What I love about Romania - Alan Stokes (Canadian): A lot of the scenery reminds me of my home in Canada. I plan to live here permanently
As part of our Romania Appreciation Weeks campaign, we're inviting our readers to share their stories with us and tell the world what Romania means to them. Alan Stokes, a Canadian engaged to a Romanian woman, has decided to join our campaign and fill in the interview here. Here's what he loves about Romania (and more):
Alan Stokes, from British Columbia, Canada, fell in love with a Romanian woman while working on Cruise Ships. That's what brought him to Romania, a country he says he fell in love with immediately. He finds it to be a very safe country with friendly and intelligent people, tasty food, and rich history. "There is so much to see and do, and with the incredible history that is here... there is really something for everyone!" he said.
Plus, the scenery here reminds him of his home in Canada. And, as he will marry his Romanian fiancée, Alan Stokes also plans to immigrate to Romania and live here permanently with his new family.
What is your name and what is your nationality?
Alan Stokes, Canadian
Share your story with us, briefly, so we understand your relationship with Romania.
I work on Cruise Ships, and that is where I met my amazing Romanian woman. We have been together for over three years and are getting married sometime very soon (waiting for paperwork).
This is my second time in Romania - the first time we spent Christmas in Maramures and saw every sight possible while traveling roundtrip from Constanta. I immediately fell in love with this beautiful country, and a lot of the scenery reminds me of my home in British Columbia, Canada. There is so much to see and do, and with the incredible history that is here... there is really something for everyone!
Would you recommend Romania as a country to live in or to visit? Kindly explain your answer.
Romania is a very safe country with friendly and intelligent people! The population works hard and knows how to relax and have fun, too - something that is getting lost where I'm from. It is so nice to see people enjoying their lives rather than just working and stressing every day.
The food is flavourful - so much so that some of it is overwhelming to me, but in a good way. Even though the language is difficult for my tongue, I have started to learn to speak, and people are quite understanding when I destroy the words. :-)
I would highly recommend coming to Romania, and I plan to immigrate and live here permanently with my new family!
What are some of the misconceptions you most often hear about Romania and how do you feel about them?
I must admit that as a Canadian who has done some world traveling already, I did not expect Romania to be as modern-thinking as it is. Technology is growing, literally everything the country needs is already made, created, invented here.
I am aware that it has only been three decades since Communist rule, and the advancements in culture, business, technology, and forward-thinking politics are amazing in such a short time. I am also aware that there is largely perceived corruption in Romanian politics, but the fact that the people are aware of it and want it to change is a huge step in the right direction.
With the movement into the EU, Romania is progressing to become a major player in Europe, and I already have a sense of patriotic pride in the advances the country has already made. I did not expect to feel this way, but to see a relatively poor country push to step out of the shadows as strongly as Romania is - that's incredible!!
What is the most powerful feeling that Romania brings to you and why?
A sense of family. As a Caucasian North American, we are really a very "cold" people. Individualistic, focussed, and all trying to "get ahead" in the world. We have lost sight of what it means to be a family and support each other in ways that make everyone happier.
Romania has a greater sense of family - even through divorces, problems, financial difficulties, and everything that life throws at you, the family is there to help pick you up and push you in the right direction. This means more to me than I can express. As someone who doesn't have this atmosphere at home, it is extremely powerful to see it and be a part of it.
Please tell us the three things you like the most about Romania.
Mici (e.n. short sausages without casings), my fiancée, and the history of Romania. (Not necessarily in that order! - laughing)
If you had to advertise for Romania as a country, what would be the top things you would mention to promote it?
The people (including the sense of culture and family), and the history. I believe that people are innately interested in other people and "how" they came to be who they are today.
The beautiful scenery of the country will attract many outdoor types, but many, many more will come to see Bran Castle! The Turda Salt Mine is a fascinating trip into a world that most can't imagine or see anywhere else. The Mocănița in Maramures was a brilliant (although sad) look into the history of Jewish people in Romania with the added bonus of a cultural display with music and dancing, all including riding a historical, working train that most people around the world would only see in pictures! The Communist Museum in Sighetu Marmației... words cannot do justice to this - it must be seen and, indeed, felt!! The Christmas Markets in every city! Brasov (in my opinion so far) is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen!
Essentially, if advertising and promotion of Romania were the goals, I would have a commercial showing ordinary, average Romanians telling of their favorite places in Romania and showing the pictures of their families visiting those places. Let them say to the world how amazing their own experiences were, and let them see the emotions it brings to those "average" people.
What could make Romania the perfect country for you (what's missing)?
A stronger, more effective Police Force without corruption. It's a lot to ask of a system that is still growing and changing, but I have almost no confidence in the Police. Not to say that there aren't any good ones out there because there are!! But the corrupt ones are making it extremely difficult to bring peace and security to the population. I see this reflected in the population literally on a daily basis.
What are your favorite places in Romania and why?
At home with my fiancée, Brasov, Cluj, Maramures was beautiful and relaxing, and of course Bran Castle!!
What is your favorite Romanian food?
Mici!!! And more mici, and then some more mici... I can't get enough! I also have to say there is no such thing as a "bad sausage" here! They are all delicious!
Side-note: Marshmallows here taste different too - but in a good way!
What do you like about Romanian culture, history, customs? Please give us some examples.
I don't want to repeat myself too much - I've already expressed this above ad nauseam.
What are the Romanian words/phrases a non-Romanian speaker should know, in your opinion?
Multumesc (e.n. thank you)
Poate (e.n. maybe)
Sanatate (e.n. health, but it can also be used when saying goodbye or as a toast)
Noroc (e.n. good luck, but it can also be used when saying goodbye or as a toast)
Unde este toaleta? (e.n. where is the restroom?)
Sunt plin! (e.n. this would translate as I'm full/I'm stuffed)
Gata (e.n. this word can have different meanings: done, ready or enough/stop)
Imi pare rau (e.n. I'm sorry)
Scuzati-ma (e.n. excuse me)
Nu vorbesc romaneste (e.n. I don't speak Romanian)
Anything else to share with us, that was not covered in the questions above?
As an English speaker, I have not found many people to speak to in the general public, but it does not really matter. Most people will try to help you out even if you can only communicate with hand signals and charades. If you are going to spend any real time here, it is well worth learning the language.
Although the public can seem abrupt, they aren't being unfriendly - quite the opposite, in fact. They are not people who will waste words on unimportant things, so they speak rather concisely. Don't mistake brevity for lack of friendliness.
(Photo: courtsey of Alan Stokes; photo by Adelina Cimpeanu)