heard of.
Asian Workers – Only in a few, isolated areas for now but it’s on the increase. Usually brought in all together from one place to work at one specific factory.
Foreign Restaurant Family – Quite often Italian but sometimes other things like Japanese, this is an entire family from a foreign land who have opened their own restaurant in Romania, serving food from their homeland.
Now let’s talk about some of the common individuals you will find:
Filthy Backpacker – A tourist from a wealthy country, usually young, quite filthy and ragged but carrying expensive equipment, especially cameras and the backpack itself.
These people can be tenacious conversationalists so only engage one when you are fully prepared. They are incestuously tied to other members of their kind, whom they continue to meet up with and split apart from at various places around the globe.
They are impelled to keep moving however and will soon be gone.
Stern Dutch/German Businessman – Wears a suit, usually ensconced in a car. The only place you’re likely to run into one in the wild is at a higher-end hotel, especially the kind with available escorts and casinos in the basement.
Watch out for these ones in the airport as they are pushy, demanding and arrogant.
Western Man In Love/Married to a Romanian Woman – All over the place, salted away if you know where to look for them.
The boyfriend/husband is usually always employed and bringing in a sizable sum, especially for Romania. He’s usually also the more supplicating of the two and she is more dominant, bossy and “wears the pants”.
The man on the other hand will rarely learn the Romanian language and live a fairly isolated social life with the exception of fellow speakers of his language.
Western Woman In Love/Married to a Romanian Man – Almost always a sad case usually involving a much older woman. Not always though ;)
Westerner Visiting Family Homeland – Also known as someone who is at least partly Romanian by birth, although they’ve never lived here and are visiting Grandma’s hometown, etc. Mixed bag here although the younger children seem to enjoy it tremendously while young adults often get resentful and whiny.
Drunken Lecher – Can also be a member of any of the above types. There are an enormous amount of physically attractive people in Romania and it draws a certain kind of perverted, lecherous type to hang around.
Due to the way Romanian culture is, it can be quite difficult to gain acceptance if you are foreign. This means that a lot of the time, your desired sexual/dating partners are out of reach. Drinking, seeing, wanting and not getting has deleterious effects on some men, especially those from cultures where they’re used to getting their way.
Temporary Paying Volunteer – These are the kinds of deals where people in western countries save up their own money and then spend it to come to Romania to help people for a set period of time. Almost always a woman.
A lot of this involves taking care of babies or children, especially orphans and gypsies.
Wealthy Foreigner – Usually in his 30’s or 40’s, he has some kind of business or income that might be normal in his home country but in Romania goes a lot further. He’s usually holed up with his fellow language speakers who are also usually at his same income level.
Almost always becomes an alcoholic or at least a heavy social drinker.
Hungarians from Hungary – Arrogant, ultra-patriotic and uber-ferocious about their culture. They will gladly speak English but consider learning even a word of Romanian to be beyond useless. Literally bursting with nationalistic pride and will gladly go on at length about it.
European Do-Gooder – Quite often a student and young. As part of either a school activity or else boosting one’s CV, they come here for a set period of time to do some societal good. There are multiple EU and other agencies devoted entirely to this.
They usually find Romania quite a lark because the prices are insanely low but life is otherwise normal and recognizable to them, especially clubs, bars, shopping and discos.
Wandering German – For a long time, a lot of Germans lived in Romania. A few still do. There are always Germans coming from various German areas here in Romania to visit their ancient “homeland” and to connect with remaining German culture.
Probably amongst the calmest and genial of the foreigners, with a gentle sense of curiosity and a heart without rancor.
Vampire Porn Lovers – A small but utterly creepy cohort of people who are overly fascinated with vampires, Dracula and blood drinking. A lot of them gather in Romania for Halloween but can be found throughout the year in certain zones.
Conference/Project Westerner – For some reason due to their business back home, they have to come to Romania temporarily to either attend a conference/workshop or else complete a project.
Can be very grumpy and disoriented due to culture shock so beware. Often complains about the food.
Crafty Moldovan – In other words, a person from the Republic of Moldova who somehow got permission and the ability to be in Romania. If they made it that far, they’re the savvy type. Don’t tangle with these people.
Romaniophile – Last but not least, these rumored type is elusive and difficult to find in the wild. How in the world they came to adopt Romanian culture is unknown by one and all :P
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE YOU WILL MEET AS YOU WALK DOWN THE STREET!