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As open-minded as we might be, we all have a few stereotypes when it comes to other countries and nationalities. It’s socially acceptable to consider the Germans as being hard-workers, the Italians as passionate, or the French as refined wine connoisseurs. But what about Romania and the Romanian people? What’s true and what’s false when it comes to the most important stereotypes others have about this country? You’ll find below 10 of the most common stereotypes about Romania and Romanian people.
Photo source: Wikipedia
Geographically, the Balkan region starts south of the Danube, and Romania is located on the north side of the river. Many information sources tend to include, however, Romania in the Balkan Peninsula. Even if geographically this is not accurate, in many cultural aspects Romania does feel like a Balkan country.
Don’t fall into the Eurotrip or other similar movies trap. While the food is a bit cheaper in Romania, especially the fresh organic ingredients, the utilities’ price is similar to Central and Western Europe. We know for a fact that many foreign tourists come to Romania expecting a very low-budget vacation while enjoying all the comfort. It’s hardly possible. Sure, you’ll spend only 10-15 Euros for an excellent lunch at a good restaurant, just don’t expect this to be the main indicator.
Romania is definitely the land of Vlad the Impaler, a medieval prince who used to fight the Turks and impale the traitors. This was nothing unusual at the time. Romanians admire a lot this medieval prince and tend to be annoyed each time tourists ask about Dracula, a fictional character placed in Transylvania, central Romania.
You can discover the truth behind the myth with our history tour Vlad the Impaler versus Dracula
If you’re imagining a country where it’s not safe to travel alone, then you’re most likely wrong. Romania still suffers from the bad reputation it gained in the ’90s when pickpocketing or cheating taxi drivers were omnipresent. Time has passed, and luckily things have changed. Uber and other taxi apps are a reliable alternative to taking a taxi. Generally, you shouldn’t worry about anything happening to you if you take the minimum precaution measures recommended anywhere in the world.
We’re not sure how this culinary preference became so well-known, but it did. Yes, Romanian people enjoy adding onions and garlic to almost any dish, especially the traditional ones. Don’t be afraid to try these two ingredients if not to eat like a Romanian, then at least for their nutritional properties.
Romanian people are often irritated when foreign media insist on portraying them through gypsy images. Partly because the gypsy minority represents only some 3% of the entire population; partly because after hundreds of years, Romanians have not yet managed to integrate this ethnic group. Don’t expect all gypsies to be beggars, and don’t expect them to be aggressive. Traveling across Romania, you’ll see a more complex image of this otherwise colorful minority, including gypsy palaces, well-defined rules, and traditions.
Located relatively close to Russia throughout all its history, Romania stopped using centuries ago the Cyrillic alphabet. Even more, Romanian is a Latin-based language like French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian. Some of its words are Slavic, but not nearly enough for Romanian people to speak this language. Russian was, however, mandatory in Romanian schools right after the communists seized the power after the Second World War. This means that our parents still remember some Russian words they learned back then.
The roads in Romania are way better than they used to be, and if you stick to the main roads, any car will do. Sure, the scenic landscapes and villages are often far away from these routes, but you came for an adventure, right?
Romania has very few highways compared to other countries in the region. Add an extra half an hour to the time Google Maps will indicate as necessary to go from one destination to the other. On the bright side, you get to drive on some scenic roads like the high-altitude Transfagarasan.
This stereotype is usually linked to the image of Bucharest, the most visited city in Romania. Stray dogs were a reality for many years and a major downside for the capital’s reputation. It all started after an entire neighborhood was destroyed to make room for the Palace of the Parliament, and people had to abandon their households to the bulldozers. While you’ll see a stray dog here and there, they’re usually not dangerous, and you shouldn’t worry unless the dog appears to be aggressive.
Officially almost all Romanians are Orthodox. Sure, not even half of them go to church regularly, but those who do compensate for all the rest staying at home. The Orthodox Church is still a very strong institution in Romania, and there’s always a pilgrimage taking place somewhere in the country with thousands of people attending.
Beyond this religious activism, Romania has wonderful churches and monasteries listed as historical monuments or UNESCO Heritage Sites.
These are just a few of the many stereotypes about Romania and Romanians. Most of them are funny, only a few are offensive. Even so, Romanians’ somehow exaggerated sense of humor and irony makes everything feel like a joke.