1. People still live in the infamous commie blocks, though many are cheerfully painted now and the apartments within are renovated. Houses often stay in the same family for many generations. Cookie cutter subdivisions are not very common, nor popular (for now).
2. Rural life is still part of the equation. Many Romanians have an ancestral home somewhere in a small town or village. Often grandparents still cultivate vegetable gardens and raise chickens and other farm animals (for food, not as pets). This comes in especially handy at Christmas and Easter.
3. British lawns aren't a thing here. Why manicure a lawn when one can plant beautiful flowers, a vegetable garden, or fruit-bearing trees?
4. Romanians place a lot of emphasis on family and personal relationships. Going home for family dinner is a lot more common than after-work drinks.
5. Speaking of dinner, Romania is a very meat and potatoes country. As long as you're not a vegetarian, you'll love the food.
6. Malls are nearly always full because Romanians took to consumerism like ducks to water. An unfortunate side-effect of capitalism.
7. Most cars on the road are European, mostly German,but also many Dacias, Renaults, Fiats, and a spattering of American cars (no Cadillac tough).
8. People don't have guns, don't walk around with, or own, AKs, and they don't look to rip-off foreigners at every opportunity (watch out for Bucharest cabbies though).
9. Most people under 40 speak at least a little bit of English. If they say they don't they probably just don't want to speak to you or you're in a village.
10. You can eat almost any type of food you want but it's harder to find very exotic foods or ingredients.
11. Stray dogs may bite, especially at night if they're in a pack. More of an issue in certain areas of Bucharest.
12. Stray dogs do not get killed on the street by evil Romanians. The only dead dogs I've seen were roadkill. As a Canadian friend said, 'they're the raccoons of Romania'.
13. There is no real mafia of any sort. There are some loan-sharks, there are people involved with illegal rackets, certainly some crime groups do exist, but they are not in any way organized or brutal enough to warrant comparison to the international organized crime groups. The real 'mafia' is in the government.
14. Romanians are religious. By that I mean that even among the younger age groups, many profess a belief in God. Some, especially older Romanians, attend church regularly and take their faith pretty seriously.
15. Romanians love their traditions. If they're from Maramures, Bucovina, or Moldova, even more so. There is a lot of respect for local history and customs.
16. Regions play a large part in local culture. Romanians have only been united for a hundred years, there were previously three separate 'countries' in the territory that forms present-day Romania.
17. Romanians are very direct. "How are you" is a real question. If they don't like you, they don't bother faking it. If they do, you'll know it. Authentic human relationships still exist here, along with all the drama.
18. If you ever have to deal with the bureaucracy, you'll start to hate Romania. At least for that day. I'm convinced that the bureaucracy plays a bigger role in Romanians' decision to leave Romania than anyone is willing to acknowledge.
19. You can get pretty much anything you want, but when you buy it here, you're paying a lot in sales tax. This is why electronics are always more expensive than in America.
20. You can have a great dinner for two for less than $40
21. I don't know if it sounds like Russian (in Moldova it kind of does, actually) but the Romanian language is really nothing like Russian.
22. It's not bombed out and the regional conflicts haven't affected Romania. It's a stable and peaceful country that hasn't had an international conflict since 1945. That's 70 years longer than the US.
23. The Internet is really fast (and cheap).
24. You'll find the world's tastiest tomatoes in Romania. If you've only ever eaten tomatoes in America, you may not be able to imagine what that means.
PS: Since this is my first post of the year, a resolution is in order: I will write more than last year.