You can find “Episode 5: From Vienna, with love” on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, Overcast, and TuneIn.

Love is the magic word for the first Wo/anderers podcast of 2020. You will hear it come back again and again in today’s episode, because love represents the glue that binds together all of the dreams, aspirations, and experiences of our podcast guest, Damita. She is a Viennese woman to the core, with dirndls, Waltzing Balls, and a typical cosmopolitan attitude to match. She found out about Romania from Harry Potter, but it was love that immersed her in this culture for good. In today’s special New Year’s episode, we will talk about Damita’s love for Bucharest, why she thinks Romanian is an easy language to master, political corruption, the Colectiv case, and more. Enjoy the conversation in Episode 5: From Vienna, with love.

What topics we go through in episode 5:

  • 0:00:00 – Podcast intro;
  • 0:01:20 – Damita learns for the first time about Romania from reading Harry Potter;
  • 0:03:11 – Introducing the man who showed Damita the Romanian way;
  • 0:07:26 – Don’t drink the tap water they have in Cluj;
  • 0:08:51 – “We don’t have them in Austria” – Damita’s love confession for the Romanian Auchan and Carrefour;
  • 0:09:32 – How Damita prepared for her first-ever visit to Bucharest;
  • 0:12:48 – The one time someone as rude to Damita in Bucharest;
  • 0:14:34 – “Bucharest, it’s a fairy tale” and other Christmas impressions;
  • 0:15:17 – Discovering Cărturești Carusel;
  • 0:16:24 – Damita’s personal must-do Bucharest recommendations;
  • 0:19:41 – Why Damita always gets a mani-pedi when she is in Bucharest;
  • 0:20:59 – Damita’s cultural discoveries in Bucharest – visiting the Romanian Literature Museum and the Museum of Old Maps and Books, plus talking about Mihai Eminescu and his time in Vienna;
  • 0:23:03 – “Another thing – you guys have a lot of stray cats in Bucharest.”
  • 0:24:45 – Getting personal – Talking about Damita’s relationship with a Romanian;
  • 0:26:32 – Damita’s thoughts on Romanians’ dark humor;
  • 0:27:47 – The role of a man versus the role of a woman, relationships, and marriage in Romanian culture versus in Austria;
  • 0:35:44 – Drivers in Romania are insane;
  • 0:36:16 – Damita’s advice for dating a Romanian;
  • 0:38:17 – Why Romanians are not so good at doing PR for their country;
  • 0:42:59 – What Damita learned about Romanian politics;
  • 0:43:06 – Remembering the tragic Colectiv nightclub fire;
  • 0:46:16 – Damita’s hope for Romania and its people;
  • 0:49:09 – Damita’s personal advice for those who want to discover Romania on a deeper level;
  • 0:51:09 – Our wishes for you, our listeners, in 2020.

Interesting links from episode 5:

Listen to Wo/anderers’ episode 5 on YouTube:

Read the full conversation from “Episode 5: From Vienna, with love” with Damita below.

Daniela: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Wo/anderers podcast, episode 5.

Daniela: [00:00:30] Love is the magic word for the first Wo/anderers podcast of 2020. You will hear it come back again and again in today’s episode, because love represents the glue that binds together all of the dreams, aspirations and experiences of our podcast guest, Damita. She is a Viennese woman to the core, with dirndls, waltzing balls and a typical cosmopolitan attitude to match. She found out about Romania from Harry Potter, but it was love that immersed her in this culture for good. In today’s special New Year’s episode, we will talk about Damita’s love for Bucharest, why she thinks Romanian is an easy language to master, political corruption, the Colectiv case, and more. We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Daniela: [00:01:20] Hey, Damita.

Damita: [00:01:21] Hi, Daniela.

Daniela: [00:01:23] How are you doing?

Damita: [00:01:24] I’m good. I’m very excited. How are you?

Daniela: [00:01:27] I’m also very excited. Thank you so much for joining today’s episode.

Damita: [00:01:31] Of course. You’re welcome.

Daniela: [00:01:33] To get started. Of course, we are going to talk a lot about your adventures in Romania and how you met people there, what you did, a couple of pieces of advice that you would have for internationals and everything. But first, first things first. How did you get to know Romania? Like, what was your first more solid, serious contact with the Romanian culture?

Damita: [00:01:56] So, I think the first time that I heard about Romania was in Harry Potter, where obviously the dragons were from Romania.

Damita: [00:02:05] And then I think Ron’s brother goes to… lives in Romania to train dragons or whatnot. And then, that was… I think it was 8 or something. That was the first, the first time that I came to realize that Romania was a country.

Damita: [00:02:18] But my first serious contact with Romanian culture was my ex-boyfriend, whom I met in 2015. His name was Alexandru, very Romanian.

Damita: [00:02:31] And. Yeah. And I… I remember I met him on Tinder and he had… he had a sentence written there in Romanian. It was like, hello to all my fellow… like… national fellows.

Daniela: [00:02:43] Compatriots?

Damita: [00:02:44] Yeah, compatriots. And then…

Damita: [00:02:46] And I remember like, swiping him and thinking, I think he’s Romanian.

Damita: [00:02:49] And then, like, I identified the language correctly back then, which I was very proud of, but I didn’t know anything else about the country. I… I had a vague idea. I remember knowing that I thought Romanian sounded very nice because I thought it sounded like a little bit like Italian, but nicer, in my opinion.

Damita: [00:03:06] But I had very little previous knowledge of anything about the country at all.

Damita: [00:03:11] So Alex was really the person who got me interested, obviously, because when, you know, when you care about someone very much and you think you might want to one day start a family with them, you want to know everything about them, you want to learn about their background and their… sort of what their history and what made them who they are. And so, I took an interest because I… I obviously, to know a small part of who you are is… is… is sort of determined… not determined, maybe it’s the wrong word, but influenced by where you come from. And so I took it… I started taking interest in Romania and the country and the language and the culture. And that’s how, that’s how I started.

Daniela: [00:03:51] First of all, I find it super amazing that you connected Romania to the dragons in Harry Potter.

Daniela: [00:03:58] That is something that I don’t think I’ve ever heard in my life.

Damita: [00:04:01] Really? No, seriously, no. There… Ron has a brother.

Damita: [00:04:04] His name is Charlie. And he, yeah, he… I believe he even lives in Romania because there’s a certain type of dragon that comes from there and he trains them, I think.

Daniela: [00:04:15] I’m telling you, like nobody told me that.

Damita: [00:04:17] Yeah. Seriously, in the Harry Potter universe, definitely, I can’t remember exactly who, like what it is.

Damita: [00:04:22] But there’s definitely a connection that there’s… there’s dragons and Romania. And so that’s… I was probably 8 when I read the series.

Damita: [00:04:30] And so, that’s when… that was the first time that I realized that Romania was, like obviously I had seen it on maps before, but that was the first time that I consciously registered Romania as a country.

Daniela: [00:04:40] Which is interesting because in theory, Austria and Romania are not that far away from each other.

Damita: [00:04:46] They’re not. I was raised by a single mother. We didn’t travel very much when I was growing up. And…

Damita: [00:04:52] And I actually don’t think that we… I think I went to Greece once when I was a child, very, very young. But we… and to Tunisia once, but we barely traveled at all. So… so and obviously, when you learn the map, you… I don’t know, like you learn, like you learned France and Italy, but no one ever comes and says, like, look, this country right here is Romania, everyone.

Damita: [00:05:12] When you’re a child, you know, like people say, you know, this one, this one is shaped like a boot. That’s Italy. And, you know, and this is… this is the U.K. It’s an island. So you have these… Yeah. You have these mental references for various countries. But Romania isn’t one of them yet.

Daniela: [00:05:26] They should say, like, look, this country is shaped like an awkward fish opening its mouth.

Damita: [00:05:31] They could say that.

Daniela: [00:05:32] That’s basically how we learned it.

Damita: [00:05:33] That, that would… that would work.

Damita: [00:05:35] Yeah, that would work. But for some reason, no one ever told me that. So I… so I didn’t know the awkward fish until much later.

Daniela: [00:05:43] Very, very cool. In your experience, because you did mention the fact that, well, the more serious contact that you had was because of Alexandru, because of your ex-boyfriend. But you also had Romanian friends around you, for example, we both went to the debate club in Vienna, at the university. And I know for sure that you met some Romanians there as well.

Damita: [00:06:04] Yeah, I did.

Damita: [00:06:05] So… so my… so my first Romanian friend, this is gonna make.. this is going to sound horrible, but it’s gonna make me sound crazy. But my very, very first boyfriend, like high school boyfriend, you know, like the kind where you hold hands and nothing ever really happens.

Damita: [00:06:20] But it’s just like, you tell everyone you have a boyfriend and then, you know, you buy him a souvenir on the class trip that you go to and but, you know, that’s just… that’s the extent of it. He is, his mother, actually. His parents are from Romania. He grew up in Austria, but his parents are from Romania. So I suppose, I don’t know whether he qualifies as Romanian or when you can say that someone really is from a country or isn’t. But he had Romanian roots as well. And then, when I joined debating, of course, I met Miri, who is one of my best friends to this day. And she’s from Timișoara.

Damita: [00:06:53] But you know how it is like when you… when it’s… when it’s a fling or a flirt or it’s just a friendship, you don’t get… Of course, you take an interest in the person, but you don’t get to the bottom of them quite as much as when you assume that maybe, one day, or that you might share your life with them, you know?

Daniela: [00:07:13] Definitely. I mean, the relationships are different for sure.

Damita: [00:07:15] Exactly. Exactly. And so… and so that’s the context in which I really, for the first time, touched upon Romanian culture to a, to a deeper like, to a deeper extent.

Daniela: [00:07:26] And that’s also when you got to Romania the first time, when you got to visit the country, right?

Damita: [00:07:31] No. I visited Romania for a debating tournament in Cluj, at Babeș-Bolyai University. And this was in… This was before I met Alex. This was in 2014 or something like that. And I drank the water. That was a mistake. I drank the tap water. I should not have drank the tap water.

Damita: [00:07:52] So, if anyone’s listening that hasn’t gone to Romania yet, just don’t do it. You know, I’m I’m a privileged Austrian, and I was like, this can’t be that bad.

Damita: [00:08:01] It’s a European Union country. I’m just going to drink it. Don’t do that.

Daniela: [00:08:05] Not in Cluj. I think like, for other… for other cities. It really depends on the city. And actually, this is something that has been changing throughout the… throughout the years, because I remember, for example, growing up in Brașov, we had no problem. I mean, obviously, the water comes directly from the mountain. All is good. It actually tasted very nice. You… you got the minerals that you needed. But nowadays, I also noticed that even in Brașov like this supposed really great mountain city and all is natural and green, the chlorine is a bit too much.

Damita: [00:08:36] So, for me, that was definitely not… not a nice experience. But other than that, I didn’t get to see much of Romania because it… as you know, debating tournaments are super stressful and you, barely between rounds and socials, you barely, between the competitions and the parties, you don’t really get to see much of the country.

Damita: [00:08:51] But what I did love, what I love, because we don’t have it in Austria, are these hypermarkets, these giant supermarkets like Auchan and Carrefour that I knew from France, where you can just get everything under the sun, like everything that you dream of, basically.

Damita: [00:09:06] And I like that because we don’t have it here. And it’s sort of, that… I guess that’s what, that’s what makes it exciting for me. And so, I went… that debating tournament, I went and I bought myself a mug. It’s a nice, flowery tea mug that I still drink from. So that’s my… that was my first Romanian souvenir.

Daniela: [00:09:22] It wasn’t Dracula, Dracula fangs, like plastic…

Damita: [00:09:25] As in Dracula anything. It was no, it was just a very girly, pink princessy tea mug. But you’re right.

Damita: [00:09:32] The second time that I went to Romania and the first time that I actually got to experience the country and the culture was Christmas 2015. I went to Bucharest to visit… with Alex to see his family. And… and that’s when I really, sort of, started to really… start to get in touch, sort of, with the culture.

Daniela: [00:09:48] And did you have any expectations about the trip like, did Alex prepare you in any way or did you research something?

Damita: [00:09:55] Well, you know, it’s so funny because I was learning these nice… So, I had, I had started learning…

Damita: [00:10:02] I met him in, in April of 2015. March, April of 2015.

Damita: [00:10:07] And I had started learning Romanian in May that year because he had told me, well, first of all, it doesn’t take me much to start learning a language. I absolutely love languages. I have learned, I believe, probably 9 or 10 so far. I don’t speak all of them.

Damita: [00:10:22] I can hold a conversation in 4 or 5, but it doesn’t take much to get me into a language. It takes, you know, it doesn’t take much of an excuse. And Alex’s grandmother didn’t speak English or German. So I said, well, OK, then I have to learn Romanian because, you know, I want to meet her. And it would be sad not to be able to talk to her. And so, I started learning these really nice sentences, you know, like, like I don’t know, mă numesc Damita (my name is Damita).

Damita: [00:10:48] Și am 22 de ani (and I am 22 years old) back then. Și lucrez la cercetărie (and I work in research), și blah, blah. You know, mâncarea are un gust foarte bun (the food tastes really nice), blah, blah, blah.

Damita: [00:10:58] Sorry. Sorry if I made a mistake. But sort of, that’s what I remember.

Damita: [00:11:02] And… and Alex told me, you know, you’re not going to get very far with those, like people are going to push and shove you on the subway and you’re going to need to be a lot less nice than that.

Daniela: [00:11:11] He’s already introducing you to the Bucharest vibe. That is amazing.

Damita: [00:11:13] Exactly. And also from his… And that’s not just him. A lot of Romanians that I… that I’ve talked to since. And I always get this impression that, while there is national pride, there’s also this sense of “our country doesn’t work.” You know, “our country is kind of shit”, for a lack of a better word. Like our country doesn’t work, you know, there’s corruption everywhere and there’s… and it’s terrible. And the conditions and poverty and this and that, so…

Daniela: [00:11:36] And people are terrible. And the system doesn’t work.

Damita: [00:11:38] “People are rude.”

Daniela: [00:11:38] If you look at people…

Damita: [00:11:39] Exactly. Alex always said, like people in Austria are so nice, Romanians are not that nice.

Daniela: [00:11:45] Which is weird because in Vienna, Austrians, like the Viennese Austrians, do have a reputation for not being the kindest or most courteous.

Damita: [00:11:53] First of all, I am Viennese and I’m fucking adorable. Just to make that clear.

Damita: [00:11:58] Secondly, yes, the countryside is superficially, in this country, probably more polite, but there’s a lot of, you know, nosiness and behind-your-back and these things go on.

Damita: [00:12:12] So… I know this because my mom is from lower Austria.

Damita: [00:12:15] And the grass isn’t greener, you know. It’s just they’re different. Of course, anywhere, like cities are always going to be a different environments than the countryside. But anyway, so Alex prepared me for this, for this sort of very dog-eat-dog world where, you know, you have to look out for yourself and people are rude and people are mean and this and that.

Damita: [00:12:33] So I flew over there, with kind of… obviously, I was nervous about meeting his family and I was nervous generally. But I… definitely he undersold it. I absolutely loved Bucharest. It was, I fell in love with it immediately and he definitely undersold it to me.

Damita: [00:12:48] Although having said that, I have to tell you this one story, because.. I get there and I’m expecting everyone to be really unfriendly. And I was really tired also that day. And so, in the evening, we went to get food before… before going to his family’s apartment and then… so, we’re at the red Carrefour. And I see these macarons and I’m like, amazing. I definitely want some of those because I love macarons and like, had a long trip and everything. So I go there and I look at the lady and I’m like, oh, and I forgot “cinci”. Literally, the word “cinci” (meaning five). Like, just… And I wanted 5 of them, but I forgot the word. So, I pointed at them and I said, “Patru, vă rog” (“Four, please”).

Damita: [00:13:29] It’s all I could think of. And then, I think she asked me, what color did I want them?

Damita: [00:13:36] But it didn’t understand the question. And then she repeated the question, like, in a really rude way. And she was like, you know, how stupid are you?

Damita: [00:13:44] Why don’t you know what I’m asking you? And I was so tired and overwhelmed, but I was just like, I started crying and I called Alex. It was like,Alex can you help me?

Daniela: [00:13:53] Oh, my God.

Damita: [00:13:55] But that was the only person who wasn’t perfectly nice to me my entire… actually ever since, like I’ve spent I’ve traveled to Bucharest a couple of times since. And that was the only person that wasn’t perfectly nice. Everyone else has always been extremely nice, extremely welcoming.

Damita: [00:14:08] And because also, I make an effort in Romanian. So people really appreciate that, I feel. And also people tend to be very surprised, you know, like when you say, oh, you’re learning Italian or Spanish, everyone’s like ah, yes, si si, claro.

Damita: [00:14:19] But when you say you’re learning Romanian, it is like, why would you do that?

Daniela: [00:14:24] And so I feel like they… the appreciation is there twice as much. And… and I. Yeah. So people have been very, very kind to me every time I visited.

Daniela: [00:14:34] That’s so cute. The meltdown is amazing. But then, so how did the rest of the trip go? How did you experience Bucharest?

Damita: [00:14:43] I love the Christmas lights. Honestly, it’s… I.. This might not be, you know, they might not be environmentally friendly. I don’t know how much… I don’t know how much power they take to keep up. But they’re gorgeous. Everyone always says Vienna is so beautiful at Christmas, but Bucharest, it’s like a fairy tale. I love the Christmas markets. I love the.. Yeah. I just love the atmosphere in winter. It was… it was absolutely beautiful. We went to, you know, we did all of the, we went all.. we did. We went to Casa Poporului, and we went to have sarmale. And, and we did all of the, we went to the mall and all of the, all of the stuff that you have to do.

Damita: [00:15:17] And we walked through the city and I discovered Cărturești, which… which was incredible  Cărturești Carusel which is, I think honestly, one of my favorite places on the planet.

Daniela: [00:15:28] You can explain what Cărturești Carusel is for the people who don’t know.

Damita: [00:15:32] Yes. So, it’s a bookstore. Cărturești is a book, is a chain of bookstores. And they have… And so, I think they were pretty new when Alex showed me the building for the first time. Something else used to be in that building. And they took a building in the old town of Bucharest and they renovated it and they made it into the most beautiful bookstore that you could possibly imagine. So they have.. they don’t just have books. They also have like stationery… They even have tea, they have these gorgeous journals. They have art. They have music. So like CDs and vinyls and these things. And in the first floor, in the top floor, they have a… they have a beautiful bistro. And truly, it’s one of… one of the most impressive, like I’m a sucker for bookstores. I love bookstores. But I honestly. Yeah, I always end up way over-spending when I go there. And it’s such a beautiful place. If you’re in Bucharest, you absolutely have to go there. It makes you feel.. it makes you feel happy.

Daniela: [00:16:24] And going on that note, what are your favorite places in Bucharest? So aside from the Cărturești, what are your favorite places to go?

Damita: [00:16:31] Oh, God, it’s been a while, but, OK. So, going back to the… to the shopping thing, the mall at Cotroceni. I mean, obviously, it’s not in any kind of way valuable culturally or whatever. But if you’re from Austria and the stores in your country close at 6:00 p.m., people don’t shop for fun. Then, I feel like.. I feel like this might be sort of a, sort of a reaction that Romania had to communism, like a counter reaction. But I feel like the shopping culture in Romania is… is close to what it is in the US. You have these massive malls that include like rides and and roller-coasters and they include like cinemas and food courts and even ice skating and these things, and if you come from a country like me, where that just isn’t a thing, it just seems incredibly impressive, even though, of course, it’s very capitalistic and it’s very, in the end, it’s not particularly something that I would say is necessary or again, culturally valuable, but it’s just the scale of it. It’s just very impressive to someone who isn’t used to it.

Daniela: [00:17:32] That is something that Romanians in general complain about regarding the amount of malls. So, for example, I do know that in certain cities they have overbuilt malls in terms of number. And now people, of course, they do not have the spending capacity to just keep all the malls on functioning level. And Romanians are not convinced. Obviously, if you’re in Bucharest, going to the mall is a leisure time activity. That is 100% for sure.

Damita: [00:17:56] It makes sense. But to me, it was just, it was mind-blowing to see, really. Other than that, let me think. Well, there’s the Maison de Crepes, where they make amazing pancakes.

Damita: [00:18:07] I’m going to talk a lot about food. I hope that’s okay with everyone.

Damita: [00:18:10] There’s this place called Linea/ Closer to the Moon, which I didn’t get a chance to try, as I don’t know what their food is like, but I follow them on Instagram and the sunsets up there are amazing. I… That is something that’s on my list.

Daniela: [00:18:22] Yeah, this is a new rooftop bar that the opened.

Damita: [00:18:26] Yeah.

Daniela: [00:18:26] I’m not even sure if it wasn’t this year or last year or something like that. But indeed, their Instagram page is something else.

Damita: [00:18:32] Yeah. I didn’t… I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I want to next time I go. The Therme, I love the Therme, because I love thermen in general. And the one in Bucharest has a bar inside of the pool, which if you ask me the definition of heaven, it would be a pool bar with a bookstore next to it. And, you know, possibly some talk with somebody.

Daniela: [00:18:50] So maybe the Therme people will listen into this, and make some modifications to their current plans.

Damita: [00:18:56] Yeah, I’m… Yes. So maybe, so if you’re listening, I would like books, please. Like waterproof books. I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but find a way.

Damita: [00:19:05] But otherwise, yeah, it’s very cool. There’s so many parks, there’s so many big parks, like Herăstrău and the other one that’s… I think…

Daniela: [00:19:15] Cișmigiu?

Damita: [00:19:17] Yes. Thank you. Cișmigiu. And what I love about those is like, the benches and the clocks and these the sort of I’m going to call them accessories. There’s so much more beautiful. Even the, even the playgrounds for kids are so much more colorful and beautiful than they are here in Vienna. Vienna has some very nice parks, but you have these gorgeous, elaborate decorative benches and clocks and these things. It’s very nice.

Daniela: [00:19:40] It does feel classy.

Damita: [00:19:41] Yes, it feels exactly. Feels very classy. Otherwise, yeah. I just, I just remember really enjoying strolling around the old town and just the vibe of the city also. I always get a manicure and a pedicure when I’m there because it’s so much cheaper and the quality is so much better than anything that you could find in Austria. And in fact, in Austria, I when I get a manicure-pedicure done, I make sure that it’s by a, not specifically Romanian, but Eastern European, because you guys know what you’re doing like you really do when it comes to these things.

Damita: [00:20:10] And there’s no culture. There’s not this culture of self-care and of beauty, I would say, for women in Austria.

Daniela: [00:20:16] The Romanian ladies love their nails.

Damita: [00:20:18] That is the thing, like in Romania, there’s much more this… Like it’s acceptable to get your makeup done just for a party or like, no one blinks an eye if you do your nails. Here, it’s like, oh, what? You go to the salon to do your nails? Like, that’s weird. Like, how are you going to milk the cows?

Damita: [00:20:30] How you gonna milk the cows with those, you know?

Daniela: [00:20:33] Serious problems, guys.

Damita: [00:20:36] So you know, in Austria I always feel a little bit shallow for having that as one of my hobbies or like, it’s something that just gives me joy. But in Romania, it is the most normal thing in the world. So I feel like, yes, I’m a girl, I’m allowed to be a girl, I’m going to get out of here.

Damita: [00:20:50] So that’s always something that I do.

Damita: [00:20:52] And yeah. If there’s a place that I can think of, I will let you know. But I think those were, like, my top ones.

Damita: [00:20:59] For now, I feel that, oh, no, I, you know, I feel terrible because I haven’t included anything cultural. And it made me sound like a child. But! But I loved the two museums that I discovered last time. There was the Romanian Literature Museum, which I found amazing. And there was also, there was, in there, there was an there was an exhibit on Eminescu and there was a lot of, there were a lot of the original manuscripts that were shown. And there was also his connection to Vienna. So, he spent a lot of time living in Vienna. And actually, I think he died in Vienna? Anyway. What I definitely know is that he was cared for when he was sick. He was cared for in a home in Heiligenstadt in Vienna or in the hospital.

Damita: [00:21:38] And that’s where I work. So he definitely spent some time in his life near where I work.

Damita: [00:21:43] And there’s also, near my old school, there’s a memorial plaque of him that commemorates him. And so, finding out these these ways that, you know, this most famous of the Romanian writers is tied into my hometown.

Damita: [00:21:57] I really enjoyed that journey.

Damita: [00:21:59] And the other, the other museum that I thought was really, really cool is you guys have a museum of old… in Bucharest, there’s a museum of old maps.

Damita: [00:22:09] I absolutely loved it. There’s maps of Europe and of Romania, dating back to centuries and centuries. I found this, I found this old map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, basically, where I found my mother’s birthplace, dating back to 1800, something like that. And… So I really also loved discovering that. There we go. Now I’ve enumerated some smart things as well, so that no one can accuse me of only going to Bucharest for the thermen and the manicurists.

Daniela: [00:22:42] Yes. And I have elucidated the mystery about Eminescu’s death. So he died, quote Wikipedia at 4:00 a.m. on the 15th of June, 1889 at Caritas Institute in Bucharest.

Damita: [00:22:53] In Bucharest? OK. But he… then he died in Bucharest. But he definitely spent some time being cared for, I think, in Vienna.

Daniela: [00:23:01] Yes. He was sickly, especially towards the end of his life.

Damita: [00:23:03] Yes. Another thing, you guys have a lot of stray cats in Bucharest. And that’s, that is something that I appreciate. I know it’s terrible for the cats, but they’re so cute.

Daniela: [00:23:12] I mean, it depends. Because quite a lot of the cats, they do get food from the many people. So, for example, there are these stories where one cat would have like 4 owners, but none of them would know about each other. So then, the cat will just go and have 4 breakfast, 4 lunches and 4 dinners.

Damita: [00:23:28] Cheeky cats. Obviously, I think it would, I mean, I assume that it would be preferable for any cat to have a proper home. But yes, like as you say, a lot of them don’t seem, you know, hungry or anything like that. And it’s just nice to, yeah, indeed. A lot of them are also quite friendly. So, I would have taken 5 of them in already, if I… if it wasn’t so expensive to get them to Austria and such a such hassle, because you have to have them tested over there and you have to… I found this one cat that I totally fell in love with. And I was seriously considering bringing her. But you have to get them tested over there and then you have to reach for the transport. It’s really expensive and really complicated. So I decided I can’t do it because I already booked my flight back, but…

Daniela: [00:24:08] But the opportunity is always open. Trust me, there’s a lot of pets in general that I think would… Well, cats, dogs as well. Horses, like Romania just has a lot of… a lot of wildlife, a lot of nature, a lot of pets like formerly… formerly known pets and stray dogs and all of that.

Daniela: [00:24:27] But yeah. So you went to Bucharest, you saw… and to Cluj, also, you saw a bit of Romania in terms of stuff to do. But also the people are pretty important as well, to any experience, and, in this case, you had quite a personal connection to a Romanian.

Daniela: [00:24:45] So, I am wondering how the relationship was from this cultural perspective. So for example, as an international pair, maybe certain cultural elements may have affected the communication style or opinions.

Daniela: [00:25:00] How did it work for you guys? Did you notice that cultural… tidbits of opinions or things that you do or things that you find acceptable?

Damita: [00:25:08] So first of all, what I really, really loved is that Alex was really romantic. You know, he was… And you don’t get this from Austrians. Seriously, in Austria, if an Austrian guy tells you like, you’re quite cool, that’s basically a declaration of love and undying commitment. Austrian men are cold as fuck. Like seriously, there’s exceptions, of course. But in general, Austrians can be quite reserved.

Damita: [00:25:33] And in my experience, people from Romania or even Italy or Spain or other places aren’t. So that was, that was very nice. I enjoyed… He wouldn’t… he would, for example, never let me pay. Ever. Like in Austria, it’s quite common now to split the bill when you date. But when we were dating, of course, when we were together, we would split things fairly. But when we were dating, he wouldn’t let me pay for a thing. And, you know, he showed up, the first time he came to my place for dinner, he showed up with a… with a bouquet of flowers.

Damita: [00:26:00] And so I feel like these things are… I don’t know if it’s a Romanian thing or I don’t know if it’s… but definitely compared to what you get from Austrians, as a woman, you feel more desired and more, you know, nicer. Yeah. You know, I like it. Of course, you know, when you’re in a relationship with someone, of course, you split the costs for everything and blah, blah. But I like the dating stage. I like him paying for stuff stage the hand-holding doors opened and buying you flowers. The sort of… Yeah, kind of. I like that. And so that was very nice.

Damita: [00:26:32] I assume you would get the same thing in other, you know, maybe in Italy or Spain or I don’t know, other countries that are maybe less emotionally challenged than Austria. But yeah, that’s one aspect that I really enjoyed. He was also quite warm and quite… Yeah, but that’s maybe not… I don’t know in how far that is cultural. In terms of his sense of humor, though.

Damita: [00:26:55] I found that he thought it was acceptable to laugh at a lot of stuff, that I did not think was acceptable at all to.

Daniela: [00:27:02] Oh yes. The dark humor is strong.

Damita: [00:27:04] Like overweight children?

Damita: [00:27:07] Or one time, we had a fight in the subway in Budapest because he had… he had likened something to a concentration camp. And in Austria, you don’t do.

Damita: [00:27:18] That’s not something that we do, you know, and he like jokingly made a comment like, oh, we’re not a little lager or something like that. Which to anyone, I know this, I studied in the UK, you know, to any or to a lot of other cultures, that’s not a big deal.

Damita: [00:27:31] And people don’t think this is terrible, they’re not… they probably don’t make you a terrible person.

Damita: [00:27:36] But, to an Austrian, that’s like, oh, my God, you can’t say that because you just can’t say that.

Daniela: [00:27:42] The history is too recent.

Damita: [00:27:45] Yeah.

Daniela: [00:27:45] We have a past.

Damita: [00:27:46] Exactly.

Damita: [00:27:47] So definitely in terms sense of humor and also, sometimes in terms of, despite what I just said about liking the dating part and liking the part where the guy still pays for stuff, I am actually quite a big believer in feminism and managing relationships in a way that you… that you basically just approach each other on the same level and and take it on seriously on these things.

Damita: [00:28:11] Not that he didn’t do that, but we had some fights about that.

Damita: [00:28:14] Gender roles also in the sense of what, what are we… how would we teach our children, you know, how would we, when our son starts dating, when her daughter starts dating, how do we speak to them about these things? And maybe back then also, I was very young. I was 22. I was very naive, very idealistic. I had a very left liberal sort of position on these things. And he had maybe a little bit more Romanian perspective on these things, in the sense I feel like in Romania, gender roles are still more entrenched than in Austria. It’s bad in Austria. There’s a lot of, there’s still a lot of work to do here. But I feel like in Romania, women study computer science and math and these things. In Austria, women don’t. I feel like communism, as terrible as it was, may have acted as an equalizer there because everyone worked and everyone had to contribute. And so it was… And so that was never something that was called into question. In Austria, we struggle usually with that. But then I feel like certain or at least, I’m talking about my little Viennese liberal bubble, you know, this might be very different other parts of the country. But at least in my bubble before I met Alex, there were certain ideas that he held that were uncommon in my group of friends or in my group of my, you know, sort of the circles that I frequented. And that was challenging sometimes. But… So, yeah, that made for some arguments. It would be boring if you agreed on everything, right?

Daniela: [00:29:36] Absolutely. And no, it is true. Like, for example, this idea of what is the role of the woman versus what is the role of the man. This was actually something that an executive, I think from Microsoft did say in the media recently that they do admire, the fact that Romanians seem to have a more… Well, they would call it balanced participation in the sciences.

Damita: [00:29:54] Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that’s amazing. You know, and I think it’s so, and this is something that really bugs me about Austria. And I mean, I can’t really talk. I mean, I studied psychology and journalism. So, you know, I’m not… I’m part of the problem. And I know so many, I know so many Romanian women, bad-ass women who like went to study computer science and business and all of these really tough, hard-core subjects. And I feel like that’s a real issue in Austria. And I can’t quite pinpoint why.

Daniela: [00:30:21] To a certain extent that is also cultural.

Daniela: [00:30:24] I mean, for sure, communism has its own part of the narrative because obviously, like you said, during the communist times, it didn’t matter. Women and men, especially during the urbanization period of the 60s and 70s, women and men came to the city. And obviously the old customs of the woman takes care of the children. The man goes and works the field were… all of a sudden they were not needed. So there was a discovery period of what we actually want. What can I do? But I do feel that this was also from before. As much as Romania is a traditionalist country, we did have women that were just ballsy enough to go to universities like to through the polytechnic universities in Munich or go into diplomacy as well, with going into Paris and Berlin as well. I feel like this kind of rebel, I-will-do-what-I-want power was always in the culture somehow. It’s just that also, the opposite is also true because, at the same time, we do have women that they do know that they are boy-toys, putting it very directly. And they will go to the extreme of having I don’t how many plastic surgeries and looking perfectly just to get attention of guys and be set off her life. I mean, I remember that even in university, I had some colleagues and I went to foreign languages. So obviously, the ratio of girls was very high, who were saying that they would prefer to have a sugar-daddy out of university and they were very open about it. And like, yeah, know I’m getting myself pretty and everything and I hope that this will happen. Then that didn’t happen because the people, for example, some of the people went on to have PhDs. But I do see that in a way this narrative goes into Romania’s narrative of, it’s a country of extremes in a way.

Damita: [00:32:00] Yeah. So whatever caused this cultural, I couldn’t tell you whether Austria had these sorts of rebellious women that went and studied math or engineering.

Damita: [00:32:09] I don’t know the history of feminism or women’s rights in this country well enough. But yeah, that was something that struck me.

Damita: [00:32:17] Another thing that struck me, that is sort of along those lines, that I personally really like, but that’s probably up for debate, is that in Romania, people still seem to actually get married and start families and things like that. So, which again, in my Viennese liberal blah, blah environment is not that common anymore.

Daniela: [00:32:39] People don’t commit anymore or not as easily.

Damita: [00:32:41] That’s the thing, people don’t commit. People don’t… A lot of people don’t want to get married. They don’t see the point. A lot of people don’t want children because it’s too stressful or whatever. And I feel like in Romania, even in the urban areas, even in… even amongst educated, more educated, like university-educated people, that’s still a thing that you do. And personally, I think that’s… that strongly aligns with the values that I have and with things that I want for my life.

Damita: [00:33:08] I feel like in Austria, if I want that, I may have to go looking in more conservative circles, if that makes sense.

Daniela: [00:33:17] Definitely. But then I think it also matters how things happen. But indeed, I did also notice that in Romania people do get married, like the waves of emancipation has started there as well. If you can call it emancipation like this, this idea of we’re not going to get married exactly the way that our parents wanted to or at the ages that our parents wanted to. But I do feel that, at least with the couples that I have seen, the idea of, let’s build something together and let’s be there for each other is still stronger than, for example, in Western countries. The human connection is still there.

Damita: [00:33:51] Exactly. And that’s something that I personally really, really appreciate.

Daniela: [00:33:54] Did you also see that in your relationship?

Damita: [00:33:56] I mean, Alex, thought that you should get married if you have children. Otherwise, it doesn’t really make sense to just marry without children. We didn’t want kids. So that was never a question with us. Like, I feel like at this point in 2019 in Vienna, first you have to clear up with someone like, OK. Are you monogamous? Are you… Are you willing to be in a monogamous relationship? Do you see, like these very basic things that 10 years ago no one would have asked. It was just like OK, this guy kissed me. So I guess we’re boyfriend and girlfriend now. And now it’s like, what do you think about polyamory? And do you want a Goth wedding?

Daniela: [00:34:31] It’s different. Different discussions.

Damita: [00:34:34] Exactly. I feel like, I feel like in that sense, Romania is less complicated. Let’s say.

Daniela: [00:34:39] Yeah. Romania still has some ties with its more traditional past, I think.

Daniela: [00:34:44] And at the same time, I do believe that in Romania, the feeling of being together, it can be a bit deeper.

Damita: [00:34:50] Like I said, don’t compare it to Austria because we are cold. Like not me personally, but generally speaking, there is no culture of Austrians… Austrians can be quite cold, they have a very sort of flat emotional curve, if you want to call it that, it’s very… it’s very, you know. Oh, I just built a house, so I’m happy.

Damita: [00:35:11] Oh, my wife left me so sad. You know, it’s no… there’s no, there’s no exuberance, there’s no despair. It’s just like, it sort of oscillates between fine and fine. It’s… there’s no… and yeah, that’s… that’s very nice when I go abroad in Romania, among other places, but also sort of anywhere, anywhere else, it’s just people are a lot more in touch with their feelings. I almost want to say, like I feel like that the…

Damita: [00:35:34] Oh my god. I keep seeing all these negative things. Austria is a great country. Like, seriously, it’s great. I love it. Vienna is great.

Damita: [00:35:38] You should come visit, but just don’t expect any, you know, overflowing displays of emotion because that’s just not our thing.

Daniela: [00:35:44] No for sure. And again, every people has their own way of manifesting themselves and their own culture. So I don’t think it’s necessarily something good or bad. It’s more about preferences, because I’m very sure that some people are annoyed with the fact that Romanians can be loud, or the Romanians can take more… I don’t know, like in traffic.

Daniela: [00:36:04] That they are just insane.

Damita: [00:36:05] Sure. You guys drive like Italians. Absolutely. I would never drive in Romania. I mean, I barely want to drive in Austria, but I would never drive in Romania.

Daniela: [00:36:13] Understandable. But coming back to the relationship part.

Daniela: [00:36:16] But I do have a question about that, like, a last question about that, off the bat. What advice would you have for people who are dating Romanians or what kind of pearls of wisdom did you pick up throughout your relationship and you’d want to share with people?

Damita: [00:36:30] Yeah, don’t believe them when they say their country’s terrible.

Damita: [00:36:33] It’s actually pretty great, because… it’s actually pretty great to visit. Of course, I realize that it may have there’s… there may be a lot of issues where you have to live there, but it’s a great country to visit. And other than that, get ready for sarmale, get ready for…

Daniela: [00:36:48] For food and home-made alcohol.

Damita: [00:36:51] Yes. Get ready for a lot of food at Christmas. They have this weird thing where they fry the skin of a pig for Christmas and that. But you don’t need to… You can just say mulțumesc, nu (thank you, but no).

Daniela: [00:37:03] I do not consent to jumări.

Damita: [00:37:05] Yeah, but otherwise, otherwise I don’t actually know how much of a difference culture makes in relationships, like a lot of this stuff is going to be very individual, and when you get to know someone on such a close level, I don’t know that culture is actually going… you know, people are so different and culture is such a small part of who they are. I don’t know that I can really, that you could really sort of give advice.

Damita: [00:37:28] Definitely, definitely the advice that I would give also is learn Romanian children songs. There’s so many of them with elephants in them, which is another thing that I love, because in Austria, like in German, we don’t have a single song, a single children’s song that has an elephant in them. Ours are really boring. Ours have like, you know, bears and stuff. You guys have elephants. That’s amazing. So, definitely that’s something… like if you’re if you’re considering having a family with a Romanian and get ready for some very cool, very cool children songs.

Daniela: [00:37:55] Perfect. Although the sarmale advice, I honestly think that’s on point. I’m sorry, if you are dating a Romanian, you will come to their families and most of the families know how to cook or they will take you to places where you will eat a lot, so…

Damita: [00:38:06] Yeah. And the food’s very, very good. I’m not sure, I’m not sure I’m a fan of the pickling everything. Like all of the vegetables. I’m not sure you need to pickle every single vegetable. But… But otherwise, I really enjoy your food.

Daniela: [00:38:17] And you also mentioned that Romanians are not necessarily the best PR spokespeople for their own country. How did you notice this and what is your opinion about it? Where do you think it comes from and how do you react to it when when a Romanian person starts talking smack?

Damita: [00:38:32] I have… I have several old Romanian friends by now. Some of them, I met in connection with… Actually, no, most of them, actually no. I didn’t meet any of them in connection with Alex. I met them sort of going along. There’s Larisa from Brașov, who’s a very good friend of mine. There is Miri, whom I’ve already mentioned. There’s Vlad. And sort of all of them… I understand, obviously, that you have a completely different perspective on that country, whether you visited a couple of times and you liked it or whether you have to live there. I understand that if you’ve lived there and if you, and if you’ve seen a system that is corrupt, that is broken, where you don’t… where you can work hard and still not reap the rewards or not work at all and be the son of somebody and therefore, have it better than everyone else. I understand how frustrating that must be. And having grown up in a country that works reasonably well, we have some issues. But of course, they are nothing compared to Romania. I probably can’t fully empathize with that and I probably can’t fully, you know, take their place. So I completely understand that, that the people, you know, there’s always this feeling of I don’t… there’s always whenever I talk to someone about this, there’s always this feeling of, oh, I don’t really… You know, “I don’t really follow Romanian politics anymore” or “it really depresses me to follow Romanian politics” or “I don’t really go home that much anymore”. These kinds of things. And I always think, on the one hand, it’s really sad because I’ve… I’ve gotten to know Romania or I mean, I’ve only… I’ve only ever been to Bucharest and to Cluj. So I haven’t really gotten to know Romania, but I’ve gotten to know sides of the country that are so beautiful.

Damita: [00:40:03] And here are all these people that obviously have a very conflicted relationship to their own country. But on the other hand, it’s really not for me to judge. Like I understand that… Yeah. Like I said, I understand that it’s completely different whether you visit a country or you live there. And I completely understand that some things can be frustrating when, you know, when you know that your country is being governed in an inefficient way or when you know that, you know, there’s so much more potential there that isn’t being tapped because the administration is making mistakes. And I understand that that’s frustrating and understand that… Yeah, I understand that people don’t have much, many good things to say about that anymore.

Daniela: [00:40:40] I think people are losing their patience. I think that plays a big factor into the way that Romanians, especially the ones that have gone abroad and are living abroad, myself included, at this point in time. There is just a lot of frustration and not wanting to sacrifice yourself again, because that’s actually something that the previous generations used to say, “oh, we’re just the sacrificial generation. We are the ones who are going to, you know, make sure that we’re going to suffer now, but we’re going to make sure that our children will have a better future”. And of course, there’s a whole other discussion with the 1989 revolution where that was actually one of the slogans of the student groups. And then, well, 30 years later, we are still, yea, at square one, I would say.

Damita: [00:41:21] Exactly. And so that’s why, who am I to come from the outside, you know, after all of this history, after all of this shared cultural struggle, who am I to come from the outside from… from a fairly privileged country and say, oh, you’re seeing it all wrong, because I went to Bucharest and I loved it. So you… you’re seeing, you have to be more positive. You know, like that’s not my place. And that’s… I’m sure that there are many reasons why a lot of Romanians feel very conflicted towards the country.

Daniela: [00:41:51] On the other side, I would say that they should have a more balanced outlook.

Daniela: [00:41:56] Of course, I’m not talking about personal experiences that have happened to them. And then they got a completely negative opinion about Romania. I’m not talking about extreme cases, but I do feel, like, there is this sort of exaggeration.

Daniela: [00:42:11] Of hating on Romania. People can go too far, as well as they can go too far in saying and defending their country. There are also the… before, there used to be the majority of people that used to praise Romania as the most beautiful place, that we have so many… so much nature, such good food. The people are so hospitable and all that. Now, it’s a bit on the flipside, of course, because there are also around 4+ million people outside of the country and they left mostly because they feel they cannot build the future only in the country. So it’s interesting to see this dynamic, how things change.

Damita: [00:42:46] No, that makes total sense. And of course, whenever you speak to someone, you’re right in saying that whenever you speak someone outside of Romania about Romania, you’re obviously speaking to someone who left. So, that’s the point of view that you’re going to get. That makes… that makes total sense.

Daniela: [00:42:59] And thinking about politics, and specifically about Romanian politics, you are pretty connected to what is happening in the country as well, right?

Damita: [00:43:06] Yeah. Well, I started taking an interest in it when… this happened in 2015, the horrible fire at at Club Colectiv happened in 2015.

Damita: [00:43:16] And, so this is while Alex and I were together and he said, you know, and he said, one day, you know, this terrible thing happened and I’m gonna go protest. And so, I of course, I took interest.

Damita: [00:43:25] Alex is a very peaceful guy. So, if he goes out to protest, you know, there’s something wrong. And so, you know, I took an interest and he explained everything to me. And up to that point, I didn’t really understand. Of course, I knew what corruption was. And I knew, obviously, and in Austria, like for sure, we had a lot of small scale corruption. And there’s a lot of… there’s a lot of stuff going on for sure that shouldn’t be. And, you know, we don’t… we’re not the most transparent country and these things. But for corruption to actually kill people is something so abhorrent, that it made it… like I remember it making an impression on me. He told me the story and I thought, you know, how can this happen in a country that’s a member of the European Union? How is something like this possible?

Daniela: [00:44:02] Maybe you can explain what actually happened at Colectiv, from your point of view. Like what information did you get?

Damita: [00:44:09] So the gist of it that I remember is that dozens of people died because the… the fire safety regulations were not being adhered to properly in this club, and because the club was able to sort of… the authorities were not paying proper attention, to ensure that safety regulations were being met. And ultimately, there was a fire and many, many victims that could have been avoided had… had proper regulations been in place. Now, I’m not sure if I’m not sure… Yeah, I can’t, I can’t remember or any of the exact details. But I remember it made an impression on me. And I remember, you know, there were these protests all across the world, really, I believe, of Romanians outside of Romania who stood in front of embassies and who who protested and who organised.

Damita: [00:44:53] And… and I thought it was very powerful.

Damita: [00:44:55] And I thought also, for Austrians to organize like that back then, I couldn’t remember a time when Austrians were so involved in the politics of their country and so passionate about change. So that really, yeah, that impressed me.

Damita: [00:45:09] And that’s when, you know, I slowly started to, you know, Alex explained to me who Dragnea was.

Damita: [00:45:14] And then I sort of, also, got to understand why socialism has such a negative connotation for Romanians, because to me, socialism is an ideology that maintains that the state needs to receive certain processes to create a fair society for all. But, of course, for Romanians, there’s this whole history behind it that means… that it means something different to them.

Damita: [00:45:35] I started understanding how the Socialist Party in Romania is not comparable to the Socialist Party here, and that’s how I slowly, slowly got into things.

Damita: [00:45:42] And of course, because I’m a journalist, I am… when there’s a big story that’s relevant on an EU level.

Damita: [00:45:48] Like, for example, Dragnea having being imprisoned or all of these, a lot of this… a lot of these laws on transparency and trials and these things were covered EU-wide as well. So, I covered that. I also covered the time that Florin Iordache showed the middle finger to the EU in parliament. So there’s these little nuggets of gold that… that made it all the way to the Austrian news, basically.

Daniela: [00:46:16] And what is your hope for Romania, given its tumultuous past, and, obviously, you have seen these glimpses of change, or at least these… this will of the people to change? What is your hope for the country?

Damita: [00:46:28] I get the feeling that right now, at least in Bucharest, there is this… there’s this energy of a city that’s still growing and still sort of defining itself. And new places are popping up, and the spirit… sort of that the spirit of building something. And I… and I, I guess my hope would be to… I guess my hope would be that that spirit can be kept up, and that the Romanian people get the politicians they deserve.

Damita: [00:46:52] You know, I mean, at the end of the day there, it’s 2019 there. There are European country there.

Damita: [00:46:57] And I would… I guess my hope would just be that… that maybe 10 or 20 years from now, most Romanians feel that they’re governed by people who they say are generally trustworthy and are… generally have their best interests at heart. That’s a tall order for any democracy, to be honest, like that’s a tall order even in Austria. But that’s what I or, yeah. That’s what I would hope. Or at least, or at least I would hope that the corruption plays less of a role.

Daniela: [00:47:22] I think for Romania, it is fair to say that that would be a necessary step to move forward, even though it is quite the, yeah, the milestone, because people are used to a certain system. People are used to doing stuff because they know somebody and they’re indebted to somebody else and… or they just don’t think that it really matters.

Damita: [00:47:40] Absolutely. I think the kind of system that you grew up in hugely influences your entire outlook on life. And I think breaking these kinds of patterns isn’t… it’s not enough to vote in a new government and think that the problem is going to go away. There’s cultural change probably that needs to happen. And when you have these kinds of entrenched patterns and I think the process is a lot more difficult than just voting in new guys.

Daniela: [00:48:07] Oh, for sure. Because cultural change is individual change. And that is quite the adventure. But the good part is that, indeed, the Romanian people do have it, in their past as well. I mean, we have seen people whose potential… we have seen periods of time when Romania flourished. So it is possible. It’s just a matter of doing it. And also being patient with each other. Because I think, again, it boils down to understanding what kind of heavy change this would be for people and understanding that we all need to review a bit of our behavior. And I think this is a… this would go also for a… on a global scale, very much in the same direction. Guys, let’s just try to be more mature, more responsible, and be OK with who you are and then, take it from there.

Damita: [00:48:48] Sure. Sure. I mean, I think that these issues and things that Romania is facing, they’re definitely not the only country facing them. And there’s definitely a lot of countries globally have that struggle with similar… So, it’s not, it’s not as though, you know, this is a unique case.

Daniela: [00:49:01] But the good part is that there is hope. And that is important.

Damita: [00:49:05] There’s always hope. There’s always hope. Until you die. And even then, there’s hope.

Daniela: [00:49:09] But, cool. We’re getting to the last part of the interview. I have two more questions for you. What words of wisdom would you have, in general, for those who want to discover more about Romania? So, for the internationals who are looking into Romania, maybe as their next moving step or just the visit, what would you advise them?

Damita: [00:49:29] I mean, I would say the same thing that I would say to anyone who is thinking of moving to a different country, which is just learn the language. Romanian is a very easy language to learn. It’s part of the romance languages like French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese. It has a very simple grammar. It will give you access to a Romania that you would not otherwise have access to. I’m still learning. I read some books in Romanian… try to read some books in Romanian. I read some articles in Romanian occasionally. I am nowhere near as good at speaking as I am at understanding. At this point, I understand most of everything that I read. It just gives you insights that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

Daniela: [00:50:09] You also go on Utopia Grup.

Damita: [00:50:10] Yes, I follow Utopia Grup. Some of their jokes are a bit too much for me, but a lot of them are funny, again, with the sense of humor, like, some of their jokes are like to me, this is not something that you should be laughing at.

Damita: [00:50:21] But I think that’s the same cultural difference that I mentioned earlier. Otherwise, yeah, get used to…

Damita: [00:50:28] I mean, if you’re moving on a Western European salary, get used to living like a king for now.

Damita: [00:50:35] This might change in the next couple of years. But for now. And people are going to be very, very friendly. So you don’t need to be worried about that. Yeah, I think, you know, it’s a safe country to move to. It’s a safe country to travel in. I can’t think of any tips that I wouldn’t give to anyone else who is traveling, really.

Daniela: [00:50:52] Except the learning Romanian part, that might be a bit not useful for them if they’re not going to Romania.

Damita: [00:50:57] Obviously.

Damita: [00:50:58] So. Yeah. So learning… Yeah, definitely. I would advise learning Romanian. And it’s a really beautiful language as well. It sounds really beautiful. So…

Daniela: [00:51:07] Cool. Cool.

Daniela: [00:51:09] And the last question. What are your wishes for 2020? For yourself and for other people and for the listeners?

Damita: [00:51:15] So, so let me start with the easy part. To anyone who’s listening, I hope you have a wonderful year, a 2020 full of love and prosperity and health and everything else you may wish for. I hope you get to visit Romania. It’s a beautiful country. For the world, I would wish for a little bit more stability. There is some… there’s gonna be presidential elections in the US. Let’s hope that they bring a little bit more stability. For myself, I love my job right now. And this is a podcast, people are listening, but I’m just gonna be brutally honest. I love my job right now. I love my life. I just wish that I… I just want to find love. That’s the only puzzle piece that’s missing. So I, that’s my wish for 2020.

Daniela: [00:51:54] Let’s wish that to everyone, because I think even people who have found the love of their life and have the family and all of that, a little bit of love will never hurt.

Damita: [00:52:02] A little bit of love never hurts. So, yeah. Love for everyone.

Daniela: [00:52:05] Amazing. Thank you so much, lady, for the time and for the talk and for the amazing opinions.

Damita: [00:52:12] You’re very welcome. I very much enjoyed it, I very much… It’s always nice. You know, I’m a journalist, so it’s always nice when someone asks me for my opinions for a change. Like what do you want, you want to hear from me? Really?

Daniela: [00:52:23] Thank you so much.

Daniela: [00:52:35] You have listened to episode 5 of the Wo/anderers podcast. For 2020, our New Year’s resolution is to make way for more curiosity-based conversations like this one and expand the relationship between Romania and its international community. We wish to have you by our side to making this happen. And one way you can do that is by showing your support and subscribing to our podcast, wherever you’re listening: on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer, YouTube or on any other podcast app of your choice. We’re probably there. So give us a like, give us a subscribe, and show your love. Hear you in the next one! Mulțumesc, mulțumesc, mulțumesc! And la revedere.

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