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January 26, 2023
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The Differences Between East and West: Romania from the Perspective of an Indian Woman

Introduction/Myself : I am Abida Khatoon from Delhi, India, I have  a major in Library and Information Science with over two decades years of professional experience in managing libraries in various institutions in India. India has the largest collection of manuscripts, paintings, illustrations, miniatures and calligraphy in different languages in various forms such as stones, wooden board, metal, leaves, animal skin, cloth, etc. Unfortunately, most of them are in a state of deterioration and they lie in the darkness of oblivion.  My dream is to preserve manuscripts/rare books to make them available for the future generations. I am so glad that I chose Romania to get my master’s degree and to study again in middle age. Presently doing Preparatory year from Facultatea Transfrontalieră, University of Dunarea de Jos din Galati.

Romanian People are Truly Independent:

 

In India, the practical and cultural definition of being independent is – being empowered and self-earning, however, in Romania the definition is a little different. Here, independence also includes doing your work on your own, without the help of domestic servants. We are used to being dependent on our maids and helpers. From the kitchen to all household chores, from grocery shopping or bank work to just about every personal work, we need a maid. We Indians cannot imagine our lives without domestic maids or servants. In Romania however, I learnt the true meaning of being independent. In middle age, I am learning how to do household and every single work by myself. Though I found it a little laborious in the beginning, I now feel that it generates more energy and confidence in me.

 

Family System and Culture:

 

In India, having a joint family system with a minimum of 3 to 4 kids is a rather common practice. We generally have man as the head of the family, who has the main responsibility of earning. But, here in Romania, a small/nuclear family system prevails, and a couple has a maximum of one kid or no kid. What’s also amazing is that here, every adult works! That’s why people here are very busy and they have less time for family and friends in comparison to India. Romanian people are concerned about their privacy and are often a little bit reserved, although they are very good with foreigners and welcome them with an open heart.

 

Personal Liberty:

 

Something that can shock the average Indian about Romania, is that here premarital sex and premarital children are both legalized. For someone in India, where the honour-killing culture still exists, it is beyond the bounds of possibility to even think of giving birth to a child without marriage.

 

Food:

 

Indians are fond of spices. Spices are undoubtedly the “heartbeat” of Indian foods. India has plenty of spices like ajwain, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, mace, nutmeg, red chilli, stevia, turmeric, vanilla beans, white pepper that are powdered, ground, doused, dried, or utilized in their raw form, to give an extraordinary and flavorful taste.

Spices were not only used in cooking in India but they were also employed to treat illnesses. We use spices in EVERY meal, rather even our fruit and fruit juices are incomplete without spices. Indian cuisine like biryanis, haleem, nihari, saag, channa, sirri paye, takatak, maghaz, chicken korma, chholey bhature, vegetable dishes and daals are all spicy, salty and oily!  It, therefore, does not come as a surprise that almost 70% of the world’s spices come from India. Romanian food, on the other hand, is full of cheese and pork. Whenever I have a big craving for chillies, I consume red chilli with milk.

 

Language:

 

I also realised that even the most common phrase could give a totally different expression. In India, we are habitual of saying, “I love you” to our friends. Here, one day I said the same to one of my friends. She looked at me surprisingly and asked me if I was lesbian. I felt embarrassed and explained it to her that it was just a way to show my appreciation. Both of us then burst into laughter.

 

System of Education:

 

I observed that the most striking feature of the Romanian education system is flexibility. They follow a very versatile teaching method, which is a perfect balance of conventional and modern methods. The helping attitude of the university staff really helped me. When I came here I was a stranger, in a strange country that had a very different culture & language as compared to mine. Now, I feel that the faculty has become my extended family.

Ours is a diverse class that constitutes students from different countries. Each country has distinct characteristics, the most prominent being language. Students belong to all age groups and each one is different from the others. Despite the differences, there is a great sense of inclusion amongst the group given the personalized attention received by each student. Students often have doubts, but teachers ensure to remind us of our talent and skill, and the encouragement to pursue them.

I am very thankful to my faculty and everyone, especially to Prof Daniela Lupascu, who has been my pillar of strength and guidance.

Romania is a beautiful country with high standards of law and order which ensures the safety of women and the least crime rate in addition to low environmental pollution levels. After being here, I now know why in India we believe वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्॥, which means “The Entire World is A Family”.

 

 

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