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Bucharest city tales: Missing Romania


Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania, and this time she reflects on the new year 2013 and how being abroad has made her miss her new home country Romania.

Happy New Year! Yes I know it was some days ago, but we can still celebrate entering the New Year 2013 and also cherish that the world did not go under on the 21st of December. Personally I never thought it would end in a big boom on the 21st, since the 22nd of December is my birthday, and it just did not seem fair, if the world went under the day before my birthday.

Currently I am celebrating the holidays outside of Romania, and being abroad has actually made me miss the place. I am traveling around Europe, going from one country to the other, and I think I have reached country border number 14 within just a few weeks.

For me it is the first time that I have seen some of the European countries on this trip of a lifetime. So far I have been in Amsterdam, London and around the UK, Geneva and Switzerland, visited Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo and cruised around in the South of France. The trip also took me to Florence and Venice in Italy and after crossing Slovenia, I am now in Zagreb, Croatia, before carrying on to Bratislava and then home to Bucharest. And if I count Xmas and New Year’s Day I have been in Austria and Denmark also. So this has been and is quite an amazing experience, and I must admit I have loved every second of the journey.

One thing I miss, besides my friends in Romania, is covrig, especially a covrig (pretzel) with stafide. I don’t know why, but I would gladly swap the chicken dish in front of me within a second for a covrig or for a homemade Romanian dish with sarmale, mamaliga or a really good ciorba (Romanian type of sour soup): nam nam!

The reason could be that I have made the chicken dish myself, and I am indeed not known for my culinary skills. Or maybe the reason that I am missing Romanian food on this trip around Europe is because I have stopped smoking. It was not something I planned, more a coincidence after a friend didn’t want to drive to get more cigarettes when I ran out. So now I have been a non-smoker for one week. And do I feel better? I don’t really know, but hungrier – that is for sure. This trip, which should have been a cultural experience or expedition more than a culinary journey (well it still is), now has a second item on the table – food, good food and lots of it. My taste-buds are working again!

Being Danish and now living in Romania, brought up by a father who is half German half Danish, and a mother who was half Norwegian half Danish, has sort of “pushed” a little into my national identity. But I am Danish in my soul and I will always be that, no matter in which country I decide to live.

However, this European trip, besides having broadened my horizons, has also taught me more about people. I have met quite a few people on this trip, and I have been struck by the new ways of living. More often today you will meet mixed couples, with different nationality parents, who are now living in a country in which neither of them were born. I must admit I like this new way of international living, although probably it has been like this for a long time, maybe even for generations, but now that I have decided to live away from my home country, I have noticed this new way of living for the first time, where the question about where you are from is suddenly not so easy to answer.

Now in a few weeks my journey of a lifetime will end and I will be back in Bucharest to my old/new life, and I must admit I feel like I am going home even if I am going in the opposite direction of my country of birth. One of the first challenges will be how I survive as a non-smoker expat in Romania. I truly hope that I do not turn into one of those zealously anti-smoking ex-smokers, who are on my list of most annoying people. All smokers have met them, and pray to God I don’t become one of them or find difficulties in adjusting in a whole new way to Romania, where smoking is almost a part of the culture.

See you soon in Romania, I have missed you all!

Happy New Year, La Multi Ani, Godt Nytår!

By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist

Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. She is currently working in Bucharest as the Executive Director of UAPR the Romanian Advertising Association. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out more about Romania especially Bucharest, and enlighten the small differences in the culture between Denmark and Romania.. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expats life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.

(photo source: sxc.hu)