Cursuri de Limba Română


I’ve started my Romanian classes and so far I am really enjoying them. They’re intensive, so some days it can be overwhelming, but I feel like I am learning so much. I also really enjoy my classmates. We’re a very diverse group, and I think it makes the learning experience so much better.

Our textbook is pretty fun, too.



Here is a writing that I did for class:

Sunt o fată și locuiesc in Brasov, România. Îmi place sa călătoresc, și vreau să merg la Roma. Sunt din Atlanta. Atlanta este un oraș foarte cald și umed. Vreau să văd zăpadă iarna.

Am un câine. Este foarte draguț. Mănancă urechi de porc. Urechiele sunt favoritele lui. Mergem la plimbare pe stradă amandoi. Suntem prieteni.

[forgive the weird font, the special character map on WordPress leaves a lot to be desired]

Most days I come home and I am excited to do my homework and study more.

Some days I come home and I think if I hear one more word of Romanian, I’ll have a stroke.

The language itself doesn’t seem so difficult to me. I struggle mostly with remembering the genders of things. A book that I read on language learning, Fluent Forever, recommended to imagine different actions happening to boy nouns and girl nouns. For example, make a mental image of a boy noun exploding into flames or a girl nouns shattering into a million pieces. Imagine a pisică (cat) shattering like mirror. It’s a powerful visual that you hopefully won’t forget.

Unfortunately, I’m still in that stage where I’m looking up every word in the dictionary for the gender or asking ridiculous questions like, “Is bread a boy or a girl?”




Health Insurance

I normally write happy lovely things about Romania and Romanian culture. I love it here. I love the people, the scenery, the food, everything.

But I have to get something off my chest.

I want to talk about the healthcare system in Romania. I’ve been trying to navigate it now for two months and I finally have some grasp on how the system works. Maybe.

Let me paint you a picture of frustration.

First, let’s start with the residence permit. In order to apply for the permit, I had to have proof of health insurance. We went to the place where you pay your tax to get the insurance and they told me that I had to have a Romanian ID number before I could apply.

Okay…so I need to have the residence permit before I can get the health insurance and I need the insurance before I can apply for the permit. Makes total sense.

I ended up getting three months of private health insurance so I could apply for the permit. Bine.

By the way, when we went to the place to pay the tax for the health insurance, the woman was convinced that they “didn’t do that here” (in Romanian, this famous phrase is “nu se poate” i.e. it’s not possible or it’s not going to happen). After some insistence from Claudiu that yes, they do indeed do tax for insurance there, she asked a colleague who provided us more information (and yes, they do the taxes there, lol – just not for me, the non-residence permit holding foreigner).

So when I got the permit, I was very excited to get the health insurance. I had two weeks to prove to the immigration office that I had paid the tax and obtained the insurance, so we started right away. First, we had to go to an office where I requested the insurance. They couldn’t find me. Nope, not in any system. Hahaha. Sometimes you just have to laugh. She called another office where they were able to find me in the system,so she was then able to give us a paper to take to another office where we’d pay the tax. Because for whatever reason (sigh), they don’t accept the taxes there.

We drove twenty minutes to the tax office and we were guided into the back of the office and I paid my 800ish lei for a year of insurance. I got a lovely paper with some neato stamps and they told us to take it to another office to get another paper.


Okay, so the next day, we went to this new office and waited in line until we spoke with another woman who gave us another piece of paper. However, this paper wasn’t finished because we needed to get five signatures on it and the people who needed to sign had gone home for the day (it was 3pm).

Bright and early the next morning, we went to the Office of Signatures which is located in a building with the most confusing layout. We went up (and down?!) the maze of stairs to get to Narnia, I mean, this special office where signatures live and waited an hour for the paper to get signed. Eventually, it came back to us, like a work of art. Five beautiful signatures. No idea who the people were that signed it or why they had to sign it, but whatever. I got it!

With the magical piece of signed paper, I can now see a family doctor. How it works in Romania is that everyone has a family doctor. You have to see this doctor to get recommendations for other kinds of doctors (endocrinologist, ob-gyn, etc.). So I found a family doctor (she is lovely and helpful) and she made all the recommendations. She printed official papers so that I could make appointments. At no point has anyone told me I need anything else – no other papers, cards, proof of anything, etc.

I got to the first appointment. At the front desk, the first thing they ask for is my insurance card. ??? Insurance card?? According to the receptionist, because I have no card that means I have no “proof” of insurance and I have to pay full price. Mamaliga ma-tii.

Keep in mind that I had a recommendation for this appointment from my family doctor – you can’t get a family doctor unless you have the health insurance. So even though that logic makes perfect sense to most people, the front desk insisted that I had to have the card to prove that I have insurance. The next day, we went back to the office and asked for the money back because there is a way to look me up in the system to see if I have insurance. They did – and lo, and behold, I am insured.

So – the cards. They don’t give them to foreigners. Only Romanian citizens get them. So what am I supposed to do? I guess I’ll just face this problem every time. Including every time I go to the pharmacy where I have to put in my Romanian health insurance card to get the medicine my doctor prescribed for me. Hilariously enough, it just has to be a number. A very nice gentleman behind me at the pharmacy offered to put his number in so I could get my pills. A stranger. What sense does that even make? What is the point of putting in a number if it means nothing? Why put any number at all? Because (according to the pharmacist) without the number, it’s nu se poate.

So friends, there it is. The Romanian health care system.


State of the Leo

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because I’ve started Romanian classes! I hope that soon I can write some posts in Romanian. Because you’ve been so patient, I will honor you with a post on my favorite Romanian, Leo de la Strehaia.

According to “sources” (Cancan and the like), the King of the Gypsies has had a busy summer. He’s still married to his lovely wife, Dana Criminala.

New things I’ve learned about Leo:

  1. This man knows the way to the beach. At least 1/3 of the photos he posts on facebook are either on the beach, with the beach in background, or on a beach trip (the other 2/3 are him at a place called Shot Club – a place I like to think he gets all of his vaccinations).
  2. He has some favorite t-shirts. Notice there are like four shirts in rotation. These photos are all from different beach trips (according to Leo’s Facebook). He really wants everyone to know there’s more to him than Gypsy King. He’s also a Turkish Cowboy.


He went to Bali!


He acknowledged his son!

The “news” made a big scandal of this – but really this is his son with his first wife and my personal hero, Anca. Nothing scandalous here, except for those gold heels!


Leo still loves dogs!

I cannot get enough of his dog photos. Especially because he dyed one of his dogs blue. Omg.




Another shot of the blue dog (and Leo’s son in his underwear? ew).

I just noticed the pack of cigarettes next to the dog. I guess even Romanian dogs smoke, eh? I can just imagine this dog smoking and lamenting his Romanian life, “Ah, doamna ajutor…Steua a pierdut din nou! Pula mea.” ~takes long, disappointed puff of cigarette~




Apparently, the King of the Gypsies loves KFC.


I’m sure he gets his wings picant. I’m also loving the glasses, Mrs. Criminala.


Recently, several “sources” were claiming that Leo’s wife, Dana, was pregnant. As much as I would be very happy for them, what’s most likely happened here is that she had dinner before hitting the club in an ill-fitting dress. Don’t take it personally, Dana.  In America, Jennifer Aniston has been pregnant for approximately fifteen years.

Look how happy Leo looks here:


I know a lot of people out there don’t like Leo de la Strehaia and his family. It’s okay, haters. Dana Criminala is living her best life.


Songs of the Moment

Smiley released this song the other day. It’s called Indragostit (in love) and it’s just so sweet. Smiley is really popular here and even though his stuff is really poppy, I love this song. I also really love his chin. But that’s a different story for a different day.

I can also safely say that Smiley makes the best faces.



If you want to hear Smiley sing in English, here you go:

Same song, in Romanian:


Lidia Buble is one of my favorite singers in Romania. Her music is great for learning Romanian because it’s very repetitive. Just listen to this song – so easy to pick up! In five minutes you can sing with the chorus, “le arunc le arunc le arunc” (throw them throw them throw them) – it’s a break up song 😦


…and just because this song is fun (some people really hate this video, I get it – Delia is kind of wholesome and this video is pretty sexual):

At least it will teach you how to count a bit in Romanian 😛
unu, doi, trei, patru – cinci, șase, șapte, opt…[the “ș” is “sh” in English – so șase sounds like shah-say, șapte is shop-tay]

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Maybe you’ll just agree with me that that video is hella weird.

If you want to go to the next level and get into music that is actually written by the artists (sorry Smiley, Lidia, and Delia), then check out some of the new songs from Subcarpati. This song is called De Dor Si De Bucurie. De Dor Si De Bucurie is like “Of longing and joy” in English.

Dor is an interesting word because it doesn’t translate into English. It’s something along the lines of longing for someone or something you miss and a feeling of nostalgia. A soulful, nostalgic longing. You can say “Mi-e dor de tine” which means “I have dor of you” or more simply, “I miss you” – but this doesn’t really capture of emotion or the complexity of dor. It’s almost painful. Unlike listening to Subcarpati 😀

Traveling: Athens, Greece

As we traveled from Zakynthos to Athens, we saw so many ancient cities that I’ve only read about in my world history classes. Corinth was the biggest one. I was excited because in Sophocles’s Oedipus, Oedipus is raised by his adoptive parents (who happens to be the king and queen) in Corinth. Giant nerd alert. It was one of those moments where you are finally getting to see the actual setting of an amazing book and it just becomes so real.


We got to Athens and I used Trip Advisor to find (what else?!) a Mexican restaurant. Don’t blame me, it’s been MONTHS since I’ve had Mexican. Anyway, I got the fish tacos and they were amazing. NO RAGRETS.

I also had a margarita (8 euro). As I was basically pouring it down my throat, I realized that Athens is expensive. A pitcher of margaritas was over 20 euro. That’s way more than you would pay in Atlanta. Too bad, because I wanted like ten more margaritas. Alas…


We found a little studio apartment on VRBO that let us rent two nights. It was tiny and hot (because like Romania, places in Greece don’t really have air conditioning) and we were on the ground level, so we couldn’t sleep with the windows open. But, we got to stay in Plaka, and we got to stay there for cheap.

There was this cool street art right outside of our front door…


…and a genuine butcher a few doors down. I enjoyed watching them bring in their meat harvest.wp-1473645038622.jpg

We loved our free walking tour of Sophia so much that we decided to go on one in Athens. And truly, if you are traveling and don’t have much time to see a city – do a free walking tour! Our guide was a local Greek who had the most interesting story. He was born in Greece, grew up in Australia, forced into the Greek military in his 20s, became a special forces soldier, jumped out of planes for a few years…and then he became an English teacher. Now, he gives the free tours to show people his city (and because of the tips at the end). He knew so much about the important sites and saved us a ton of time and money by giving us great tips about where to go (and not go) and how to get around.

Here’s a map of all the places we went on the tour (yellow) and where we went after the tour (orange). Our apartment is the red circle.


The tour started at Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Zeus


Zeus’s Temple


Before the tour (and the humidity) in the morning


Hadrian’s Gate

It says on one side: “This is Athens, the ancient city of Theseus” and on the other side:”This is the city of Hadrian, and not of Theseus” – you know, because he built a shiny new city and he wanted to make sure you weren’t confusing it with old, crappy, Ancient Athens.


This is the site of the first modern Olympics.wp-1473645039834.jpg

We spent some time at the Presidential Palace for the changing of the guards.

The king liked horses so much that he decided the guards had to emulate horses. So every few hours when they change guards, they have to do this ridiculous horse dance.

I hope you enjoyed that video. I “made” it with Google Photos. If you haven’t played with that app yet, you seriously must. Sometimes it just makes movies for me, like a weird, helpful stalker.

We were joined by Leo, one of the city’s dogs. In Athens, not many people have dogs because space is so limited in apartments. What the city does is take in stray dogs, sterilize, vaccinate, and tag them.When the city releases them, they belong to the people of the city. Some of the dogs are famous, like the one outside the King’s guard. He has decided it is his job to protect the guards. He takes his dog job very seriously and barks like crazy at any taxis that go by.

Apparently, Leo has a schedule where he joins the tour for a bit and then goes to cool off in the lake in the park.

Here we are halfway through the walking tour. Still smiling!


have completely given up on hair at this point because humidity is about 1,000% 


woman in the red shirt getting bracelet scammed


bracelet scammers

Okay – I took these two pictures to illustrate something to be wary of when you are touring in a big city. I’ve seen this scam before in Paris.Basically, the men have bracelets and their goal is to get one on you and then charge you for it. They high five or fist bump you and then while you’re talking they put the bracelet on you. Most people are so nice they don’t even realize it’s happening – how can you be rude to a charismatic stranger wishing you peace and love? Once the bracelet is on you, they demand payment. You can’t give the bracelet back. If you don’t pay, you’re stealing from them. That’s the scam. It wasn’t the only we saw in Athens. The last night we were there a very disoriented woman came up to us (not drunk, but definitely dazed on something) and gave us a sob story about how her husband abandoned her in Greece with her baby and could we give her some money to help her get home? This sort of thing really plays with your emotions because who wouldn’t want to help this woman. Unfortunately, it’s not legit 😦

~back to the fun stuff~


Church wrecked in the 1999 earthquake just re-opened after almost 20 years of renovations!


Hadrian’s Library



Other side of Hadrian’s library and a great shot of our tour guide and former paratrooper, Jimmy (blue shirt)


Ancient Agora


Ancient Agora


Our tour ended at the Agora at the bottom of Acropolis Hill. We decided to get some lunch before heading up to the top. We tried the ouzo. It’s basically Absinthe that is white. Like white licorice.



Did we like it? You be the judge.

We also had the souvlaki. This was about as adventurous as we got with the Greek food.




After lunch, we headed up Mars Hill to drink in the beautiful Athens city views. If you’re a Christian, you might be interested to know that Paul gave a speech from this hill where he said, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.” Paul was definitely throwing some shade at the Greek temples. I find as a citizen of 2016 that I agree with Paul. Let’s go find God in nature and in acts of lovingkindness – he won’t be in some cold marble building. But aren’t they lovely marble buildings? And what a testament to the Greek spirit that they built them with their hands and without modern machinery?


On Mars Hill with a view of the Acropolis


Odeon of Herodes Atticus


The Odeon of Herodes Atticus can hold 5,000 people. Yanni performed here in 1993 and later released his album “Live at the Acropolis”. I heard this album so many times. Yanni was so big in the 90s. Admit it, you loved Yanni.


More beautiful structures in the Acropolis…




Erechtheion with my girls, The Caryatids


Temple of Athena Nike

and the coup de grâce:




After we finished touring the Acropolis, we returned to our tiny little apartment and readied ourselves for our return to Romania. We ended up driving from Athens to the Romanian border in one day (like 14 hours of driving).

I’ve run out of adjectives, so I will just sum up by saying it was an awesome trip. I’m glad I got the chance to share it with you on my blog 🙂