1. Hang at least three crosses on your car’s rear-view mirror, or better, stick them on your windshield. It doesn’t matter that you are a completely reckless driver — the crosses will ensure that you reach home safely.
2. Learn at least three jokes that make fun of each of Romania’s regions. They will teach you some basic ‘unquestionable’ truths; for example, Transylvanians are slower than a snail or Moldavians are an uneducated bunch. Special consideration should also be given to jokes about the enemy — Hungarians.
3. Speaking of Hungarians, treat all with nothing less than suspicion.
4. Enthusiastically support Simona Halep, Romania’s current leading tennis player. Watch every one of her games and comment on the score on your Facebook profile.
5. Spend at least one Christmas Eve knocking on your friends’ doors singing O ce veste minunată, and at least one New Year’s Eve knocking on your friends’ doors reciting the Plugușorul.
6. Cope graciously with all temperatures ranging from 40 degrees to minus 20 degrees Celsius.
7. Learn to love borș, sour cream, and slices of hot pepper in your broth.
8. Spend at least one long weekend for the 1st of May at Vama Veche on the Black Sea coast, drinking, sleeping in a tent or at the locals’ houses, and catching a cold from attempting to swim in the freezing water.
9. Forget about Valentine’s Day. Offer your loved one a gift on Dragobete, the 24th of February — the Romanian lovers’ day.
10. Master the art of eating pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds as a snack. You should obviously shell them yourself. Eat the seeds with your friends as a social pastime.
11. Ditch your Twitter account. Twitter in Romania is for a handful of social media savvies, so you won’t have too many followers. Build your entire online presence based on your Facebook account.
12. Have your mother regularly send you, by bus, packages with cooked food, pickles, and cheese.
13. Refuse to watch films dubbed in your native language. Movies should be in the original language, with subtitles – otherwise how are you going to learn any foreign languages?
14. Never forget to pack a salami sandwich when you go on a long train ride. Unpack it and eat it immediately after the train departs. You will piss off everybody around you with the smell, but there is no other way to survive those six or seven hours.
15. Have a strong stance when it comes to stray dogs. Think of them either as vicious beasts that should be slaughtered without mercy, or as victims of human cruelty that only attack passers-by because they feel those people are bad.
16. Choose your socks wisely when visiting a friend, because you will take off your shoes when entering their house.
17. Watch World Gymnastics Championships on national television. Closely monitor the performance of the Romanian team and be genuinely happy whenever any of the girls receives a medal.
18. When returning home at 3 am, hungry after a night out, have a shaorma.
19. Learn to swear politely when annoyed with someone, i.e. mention their mother and a benign object. Say “your mother’s kitten,” “your mother’s onion,” “your mother’s shoes,” or other variations of this.
20. Have a clear opinion about manele. They’re either a horrendous musical genre only listened to by idiots, or simply the best party music ever ( that we all know even the harshest manele critics secretly enjoy).
21. Do not hug or kiss people you’ve barely met. Kissing and hugging is for friends. When getting introduced to someone, shake hands.
22. Learn to love fried pork, sausage, and cheese on special occasions — as these may be the only options on the menu.
23. Have at least one Romanian embroidered ie as part of your wardrobe. Proudly wear it on special occasions.
24. Constantly complain that Romania is the worst country on Earth. But when December 1st comes, take complete pride in your origins and celebrate like crazy.
Photo: Nicu Bucculei