You can find “Episode 2: A new perspective, a new life” on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Overcast, and TuneIn.

A former soldier in the Royal Netherlands Army turned traveling gardening salesman, Bart Lunenburg from the Netherlands takes the stage for episode 2. He found Romania by accident in the middle of his soul-searching, at a time when he needed some drastic change in his life. Following a “why not” attitude and diving head-first into the unknown, Bart flew to Romania and never looked back. Living and working in Brașov, Bart got to find himself through beautiful friendships, road-trip adventures, and being touched by the unique Romanian hospitality and spirit. It was the best decision he could ever take. Bart is even reaping the benefits of his Romanian wo/ander now, in his current job – which he calls his dream job. He says his Romanian experience was the key to secure this opportunity. Overall, Romania carved a soft spot in Bart’s heart. We get to discover this together in episode 2.


What topics we go through in episode 2:

  • 0:00:00 – Podcast intro
  • 0:01:20 – Exploring Bart’s globetrotter past
  • 0:04:11 – How Romania got on Bart’s radar
  • 0:07:43 – On Romanians and their curiosity on what others think of them
  • 0:09:37 – Bart’s trip expectations
  • 0:11:29 – Brașov, Sighișoara, Bran Castle…visit them all!
  • 0:12:38 – The people who made Bart’s trip epic
  • 0:14:56 – A healthy mindset goes a long way
  • 0:17:42 – Romanians’ appreciation when internationals try to learn their language
  • 0:18:17 – Experiencing the warm welcome of a traditional Romanian family in Roman
  • 0:19:53 – On hospitality and genuine connection
  • 0:20:50 – A short Romanian-Dutch comparison
  • 0:24:43 – Doubts about the Romanian adventure?
  • 0:27:42 – What Bart learned about Romanians
  • 0:32:30 – Looking at hospitality in Romania, Australia, South America
  • 0:37:18 – Did learning Romanian help with the experience?
  • 0:40:18 – Best vegetable expression you can learn in Romanian
  • 0:40:33 – Fun times at the hairdresser
  • 0:43:21 – Bart discovers his dream job because of Romania
  • 0:45:21 – How Romania changed Bart as a person
  • 0:47:37 – What makes a traveling experience good or bad, in Bart’s opinion
  • 0:52:26 – What make Bart’s Romanian adventure a success overall
  • 0:54:15 – Bart’s advice to those who want to discover Romania
  • 0:57:23 – Some advice for Romanians
  • 0:59:37 – A couple of cherries
  • 0:59:51 – Podcast outro

Read the full conversation from “Episode 2: A new perspective, a new life” with Bart Lunenburg below.

English transcript of Episode 2: A new perspective, a new life

Daniela: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Wo/anderers podcast, episode 2.

Daniela: [00:00:31] Today we will be hearing from Bart Lunenburg, a 36 year-old Dutchie who will sway you with his big heart and his wanderlust stories. A former soldier in the Royal Netherlands Army turned gardening salesman of all things, Bart discovered Romania by accident in a time when he really needed some changes to happen in his life. As soon as he got to his base in Brașov, he never looked back. Learn more about Bart’s quirky Romanian stories, how he found himself throughout his stay in the country, and what he recommends for other internationals who live in Romania. Enjoy.

Daniela: [00:01:20] Hello, Bart.

Bart: [00:01:21] Bună ziua. Yes! That one is good!

Daniela: [00:01:25] How are you doing?

Bart: [00:01:25] Not bad. Thanks very much. How are you?

Daniela: [00:01:29] Good, good. I’m enjoying our chat and I’m enjoying… well, I’m enjoying our chat… we haven’t had the chat so far so…

Bart: [00:01:35] We had a warm up chat, I’d say.

Daniela: [00:01:37] Guys, you have missed some very interesting topics, but I’m pretty sure that the podcast will bring also some interesting things, about Romania about life. So let’s jump into it. Bart, you are quite a globetrotter. You have visited a lot of places on this planet. What country was the last one that you visited?

Bart: [00:02:00] Huh, that was for work. Austria, Vienna… pretty chill. But it’s part of the work now. So now, after all the years of paying for my travel, I found somebody crazy enough to pay me to travel, which is great. But on my own accord, like without work the last country was Spain. Reggae Festival. Lots of fun.

Daniela: [00:02:24] And when was that?

Bart: [00:02:24] This summer.

Daniela: [00:02:25] Already this summer. And when was Vienna?

Bart: [00:02:28] Vienna was… a week ago, 10 days ago. Something like this.

Daniela: [00:02:33] And when are you planning to visit your next destination?

Bart: [00:02:37] Next week. I’m going to I’m going to go leave on Sunday. My job now basically gets me to travel two weeks and be home two weeks, which is a great way to kind of balance your social life with your business life and also getting your travel bug fed so to say, yeah, it’s good.

Bart: [00:02:56] I enjoy it. I like it. It’s… it’s a busy life. A lot of people like to call me vacation guy, you know, because I’m always traveling. But it’s not a vacation, but no, it’s good.

Bart: [00:03:05] I yeah, I enjoy very much. What I used to do for my own, I now get paid for. So it’s good.

Daniela: [00:03:11] Pretty, pretty cool. And how many countries would you say you visited so far in this lifetime?

Bart: [00:03:18] Man, you should’ve said me this before I could have counted for you. I don’t know. I passed 30 because I counted that a while back. But gosh, I don’t know what was cool when I started this job.

Bart: [00:03:29] Only one of the eleven countries I work with I ever been to before, which was…

Daniela: [00:03:34] Pom pom pom!

Bart: [00:03:34] Romania! But no, I honestly I don’t know.. I think… I usually count the continents. I’d say I’ve done three continents quite well now. Yeah. So this so I’d say 35, 40, something like that.

Daniela: [00:03:49] Pretty admirable. Pretty cool. And you’re not stopping there.

Bart: [00:03:52] Oh no, of course not. Why would I…? Once I’m done with this planet, I hope they they scouted a little planet and I can continue there with my car.

Daniela: [00:03:59] You should you should call Mr. Musk, ask him for some Space-X.

Bart: [00:04:04] Yeah. I’ve been sending him some chocolates every year. So I’m starting to build this relationship a little bit. I’m waiting for his first answer, but hey.

Daniela: [00:04:11] So you came in Romania in 2016, stayed there for quite some months. You lived in Brașov, which is one of the cities in the mountains, one of the top cities in Romania.

Daniela: [00:04:24] How did that come onto your radar?

Bart: [00:04:25] How did it happen? I like to tell this story because it was… luck basically, or a coincidence whatever you want to call it. I was going through some rough time, I lived in Holland for quite some years, tried to start up my own company and I wanted to be self-employed. So I took an interest in climbing and I wanted to be a self-employed climber. Within a couple of months this backfired because I planned a whole lot of things, but I didn’t exercise my body right, so I overexerted the nerves in my arms. Long, stressful story. You get to know how useful your hands are and you really want to use them. It put me in a bad place.

Bart: [00:05:04] I was in a long relationship also, a very good connection with this girl, but it wasn’t going the right way. We’re talking for a while and basically everything came at the same time. This company imploded, ended the relationship, tried to continue afterwards in sales because this is how I kind of trained myself to run this company. But I never wanted to be in sales. I was very miserable and it kind of got worse, just like my my income was kind of a little bit less a couple hundred less than my spendings basically the whole time. So stress built up. And I said at some point, I’m not happy here. I need to make a full stop, stop all running costs and try to start over again. So I decided to pack up my stuff and go abroad. Oh, my God. This is only the first question, you poor thing… So, I’ll try to be a bit more brief. I didn’t really plan to go to Romania. Honestly, Romania was not on my radar. I was looking for either Spain or Portugal or something like this.

Bart: [00:06:01] And I remember on the phone talking about Portugal and we talked a little bit about income and it was very low, but good. And so I go like, listen, I need to save some money because I’ve got a couple of thousand debt. I cannot really save up still. But life is so cheap here. It’s like yeah, it’s nice, but I need to be able to move at some point, you know? So she goes, why? How about Romania?

Bart: [00:06:21] I kind of laughed at her saying like, sorry, sorry, dear, but if I’m gonna do this, I come from a cold country. I wanna go to the beach somewhere. So basically it ended in me taking a job in Barcelona.

Bart: [00:06:33] I got the job, so I finished my rent. I sold my car, but I was still pushing these people because they weren’t very transparent about what the job was and I kind of felt it coming already. And I pushed them and I pushed them.

Bart: [00:06:44] And then he said, yes, it is going to be cold calling sales for printers. And I was like listen dude, I’m miserable already.

Bart: [00:06:49] If you make me do this, you know like I’m gonna jump off of something I think. So I’m not going to do it. So I stopped it. But of course, like my my plan, I had to go somewhere, like no rent, no no car anymore. So I started going into my inbox. The nice lady did send me the information about Romania and I started looking into a little bit. Cost of living, the income… The balance was very attractive, as she said before. And then I basically said, you know… what the fuck! Excuse me!

Bart: [00:07:16] What the hell! You know, I wanted something else. I’m due to start the adventure. I have no prejudice towards this country. No, No… No negative and positive. I’m just gonna go. And honestly, if I don’t like it, it’s only a plane ride away, you know? So this is how it happened.

Daniela: [00:07:33] It is also in the European Union, so I guess that makes things a bit easier.

Bart: [00:07:37] Yeah, yeah, I do think so. To be honest, like I didn’t really look outside, but I do think it makes things more easy.

Daniela: [00:07:43] On the bureaucratic side for sure. I would say and since you mentioned, you know, this idea of not having prejudice, because it’s interesting, obviously, people do think… Do know what the media is telling about them outside of the country. And for sure, the Netherlands is known to have had its critique over the over Romania, over the government, over corruption and mainly. Did you have contact with this prejudice, before coming to the country?

Bart: [00:08:10] No, it’s a funny thing, because I do think from all the countries I went to, I think the Romanians seem most worried about what other people think of them because of this negativity. I was lucky enough to dodge this. If you want advice how to do this, don’t watch the news. Don’t get influenced by that stuff. I don’t really get into politics so much, which has its benefits and its its downfalls. I know. But no, I didn’t have any prejudice. But a lot of people ask me this question. They come up like, what’s your what’s your opinion about Romanians? I usually answer it like this: listen, I’m really sorry, but I have none. I don’t mean it in a bad way, you know, but I have no bad or… because they go like, yeah you know, people link us to crime, to gypsies. Later I learned Gypsies call themselves Roma. So I understand how this Romanian Roma can be confused, but it’s like calling Dutch people Dutch and not from Holland, you know, like people confuse us with German people as well. So I understood why they asked it, but I kind of went in blank and it might have added to my experience. I don’t know. I think even if I had a bad concept of it, I still would have gone because I don’t think I’m going to listen to well to other people, that have an opinion about something. I like to form my own. So, yeah, so that’s basically the answer to this question.  But I’ll try to be concise in this. No, but that’s the thing I think.

Daniela: [00:09:27] Don’t worry about it. I am enjoying it. That’s why I’m saying storytelling, get people into the story. Don’t worry.

Bart: [00:09:34] You asked the right guy.

Daniela: [00:09:37] Did you have any expectations for your trip to Romania? Like is there something that you said yourself that you wanted for yourself out of the experience?

Bart: [00:09:47] Well, the time was too short, I think, because I’m not really sure now about the numbers, but it must have been within one week or within 10 days of me saying yes to the job, I was in Romania. So there was really no time to prepare for this. They just put me on the plane, they flew me in. I don’t know. I think this also comes with with the traveling experience in the past, like you can make an idea or a picture about a country or continent, but it’s going to completely change once you’re there as your travel plans will. So I… I don’t really think I do that too much. I don’t think I’m that organized also, to do something like this. I’m more of… I don’t know. How do you call this..  I improvise, this kind of stuff.

Daniela: [00:10:26] Joie de vivre.

Bart: [00:10:27] This is beautiful. You know, how many language can we put in one podcast?

Daniela: [00:10:30] Thank you. Thank you, French people, for your generous heritage.

Bart: [00:10:33] So this… Yeah. No, so, not really. To be honest, like what attracted me to it was the location of the city. Like I’m all for nature, especially coming from Holland. You know, it’s so densely populated. We have not mu-, not much green or hills or whatever or mountains. And I think this was, arriving in Brașov… Like the first two days in București, to me, it’s a capital city, you know, it didn’t really do that… that make an opinion about the country for me. But coming into Brașov… my, it’s beautiful. I mean, like I can imagine growing up there, you know, like I grew up in a town as well. So we did have some space around us. I’m very happy about this very happy I’m not a city kid. But that to me was like a childhood fantasy, you know, like to have these mountains at your doorstep and all these things. And I don’t know, like, yeah, it’s it’s a good place. It’s a very nice change of scenery, which was the reason I went basically.

Daniela: [00:11:29] How would you describe the city to other people? How would you picture Brașov?

Bart: [00:11:35] Brașov to me is very wealthy, I think, for Romanian standards for sure. It’s popular among Romanians, I hear. So a lot of Romanians go there in the weekend and you can kind of tell, like it’s well taken care of. You know, the old buildings are still upright. Location, I think, again, here is most important. Also, you have these other little things that you can do around like nice places, like Sighișoara, you have the Bran Castle… It’s very central, also a day-trip to București is easy like this, but I don’t know… It’s very calm, especially coming from from București, it’s much more relaxed. Mountain people, they say they’re more chill. This is not just for Romania. I hear this in many countries where I go. We have, you know, altitude and stuff. I don’t know. I really felt very comfortable there. Like with people, also friends of mine speak: Ah you’re going to Romania, are you sure it’s safe? Are you bringing guns? This kind of things. Really? They said at all. But I’m just laughing at them. But I felt really safe. Very… I don’t know, warm, nice place.

Daniela: [00:12:34] You definitely had your adventures around the place as well. And…

Bart: [00:12:37] For sure, yeah.

Daniela: [00:12:38] One of the things that helped you build these adventures and transform the experience from something that, you know, jumping into the unknown and then creating a beautiful adventure, I think around it. You had the luck of meeting also two particular people.

Bart: [00:12:54] Yes.

Daniela: [00:12:55] A Romanian girl and a Belgian youngster at your new work. Tell me and tell us a bit about your experience with this group, how you discovered Romania together with them. Because on the one side, that’s quite the interesting pairing, right? You do have a local and you do have another international that join you in this adventure of discovery. And also Diana, who was born and is from Romania…

Bart: [00:13:19] Still is.

Daniela: [00:13:22] Yes, she still is. She still lives there, as far as we know. She was not from Brașov. So it’s how like… There was this kind of discovery periods and journey for all of you. So how was that? How… how did you discover Romania? Because you also went outside of Brașov as well.

Bart: [00:13:40] Very much so. I usually say and I am a firm believer also that those two people made a big success out of things. I think if we wouldn’t have met… I’m not going to say it would have not been a success, but they just made it so much easier. Like I went there also wanting to add some international context. You know meet some people from different places. You learn so much, you know, from people that grow up in a different way and they don’t even have to be same age, same sex. I mean, like you can learn from all kinds of people and especially these two people taught me they’re both about like 10 years younger than I am. We met in the hotel. Basically, the company put us in a hotel for two weeks and we had some time to find a house. I traveled with another Dutch kid. Kid? Yeah. It’s a kid, Luuk is a kid. With another Dutch guy. He didn’t… He wanted to have a place for himself and I kind of wanted to share. I was kind of happy also that we didn’t move that way because I’d rather had some international context, and I met Diana one night, Luis the next. And I think the night after, we decided to take a house together, so it went really fast and you had to also decide this quite fast. Then we saw a lot of people around us trying to make the same decision and pairing up with other people they didn’t really know. Most of them failed. I’m not saying this, you know, to flatter us.

Bart: [00:14:56] I think we’re just very lucky with our mindset. I think people are easy to live with also, you know. Because you have to take and… give and take a little bit with this. I think for me, it was one of the best things that happened, honestly. Like these people, as you said, Diana’s Romanian, very handy in terms of language, because the language, of course, is a big step from English, or from our native Dutch language. So, I like to learn these languages, but I need some time. And when somebody in between who can not only translate for you, but also is willing to teach you and take time for this, and that has enjoyment in this…

Daniela: [00:15:28] And can also explain cultural phenomenons and what a particular situation means. What particular customs you might find, what people you might find…

Bart: [00:15:41] Very much so, like if you come the first time to Romania, I think a lot of people have this when they go more towards eastern European countries. They go like “These people are so cold, so closed off”. I think after staying there long, I think it’s because of the language. Like all the young people, I was very amazed by their skill in other languages. Yours as well. But there are a lot of people in our team that spoke Dutch. And for us, this is very strange. I mean…

Daniela: [00:16:04] The team at work?

Bart: [00:16:07] Yes, the team at work. Of course, we did work in Dutch. So it kind of makes sense that they did. But half of them are Romanian people, the other half Dutch, and a couple of Belgians… where I was going with this.? Oh yeah, right.

Bart: [00:16:17] The… when you first come to this place, like, it’s really hard to connect a little bit, especially with the older people, because they grew up under communism. They didn’t grow up with the English influence like we did. So if they speak any other language, it’s usually Russian. But I think because Romanian is a combination language, the way I see it, like Dutch is. Dutch is, like, this coming together of German and English, and we just toss a couple of French words in, to screw everybody up, you know, to make it even more difficult. I think Romanian, of course, the Latin base of the language, but with a lot of Slavic words, especially for things like food and this kind of stuff. I noticed a lot of Slavic in there. Because you have a combination language, you’re already used to different ways of language. So I was amazed by their skill, in the younger Romanians, they really can [use the language]. But the older ones, you cannot expect them to. It’s like if the older generation of all… They may speak German, but they don’t speak English because of the war time and this kind of stuff.

Bart: [00:17:07] So with the young ones, connection goes really fast. They’re very open people, very easy to chat to. They are concerned about what people think of them. But, you know, once they… once you show positivity, you get it back so much. And especially, I think also after learning some Romanian, I love these connections I got with these older people, people in the store, Diana’s family, who live in Roman, you know, in the north of the country.

Bart: [00:17:30] The times I went there, I really felt I was the only tourist around, you know, like… There was nobody else. And they went like, people always coming to me and “Can I take your picture?” and this kind of stuff. It was very funny, but by the time I could speak it already a little bit.

Bart: [00:17:42] And then you see also a lot of appreciation from the people and amazement. They’d go like, “Oh my God, you’re taking the effort of learning our language?” Like, yeah, I live in your country. I’ll try. So I think this made my experience even better after a longer time because it just… it broadened the market basically of people to speak to and connect with. You know, like you can learn from the young people, but especially also from the older. So…

Daniela: [00:18:04] Definitely.

Bart: [00:18:04] Am I still on point? I forgot the question.

Daniela: [00:18:06] Yeah, of course, it’s fine.

Bart: [00:18:11] Good, good.

Daniela: [00:18:13] Tell us more about your trip in Roman.

Bart: [00:18:17] Ah, yeah. You know, this, this I think for me was the best example of traditional Romanian culture because I came to the Diana’s family of her parents. They’ve been living and working in the UK for a while, as I hear a lot of people do. So, Diana had to be very self-reliant from a very young age already. She had her family, her uncle and aunt and her niece, about the same age, a very tight connection with. And she’d go visit them a couple times a year, also for Christmas, these kind of things. And I’d go with her.

Bart: [00:18:47] But having… having not so much Romanian skills in there with her uncle… And I loved it so much. This guy was so passionate. He was very wise, I think, as well. Intellectual man, I could notice. And also the Diana said “Sometimes, he says things. I don’t even know what he says.”

Bart: [00:19:00] But it was such a great touch with the culture, you know, like coming into the house, being welcomed into the house, being fed, of course.

Bart: [00:19:06] Like until you burst and then, even, you cannot say no because there’s still dessert and like this and the pălinca and all these, you know, these these very difficult experiences. But I loved so much… I remember this picture of sitting there, her uncle talking to me in Romanian. I can pick a couple of words, but it can do so much. Diana was sitting a couple of meters further, playing with a little niece and under her breath, she would be speaking English to me, like to translate what he was saying. It was this chaotic war of people, you know, and then Claudia coming in with more food, you know.

Bart: [00:19:36] And it’s just… I remember this picture really well, saying like, when you get out of the touristic areas and into the homes, I don’t think you get a better example of this. Just the friendliness of people, like it warmed my heart, it really does, like…

Daniela: [00:19:47] Yeah, that’s something that I wanted to ask you. How did you feel being in this environment? Because I think that’s something that… it’s something that we as Romanians pride ourselves with, this idea of hospitality and of genuine connection. That even though well, for example, we know that there are families and there are places where people do not speak English, where they do not have any contact with this foreign entity that is… that is happening outside of their country or now in their country as well. So… but they will not stop at that. They will not let, not even languages, which is a pretty essential part of communicating.

Bart: [00:20:26] Let’s say…

Daniela: [00:20:28] They will not let that be a barrier to opening their houses up for… for people and…

Bart: [00:20:33] Nah, that’s a beautiful thing.

Daniela: [00:20:33] And offering whatever they have. Even if they have very little, like maybe a piece of mămăligă or maybe just, you know, whatever drink they brewed from their autumn harvest.

Bart: [00:20:43] As you all do. Right?

Daniela: [00:20:46] That’s very true. That’s very true. We pride ourselves with our homemade anything.

Bart: [00:20:50] As you should know, as you should. That is very cool. I do agree, like… And I think, especially saying, like going more to the north of the country, you see it much more. Of course, in Brașov, they’re used to tourism, București, they are sick of tourism, you know. Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing. Like, it really taught myself a couple of things about this, because I don’t think the Dutch people would act like this very quickly. We’re very protective about our personal space and this kind of stuff. And I think also, people are much more career-driven, much more money-hungry, you know, like kind of turning into a second U.S., you know, as many countries get this influence. I don’t like this so much. I also don’t like structure so much.

Bart: [00:21:26] I remember also, like, Alex and Simona. Alex is Dutch-born, but half Romanian, Simona is Romanian, and they lived also in Holland for a while. And I’d start to laugh, Simona would say like, “I miss your country so much. All the trees are… are evenly apart.” And I am just laughing and saying, like, “You like that? I hate that.” Like I go like, where is, you know, I don’t feel connected to…

Daniela: [00:21:49] Real nature. As it happens.

Bart: [00:21:53] Yeah. You have that much more there. So again, I’m losing my point. Like, I don’t know why I said this… What was your question again?

Daniela: [00:22:01] No, no. Don’t worry. Don’t worry. It’s more this idea of going back to the roots.

Bart: [00:22:06] Yeah, I’m back, I’m back. You were saying like them opening up their houses, for the language barrier. I don’t think Dutch people do this so much, but it does teach me to be more welcoming like this, you know, to have this a little bit more. Because, honestly, I think just the warmth and the feeling you can really express that in things or something like this. Just having the honor to be let into this house, into this tight family experience, the energies, they’re like… Yeah, it was amazing.

Bart: [00:22:32] It was one of the cherished memories, for sure.

Daniela: [00:22:35] Is it’s something you expected in your experience to happen?

Bart: [00:22:40] No, I think… But basically just because I didn’t think about it, I’d say. Also, of course, I didn’t know that I would go from the start already having a good Romanian friend like. Because I mean, like, living together with 3 people, that… You get to know each other very quickly. Also, we worked in the same company together, so we basically did everything together. Which, most cases just backfire. It does go bad and we saw this around us. But it didn’t stop with us there. Like, we’d would go out together. We’d go take road trips together, go to Poiana Brașov, of course, one of the gems… One of the gems that I keep coming back also, but not just for this, but also for this. So we did all these things together and it just worked. You know, and I can’t explain why. I think we did get some scratch, we did get some friction every now and then. We’re all people, you know. But I think the mindset was the right way. I think also we were there not for the same reason. I mean, for Luis, he was the first time abroad. Like he never had the broad experience. He’s a young kid, a young guy, like 21. I think I was 31, 32 at the time, something like this. Diana also had different reasons, you know, trying to improve her Dutch, work on career possibilities in this. So there are different reasons, but I don’t know, we just had the same positive attitude towards that, I think. And then having this friend from Rman, it just added so much more experience. Like it also kind of inhibited in the first parts a little bit us learning the language because, oh, Diana can do this. Diana, could you call the pizza guy, please? This kind of stuff, you know. But at a certain point, she was a good…. She’s a good teacher, too. I do really want to mention, like she really did put up some times in our to two nights in a week. We  really did some practice and all these things. And it’s necessary, also. They say Romanian you can speak once you know how to pronounce, the sounds are always the same. And this is true. But you have to learn the sounds first. And if you’re not used to this kind of mouth movements, so to say, it’s very nice to have somebody who’s also enthusiastic about teaching you and around to help you out when you need.

Daniela: [00:24:35] And open. I think that’s also pretty important.

Bart: [00:24:38] Very much so.

Daniela: [00:24:39] So you had a pretty good experience overall.

Bart: [00:24:42] It was lovely…

Daniela: [00:24:43] Is there something in your experience that made you doubt what you… The fact that you were there or it made you feel like maybe, this experience is not going that well? Were there some low moments?

Bart: [00:24:57] I don’t really think so. I made a choice to be a temporary thing. And when you do that, it’s always a bit easier to, you know, deal with certain things. And it’s like, ah yeah, it’s maybe like this now, but it’s temporary thing. For me, usually what I say is, because I felt so bad before I went, once I went after a couple of days, you know, getting out of București into Brașov, walking around and seeing all this beauty. I started thinking like, this was a good idea. And after a couple of weeks, I was sure, I was like, this was the best…thing… It is the best thing. I thought I was going to curse there.

Bart: [00:25:28] Sorry, podcast.. It’s the best thing I could have done in this situation. Like, it couldn’t have happened better. And honestly, if I would’ve gone to Barcelona, I think it would not have been as good as it was now. Were there low points? Well, a funny thing, maybe, also like… I traveled before and also for longer periods of time, to really have, like, these homesick kind of issues or missing people. Sorry, friends and family. But they know this, like I tell them this as well. I don’t mean it in a bad way, but I did notice because now I have little nephews and nieces from my brother and my sister. These ones are the first ones to get me this kind of homesicky feeling. Saying like, I want to see these kids again, you know. So kind of… It’s a very nice notion to have this. But to call it a low point.? No, because I enjoyed it. I think like, this just makes life worth living, you know. Like, they’re not on the other side of the world. I can visit them if I want. So I don’t think really low points. I do think at some point, I kind of felt this feeling like I want to move on again. Like Romania did what I hoped it would do and even more, beyond. Like I didn’t only, like, turn my situation from negative to positive, I banked some money. I made great friends. I learned a lot. You know. So basically, all the boxes were ticked and I stayed a couple of months longer than the 6 months I intended. But yeah, it was just time to move on. Basically, and Brazil and travel plans also got in the way, so to say.

Bart: [00:26:51] Not in a bad way, no but… I wouldn’t really say low points. I’d have to think about this, but… No, I’m sorry to disappoint you then.

Daniela: [00:27:01] You’re not disappointing me. It’s actually pretty cool.

Bart: [00:27:05] Well, I’m glad. I’m, I’m sure like everybody has their own experience. But for me, and this is also always the way I say it, when other people ask me about this experience. What was your experience like? Hey, I cannot speak for you, but for me, it was amazing, you know. You really have to give it a chance. If you also talk about people like trying to encourage them a little bit. Go there sometimes for your vacation, if you don’t want like the normal, all-inclusive kind of stuff. If you want to explore a little bit of, adventure, this kind of stuff. It’s an amazing country just to drive around, just to do a road trip, you know, and it’s cheap, especially coming from the west of Europe. You know, your money goes a long way. And I try to… I try to sell it also a little bit, you know.

Daniela: [00:27:42] After your experience, what can you say that you learned about their Romanian people?

Bart: [00:27:47] What did I learn about the Romanian people? They know how to party.

Bart: [00:27:52] They… I kind of… I’d say, I compared them a little bit to the part I’m from in the country, like I’m from the south of Holland.

Bart: [00:27:59] So not from what we call the Randstad, you know, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Amsterdam, where basically everything happens. We’re a little bit more mellow, a little bit more life-enjoyers, the way they say, “burgundiers”. I dare to say something like this. I do think there’s some insecurity about the way people are seen in the world, you know, maybe about the prospects for a future. But I think they are very big capabilities. What I know in language, this is something that they should exploit. Their language itself, I think is beautiful, but it doesn’t really reach beyond the borders. So you do have to… if you want to make it work for you, expand this a little bit. So I think in that part, it’s really good. Look, it’s a country that still… had a very tough history, you know, so you have another place to come from then the way my country was when I was born. Which can basically look at the West and say, like, hey, these things we like, these things we don’t and copy likewise, you know, don’t try to do everything the same. Don’t try to turn into us. Please don’t do it. Because there’s no benefit in it.

Bart: [00:29:00] You’re just going to be doing the same thing only later. And I think the country itself has much to offer, especially now. I think I see this move and I feel it myself as well. We’re looking a little bit more towards this less organized life. And everything’s organized now, with computers, with smartphones. There’s not it’s not a step you can take any more, CCTV. And for me, it’s just nice sometimes to go to my friend, Bogdan, who still lives to the south of Cluj. He has a little cottage in the Apuseni mountains. And this where I’d love to go, you know. This is what I think would be a beautiful thing about your country, which really I hope was going to stay there for a long time still. Because we’re losing these kind of places. I think there’s something to be proud of. I think you have a lot of international capabilities, but also national. Just try to educate yourself and try to think for yourself. Don’t follow government or rules as easy, you know. Yeah. Try to use your brain and you’ll get somewhere, I think.That

Daniela: [00:29:56] That’s like, advice from the heart.

Bart: [00:29:58] Yeah, yeah, you could say so. I’m freewheeling it. I tossed my notes away. I’m just doing it on the fly now.

Daniela: [00:30:03] You just feels it from deep within.

Bart: [00:30:07] I’d say so. Yeah.

Daniela: [00:30:09] I have an interesting question here, that goes back to your globe-trotting adventures.Pom

Bart: [00:30:15] Pom pom pom!

Daniela: [00:30:16] So yeah, obviously you have also lived in other countries around the world, like Australia… You lived also in Brazil?

Bart: [00:30:25] No, I didn’t live there.

Daniela: [00:30:26] But you visited it quite a lot? You visited Latin America for a while.

Bart: [00:30:29] I went to… to South America, basically to Spanish-speaking countries for a longer period, for 4 and a half months. Brazil, I went there now twice. Also, one of the reasons I left Romania. I think you knew. I was also… this is why I think it’s so important to… To… Or important… It’s so valuable to make these connections with people. My first big trip was to Australia, it was after my time in the Dutch Army. So I went from yes, sir, no, sir, politics. You know, from like a very strict life to complete freedom. Not saying that I handled it in the best way. It was a fantastic year. I loved everything about it. But I always say I was the worst backpacker of all because I didn’t know how to handle money. I had no responsibility., you know, apart from what I was taught. But I was still a kid like, I came out when I was 21. But in the army, you do… You do learn a lot of things, very valuable things. And it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for me to shape my… The way I look at life, I’d say and the way I trusted myself. But then go on to Australia, I lived it for about a year, and I made some friends, like two friends really stuck with me, two Irish friends.

Bart: [00:31:37] Luckily, they’re close. So, after returning to Holland, after like, I think 2 or 3 months, they are already knocking on the door. “Hey, guy, we’re coming in to visit you”. So we had a week in Amsterdam. Then next year I went to Dublin and we start doing this year after year after year. Solid friendships. And this guy or this guy and the girl, he got involved with a Brazilian girl because they’re flooding Ireland at the moment. She’s a fantastic person and they decided to get married. And what are you going to choose then, the rainy Ireland or a sunny Brazil? So they chose Brazil for their wedding. And of course, like I knew this before I went to Romania, it was dead-set goal, it doesn’t matter what happens, I have to get there. So this was also a reason why I knew it was gonna be temporary in Romania. Again, like, I wasn’t planning to go there and stay there. Not my kind of thing to do, but. Yeah. So. So South America. What did you want to know about? Like basically, how do I compare it?

Daniela: [00:32:30] I would say, yeah. So, how… how is your Romanian experience different than, for example, the other countries that you live in, especially when you think about all these countries having their different flavor of hospitality and dealing with internationals and welcoming you?

Bart: [00:32:48] Well, I think hospitality and thinking more and more, it doesn’t really have to do with where you are. It more has to do with the people’s way of life. And with this, I mostly mean are they money-oriented or are they non-money-oriented? Honestly, I think that the best hospitality I get has been from the poorest people and also in the poorer countries, it’s not a rule for everything. Like it’s very difficult to make, like, a statement that’s like universal for all the places that you go, but…. Well, how does it compare?

Daniela: [00:33:16] Well, what would you say that… That Romania has maybe a different nuance, a different trait, a feeling, something that makes it different from, for example, Australia? Or do you think that they are both the same?

Bart: [00:33:28] Well, there wouldn’t be the same. Like they’re… they’re very different from each other, also because they’re so far apart and completely different money-wise in this country. You know, of course, the standard of living is different in Australia.

Daniela: [00:33:40] And also the culture.

Bart: [00:33:40] Also the culture, very much. They’re very like, in Australia, there’s a lot of people… Basically, they’re a prison colony. Most people know. They were dropped there not in the best of ways. I think people are very friendly, but also I don’t have a color. But apparently, they’re also, like they’re quite racist. It is harsh to say, like, please don’t take this wrong because maybe a handful of people make this identity for a whole country. Like Romanian people should know this, you know, this is why you’re always asking me what I think about you guys. But I’d say in terms of hospitality, it’s so difficult to say. I’ve been…. I’ve been received so warmly in all these countries, you know. So I can’t really say, like, they do this better than they do that. I really don’t think… I think the language is a big difference, because in Australia, you come in and you already  speak the language, at least if you do English. This makes a big difference just from the start. You know, you have a running start. You can speak to young, old everybody and you get a better view of people more willing to talk to you, because, of course, it doesn’t cost them a lot of effort to speak it.

Bart: [00:34:39] It’s their native one. Of course, in South America, we didn’t have this. But there also, I learned… I think there, I really came at the realization, like, if you even just try in their local language, you can make all the mistakes you want, but they’re going to love you for it, because that’s where I noticed it in a Romanian where I applied it. It’s not just to, you know, to get on somebody’s good side. I do have an interest in this, this is why I remember these things. But they are people to be honest. I just think the countries give different flavors in terms of climate, in terms of surroundings, you know. Brașov to me, like being in the forest., to me, this is also something I loved about the army and I kind of missed and I kind of got back there again, you know. Just, if you live in Brașov, the mountains and forest are at your doorstep. There are right in the… Just take five minutes nd I am in the forest. This, to me, gave a lot of flavor to it. The foods, they’re different, you know. But how would they compare? I’m not going to make, like, a contest, saying like, my God, they’re the most hospitable. No, they’re point five more hospitable than these other people. They’re just lovely, lovely people, you know? So, yeah, I don’t think to compare them that way. No, I find that difficult to do.

Daniela: [00:35:47] Perfect. You know, it was more about nuance because obviously, in terms of culture, you cannot necessarily… you cannot… you can, you can say that a country is better than another country if you take objective parameters, which we are not doing at the moment. We are not comparing GDP per capita, we’re not comparing, I don’t know, kindness, which you know, it’s a very difficult concept measure, in terms of numbers.

Daniela: [00:36:14] So, but I think it was interesting to to explore this idea of how was it different. It’s just about how it was different.

Bart: [00:36:22] Yeah, but I think there’s too many factors in play, too, because like Australia, I went alone. Then you connect very quickly to South America and my girlfriend at the time, also very different experience, of course. And then to Romania, I come. I have no transport, this is very different for me. I usually always have a car or something to get myself around, but then I have two housemates of which one is Romanian. So it’s such a different way that you go into these experiences and I try not to compare it, I think, too much, to just not have prejudice and go in open-minded because you see so much more and you are willing to accept so much more. You know, you don’t go with a prejudice of expecting this and then either be happy or displeased by the fact that this happens. Or maybe it’s just me not being organized and just taking things as they come. Like, I don’t… I don’t really know how it would be different, but they’re all very different experiences from each other. Big differences with Romanians, and it’s from the same continent.

Daniela: [00:37:15] That’s already something.

Bart: [00:37:16] Yeah.

Daniela: [00:37:18] Cool. You mentioned the language quite a couple of times. How big of a role did it have in integrating in the day-to-day life? For example, you know, you mentioned the shops, going to the shops, learning a couple of words.

Daniela: [00:37:36] How did it influence you in terms of relating to the culture? And also, would you recommend that internationals learn the language? So, for example, go a bit deeper than just some basics and try to get more out of the culture through the language?

Bart: [00:37:53] Well, to me, I’m positive it added a lot to my experience because you can speak to people, you otherwise cannot speak to. These people never speak to other people, so they’re even more, you know, enthusiastic about this. It’s about smiles, man. I mean, like, well, an example for instance is this this woman from the… from the corner shop, in the corner of Strada Republicii in Brașov, the main streets. There is this little shop, which we used to joke with Diana. We called this person who stood there The Face, because she always looked so incredibly angry, like incredibly, incredibly angry. We’re usually laughing about this. She’s not very friendly. And at some point., we didn’t see her anymore. So we kind of assumed that she wouldn’t be there, because she was fire because she looked angry all the time. This other woman came in her stead. And, you know, I didn’t speak any English, but I speak a little bit of Romanian. But she can also, of course, hear that I’m not from there. Of course, you don’t have to explain this when you say where are you from? You are from Holland. We always get the same thing that we go, “Oh, Holland, Amsterdam!” and all these things that are part of it. And this woman did the same thing. She has also been to the country once. Funny thing is, I leave the country in 2017, and more than a year later, I walk past with Diana and we see this person again and said, I’m gonna go say hi.

Bart: [00:39:06] Diana goes “She cannot possibly remember you”. And I go and “Olandaa” is the first thing she says. And I don’t think this would have happened if I wouldn’t have made this effort to just try a little bit. I learned something. If Diana teaches me something and I never use it, it’s not going to stick. So I just push this out and I realize I make mistakes. In Spain., I really used this because I make people laugh because I say things in a wrong way. But it…. isn’t just about making people laugh? Like they’re not laughing at me. You know, I noticed this. I see it in the face. I see it and everything. Even if they’re laughing at me, as long as I’m having fun with it, it does really hurt me so much because I could say, “Hey, dude, let’s switch to Dutch and let me laugh at you”. You know, but… So for me, it added so much to this. And I think, especially, as I said, with the older people. But I think also the younger people, taking this experience from South America, where there was also no English, like, and this little bit of Spanish brings you a long way. In Romania., I didn’t have to. I just did it extra. Advice> like if you really don’t care about it so much, don’t try because it’s just very difficult and you’re not going to remember it probably. But I like it. For me, it’s a little bit of a hobby also to learn at least a little a couple of words, you know, like something to make people laugh and not the standard, “Teach me to curse” words and this kind of stuff.

[00:40:18] Diana made a point about not teaching us these things. We got the nice ones like, “Dă-te-n spanac”, you know.

[00:40:24] What does that one?

[00:40:25] Go up your mother’s spinach? As much as I understood.

[00:40:31] Interesting.

Bart: [00:40:33] And “Suge-o ceapă”, also there is, you know. So she kind of, she kind of went like what kids would say. And then… this is good. This also makes people laugh at a grown man saying “Suck an onion”. Like, okay, just these unusual words I liked so much and also liked the bit… basis of speaking to each other, you know, being able to walk into a grocery store. Also, a funny thing about the language I usually like to tell is I went to this local hairdresser in my street. Men’s hairdresser, just with the clippers, you know, in and out in 10 minutes. It was brilliant. Honestly, I never got as good of a haircut as this guy gave me. But I kind of assumed, I’m not sure if I checked, if they spoke English, but I kind of assumed. I think you wouldn’t. So Diana wrote me a little note the first time I went, like sending your kid to the grocery store to buy some… some eggs or something like this.

Bart: [00:41:18] And I walk in and I give him the note and he’s looking to me, and then he looks like, “OK, da, da, da. Sit.” So I sit, he cuts me. Fantastic. Cost 13 lei, honestly, in Holland, you can’t get a haircut for 3 or 4 euros, so this is a good thing. I come back every 3 weeks and during this time, of course, I learn more and more. But I never really got into a habit of talking to this guy. And for me, it was just really a moment to just sit and listen. You know, keep on getting more words and more words. I remember the last time I sat down there and I knew I was going to leave and he cuts me again and I get up and I gave him like a good amount of extra money. And I said in Romanian something like, thank you very much for all the time here. You’re a great hairdresser, because I practiced a little bit to say it right. And I made some mistakes. But tohe face on this guy went like, oh, shit, you know, because they’ve porbably been joking about me when I was sitting there. I would do the same thing, but not in a bad way. But I asked him… in this initial shock of him, I saw like this appreciation in his face and like, oh, my God, you know, like this guy really made an effort for this. I mean, just for me, I don’t know. That’s… that’s what I do it for.

Bart: [00:42:22] And, you know, like for this. Yeah, maybe I’m looking a little bit more for that, you know, for some affirmation that I do something nice or something like this. I don’t do it just to get something back. I do for my own happiness, for my own feeling. And so I think, if it makes me happy to do something good for somebody else, what in the world could stop me doing that?

Daniela: [00:42:42] And it’s also for the connection, I think, because all of these stories in the end, even the childish “Suge-o ceapă” and all of that, it’s very cute, it brings back memories of people and it connects you to people. And obviously that gives you a very goosey, heartwarming feeling. All bubbly inside.

Bart: [00:43:03] Yeah. But also like the friendship we kept. I mean, like you and I still see each other, like we were there together, of course, for, say, about 6 months. You left a bit earlier than I did?

Daniela: [00:43:12] I left very early. Yeah. Yeah. I only stayed like 3 months there.

Bart: [00:43:18] Yeah, I see. Okay.

Daniela: [00:43:18] It was anyway a temporary job for everybody.

Bart: [00:43:21] Yeah. But that’s the way of the company, basically. You kind of moved through and find your… find your own path basically. So, it was only that short. But I still speak with Diana a lot. Luis also, like, he lives in the next country, so we saw each other a couple of times. Bogdan became a very good friend of mine. I see him usually. I still come to Romania now. I didn’t mention yet that I have my current job, which I dare to qualify as my dream job because I went to Romania. Honestly, this is part of the interview where they said to me… It kind of started with them saying: “Yeah, we looked at your resume and you just came from Romania”. It’s like, “This is correct”. “Did you like it there?” “Yeah, sure.” “Would you go back?” Why not? Like I had a good time there. “Yeah, okay, because the company had a bit of trouble to find some for this area. It’s not just Romania, but also Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, these guys, being a middleman. But basically from there, it kind of developed and, this to me, because they saw Romania there, it was like, hey, this guy is there. He has been there already.

Daniela: [00:44:17] And he likes it.

Bart: [00:44:18] Yeah, he liked it. So, I do think that this chance… choice… if I would have gone to Spain, they have separate companies in Spain. They would look for somebody who speaks Spanish. They wouldn’t be interested in this. So this chance thing of getting a job offer in Barcelona, taking it and making the decision to go, then learning that it was bad job, re-routing to Romania kind of gave me now athe job which I didn’t even know existed.

Bart: [00:44:43] But like, if I would have known before, I’d want to try to get it 10 years ago, which I probably wouldn’t have because I think the sales experience, the travel experience, all this adds to me being good at my job right now.

Bart: [00:44:53] But thank you for this Romania. Mulțumesc tare mult!

Daniela: [00:44:59] Everything happens when it needs to happen. Everything has a momentum.

Bart: [00:45:02] Yeah, good things. Bad things, too. But the bad things, we never want to accept, that they also happen for a reason.

Daniela: [00:45:08] Well, you know, we like a comfy spot.

Daniela: [00:45:11] And now, after years of… your experience ended in Romania, well, at least the living experience, the more fixed experience.

Daniela: [00:45:21] How has it changed you, when you think about it? How did you change as a person?

Bart: [00:45:27] I like the question. And I’m sure I have changed is just I don’t really keep check of this. I think… I think all your experiences turn you into a person and we change, even though people say people don’t change. I’m…. I’m the proof people do, when I tell people about how I was as a kid. Well, probably my memory warped also. But I was totally oppositely, completely opposite. I changed because I felt a necessity to change. So I did. And I made change a part of my life. I made it something I’m not scared about. I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m kind of addicted maybe now to change. You can call it commitment issues, if you want. The doctors are still trying to make up… No, kidding. No. But how did it change me? As I said, like this at this point of hospitality really hit me there Romania. The importance also to make some efforts for somebody else before to try to get something from them. This example of getting the language in, I don’t know, man. I think the most important part is that it made me realize that even though the country doesn’t have the economic status as we do, the income we have, the freedoms we have in, you know, going around.

Bart: [00:46:37] It did teach me, like I like this maybe more than than what I come from myself. I think a lot of people from my country should go and experience a little bit more life like this because we get lost a little bit in all this technique and all this advancement that we never really stand still. We’re always running. I notice for myself this makes me very stressed. I’m sure most of the Dutch people will either admit to this or have no idea that it’s happening, but are also victim to this. I think Romania should look at their strengths and then exploit this a little bit and don’t try to change towards us. How I changed? I don’t know. I have another place in the world that I… that I feel at home. You know, I feel comfortable there. I like to come there. I also say, like, I can’t really stand radio so much because I can’t understand when going through Serbia and then through Hungary and all these things and all this crazy chatter.

Bart: [00:47:29] But in Romania, I always turn on the radio. It’s also for myself to practise the language a bit. You know, I get the words again like, you know that.

Bart: [00:47:37] That’s right. These kind of things. But I enjoy it very much and I feel very comfortable there. And then when I walk through Brașov, it feels a little bit like home. And I think to have this feeling is very valuable. Like, I don’t have this with every place that I go to.

Daniela: [00:47:49] It is special.

Bart: [00:47:51] Yeah, yeah. To me, very. It’s one of my favorite countries in Europe, to be honest. And I’ve seen a lot. Now I’ve been to many. So I dare to say I’m a judge now.

Daniela: [00:48:02] You do have the expertise.

Bart: [00:48:03] I have my own opinion. So maybe some people go to Romania, and have a bad experience, and they they hate athe country like this. Like Bolivia., for me, it would be a good example of how this can switch. Like, we were traveling there with a car by ourselves, so we didn’t really have like tourist trips or everything, somebody to guide you. We literally just drove into the country, opened up, we had the rough guides, you know, just Lonely Planet, that kind of thing. And we just started reading up about the country on a couple days before we went in. We come to Bolivia. In Bolivia, everything was very cheap. And we kind of counted on this as well. But we got… we got treated really badly by these people for being foreign.

Bart: [00:48:41] Bolivia is an absolutely beautiful country with many gems to go to. Like, you have the Amazon Basin, you have the hill Sucre, beautiful cities, Potosi, Mine City, up in the mountains, Sorata.

Bart: [00:48:55] You have La Paz, with the beautiful icon. You have everything in this country to enjoy yourself with these people. They are so poor. They… they cannot fathom why… This is the least my take on it. They just don’t understand what you’re doing there. They look at you, they see just a bundle of money walking around. They either want to rob you or just piss on you or make you pay as much because… we had to pay 5 times the amount for gas than we saw because we had a foreign placa…placa

Daniela: [00:49:22] License plate.

Bart: [00:49:22] Yeah. So these kind of things and we come to this point that we went to this local festival, in this dodgy neighborhood and we got robbed there, like they pulled the laptop out of my backpack.

Bart: [00:49:36] I didn’t even notice this, but this kind of put a bit of a scare on us. And this added on this overpaying at the gas station and people just… just not being friendly to us. We said, this country sucks. We have to get out of this country. I’m completely done with it, you know? So we had a very bad night after being robbed, like we didn’t want to park the car anywhere, being afraid of the car being stolen because then the trip would be over. You know, all our money was in this car. So after this night, very rough nights, slept in a dirty alojamiento. And I said to Chris, to my girlfriend, say, listen, if we leave this country now, you know, we are in such a bad state. So we are going to go take a hotel, get one nice, relaxed night, good shower, good food, then at least a little bit positive. We’re going to get the fuck out of this country. So this we did. We looked at…

Bart: [00:50:20] We had taken a hotel, we went to this eco-lodge, which was, honestly, a hidden paradise. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever slept in. These little houses were built like in the ambient, it was very special place. Also, they said that people came there to do energy measurements from National Geographic. I don’t know what, like it’s supposed to be a place to come to yourself a little bit. And we just felt this, like we went for 1 night, we stayed 3. Again, it’s called El Poncho. It’s close to Cochabamba, the city in the center of the country, if you ever want to look it up. If you are there, please do. And in this couple of days, we just changed our minds from we hate this country. We just were reloaded with new energy. We continued our trip like we already did Potosi and Salardo. The unique salt flats.

Bart: [00:51:09] You probably heard of this. And we continued our trip, and honestly liked the things we experienced still afterwards in La Paz and around La Paz, we wouldn’t know what to do without it. This is how your idea of this country can just change by whatever happens to you. If they would have never robbed us, we would’ve never found that place. And now after, we would have said this place was such a magical place. It’s in my top 5 of places of all that we have visited there in 4 and a half months. It wouldn’t have happened without this bad thing happening.

Bart: [00:51:37] And then you can judge a people for how they treat you. But then think a little bit back. Why would they do this? Like maybe they have a good reason to do this. You know, a foreign influence like… Bolivia didn’t really come out well with the Chilean war. You know, they have no coastline, they have no commerce. There’s a lot of things for these people, reasons to feel bad. And then you come there, throwing your money around there, the way they see it, you know, like, I’m not rich, I’m not born rich. I always had to work for everything I happen. They don’t see this. So I can judge them for them judging me. But I think may stop me to be the bigger character and I think also this makes me go into Romania, not preconceived, saying like, “People say this. So it’s probably true.” Because if you do that, you close doors for yourself.

Daniela: [00:52:19] Definitely. And it’s very interesting how… how much influence people have on the experience.

Bart: [00:52:25] Yes. Yes, for sure.

Daniela: [00:52:26] Because in the end, also, what made Romania such such a success, like you said, were the people, were there welcoming families.

Daniela: [00:52:34] It was this idea of, even if you made mistakes in Romania, they would appreciate the fact that even dared to speak something in their language.

Bart: [00:52:41] And very patient, extremely patient.

Bart: [00:52:44] This uncle of Diana, he would explain everything again and again and again.

[00:52:48] And I did see this before, like I am not a person known for my patience. And I think it’s, like, a country trait maybe as well, because we’re so career-driven and everything. Everything has to be fast and perfect and even better. And for me, most valuable to kind of change a little bit. Two words: these people. A little bit of Romanian influence in my character. I do notice I’m much more relaxed. And I think in my work and in many things, this benefits me, you know, being in traffic, not getting all stressed out. I’m still… this is still something I personally… I have to watch for myself, you know, because it shortens your life. And it’s… it’s a shame.

Bart: [00:53:22] There’s really no point in that. A little bit of pressure can be good. But I don’t believe people say like that they do better things when they’re stressed out.

Bart: [00:53:31] I cannot believe this because you’re not going to do this with a smile. And everything I do with a smile usually ends up better.

Daniela: [00:53:36] Yeah, definitely.

Bart: [00:53:38] Yeah.

Bart: [00:53:38] So the people for sure made a big impact. As I said before, like without Diana and Luis, without having this, if I would have shacked up with somebody you really like start bumping… I can be a very difficult person as I can be a very easy person as well. It just depends on how you rob me. You know. They were the biggest, biggest influence, I keep saying that.

Daniela: [00:53:58] And we’re at the last question of the podcast.

Bart: [00:54:02] Are there still people listening, honestly? I’m impressed.

Daniela: [00:54:07] Well, I hope so, because the last question is geared towards internationals.

Daniela: [00:54:15] What would you have as pieces of advice to people who either want to discover Romania or they know something about the country, they might want to go there, but they’re not really sure?

Bart: [00:54:26] The first piece of advice there would be… I’m really sorry, Bucharest, but don’t go to Bucharest. I really, like if, don’ make your opinion about a country according to the capital. I say this not just about Romania, but about most countries I go to. A piece of advice I think is take some time. Don’t try to book everything in advance. Like go somewhere and then find out what to do. Most things you don’t have to book. Which is great because again, like I’m not very organized. I hate to do something like pay something I’m going to do in a week. It doesn’t work for me. So concerts, not my thing, you know, even though I would like. But don’t try to organize it too much because country is not so organized. And if you’re very organized, you’re just gonna get rubbed a little bit, you know. Depending on how long you go, like if you go for a vacation for 1 or 2 weeks, then don’t bother with the language. It’d be fun to have like bună dimineața and say good morning or thank you, something like this. These little things already would make a big difference in how you leave or enter any shop or place that you go to. It worked great for me and I enjoyed it. And I think you would too. So maybe a little bit of language. Don’t just look up to big places. Go for the small ones. We did some road trips through the country, where we went to the mushroom…. I don’t know the names anymore, but like the mushroom waterfall they have, there is this abandoned train…

Daniela: [00:55:47] Bigar waterfalls.

Bart: [00:55:48] Yeah. Yeah. This one. It’s right in the center. And you really have to look for it. Don’t go there and expect like, yeah, Niagara Falls, or Mont Blanc. Or these kind of things. Romania is not a country of these big tourist draw-in and be thankful to because it would’ve… it would’ve killed the identity it has.

Bart: [00:56:08] It’s about small things. It’s about enjoying nature, it is about driving around, you know, building campsites somewhere. Go to these little artisanal shops where people still make things with the hands. You know, if then, if you do this, it’s very valuable to speak some of the language because if you go out of the city, they don’t do so much. So I don’t know, if you have a Romanian friend, get them to take a week off and bring them around. You know, this is what was really great for us, to have Diana there at all, at all times, a bit much. I, for so much, you know, she was such great help. Thank you for it Diana, if you listen to this, you’re lovely and I’m very happy we’re still friends. So Romanian friends, some words maybe. Don’t worry about money so much, open mind. Don’t judge by things that you read or something like this. And I don’t know. Just experience, you know. And if you want to bring back one souvenir, try to make a friend there. And you know what they do for you there, you can do for them in your country or crazy stuff can happen, that in 10 years after meeting them or 15 years.In my case, you can get invited to a Brazilian wedding. You know, you never know. So I don’t know, it’s what Jesus said. You know, treat people the way you want to be treated. Now, this is just the way like it. I’m not very religious, sorry for this Jesus reference there. But I do like this little sense from the man there. That would be my best advice, I think.

Daniela: [00:57:23] And for the people that already live in the country, what is your advice for them?

Bart: [00:57:28] Well, they can stop asking me what my pri.. pre-judgement was about their country. I don’t think they should worry about it so much. I think any people that go to your country with that in their mind, they’re out of their mind already. And you really don’t need them as friends, you know. People will always judge the things that they don’t know, but it’s usually because they don’t know what they’re talking about. And I’m pretty sure most people will come to Romania and give it the time I did. If they’re bad-minded about it, they’re going to switch. And if they’re clear-minded about it, I believe they come out positive. It’s not like a main thing… Anything can happen, you know. But, I think in Romania, keep true to who you are.

Bart: [00:58:05] You’re really special, the way I see it. I don’t think there’s a country in Europe that I think comes close to you. Well, if I go to other countries like, for instance, mine or Germany, it’s really not so much different, you know. I do think you’re very unique, beautiful language and exploit this, you know. Don’t try to change into us. Try to show us what you have and how you do things. I like the fact that a lot of people still are in touch with nature. They grow their own gardens. This is kind of the business I’m in now, too. And I think Romania also inspired me a little bit to this, because I did come back with the idea of I want to have my own garden. And then his company approached me that make plant fertilizers.

Bart: [00:58:44] So it kind of, like, everything just came together in this job, you know. But it was inspired by Romania, inspired by my friend Bogdan. And actually, my plan for the future has not only been inspired by Bogdan and my friends and Romania, the country, but might even be a part of it.

Bart: [00:59:00] So yeah, I will keep coming to Romania and I might have a spot there maybe for myself someday as well. Little sneak peek there into my future, but yeah. So to me… For me, very warm place in my heart and it will stay for sure.

Daniela: [00:59:16] Well, we’ll be very happy to see you back.

Bart: [00:59:19] Yay, every 3 months! Every 3 or 4 months I come back. But we need more shops. Now I’m going to… I’m going to do advertising. I have a little work to do in Romania, so I’d love for our market to grow there a little bit more.

Bart: [00:59:31] But anyway, I keep coming back. I keep visiting my friends and yeah. I love it.

Daniela: [00:59:37] Thank you, Bart!

Bart: [00:59:38] You’re very welcome.

Daniela: [00:59:39] For being part of this experience.

Bart: [00:59:40] Cu plăcere!

Daniela: [00:59:41] Yeah.

Bart: [00:59:42] Couple of cherries.

Daniela: [00:59:51] Thank you for listening to Episode 2 of the Wo/anders podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, and probably any podcasting app of your choice. And did you know that we also post these podcast episodes on YouTube? Go there and subscribe. Then you won’t miss out on the latest pod-goodies about internationals in Romania. Also, we’re looking for future international stories to share on this podcast. Are you someone who experienced Romania to the fullest and want to tell about it on the show? Or maybe you know somebody who is like that. Just write to us at stories@woanders.com and we’ll be happy to listen to your adventures. That is stories at W-O-A-N-D-E-R-E-R-S dot com.

Daniela: [01:00:39] Thank you. Mulțumesc. Bye bye and la revedere.

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