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Country Overview
Romania is a country still in transition. Since the 1989 revolution that brought an end to the Ceausescu era, Romanians have been working to develop the type of country they want to call home.

Their effort is paying off. Emigration is down and more young people believe that they will succeed in Romania. Optimism is high.

Romania is a large, oval-shaped country. The third largest country in Eastern Europe, Romania is home to 23 million. 2 million of those live in Bucharest, the capital.

The population is primarily Romanian (89%), but there are also Hungarians, Gypsies, Germans, and Ukrainians.

The official language is Romanian, a Latin-based language. Other ethnic groups speak their own languages as well and the study of foreign languages is encouraged.

Romania has three main geographic areas. One third is covered by the forested Carpathian Mountains. These mountains are rich in wildlife and flora. The next third consists of hills and tablelands of orchards and vineyards. The final third is fertile plain, where cereals, vegetables, and herbs are grown.

The country is bordered by the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia (Serbia), Hungary, Ukraine, and Moldova.

The climate is less of a draw than the beautiful landscape. The average temperature is 11 degrees Celsius in the south and on the coast, and 2 degrees Celsius in the mountains. Winters are generally cold and foggy with snow from December to April. The Black Sea Coast, home to popular resorts, has hot and sunny summers. Most of the rain falls in the spring, particularly in the mountains.

In 1991, the Romanian people approved a Constitution, which formed a republic. The government consists of parliament and the president. The parliament has two chambers and its members are elected for four-year terms. It has sole law-making authority. The president is elected for four years and may serve only two terms.

The main industries are agriculture and manufacturing. The name of the currency is the leu (plural 'lei').

The Romanian culture is rich. The folk traditions, stories, music, and dancing continue to be popular sources of entertainment, especially in the rural areas.

Romanian artists were pioneers in painting. The early frescoes painted on exterior monastery walls can still be enjoyed today. The peasant tradition of painting on glass and wood continues to be practiced, producing wonderful works.

The writer best known outside Romania is the playwright Eugene Ionesco. A playwright and proponent of the 'Theater of the Absurd,' IonescoĆ­s influence was felt on stages far and wide.

No gymnastics fan, of course, can forget Nadia and her historical Olympic performance. The Romanians remain strong competitors in sports competitions.

Romanian cuisine has failed to entrench itself in the American ethnic cuisine market. The typical offerings are grilled pork, pork liver, grilled chicken, tripe soup, and potatoes.

Two mainstays of the diet are mamagliga, a hard or soft cornmeal mush which is boiled, baked, or fried, and ciorba, soup. Desserts earn higher praise from visitors who are tempted by the placinta (turnovers), clarite (crepes), and saraille (almond cake soaked in syrup).

Romanian wines are inexpensive and quite good. Plum brandy (tuica or palinca) is often served at the beginning of a meal.

Education is compulsory for ten years. The system is highly centralized and the curriculum is well defined.

Students are required to attend secondary school for at least two years. They may follow a college preparatory, vocational, or technological track. The length of the program varies by type.

Students have to decide quite early what type of field they want to go into so education is taken very seriously.

Admittance to universities is highly competitive and determined by examination.

Romania enjoys a high literacy rate.

Romanian teenagers enjoy many of the same things as American teenagers. Their resources are more limited so the materialism of American teens and our abundance of goods will probably shock them.

Jeans are popular in Romania, too. Teenagers dress casually, but more formally than American teens. They are more likely to wear blouses and slacks, for example.

Films, sports, and dancing are all popular pastimes.

Romanians are often described as friendly, generous, and hospitable. They look after friends and family as well as newfound friends and visitors. These qualities are heavily valued.

Romanians are primarily Romanian Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant. Religion plays a far greater role in the rural areas than in the urban areas, which are quite secularized.

Socialism discouraged religious participation. Rural areas were less touched by the Socialist systems so traditions have remained stronger. In general, urban residents have not returned to religion in the post-Socialist period.

The Family
Socialism disrupted the traditional family system. This is especially true in the urban areas of Romania. The government used the family as a unit of the government. It was an organizational tool.

Nonetheless, family is important. Family members look after and support each other.

Family members are expected to help out around the house. Teenagers clean their bedrooms, look after younger siblings, help with the dishes, take out the trash, and things like that.

Explain to your student what kinds of chores you expect him or her to help with and show him or her how to do them. Something as simple as laundry detergent varies widely between countries.

Romanians believe it is very important to make visitors feel welcome. Hospitality is vital.

Children are expected to show respect by using titles when addressing adults.

Most misunderstandings result from easily remedied confusions. Encourage your student to ask questions about things that confuse them. Ask questions yourself.

The most frequent type of misunderstanding, especially in the beginning, is due to language. Never allow your student to feel foolish or stupid for misusing a word. It is fine to laugh (these situations can be extremely funny) as long as your student understands that you are laughing with him or her and not at him or her.

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