The Dark Side of Romania

While I may love Romania for its beautiful forests and pristine meadows or for its unchanged cultural practices, there are some aspects of living in this country that frustrate me to no end. Some people tell me I only look at the negative side so I often try to see the good around me, but the illusion doesn’t last long because… Romania happens – an extremely intoxicating whiff of car emissions hits me right in my face, or a very rude clerk treats people with an uttermost disrespect.

Here are some of the things that have gotten on my nerves:

  1. An endless superiority complex

There is a big problem with peoples’ mentality in Romania and it doesn’t seem to go away. For as long as I can remember, I have been told both at school and at home that Romanians are the smartest, the friendliest, and the funniest in all of Europe but as I grew up and traveled to other countries, I was proven over and over again that we aren’t any of that and in the process I have learnt not only what Romania truly is, but also what it could be. The overstated belief in a national grandeur, even if non-existent, is one of the legacies of communism and it might take decades until it disappears. Also, a strong superiority complex still damages social cohesion in Romania and will continue to do so for as long as we, as a nation, don’t accept that there are better countries than ours and that we have so much to learn from them.

  1. Kindness? What kindness?

I know many people who feel so sorry for animals or human beings in pain, but the general trend is one of ignorance and some sort of joy for the misery of others. A few years ago, while getting off a train – which in Romania it can be 1.5 meters (4.11 feet) taller than the platform is – I noticed a woman falling with a child in her arms due to the structural impediment. Despite many men observing the event, no one jumped in to help, but I couldn’t walk away without giving a hand. Poverty and the general dissatisfaction with life seem to make people so insensitive to the pain of others.

  1. The lack of green spaces in the cities

While 30% of Stockholm is covered by green spaces (accounting for roughly 1000 parks), most Romanian cities don’t even come close, except maybe Timișoara in western Romania, which is a greener place I had lived in for 3 years before moving to Cluj-Napoca. There are people in this country who consider trees a blessing in summer, but a nuissance in autumn when they have brush off some fallen leaves. Personally, I would feel so much happier to see more trees around me. Moreover, a busy city desperately needs them in order to combat the rush hour pollution, which often hurts my and everyone else’s airways and lungs. While there’s a national debate on the topic of religion being taught in schools, there’s very little concern about our forests being illegaly sold to foreign companies.

  1. The lack of infrastructure

This is one aspect that cannot be controlled by the citizens, yet I believe a part of the blame can be placed on those people who, for 25 years since the Revolution, have stood and watched the politicians strip this country bare. Don’t they see how much recent protests have changed in Romania? We stopped Gabriel Resources Gold Corporation from stealing the gold from the ancient mines in Roșia Montană. We managed to get some officials to resign from their positions. We ultimately inclined the balance in the favor of a more progressive newly elected president. Infrastructure in Romania is simply horrific, except some highways here and there (built with more than ten times the price paid per kilometer anywhere else in the world thanks to Victor Ponta’s useless government). Railways in this country are a national shame, a stigma of corruption and an incompetent government, where trains can go at best at a speed of 50 km/h.

  1. Highly inflated prices for almost naught!

The most famous case in this regard is the Romanian Black Sea shore, where many resort towns struggle to attract tourists who are considering more and more traveling to Bulgaria, Greece or Croatia for better services and smaller prices. Romanian sea resorts not only look unattractive and old-fashioned (except the VIP town of Mamaia), but also the services local businesses offer are dissatisfying when taking into consideration the high amount of money they charge for them. Almost all over Romania there’s a general disease called ‘avarice’. When a tourist is spotted, the very first thought of a business owner isn’t “How can I be of use so that I am worthy of my pay?” but “How can I rip off this tourist right here, right now?”. Isn’t anyone thinking that this isn’t doing any good for long-term business? Of course, not everyone in the country is like this, therefore it’s a matter of luck if you are willing to play Russian roulette… or should I say Romanian roulette?

6. Too many churches

There are over 18,000 churches in Romania, while there are less than 800 hospitals for a population of nearly 21 million. They are everywhere and more are built with each passing day, despite so many schools and kindergartens being in deplorable conditions or primary students not having books to study from. Also, there is a gigantic cathedral being built in Bucharest, across the Parliament, showing that the Romanian church wants itself a maker of decisions in this country. The cathedral cost at least 400 million euros, in the situation when so many Romanians struggle from one day to another. Recently, all 2,5 million underage students had to decide whether they will continue to study religion in school or not, and an astounding 88% said yes. What a shame! (For more about religion in Romania click here: https://theceltiberian.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/on-religious-scientists-and-other-things/)

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