Having been here for nearly a month, I’ve started to get a feeling for the Romanian way of doing things. Simply, the Romanian way of doing things is quite often just not doing them.
Let me give you an example.
Since I’ve been here I have been trying to get a hold of my timetable and the professor who I need to sign off on my Erasmus paperwork. So far, neither have been forthcoming. There are two ways to approach issues like this. The first is to go down the bureaucratic rabbit hole and chase people and pieces of paper around the city. Even something as simple as being registered on your course can take a whole day of going up and down flights of stairs, catching buses across town and waiting for hours for someone to finish lunch for them to tell you that they can’t help you.
The better way of dealing with bureaucracy here is to simply not get involved with it. Administration seems to be beyond the power of any man or woman, to try and hurry it along is like trying to change the weather. It is better for everyone involved to leave the secretaries and the relations officers and the office assistants and the professors and the rest to do as they please, and eventually everything will just sort itself out. There is just no use in worrying.
It was quite liberating to realise this, and despite having no timetable I’ve managed to make it to all my classes so far. So maybe the Romanian way of administrating works after all. So long as I get a signature on my Learning Agreement by November I’m willing to forget all about the afternoons I’ve spent trying to find the elusive Professor Georgescu.
Haute Romanian Cuisine
The food in Romania is a bit unusual at first glance to the foreigner. The local supermarket for instance sells maybe 6 different vegetables and at least 20 types of sausage. And these aren’t proper British sausages, not at all. They’re cured and smoked, and come precooked. And they just don’t taste quite right. Cabbage or pickles are served as a side dish to everything ordered at a restaurant, regardless of how poorly it goes with cabbage or pickles. In most restaurants, beer is cheaper than getting a bottle of water.
The Romanian people eat a prodigious amount of meat. At the festivals and concerts we’re seen in town the most common food available was just barbecued meat. Almost everyone would have meat and mustard for dinner, that’s it. Just a plate full of meatballs and some mustard. And a beer to wash it down with.
Needless to say, the local diet hasn’t helped me in my plan to get into good shape. Beer and beef aren’t really the staples of an athlete’s diet.
A few weeks ago we drove a few hundred kilometers east to see the country. Driving east from Timisoara you find the Carpathian mountains, a really incredible mountain range which should be a major international attraction. Like many places in Romania however, the infrastructure holds it back.
Our round trip from Timisoara to the Transalpina and back was about 600 km, which in the UK would take about 6 hours to drive. In Romania however, it took us just over 12 hours. It was a gorgeous drive, and I’m glad we went. But 12 hours really was a long time to spend in the car.
The picture from the top of the page was taken on the highest section of the road, which was both stunning and terrifying. The climb up the mountain and descent down the other side was as nice a drive as I’ve ever been on. In the future I can see it becoming a massive draw for tourists, if they ever get around to paving the road.
Hopefully this weekend we make it to Belgrade – “The Party Capital of the Balkans”