Englishwoman in Brasov:
A Cultural Awakening
Photo : Leonard Denes / Wikimedia
I received my first real hit of typical tourist culture shock in a plane hundreds of miles above Bucharest city, nose pressed up against the window like a toddler, eyes focused on a new way of living. I could hardly believe the amount of open land around – huge expanses of foliage, bordered by blocks of field and small clusters of civilization. I had to ask myself, “is this the capital city? Really?” Romania presented me with a new, alien environment to what I’ve become used to in England. Instead of being built up and clustered, Romania is fringed by real, uninhibited and unenclosed nature, without distance. Driving away from Bucharest, each road is framed by beauty. Foliage, fruit drooping fat from trees next to simply dressed stall holders with carts of produce, sunflowers turning their faces to watch the sunlight beam across them, shedding reddish light on fields packed rich with life.
Looking at this with new eyes, I can quickly notice a hundred differences between British and Romanian cultures. Fashion, music, even driving styles could not be more polar opposite between the two. From what I have seen initially, people here choose to live simply - people do not waster. Food is not left on plates, time is never wasted when driving (to my horror), clothes are often traditionally plain and practical for working and families live with and from the land. In the UK we could not be more different from that. We consistently strive to eat more, waste time, acquire more than we need with money we don’t necessarily have - wishing (out of pure gluttony) for a life beyond our means.
To me, the most brilliant and striking aspect of Romanian life is that cultural identity formed with simplicity. Architecture, personalities, natural beauty and heritage combine to form a cultural identity unreplicable in any other corner of the world. In Brasov, life isn’t wasteful, but conscious and considerate of environment. I sincerely hope that this attitude can continue to influence my own life at home, and the culture of others too.