Only in Romania

I just returned from a 10-day trip to my home country of Romania. Although most of the time I spent in the motherland was devoted to family and friends, I did find a few hours to write an op-ed about my home country. The piece ran today in the Christian Science Monitor.

It was originally published with a mispelled headline: “Romania needs to kicks its habits. It has since been corrected online. You’ll find the article here.

8 Responses to “Only in Romania”

  1. You’re so awesome. And by that I mean I am now in awe of you, officially.

  2. just a short comment to your article, if I may…

    You start it by mentioning the media stereotypes and yet I have the impression that your article seems to stumble only upon long-known problems that cannot be solved over night. That is a fact.

    I agree, things are not perfect, on the contrary, frustration can be overwhelming at times. I also agree that the government is rather reactive than proactive to the day-to-dat problems (see the fireworks case).

    But I hardly agree that there’s only one side of the coin as one would may infere from your article. That is maybe only the half empty-side of the glass if you wish.

    In spite of the negatives we are all aware of, things are noticeably improving by day. Moreover, I see everyday people getting involved and trying to get things done or improve them, in spite of all the frustration or bureaucratic blockings they may face.

    Getting frustrated and quitting is the easiest thing one can do. That is why we have deserters leaving with the hope to find a better system and not being aware of the fact that positives and negatives are in all the countries. The difference is that Romanians are poorer.

    Getting involved however is more difficult and can make a difference and I am truly happy to be aware of several bright Romanians returning to their homeland and enjoying it. They probably have a different system of reference and can appreciate the “only in Romania” moments at their par. 🙂

  3. Hmmm…

    In Washington I found one of the “Only in US” thingies – printed instructions at a traffic light saying “when it says WALK in green you can walk, when it says DON’T WALK in red, don’t walk”…

    You know, as Dragos put it, it’s a personal decision. You can stay, or you can leave. And with any of the options – you can decide to care and to get involved, or not. And most often than not, those who do NOT get involved talk a lot about it.

    And I am not by any mean a patriotic (but the opposite of that). But come on – if I remember correct London had more fireworks caused accidents per million people this holiday than Romania… Paris has by far more garbage on the streets than Bucharest…

    It is anyway silly to expect Romania or any country to change over night. And to become US or France or even Poland.

    And you know what? I think that “Only in Romania” you can start on your own. In US, you have to work for someone.

  4. I really appreciate both your comments and I take your criticism to heart. As a journalist trying to pitch a piece of opinion writing to a foreign outlet, I had to make a choice of the side of the coin I would focus on.

    Admittedly, I chose the one that is grayer this time, but chose factual illustrations to make my point and not standard “bitch and moan” techniques.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that every country has its “only in…” moments. I write about “only in US” moments, too. But I don’t believe in not highlighting them just because they are not fixable over night. My parents have been fighting the medical system in their hospitals for more than a decade and while at home, I did my share of fighting while running If it’s wrong, show it. And yes, the good needs to be shown too – have you read that great travel piece the NY Times did about Bucharest?

    I too see Romanians getting involved and, if you read my piece, you saw I acknowledge the country is going somewhere; and it’s good. While at home, I was more optimistic about its future than most of the people I met.

    You are also right that staying or leaving is a personal decision. I have not made it yet for myself, but my presence in the US hasn’t stopped me from doing the journalism I believe our country needs (and publishing it in Romania). It has also not stopped me from standing up for my country on more than one occasions (some available on this blog).

    Not to belabor this, but I believe it is this type of dialogue that can move us forward faster. And I appreciate your dedication.

  5. Hey, I’m on the half full glass side.
    And I am also trying to do something, rather than saying it doesn’t work.

    I have stupid ideas like:
    – if i am not throwing my napkin on the street, maybe others won’t too and in the end the streets will be cleaner
    [others throw theirs and after that take it on the local authorities for the mess]

    – if i am kind and nice while driving, and allow people to turn left or right in front of me, others will too, and the traffic will improve by a bit
    [others horn at everybody who dare to signal and than take on the Police for not taking care of the traffic]

    I’m a doer, not a talker.
    First try, than blame.

    Just like wikipedia – it takes thousands of doers to achieve something.
    Of course – some just comment that it’s incomplete…

  6. Hi there / my two cents if you guys don’t mind…

  7. nice think piece. you’re such an amazing writer, cristian. i’m proud to know you.

  8. A touching article.
    The key word to me is ‘unkindness’, and sadly you find it in all countries. Here in Albania (as an expat) I hear comments everyday about the lack of ‘manners’. When did society lose these essentials of civility? It is so easy to be kind, but it takes a good sense of self-esteem which I find lacking in many post-communist countries.

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