A Foreigner in Romania

by Stephen Ianno

I first arrived in Romania January of 2013. My first memory of the country is flying over Transylvania, looking out the window at the Carpathian and Bucegi mountain ranges stretch across the land. I was dazzled as I looked down and spotted the little villages in the valleys and crawling up the sides of the mountains. In my first trip, I stayed three months in a small village just outside Brasov. I recall being picked up from the airport and driving up north, across the countryside and through the windy roads along the mountain sides. Perhaps my first impression of Romania was based on the nature of the roads themselves. Roads in America are very organized and official. Here lines hold less significance and drivers do more as they please. This is perhaps most visible in Bucharest; to this day I’m a bit weary to ride in a car through this city. I don’t drive.
Through my exposure to the country though, I’ve come to truly enjoy this nation. I can’t understate the beauty of the Transylvanian cities such as Brasov and Sibiu, Cluj and Sighisoara. Coming from the new world, these places feel like the setting of an ancient fairytale, full of mystery and wonder. I love the countryside and all the remarkable scenery it has to offer. I get so excited every time I see a herd of sheep roaming their pastures, a backdrop of marvelous mountains to complete the portrait. Furthermore, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by much of the architecture seen throughout the country. The stunning castles reminisce of ancient kings and royalty, hallowed churches such as the Black Church of Brasov and the Lutheran Church of Sibiu fill city landscapes. Ancient city walls point to a previous era.
Romanian culture, likewise, has wonderful things to offer. Food here is diverse and delicious. My mouth waters to think about such delicacies as sarmale with mamaliga and smântâna, mici and carnați, followed with savory papanaşi. I never liked eggplant before I tasted salată de vinete spread across a warm slice of freshly made bread. Romanian people themselves I find to be very warm and welcoming, talkative and full of good humour. And of course, how can I discuss Romania without mentioning its exceptionally beautiful women? I sincerely enjoy living and working in this wonderful nation and I look forward to discovering more of it through my stay here.