Cultural Phrase: “Apa linǎ este adâncă.” 

Translation: Still waters run deep, or in more relatable terms, even the quietest person has profound thoughts.

Current application: It’s strange to think that everyone around you has a unique story to tell. And if the people around us have stories, then people from other countries must have a plethora of tales that can teach and entertain us. For that reason, I’ve decided to focus on a country, describe what it would be like to travel there, and finally, a little bit of culture from that nation.

Source

So if you guessed the language in the cultural phrase, the country in focus this time is Romania!

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For the first post, I thought I’d stay away from the cliché nations like France and English because let’s face it, you travelers have more than enough information regarding those nations and have probably been there already.

Instead, I chose Romania, which fascinated me as child when I learned about Transylvania, Dracula’s supposed hometown. Romania is one of those countries that the American education system introduces in sixth grade and expects you to remember it in tenth, and for that reason, it disappears under the radar of travelers and prospective study abroad students.

However, if you invest some time into research (or read this blog instead), you’ll discover very quickly that Romania is a frugal traveler’s dream. Part of Eastern Europe, Romania does not have the same level of development (or money-devouring economies) of the Western European nations, but is still ranked in the high human development category in the Human Development Index published by the UN. For this reason, Romania clearly becomes a strong option for those who want a culture shock, but not one that knocks them off their feet right when they land in that country.

Furthermore, Romania is ridiculously cheap. For example, one upperclass hotel room costs approximately 50 USD, a three-star meal costs around 10 USD, and a car rental is only 20 USD. Travel budgets work marvelously in Romania, so you can spend more traveling around the country and going to all the stunning castles such as this one:
The Peles Castle

Here are a few more pretty places (remember this is only the tip of the iceberg though!)

And a few more things to do for the fun of it (including the monastery that may or may not hold the remains of Vlad the Impaler and the old salt mine that someone has the bright idea of making into a sci-fi theme park, makes perfect sense, right?)

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Now we’ve skimmed through the basics of why Romania is so cool, let’s get into some strange and fascinating culture:

While reading through some Romanian stories, I stumbled upon a tale about Făt-Frumos that, despite the unfortunate-looking name in English, means Handsome Son. Long story short, Făt-Frumos’s father, the king wants him to stop crying as a baby, so he promises Făt-Frumos immortality without a means of actually completely that task, as many parents do. When Făt-Frumos turns 15, he turns to his father and says, “Yo, dad, where’s my immortality,” and obviously, his father has no immortality to give him. Consequently, as reckless teenagers do, Făt-Frumos decides to up out of his probably-really-nice castle and search for immortality or die trying. Then the whole hero’s journey begins, Făt-Frumos finds a talking horse and meets some fairies who grant him immortality in exchange that he stay with them.

Yay, goal accomplished!

Except Făt-Frumos realizes he now feels homesick and crawls back to his not-so-nice-anymore castle. He returns to the room in which he was born, only to get slapped by Death and disintegrate into dust.

Făt-Frumos is yet another mortality used by parents to teach their kids not to thoughtlessly go on quests that end in their imminent demise. Nice to know that doesn’t change between cultures.

Well, that’s it for now! I’m thinking about an Asian country next time, but we’ll just have to see. 🙂

One thought on “Cultural Bucket #1: Romania

  1. I really like the format you used to write this! Starting with a phrase from the country, its translation, and relating it to your life. I can tell you did a lot of background research on Romania, the culture, architecture and places to go, the cost of things with US dollars and so on. If I wanted to go to Romania, reading this would prepare me for the culture, the stay, and and even give me a list of some places to go. Yet, you still keep it vague enough for me to fill in the holes myself. If there are any suggestions I had to give… I’d say to ease the reader into the blog a little more. As a first blog, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was met with another language, which was cool but I didn’t know why it was there. On the other hand, the intro to Romanian literature towards the end is a nice touch, and I hope you continue to do so for the other countries. I enjoyed the read and you provided great insight to Romania, if you follow this format in the future, your posts will be efficient and effective in driving its point through.

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