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Anyone living in Romania?

(71 Posts)
romaniabound Tue 10-Mar-09 13:03:07

That says it all really. Looks like I could be heading there this year with family and am nervous about it. Would like to hear from anyone that does, or has, lived there.

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 13-Mar-09 12:09:41

I lived there for four years! Left in 2001, but have been back to visit since! Ask away - was there with two small children too, and had both pregnancies there, but gave birth in UK. Lived mainly in Bucharest but also in Brasov.

romaniabound Mon 16-Mar-09 12:43:17

MrsSchadenfreude thanks for reypling - sorry I took a while to catch up with this thread. I am cheered to hear you were there with little ones and went through pregnancies there. I have one toddler at the moment but we hope to have another in the near future so I would probably be pregnant there too.

Can I ask why you decided to give birth in the UK? Would you not recommend giving birth in Romania? What about pregnancy care? Was it easy to find a doc who spoke English? What about medical care for your children?

Hope it's not being too nosy but I wonder if you were working over there. I am going to be a SAHM so worry I will find it hard to make contacts. At the moment we go to lots of toddler groups and the likes - what do you think are my chances of finding similar there?

We would be living in Pitesti, which I believe is about an hour from Bucharest.

How much of a culture shock was it for you living there? At the moment it feels a long, long way from home! I'm not normally this chicken about things but I think having a wee one makes me less up for adventure than I used to be!

I would really appreciate any info you can give me about how you found life there, any tips on the practicalities. Did you learn Romanian? Also do you know if there is any kind of group thing for Brits based there?

Sorry to bombard you with all these qs. Thanks for any info you can share!

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 18-Mar-09 22:35:21

Pitesti is a bit of a shithole, isn't it, from what I remember (sorry), and I am not sure how many Brits/expats you will find there (if that is your bag).

The private pregnancy care in Rom was absolutely fine (we are talking over 8 years ago but not sure it has changed that much there really), but the (public) hospitals were not. They didn't use epidurals, had your legs up in stirrups, swaddled your baby and took it away from you to the "nursery" (like a baby farm with rows of swaddled babies). You could, I suppose, have a home birth if you found a doctor you felt comfortable with, and thought you could cope with gas and air, but I wouldn't have done this. Oh and if you gave birth in the hospital, the one I visited (in Brasov, also one in Sibiu) sent the mothers home after they had given birth (!!) and they came back in to visit their babies.

Actually, hospitals there were really grim - DD1 ended up in a paediatric hospital in Bucharest and they were awful to me and her. I also broke my leg in Brasov and the medical care there was adequate, but basic. Private medical care was fine, and you should be able to find an English speaking doctor in Pitesti, I would think.

I think it is still quite "primitive" there once you get outside Bucharest - you will see them ploughing the fields with oxen, villages with no running water and only a standpipe for the community...I lived in Poland in the 1980s and Bucharest in the late 1990s/2000s was much more basic than anything I'd seen in Poland.

The Romanians are lovely people - we made some fantastic friends there that we are still in regular contact with. I do speak Romanian, and this is pretty much essential if you are outside Bucharest and the main towns in Transilvania, especially if you want to mix with Romanians.

I did work out there, but was initially a housewife and then SAHM. I have to say that this was absolutely the worst and most depressing period of my life (sorry). I felt completely isolated, it was very difficult to meet people and I would go for days without speaking to anyone apart from DH and the lady on the sausage counter in Angst (great name for a supermarket). I'll caveat this by saying that a) I was not used to not working and b) I am not a natural SAHM type - my life picked up much more when I got a nanny and could leave DD1 for a while with her, while I tried to get some semblance of a life back together. It also got better when DD1 got bigger and I could take her to the park - other mothers chatted to me then, rather than just telling me that she didn't have enough clothes on.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 18-Mar-09 22:44:49

Pitesti also had the maddest roundabout I have ever seen! There was no roundabout, just a big open space, and about eight exits from it. Definitely a case of close your eyes and put your foot down.

If you wanted to work, I am pretty sure you could do some voluntary work out there - many NGOs were grateful for another pair of hands, but again, it would be really, really useful to speak Romanian. Romanian isn't that difficult to learn if you have another Latin based language although it does have some quite mad grammar rules.

There is a Romanian parenting site - I think it is called something like - you might post on there, in English, to see if you get any replies from any English speaking Romanians in Pitesti, who could tell you more about the local scene.

Can you visit before you go out there to live?

MrsSchadenfreude Fri 20-Mar-09 22:43:17

Oh I have put you off, haven't I!

romaniabound Sat 21-Mar-09 18:52:13

Don't worry, you didn't put me off ... honest . The negative aspects were kind of what I expected to be honest, and you had enough positives for me not to think no way.

Actually your information was really useful and I have been digesting it for a couple of days. Especially the medical / hospital info as I would rather go there under no illusions and prepared for reality.

I had already seen pics of Pitesti on the internet and must admit I hoped you would surprise me by telling me it was a really beautiful place! But no, it seems Pitesti really is the shithole I feared it would be.

I am a bit worried about the SAHM thing so I will have to get stuck into learning Romanian.

Ah well it will all be an adventure. I am living abroad as it is already and can see it will be an experience (understatement).

I think I will be going to see it before we go. DH is going next month for the first time so I will see what comes out of that visit. We will know then for sure if we are definitely going or not.

If we go - and it is looking likely - then we will be there for three years so it's not an eternity even if it is hard going.

I am pleased to hear you said the Romanians are great as that ties in with what we had already heard.

Anyway thanks for your info and for the tip on the romanian parenting site. I will look for that.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 16-Apr-09 23:28:25

RB - I have just applied for a job back in Romania. But not in Pitesti! grin

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 30-Apr-09 21:20:24

And have an interview for said job next week!

romaniabound Fri 08-May-09 13:19:54

Sorry I haven't caught up with this for a while Mrs Schadenfreude.

Congratulations on your interview - hope that goes well.

Now I find that really positive that you are keen to return to Romania. It now looks definite for us but we're trying to pin down DH's company on the fine print - zzzz. I think we will take over the house and car from his predecessor and that all seems to be fine too, so I am less apprehensive about arriving over there with a toddler!

I am really quite looking forward to it all now (after being quite unkeen when it was first suggested). DH has been for a look around and he was very positive about what he saw. I told him about the mad roundabout but he didn't see it!

Good luck for your interview. Ahh I see it is probably already past so I hope it went well!

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 21-May-09 22:04:21

Sadly didn't get the job sadand found it little consolation to be told that I was a close second. Not very helpful when there's only one job up for grabs.

romaniabound Wed 10-Jun-09 19:09:02

Mrs Schadenfreude - sorry I am crap at keeping up with this thread once it's dropped down the list a bit. I am sorry you didn't get the job - no consolation indeed to find out your were second.

Our move to Romania is trundling along. I picked up a language course yesterday and, having been all cocky thinking it would be all quite easy peasy after learning French and Spanish, I was quite perplexed to see how alien it looked written down ... and all those funny accents etc.

DH's colleagues who have already been over there for a stint made a DVD of their time and we watched that recently. It was quite an eye opener I must say, seeing the extremes of life there. But on the whole I am looking forward to the challenge of it all.

I hope you don't mind if I bombard you with any other questions that may come to mind in the next few weeks before we move.

flyingdolphin Thu 11-Jun-09 08:07:27

We live in Bucharest, I love it here, but i have never lived anywhere else in Romania, so i don't know what it would be like in a small town like Pitesti. It isn't exactly renowned for its beauty. I was a sahm mum when my kids were little (they are 6 and 4 now ), and i made lots of social contacts from taking them to the local park every day. Most of my friends now are either through work or the children's kindergarten.
How old are your kids? Will they be going to nursery/school?

Don't know much about the English-speaking scene, but most expats I meet seem to like it here. Romanians are easy to get on with, but then I am biased because I married one.

Learn Romanian if you can find the time, if is really not that difficult if you know some French/Spanish, just a bit offputting at first because it sounds and looks a bit different.

Good luck with the move, I would love to help you if you have any questions.

Mrs Schadenfreude - lol about the comments about kids never having enough clothes on. did you ever get to fully appreciate the dangers of 'curent'?

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 11-Jun-09 10:46:49

FlyingDolphin - no! I remember taking out my 4 month old baby one hot June day, wearing a little summer dress and sun hat and being stopped by at least four people who told me she wasn't wearing enough clothes! It was at least 40 degrees, and I saw a couple of Romanian babies in prams wearing snow suits!

Where in Bucharest are you living? We were in Sector 2, just off Vasile Lascar (Str Galati).

LOL at Pitesti not known for its beauty. I lived in Brasov for a bit, which was fabulous.

romaniabound Thu 11-Jun-09 13:13:47

40 degrees??????? <Romaniabound keels over in a dead faint at the thought.> I live in Germany just now and my toddler is constantly the most underdressed toddler in town (according to the natives that is.) This winter I was struggling up the station stairs with a huge case, buggy and stroppy toddler. This German lady stops me and I thought she was going to give me a hand. But no, she just wanted to tell me my toddler should have a hat on. Grrr. And there I was thinking the Romanians would be a hardier lot than the chilly billy Germans!

romaniabound Thu 11-Jun-09 13:19:33

Flying Dolphin - I am pleased to hear another positive report of life in Romania. I am definitely going to learn Romanian because I think it could be a lonely time for me there without it.

My DC is almost two so should really go to nursery while we are over there. At least that was my plan. But DH has just spoken to a colleague who spent three years over there with wife and kids. Their son should have gone to nursery but he said the nursery was 'awful' (????) and didn't recommend it. He said it was very school like - sat at desks doing proper work all morning and then the kiddies were put to bed for the afternoon. Now that doesn't really sound like my ideal of nursery life but I kind of feel it is important for the social aspect for DC to go to nursery, regardless of whether it's nursery as I knew it in the UK. Does this sound typical of Romanian nurseries?

flyingdolphin Thu 11-Jun-09 20:07:14

romaniabound, it can get pretty hot here in the summer. And pretty cold in the winter :-)
I spent most of my childhood in Germany and the Germans are nothing like as fussy as the Romanians when it comes to how many layers you put on a baby. And don't even mention hats. Gets easier when the kids get older, though, I don't notice it so much now the children are 4 and 6, but maybe I have just been brainwashed and conformed without realizing. I know that last time I went to the UK my children were definitely overdressed and the only ones wearing hats!

The problem with kindergartens is that the quality can vary a lot. My kids go to a morning only one, from 8 - 12, and they are very happy there. They are not expected to sit still for too long, and my dd has hardly done any formal or academic stuff until the last few months when she moved into the group to prepare her for primary school after the summer, and even now she has only done a few letters and numbers, nothing like what my friends' kids do in the UK. They sing a lot of songs and they learn a lot of poetry, and they do things in activity books like colouring in, and paint and play with plasticine and toys, the usual sort of stuff. They don't play outside at kindergarten much, as it only has a tiny courtyard, this is a shame and probably more of a problem here in Bucharest, because space is tight and most kindergartens don't have big playgrounds/gardens. A lot of kindergartens tend to depend a lot of parental contributions to buy extra toys and learning material, so if you live in a poor area the provisions could be a bit basic.

At kindergartens with 'program prelungit' (extended program, i.e. from 8 until about 5 or 6) the children will invariably be expected to sleep or at least rest for at least an hour or so in the afternoon. This is mainly to do with the rhythm of life here - children stay up much much later than in the UK, mine rarely go to bed much before 9 or 10. In the summer it is often much later. Children's birthday parties often start at about 6 pm. In the summer in particular, afternoon naps are often necessary - it is too hot at lunchtime and in the early afternoon to go out much, and everybody starts again after 5ish at the earliest. Most young children have afternoon naps (my ds sleeps for at least an hour every afternoon, and he is nearly 5), and my dd probably has an afternoon nap once or twice a week in the winter, in the summer she will sleep almost every other day.

If I were you I would go and visit some nurseries and get the feel of them and try to get some local feedback about quality. You could always enroll him at a morning nursery and just send him for a few hours every morning, that will be enough to get to know other kids. A lot of people I know do that, and then have a nanny who picks them up and looks after them, takes them to the park to play, etc. If you have a decent (western) salary childcare is reasonably affordable.

Most kindergartens take children aged 3+, even though this is negotiable, and there are some creches but they seem oversubscribed, so you could have to find a private one for a 2 yo.

Mrs Schadenfreude, I am still simply shocked that after a few years in Romania you still don't realize how many microbes there are just waiting to pounce on scantily clad little children.
Brasov must have been a nice place to live, seems very peaceful compared to here.
We live in sector 1, just off Piata Kogalniceanu, near Cismigiu. Except nobody ever believes me when I say it is sector 1 and keeps telling me it should in fact be sector 4. Makes me feel a bit like living in Battersea and pretending it is Chelsea.

romaniabound Tue 16-Jun-09 12:35:37

Thanks FlyingDolphin for all the info on nurseries. I will have time to investigate our options as DD is only 2 so I don't want to put her into nursery for another year yet.

I know what you mean about conforming to the clothing norms. Last time I was in the UK in Feb, we saw some wee girls wearing t-shirts and summer skirts and I briefly felt the need to wrap them up nice and cosy until my mum pointed out I used to dress like that all year round at that age! If I let DD out here dressed like that they'd send out social services I bet.

I listened to my Romanian language CD for the first time in the car this morning!

Mummysgoneloopy Sat 05-Sep-09 19:36:55

Not sure if a bit late with this thread, but will give it a go!
My husband came home Friday night with news that we have the chance to move to Bucharest for 2 years.
Done a fair bit or research, but there isn't really that much on internet about expats in Romania!

My main concern is the schooling -
We have 3 children (2, 5 & 7 years) - do you know which schools are best - have looked at either the British School or American International school so far - what is the standard of education like - do children come back to the UK able to cope with school work, or need extra help?

Another concern is isolation for me - I would not be working (though would maybe like to - ) I suppose I would meet Mums thru school - but do people socialise with neighbours / work colleagues? Where we live in the UK is so sociable (actually bit too much sometimes, lots of curtain twitchers!), that I worry about being on my own in an all be it I'm sure nice big house, but with no one to talk to or swap favours with, like dropping kids off to play for a bit whilst pop somewhere etc.

Anyway, will sign off now to talk about potential move some more with DH, - any info would be really appreciated!!


romaniabound Sat 05-Sep-09 22:21:35

Hi Mummysgoneloopy,

That was a surprise to see this thread bumped. I'm leaving for Romania next week and DH is already over there so it's all pretty exciting.

I am not the person to advise on schools or anything since I have never been yet plus my little one is a toddler. Your concerns re being a SAHM but having a social life in the outside world are pretty much the same as mine.

I had great advice from MrsSchadenfreude and flyingdolphin, so hopefully they will spot your request for info soon.

Good luck with this difficult decision.

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 06-Sep-09 21:40:57

I would have put mine in the American school if we had gone back (we are off to Paris instead). Look at the British Schools' websites: one has almost no native English speaking children and Romanian teachers. The other is a little better. American school is large and well established, good facilities, if a little outside Bucharest.

There is also a British nursery in the French village, which I think goes up to age 5.

Mummysgoneloopy Sun 06-Sep-09 22:53:40

Romaniabound - good luck for next week! I hope all goes well with your move!

Mrs Schadenfreude - Yes, have looked at the American School & looks good, but don't follow the British Curriculum, but then does that really matter as long as they're learning something!? The main British school think has English as 1st language teachers, with Romanian assistants - but their staff turnover is really really high which concerns me & only 10% of kids speak English as first language.

Anyway, thanks for your help - may well contact again soon if that's OK, if we progress down this potential relocation road...

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 08-Sep-09 22:51:53

If your children are that young, I would stick them in the American school - if you're only going to be there for two years, I don't think they'd have any difficulty slotting into a British primary. I had friends with children there who left at 14 and went on to a British education with no ill effect.

It will probably be better for your social life too! I think having a good proportion of native English speakers is quite important for education in the UK system. DD1 went to the nursery in the French village, which is supposed to be English speaking, but most of the children were Romanian, and the helpers spoke to them in Romanian. (It is much better now, I think.)

flyingdolphin Wed 09-Sep-09 10:20:34

Hello there,

I don't have any first-hand experience of the American/British school scene, but what I hear backs up what MrsSchadenfreude says. The British schools seem to have very few English native speakers, but the children I have met who go there seem to be happy, the American school has a decent reputation, but is a bit far out, but that shouldn't matter if you live that side of town.
I personally wouldn't worry too much about them falling behind, lots of people I know move about and their children seem to adapt to different systems pretty well.

I can understand your worries about being a SAHM mum, it could depend a lot on where you live - maybe MrsSchadenfreude has more suggestions on that, people say the French village has lots of expats from all over the world and is nice and friendly and neighbourly etc. Also, I am sure that you would meet people through the school. I think there is a sort of international women's organisation that you could join.

MrsSchadenfreude, that is exciting moving to Paris - good luck! Romaniabound, good luck with the move. I was driving close to Pitesti the other day and wondered about you and what you were up to. Good luck for the move.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 09-Sep-09 20:57:06

French village is like a Barrett housing estate though! (And not cheap.) Although it might be worth joining the club there for swimming/gym etc (and the clinic there is excellent). American school is in Baneasa, I think, so you would probably be better off not living in Baneasa, but in the north of Bucharest, in the Herastrau/Primavera areas, which are both fairly expatty. Traffic fairly heavy to get to downtown though. Maybe the area around Aviatorilor or the Arcul Trumfului might be better.

You might also like to join IWA - the International Women's Association - I think that's the link. They are very active and do lots of stuff - regular coffee mornings <<shudder>> in the Intercontinental.

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