Romania, Romanians, and their craziness

Romania, Romanians, and their craziness

I am originally from Romania but I live in Spain most of the time – for the past 3-4 years I haven’t been to Romania at all, but this year I said: “Let’s give it a try for the winter period.”. Been in Romania for 2 months now and I start to freak out when I see the pseudoscience, or let’s call it simply “craziness”, of the Romanian people. I am too well aware of it, because I’ve lived here for the most part of my life, but I kinda forgot about it. On top of that, there are some weird things about Romania that I want to share with you.

It is crazy to judge 20 million people in bulk (the population of Romania), but what I am going to talk about is kinda representative of most of them from my knowledge. This is what is spread on the most popular TV stations, newspapers, social media, and so on. This is something popular and not an underground thing. So for sure there are many exceptions to what I’m going to talk about.

OK.

So, Romania has 5 national TV stations (state-funded) under the same umbrella (TVR). These channels are somewhat reasonable because they are state-funded so they don’t seem to prostitute themselves for views, therefore they may make ok TV shows and present more balanced news. However, even those are fucked up. The most popular of them is TVR1. Want to know how much of their airtime is dedicated to science? Some 0.59%. Religion? 1.94%. Some 4 times more Religion than Science. Look at the chart below that I made from Wikipedia data.

That goes to show that even for the “respectable” and state-funded TV channel, science takes up a minute part. This TVR1 is on the 8th place in Romania in terms of viewers. The rest are private TV stations.

All of this is important because it goes to show that for one the main state-funded TV channel in Romania rarely has Science programs, and second that this main TVR1 channel is barely in the 8th place in terms of rating. Thus, we can easily understand that Romanians are mainly watching private TV channels that are, like all other private TV channels in the world, hungry for views and they will “click-bait” like nuts. Meaning they will mislead and exaggerate and present stupid and fake TV shows. Basically Romanians are watching bullshit Tv most of the time – almost all of the time.

In the online world, looking at the same TV stations, let’s see how they rank on Facebook in terms of Page likes:

TVR1 is now on the 7th place. Still lame.

With that in mind let’s begin.

 

1. Horoscopes. I thought these silly things will disappear when I was in 6th grade, but they are still a flavour not to be missed from any Romanian newspaper or TV station – or reflected into the ‘social’ networks. People watch the Horoscope pretty much every day and take it seriously. From young to old, I’ve seen more of them taking it seriously than not. They even ask you what sign you are in if you meet them. This is not so epidemic, but it is something that’s present in Romania in abundance. I hope no one would ask me what sign I’m in cause’ I’ll either have a debate with them over their stupidity or I’m gonna freak out.

Pretty much all of the above TV channels, except perhaps TVR1, have horoscopes in their TV broadcast menu (after and before the news program). And when it comes to the online world, especially social networks, horoscopes are widely popular for sure. Take this popular TV host from Romania with over 3 million followers, who is horoscope-addicted and it seems to be posting on the topic like nuts, influencing so many other primitive minds to follow her stupidity.

According to a 2014 study, 57% of Romanians believe in horoscopes. If that doesn’t sound scary….

 

2. Health. Romania is one of the few tribes in the world where it is legal to advertise medicine on TV, radio, and pretty much everywhere. When I came to Romania recently and I was in the car listening to the radio, I just could not find a radio station that would only broadcast music. All radios are so full of ads for medicine that you can barely listen to any music. Same goes for the TV which is full of ads for medicine, every couple of minutes. That led to a complete and utter chaos because Romanians go to pharmacies to buy medicine for everything without consulting with their doctor first. Actually, if you ask Romanians when did they visit the hospital last time, I think most of them won’t remember. They choose to go to pharmacies and diagnose themselves and treat themselves, rather than going to hospitals. Have a cold? There is a pill for that! Back pain? Pill! Feel bloated, depressed, lethargic, or cancerous? No worries, in Romania there is a pill for every-fucking-single-thing. This is insane. They give pills to their children to “prevent” all kinds of illnesses, though again, that’s not something recommended by their doctors. It is a self-treatment based on ignorance and heavily influenced by marketing. Almost all the people I know here choose to treat themselves over a visit to the hospital.

But did you know that Romanians are one with the nature? They are the only ones in the world who get a cold when it is cold outside and treat it with antibiotics, and the air current makes them sick. These myths are so prevalent that everyone believes them, even some doctors. If you are Romanian and go out with your hair wet, you’ll get a bloody cold! They don’t understand that a cold it’s the result of getting a virus infection for which there is no treatment. But they treat it with anti-biotics regardless. Meaning anti bacterial. So they take stuff to kill off bacteria when they are infected with a virus. Imagine that nonsense. Problem is, even doctors in Romania will recommend antibiotics for colds, and sometimes for everything. Antibiotics in Romania are like a magic pill that can fix any disease and you can buy from any pharmacy. This can only help more harmful bacteria to mutate and grow, or what’s called as bacterial resistance, and that is fucking dangerous for everyone. And the fact that Romanians think that getting cold, like going out in the cold, will get you a cold, is so amazing that it is dangerous. If you are sweaty and go outside in the cold, then you are twice as fucked, they think. They don’t understand, again, that you get a cold when a tiny creature (actually billions of them) enter your body and create havoc (viruses). What has this to do with the cold? Nothing. By contrary, when it is cold outside there are more cases of viral infections because people stay inside for longer and are exposed to other people in closed environments. So people and closed spaces are what drive the spread of viruses, not the fuckin’ cold. If you want to prevent getting a cold wash your hands, stay outside, and don’t lick other people too much.

 

When I was little and I and my sister had a cold my parents used all kinds of witchcraft on us like they took raw potatoes, wrapped them in whatever thin material they had at home, then wrapped that around our necks. At times they put blue ink inside our throats. Yeah, ink that’s used for pencils to write with it. Nuts.

Maybe Romanians are confused with this cold business because it is called “cold” and when it is cold outside, you get a cold…maybe when it is hot outside you’re getting “a hot”!? Nevermind…

Another mystical connection Romanians have with the nature is with the air current. This is hilarious. Go to any Romanian house and you’ll see people closing windows and doors to not let the air “current” get in. They are so sensitive that they could work on testing the ISS for oxygen leaking. Just put a Romanian in the ISS and they’ll tell you for sure if air from outside circulates inside :)). Romanians think that the air current makes them sick, and there is no way to argue with them over that. A fan or air conditioning is the enemy of any Romanians :)). Can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve heard: “Close the car window cause’ the air current will make you sick! Close the window in the house cause’ the air current….close the fan, put on a winter hat to avoid the current,….” and so on. You know, I’ve heard about the ritual of using antibiotics for “combating viral infections” in other tribes like the USA, but this one with the air current I didn’t hear it anywhere. It is for sure a Romanian brand.

See the photo below? If you’re Romanian and would be forced to spend few hours in that room, you’ll be completely fucked :)).

So, just keep in mind, when you come to Romania avoid being cold because you’ll catch a cold, and be aware of the air current. Don’t you dare to drink cold water or ice cream if you get a cold, and close the fuckin’ doors and windows everywhere you are.

 

3. Pseudoscience everywhere. If you search on google.com in English, say “colon cancer treatment” then you’ll get decent results in the first search queries. No pseudoscience BS. They put up on the top of the list websites that are sane. However, do that on google.ro (the Romanian Google) and in the Romanian language, and you’ll get amazed. Here are the first 10 results summarized from the Romanian Google in Romanian language using Incognito mode (so that I don’t get personalized results):

01. A website recommending diets, says that they have a list of ailments that will help avoid getting the colon cancer. Although they do cite some true things in that regards like it is recommended to avoid processed meat and it is recommended to eat more vegetables and fruits, their website is all about diet so they push the article towards that a lot. Plus their website is full of ads for “natural treatments” and “detox” of all sorts. It looks like a full-fledged “scam” website made in 2003 or smthing’ (cause’ of the look of it).

02. The second website presents legitimate information about the colon cancer treatments options, though is just a website from a private clinic in Bucharest (the capital of Romania). They do radiotherapy – not pseudoscience, but that’s their business.

03. Naturist treatment. Meaning, bullshit pseudoscience.

04. Seems legitimate website. A doctor’s website.

05. General news website, but full of BS – like “look how certain ailments are combating cancer”.

06. Seems legitimate – again, a private clinic.

07. A religious website full of BS.

08. It’s a forum where a guy started a topic about how some mushrooms treated his cancer.

09. Seems legitimate website ran by doctors. Relevant info.

10. Another religious website full of crap.

So statistically 6 out of 10 websites were full of crap. Considering these are the top 10 results it is scary. Why? Because of the bellow graph:

Blue are searches on desktop, and red on mobile. It shows the click rate on google by results position. So, as you can see the first 3 to 5 positions are the best, while the rest are almost non-existent. Thus, what this means is that when people search on google the majority of them click the first 5 or so results. Now, for our searches, only 2 out of 5 had legitimate info. That means most people will read bullshit info.

In comparison to google.ro, google.com search in English for “colon cancer treatment” had no BS website in the first top 10 searches. Also keep in mind that google.ro, the Romanian version, doesn’t show up any official Romanian healthcare website in the first 10 results, like the Romanian Oncology Institute and the like. When you get relevant info in the Romanian language you get it from private clinics it seems. That’s no good. In contrast, the English Google shows results from official organizations like cancer.gov.

And that’s one example because from my knowledge Romania is full of such pseudoscience. Natural treatments, conspiracies, and so forth. If google.ro can’t do a good job of searching treatments for colon cancer, then I am sure it cannot do a great job when you search for vaccine safety for example. Oh fuck it, let’s do that! I searched for: “Are vaccines harmful?” in Romanian language on google.ro – and btw while I was typing I got suggestions from google like: “Vaccines are harmful” – so people are not even asking if vaccines are harmful, they search for an affirmation. Anyways, here’s the fuckery: 01. Big title: “Vaccines are harmful!” – and an article explaining the crap they are spreading. 02. Seems legitimate – basically says that vaccines are safe and they interview some officials from Romania. 03. Pseudoscience. 04. Against vaccine crap. 05. Presents good info. 06. BS 07. Legitimate info. 08. Good info. 09. Against vaccines. 10. Seems like BS. Again, 6 out of 10 are BS. And again, interestingly, only 2 out of the top 5 are relevant. And again Google.com scored much better with only 1 BS link out of top 10.

This is not surprising at all. On the biggest TV stations in Romania they talk a lot about numerology, parapsychology, and all kinds of conspiracies and pseudobullshit. The Internet is a refelction of the culture.

 

4. Religiosity. Although I live in a very small town in Romania where everyone knows everyone, I don’t think I know more than 2-3 people who are not religious. And even those might have been influenced by me :)). Basically, everyone in Romania is religious and you’ll find churches everywhere. There are around 18.4k churches and other such mystical buildings in Romania, but only around 425 hospitals. And although the difference may seem high, and it is, keep in mind that this may not be a unique thing in the world since in the US there are around 350k churches and mystical buildings and 5.5k hospitals. That being said in Romania there is 1 hospital for 43 churches, and in the US there is 1 hospital for 64 churches. Regardless, this does not make it ok. Having 1 hospital for 43 churches is awful considering the Romanian healthcare system is already one of the worst in Europe.

People are so serious about religion in Romania. Every TV station is promoting religion in a way or another, and Romanians have some of the most fucked up and stupid religious rituals. For example, when Christmas holidays are coming, 2-3 shaolin ninjas (priests) are going from door to door with mystical water to be sprinkled inside people’s homes. People eagerly open the door, let the ninjas in, they spend around 10-15 seconds saying a prayer and sprinkling the freezing, but otherwise mystical water, inside the house, to then be paid for the job by the inhabitants of the house. It is a business. That’s all that is, but you can’t risk for fuck sake not to let them in because that may bring you bad luck.

According to a study, 60% of Romanians purposefully call these ninjas in to “bless” their house or car for various “events” and reasons. Yeah, they do car service too. According to the same study, this is how many Romanians believe in specific bullshit:

And 64% believe that a politician who does not believe in God is not suited for a public position in office.

Romanians funerals are also one of the most grotesque I’ve seen – after the dead is dead, they put “it” on a table in their living room and let “it” there for a few days. The people who know the dead gather around that table and stay there for the entire time – day and night. They cry, everything is black, many are covering the mirrors in the house and keep their cats away – don’t ask me why but I’ve heard that if a cat jumps over the dead it steals its soul.

After that, they take the dead with a pickup truck in the casket and display “it” in the entire town. They drive slowly through the city with “it” in open sight, and the friends and family are walking slowly behind the truck, crying and screaming and throwing with money (yeah! that’s true). They slow the traffic down and honk loudly from the pickup truck.

It’s no surprise to hear people in Romania talking about faith, luck, and stuff like that in a serious manner. I’ve heard people seriously saying that they went for a haircut and the hairstylist had an “unlucky/bad hand” and because of that their hair does not grow anymore. ‘the fuck….

 

Let’s move to other stuff, like how Romania is overall. Not only that their beliefs are creepy and fucked up, but the tribe is messed up.

5. Traffic. Take a trip around Europe and you’ll, for sure, know when you enter Romania because roads are so awful. Bumps and lumps, poor markings and traffic jams. Roads are so poorly illuminated and marked that it is a wonder how these people drive at night. Speed limit, from my experience, is never respected and cops and drivers are in a constant cat and mouse situation. The police are trying to catch drivers doing illegalities to give them tickets (make some profits for the police/state), and the drivers try to cheat all traffic laws. Drivers have special radio stations and antennas and use these to communicate with eachother to let know where there is a police checkup.

Others have radar detectors in their car. All of those for avoiding getting caught by the police who are eager to catch drivers and give them tickets.

It is also common for drivers to flash (with the headlights) other drivers when they know there is a police checkup point – like the cars that come from the opposite direction will flash you twice and you know that ahead there are police checkups. Traffic radars (or speed cameras) in Romania are hidden to give tickets to unaware drivers. It is beyond ridiculous. I never saw this in Spain. When there is a traffic radar in Spain the police are putting huge signs on the road to let you know that there is a radar (checking speed). The point is to reduce drivers’ speed and not tax them money.

Also, from time to time, you’ll get to see these driving on the roads (and that creates traffic jams and it is an overall danger to everyone):

Speaking of driving, Romanians don’t wear seatbelts in the car. They are too cool for that. If you put on the seatbelt people will look odd at you. Do that in the back seat of a car and people may think that you have lost your mind. Romanians even have special things that they put inside the seatbelt sockets so that the car won’t alert them that they have no seat belt. This is just …. wow.

This study across Europe confirms that Romanians don’t wear seatbelts and don’t really care about that: “The survey of people in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain, and the U.K., also showed that those in Romania were the most likely to travel in the rear without a seatbelt (84 per cent), then Italy (56 per cent), and Spain (39 per cent). Drivers in Romania were the least likely to insist rear passengers wear seatbelts (with only 39 per cent always doing so), then Italy (53 per cent), and Belgium (85 per cent).” And guess about the driver and front seat passenger? Only 47% of drivers wear seatbelts and 49% of the front seat passengers. (source) – That’s just retarded.

 

6. Stray dogs. Lots of dogs without owners on the streets. You don’t know if you should feel sorry for them, be annoyed by them, or scared by them. They scavenge through beans, are rarely scared of fast moving cars, and they make bike rides a scary experience because they’ll bark like mad at you and chase you – and sometimes they’ll bite you. It is a weird sight for anyone who lived anywhere in the world except Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, and a few other tribes where stray dogs are still a thing.

 

7. Patchwork. In Romania things are patched. They can’t improve all the roads, or at least a good portion of a road. No. They will improve a few meters or km and they leave it like that. You can drive on a very bad road, then you’ll see a good road (fresh new, with markings and all), then in just a few hundreds of meters the bad road again. You’ll see buildings half improved, stores half done, and so on. They can’t rebuild all sidewalks in a town, even when the town is very small. No. They’ll rebuild the sidewalk from this street, the left part of the road. The rest are left in a decaying state. It is a patchwork everywhere. At least from what I’ve observed. Here a photo of a road in the city I live in Romania, and in the past 10 years they elevated it with about a meter or more because they put the new asphalt over the old one, instead of taking the old out and put the new after that.

 

8. Gambling and pharmacies everywhere. Yeah, you’ll see them side by side. They are all masturbating the Romanians’ hope basically. From what I’ve observed it is full of them. Lots of places where you can lose your money guaranteed, but think that your life will improve over time ;).

9. Inequality. Although most Romanians earn between 300-500 Euros, some will easily earn over 10 times more. You can see 10 old houses, then a big palace. 20 old and rusty cars, then a super expensive one.

Here are some photos I took while I was driving to another town – they are made one after another, so the houses you see are one after the other. Also, notice how many houses are not 100% done, they are still “in the making” – and this is something I’ve seen in Romania in abundance. Maybe people start building houses and don’t have enough money to finish them….who knows…

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In Spain, the places I went to, there is a kind of consistency: from homes and apartments to cars or whatever you see. Not in Romania. I remember going for a walk with a friend a few years ago in a very poor place in Romania full of old houses and poor people, super bad roads, and a bad smell. But then we see a brand new Lamborghini car … wtf. That car was as expensive as perhaps the entire village. There’s also a weird thing going on: if you look around Romania, and also read statistics, then Romanians make very little money (their average salary is around 520 Euros, one of the smallest in Europe), but then if you ask some people how much they earn they brag about it and say that they make over 1,000 Euros or a whole lot more. You then also look at online tech stores who are selling super expensive gadgets by the thousands and you wonder how in the fucking world are Romanians able to buy these!? How are they making the money!? You know the salaries are super low but then you see many people having the latest smartphones and expensive tech…something is weird here. But I’ve heard countless of times here in Romania about people buying expensive cars and living in old and ‘rusty’ houses where they don’t even have hot running water, or some that live in dorm rooms. They borrow money to buy expensive shit but they lack even the most basic needs. They want to brag about their stuff and value and money and show off with that. At least some. Or many!?

 

10. Tips and bribes. If the courier brings you that laptop you ordered online, then you have to give him a tip. Waiter? Leave a tip. Go to the post office to send a package, leave a fucking tip! Even when you buy at a grocery store you may leave a tip. Recently I went to a restaurant to eat and I paid and they had to give me the change (not a lot), but they said: “We don’t have XX to give you.” – like “We don’t have the change to give you”. They expect for a tip everywhere and if you don’t give a tip to them they will be rude to you and tell you that you didn’t leave a tip. The fucking tips are everywhere like a fucking tax or something. When I go to Spain to a restaurant (rarely though because it’s expensive) they don’t expect a tip. Grocery store? Why the fuck would you leave a tip!? In Spain they’ll give you back the change exactly as it should: if it is 12,79 and you give them 13, they’ll give you back  0,21. Fucking fair. In Romania for such a small change they won’t even give you the change, they’ll give you some old and fucked up canddy. Yeah, they give candy as change. Crazy. But Romania goes further with these tips that transform into bribes. You can’t just go to a doctor in Romania. No! You have to put some money into an envelope, and give it to the doctor before the doctor sees you. Otherwise, they won’t bother with you. Bribes are everywhere. Want to find a parking lot to buy? You’ll probably have to go to some people you know, who know other people, who can give you that spot and you have to pay it plus give them a little bribe. You bribe the policeman, the doctor, the mayor, teachers, everyone. You give a tip to the guy who installs you the Internet connection you already paid for, to the girl who is at a counter (wherever), to the postman, to people who sell stuff and so on. It is so common that it is scary. And super annoying.

 

11. News sucks. Not sure how the situation is in other tribes but in Romania even the most well-known TV stations are super click-bait. I don’t think there is journalism in Romania. But for that matter I don’t think is anywhere, except a few sources that we compiled at TROM News. I saw many instances where the most popular TV stations in Romania post on their FB pages things like: “You won’t believe who died…we are shocked beyond belief!” – and a blurred photo of a human that you can only see if you click the link, because their website is full of ads and they need views. Or “This X (celebrity) lost the most precious friend. So awful!” – then you click and see that this celebrity lost a doll when she was 5 – fucking deceiving to the extreme. The click-bait is the most miserable I came across. If you wonder how I know these since I don’t swim in such waters, is because other people show these to me and I had to investigate a bit more to make sure this shit is real. Like for example, my mother’s Facebook News Feed is a horror of click bait: from ‘naturist’ treatments for any disease, to click here to win, or click here to see who died or what happened to this celebrity. It is just cancerous and these ‘news’ are coming from the most popular TV stations in Romania. Not to mention that Romanian news are basically local news about people killing other people, or they post youtube viral videos as news (like “Look at this guy in Alaska who was chased by bears”), or they take news from CNN and translate it in the Romanian language. It is a big nothing thing. Is there real journalism in Romania, I wonder….

 

12. Prices are weird. Go to a restaurant and you’ll see prices that are 3-4 times lower than in Spain. The Internet is 10 times cheaper than in Spain and better than in Spain. Services and restaurants are way cheaper than in other European countries. Yet the rest is exactly the same or more expensive. Although the average salary in Romania is 520 Euros and in Spain is 1.750 Euros, food in supermarkets in Romania is sometimes more expensive than in Spain. That’s super weird. An apartment in Spain may cost around 150.000 Euros and the same apartment in Romania is 3 times cheaper, yet the rent is the same in both countries. So, the same apartment costs the same to rent in Spain or Romania, but 3 times cheaper to buy in Romania. I just don’t get it.

 

13. Scams. Romania is quite well known for scamming. And as far as I can tell is 100% true. I’ve heard and seen countless times when tourists are scammed here, including Romanians being scammed by Romanians. The scams come in so many shapes and forms. Like the scammers who scam people from other countries by selling inexistent products, or stealing credit card information, to those from companies and institutions that make tourists pay way more than they should. There is a new Water Park opened in Romanian’s Capital (Bucharest) called Therme – if you read online reviews you’ll see many tourists complaining that the people there forced them to buy new shorts for bathing, or slippers, and other such stuff. Basically making them pay more money. That sounds like a normal Romanian attitude towards tourists that I’ve heard so many times.

 

A few more things: People are not friendly. Could be my experience and the people I know, but people here are in a bad mood compared to Spain. They seem so un-relaxed. Step on someone’s foot and you’ll get into trouble. They are just not nice. I am sure this has to do with the fact that they are paid super poorly and the environment here sucks. Also, the old is not in style here. I know many people come to Romania and admire how beautiful the old architecture is. They love it. What they don’t get is that Romanians don’t love it. Romanians want modern architecture. When you see old stuff in Romania is because people are fucking poor. You may like it because you think it’s a tradition. But it’s not. Romanians (as far as I can tell) want modern homes, with a modern heating system, modern style, modern kitchen, and so on. A comfortable fucking place, not a rusty one. Only those who lived in luxury come here and masturbate their ‘artistic’ sense with these old sights that are only old because of a result of the poor situation in Romania. Rich fucks are so rich and can afford so much luxury that they return back to old stuff and masturbate on that. 😀

You can see purposefully-old architecture in Spain, but that’s made on purpose to be like that. It is properly maintained and people there are not poor. Big difference!

 

BOTTOM LINE.

Two very important things I want to adopt in terms of thinking is to not generalize so quickly (regardless of the subject) and divide people into groups since we are all humans, and second is to not accuse people because it is their environment that makes them how they are. These two are essential for the project I manage for the past 8 years now, TROM, and this blog article may seem to be doing the opposite. However my blog posts are my not-so-well-researched thoughts, this post is categorized in “rants”, and I think I made it clear at the beginning that it is nearly impossible to judge all Romanians in bulk. These are my thoughts based on my own experiences. And now I will also mention that all of the behaviours of Romanians, and for that matter of all people in the world, are a result of the environment. Romanians are not a different species. And one more thing, the problems I presented are present everywhere in the world because of the awful game of trade that we all play.

A few weeks ago I went to a city to apply for a passport, and the guard at the office where the passports are made was so nice he helped us so kindly and showed us where we can pay the tax for the passport – he left his post to come outside with us and guide us. So, you see, it depends…

Anyways. My rant is done and it became much bigger than I first anticipated when I started to write this blog post.

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Roxanne Schluneger
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I just wanted to thank you for such an interesting post! I came across your blog doing research for a trip to Romania I’m planning this summer, and I found a lot of your observations fascinating, as well as extremely valuable insight before I venture there. I have a friend I’ll be visiting and so I already understand a little bit of the culture, but I have noticed how it differs a lot from what I’m used to in the US. Your point about architecture was very eye-opening and does make a lot of sense. For my own curiosity, I… Read more »