When you travel to a new country, you should be ready to enjoy a new culture and be open to learning. It is a good idea to read up on the destinations that you choose to visit, which is probably what brought you to this page here. What you definitely should not do when you travel to a new place is make assumptions about the people that live there. Here are some common assumptions and stereotypes that drive Romanians crazy when they hear it from foreigners!
1. All Romanians are gypsies
This one is false and carries a lot of negative connotations. There are gypsies in Romania, but the gypsy population is only 3% of Romania. Gypsies are also known as the Romani, so this could have been part of the confusion. What more likely gets people to associate gypsies with Romania is the fact that the gypsy population is not very well integrated in Romania. There are many reasons for this, but what results is that it is very easy to spot gypsies on the streets – even if they are doing nothing wrong and not trying to call attention to themselves, you can normally spot gypsies by their dress. Gypsies also tend to be stereotyped as aggressive beggars, but the vast majority are not. When you travel to Romania, you can get a better picture of the gypsy people. There are even gypsy palaces in Romania!
2. Romania is a dangerous place to visit
This is also false, and it is a very unfortunate stereotype. This stereotype is probably related to the gypsy one; people say gypsies are dangerous and that this means that Romania is dangerous. This is just a stereotype on top of a stereotype. Romania is a very safe place to visit, and a beautiful place too! Romania has one of the lowest crime rates in all of Eastern Europe, and Romania’s crime rate is 39% lower than Japan’s! What is more, Romania’s crime rate is 75% lower than the US crime rate. Of course, there is some crime in Romania, and if you travel to Romania and flaunt your wealth or are careless with your belongings, then you might run into petty theft. Also note that whenever you travel abroad, if you call attention to the fact that you are a tourist and/or a foreigner, that will automatically make you a target. Overall, Romania is a very safe country. You just need to use average caution.
3. Romania is dirt cheap
Some people from Western countries hear about how cheap Romania is and assume that Romania is a third-world country or that everyone lives in slums. Yes, the average wages in Romania are as much as a third or a quarter of the average wages in many Western countries. However, this does not mean that Romania is a poor country or that the Romanian standard of living is lower. Yes, you can travel on a budget, but nothing is free. The best deals you can find in Romania revolve around food – you can go to any city and find a $4 lunch menu or a $1 coffee. Your hotel won’t be that cheap, but you will find all the accommodations, luxuries, and services that you can find in any Western country.
4. People ride donkeys and horses instead of cars
This stereotype again stems from the idea that Romania is super cheap and is an undeveloped country. The truth is that in some areas of the country, it is not uncommon to see people riding on horses and donkeys. But in the cities, many people rely on their cars for transportation.
5. Romanians are vampires
Alright, if you are a Dracula fan, you know that the fictional character Dracula is from Transylvania, which is an historic region of Romania. However, vampires are completely fictional. Some believe that the character of Dracula was based off the Wallachian ruler, Vlad the Impaler, but it is unknown if this is true. What is known is that Romanian are not vampires and most Romanians do not believe in vampires either.
6. Romanians use garlic for protection
This is another myth based off the whole vampire thing. The idea is that garlic wards off vampires, and since people associate vampires with Romanians, they think that Romanians hang garlic in their houses or keep garlic on hand to keep vampires away. The truth is, some Romanians do hang garlic in their homes, but it has nothing to do with vampires – hanging garlic braids is a good way to keep garlic fresh, there’s nothing more to it.
7. Budapest is Romania’s capital city.
Ok, we understand why foreigners makes this mistake. Bucharest is Romania’s capital, not Budapest, but the two cities do sound alike. Still, it is annoying to hear foreigners call Romania’s capital Budapest – just get Bucharest into your mind. Say it three times: Bucharest, Bucharest, BUCHAREST!
8. Romanians are basically the same as Russians
No, Romanians are not Russians. No, Romanians don’t speak Russian, and no Romania isn’t even a Slavic country. The Romanian language is actually a Romance language that derives from Latin. However, many Romanians do learn other languages. Romanian is a Latin-based and is actually the closest living language to Latin itself. This makes it easy for Romanians to learn other Romance languages, like French, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian.
9. Romania is a dirty country
This is another one that stems from the idea that Romania is a poor, third-world country. No, Romania is not dirty, and actually the cities of Romania are better kept than many other European cities. In fact, one of Romania’s bigger cities, Cluj-Napoca, was ranked first in Europe for air quality, according to the French magazine We Demain.
There you have it, our short list of stereotypes you definitely should not bring with you when you visit Romania! If you want to learn true things about Romania, continue on this site and read some of our informative articles!