Monday, March 7, 2011

You might be in Peace Corps Romania If...

I've been thinking a lot about my service recently-how it's been almost 10 months in country and about all the things that I've done in that time. How my life has changed in ways I probably haven't even realized yet (can't wait to see how I'll react in a Costco or Target-overload!) and how I can't seem to wrap my mind around the fact that I'm one third of the way through with my time here. I was recently looking at another volunteer's FB page and she had an album for PC Romania-"You know you're in PC when..." and I decided to make one of my own. So thank you Chelsea M-some of theses are hers and most are mine. Here we go-the top 15 (in no particular order) reasons why you know you're in PC Romania...

15.  You have eaten cabbage (or VARZA as we call it here) in more ways than you could ever imagine. Honestly, I didn't even know cabbage could be used for so much. And in fact, I'm never calling it cabbage again as "VARZA" is just so much cooler.
It its purest form.
 14.  You find it not in the least bit strange to run into a herd of sheep and their shepherd on the way home from the train station. In fact, you start to wonder where they are and even worry when you don't see them for a few weeks.
New friends.
 13. You are able to talk about the differences between Tuica, Palinca, and Horlinca-all types of homemade liquor. You come to expect it at every dinner invitation and you take pride in the fact that after 10 months in country you can actually drink a glass or two without making that "what is IN THIS?!" face. That stuff is STRONG.
Pretty much sums up the drinking and festivities.
 12. You have set up a Yahoo Messenger account, High Five account, or something else I had never invested time in before because EVERY student has them and they need to contact you about homework..or ask one more time if you ever met Hannah Montana.
They are so heartbroken when they realize I really HAVEN'T met her  
11. You are no longer impressed when you see cows walking themselves home at night.  But DO they know when it is time for dinner? And which way to go!? Ok maybe I'm still kinda impressed.

10. You can't imagine your life without a SHOARMA. How did you live before? The deliciousness of the pita with the chicken and the fries and cabbage and sauces and onions-heaven in your mouth. The common street food turned delicacy. And per Brittany G-"Don't you EVEN waste your time on a small one." Go big or go home.
Will be recreating this in the states.
9. You actually learn how to cook. (Ok maybe this is just me) But you're now able to make cookies and even Romanian dishes from scratch and what is most important is that you can make flour tortillas for those taco night with Volunteers. Thanks mom and dad for all those Taco Seasoning packets!!
Never thought I would love these so much.
8. You become an expert on the Romanian train system. You can describe the differences between a Personnel, Accelerate, Rapid, and Intercity trains without hesitation. You discover that its really not worth it to pay more for the Rapid when you will arrive 2.7 minutes before the Accelerate.  And don't you dare open that train window...
Oh hello Personal Train.

7. You cannot send a letter home without it taking weeks (OK or months-I heard some of you just got my Christmas cards!)  but you can download an entire TV series in a matter of a few hours and that new movie you saw just came out in the states? Yeah I got that too.
My new obsession. Mad Men.
 6. Mamaliga has become your "staple" food during that last week before you get paid every month. You've become incredibly savvy and creative with the corn meal, adding things like cheese, eggs, sour cream, salami, and even a bit of sugar if you're eating it for breakfast.
Oh yeah..look at that Mamaliga.

5. The street dogs are the smartest damn dogs you've ever seen.  They cross the street at the appropriate crosswalks, sit where they will get the most food, and always escort me to the train station when I'm alone.  I've adopted several of them and know each one that hangs out on my walk to school.

4. You start to crave anything spicy.  Your wish list home includes things like curry sauce, chili pepper and Tabasco sauce. However, once you actually get a hold of something spicy you realize you can't even handle it anymore because your taste buds aren't used to it. (I'm not giving up though!)

3.  You will forever consider American weddings slow and SHORT after attending Romanian ones.  For it truly is not a wedding unless you're dancing, drinking, and eating until 5 or 6 in the morning and the bride has been stolen and returned to the party. Seriously.  And pace yourself with the food, because the 7 course meal just keeps coming and coming.
One of the weddings I attended!
 2. Your Romanian expressions randomly come out when talking to people back at home and much confusion ensues. But "o sa vedem" sounds so much better than "We'll see" and "ce sa fac?" is just more poetic that "what can I do?" And I'm also never saying "sour cream" again..."Smantana" will forever be it's replacement.

1. Your travel plans now include places like Bosnia, Serbia, Cyprus and Istanbul.  You also take any opportunity you can to see more of Romania.  From Transylvania to the Black Sea, Moldova to Banat, there are thousands and things to do, see, and explore. The people, the food, the customs-life is never boring here in the land of Dracula and there is no where I'd rather be during my PC service!
Traditional Costumes and Dancing in Maramures, Northern Romania

There are so many more and I'll continue to update these as time continues to fly by!


  1. I feel the cow picture really brings this blog post together.

  2. Great post, Sara! Looking forward to more like these!

    A lot of this really hit home with me, given that I spent a year in Okinawa...before the Internet! So while I got used to some of the cultural things over there, I missed a lot "The Simpson's"!

    re: cows and dogs...believe it or not, both of those (your mention in your blog) are pretty much the same. Both know where to go for food, shelter, safety, etc. Heck, when Terri and I go riding, if we just drop the reigns and don't do anything, the boys will head right on home! ;-)

    Great stuff, Sara...thanks for sharing!

  3. Don't forget those private trains! Those are the ones you really need to know...haha.

    My Christmas cards took two months too! I was shocked...I paid for priority.

  4. what you know about that shaorma mare! gosh our lives here are so predictable, yet so random :)

  5. you know, I bet those Romanian weddings have that guy from the Hangover. Is that why they are awesome? Ps. Your doing an amazing thing over there and I'm pretty lucky to know you!

  6. Oh gosh it does my heart well to see how much fun you're having here :D

  7. Wow, it looks like you Americans are verry impressed with Mamaliga, Tuica ... you know Romanian stuff and this is funny for me to see Romania through your eyes :-)