New norms

In my experience, when you move to another country, over time you start to forget what your former norms were, and you start to have these moments of realization where you think to yourself, “this used to seem strange or new to me, and now it doesn’t phase me at all.”  You’ve developed a set of completely new norms.

Yesterday, I had one of those moments.  I had one of those moments when I was walking back to my host house for lunch, and I realized that I had sort of forgotten I was in Moldova.  “Oh yea,” I thought to myself, “I’m in Moldova.  For two years.  This walk used to seem new and different to me.  Crazy.”

In light of that moment, I wanted to share some other “new norms” I’ve developed over the past several months (3 months now!).

  • Eating a tomato like Americans eat an apple – you just bite right in.
  • Eating a cucumber the same way.  The cucumbers are smaller here, more like the size of pickles, and sometimes we slice them into four long strips, other times we eat them whole.
  • Taking my shoes off before I go into the house.
  • Boiling and filtering all of my own drinking water.  I’ve got a whole system to do this effectively and efficiently now.
  • Using an outhouse.
  • Greeting everyone with “good morning,” “good day,” “good evening,” or “hi” in Romanian.  It just comes out so naturally now.
  • Seeing goats out munching in grassy areas.
  • People walking their cows.
  • Russian.  It’s everywhere!  More on that in another post…
  • Dirt roads.  Though my site is a relatively larger town and has a good combination of both paved and gravel roads.
  • Stray dogs.  I used to notice them, but now they sort of just blend in.  My favorite thing is seeing little puppies running around barking at strangers.  They try so hard to be mean, but it just makes me want to cuddle them.  Unfortunately, a lot of the animals have flees, so I save the hugging for my host nieces.
  • Drinking tea.  Have to be honest, tea has never really been my thing.  But here, I love it.  I drink it every morning with breakfast, and sometimes after dinner before I go to bed.  Maybe it’s because it’s not as hot here, and I enjoy a hot beverage more when it’s cooler outdoors.  Or maybe I love it just because it’s a Moldovan thing to do.
  • Bathing once or twice a week.
  • Taking rutieras.  I wish I could even start to fully explain this one to people back home…but I’m just not sure that I can.  Basically, it just feels good to be able to navigate your way around a country pretty comfortably.
  • Waking up to roosters and barking dogs.
  • Typing in Romanian.  It gets easier every day.
  • Throwing toilet paper in the trash, and not in the toilet.
  • Using the stove to cook everything and not a microwave.
  • Eating salami.
  • Being a 10-minute walk away from work.  Probably one of my favorite things about living here.
Truly, there are so many things that I don’t even think twice about now, but that’s about all I can come up with for now!
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