1. Be a vegetarian.

While this may be acceptable in certain circles in Bucharest, don’t expect to find a home-cooked meal prepared without some form of pork. If you’re planning to do a homestay in Romania, be sure to at least inform your hosts of your dietary needs in advance or things could get awkward.

2. Assume Romanians want to scam your country’s welfare system.

You realize The Daily Mail isn’t exactly a paragon of journalistic integrity, right? You should also know that Romania has a problem with brain drain – their best and brightest often chose to live and work abroad where they can find a higher standard of living and better wages.

As a result, there are loads of Romanians in the IT and healthcare industries in other countries. Unfortunately, using an ordinary-looking middle class professional in photographs attached to articles foretelling an invasion by the teeming and terrifying developing world masses doesn’t sell many papers.

3. Be a teetotaler.

Wine, beer, and Ţuică (plum brandy) is the stuff of daily life here. Beer and wine are often the default drinks adults have with meals, and Ţuică (along with various other powerful home brews) is the stuff of celebration and social bonding. Again, this isn’t so much embarrassing as awkward-making.

4. Consider Romanians to be Slavic.

Due to a very peculiar history, Romania has largely remained an island of Latin folk in a sea of Slavs and identify as such.

5. Associate all Romanians with being gypsies.

Oh fuck no. While this is objectively an understandable mistake for the uninitiated English speaker, because “Roma” sounds a bit like “Romanian” but ignorance won’t save you from looking like an absolute twat if you air your views in front of Romanians.

I’ll set you straight: Romanians are descended from Dacians (their equivalent of Celts) and Romans who settled there when the Roman Empire was a thing. The Roma are an ethnic minority spread throughout Europe whose ancestors migrated from (probably) northern India centuries ago. Roma are an ethnic minority in Romania. Most people living in Romania are – wait for it – ethnic Romanians.

6. Think that Romanian and Russian culture are interchangeable, because communism or Eurotrip or something.

You could replace Romania with any formerly Communist European country and my point will still stand, yet people still act like these countries didn’t have long and illustrious histories with a distinctive language and culture for centuries prior to communism and/or Soviet occupation. Seriously, go read a book.

7. Assume that everyone takes a horse and cart everywhere.

While I do see this in Bucharest from time to time – it’s unusual enough that I’ll usually crane my neck for a better look – almost everyone in urban areas take ordinary methods of transportation. The horse and cart is means of transport in rural areas, because it’s hard to keep a horse in an apartment building.

Photo: Magdalena