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Romania and Turkey compared

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Joined: 30 Jan 2003
Posts: 1693
Location: Saudi Arabia

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2003 12:22 pm    Post subject: Romania and Turkey compared Reply with quote

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2003 9:51 am Post subject: Turkey and Romania teaching comparisons


One week (Nov. 22-29) was spent in Romania with the aim of finding out about teaching opportunities there.

Some impressions:

PEOPLE: In general the Turks appear more friendly to the outsider. First impressions of Romanians are negative in the sense that there is not a cheerful aspect in the streets etc...In Bucharest in the Metro this poster tried to ask people for directions, but had people walk straight past without answering or offering directions.

The Turks seem more friendly, but that is more to do with culture than really coming from the heart. At least Romanians are honest in the sense that they have no interest in most foreigners and don't pretend to the contrary.

CULTURE: Far superior in Romania. Every town and city has its Theatre, Opera and other cultural amenities. All the towns have numerous book stores with a wide variety of books (both Romanian and foreign). It must be said, though, that the average Romanian salary (80-100 Euros. a month) does not permit most to buy books, but many students pool their resources together to buy books to share. A useful way.

Many Romanian towns and cities have 'British Council' Centres equipped with decent libraries, where you can peruse British papers and magazines and read English language books. You can rent videos and dvd's also. But you have to join. Only rich Romanians can afford the memberships.

In all the parks in Romania you see outdoor chess tables, with people playing (even in sub. zero temperatures).

In Internet cafes in Romania the atmosphere and behaviour of the patrons is far different from the savage, noisy atmosphere one encounters in Turkey. In Romania the patrons in Internet cafes use the Internet for information purposes mainly...not to play those ridiculous 'savaÁ oyun' games so popular in Turkey.

Romanians tend to be quiet, but the ones who have a decent education (mainly University student types) have good knowledge of the world, and one can have a decent conversation. In Turkey, as all of you know, most conversations come to a halt after the obligatory '5 mins. inquisition' (where are you from? how old are you? what is your job? are you married? how much do you earn?). Romanians have the decency and modesty not to ask those personal invasive questions.

CHEATING: Yes, unfortunately, Romania (just like Turkey) has its fair share of cheating people. Several times this poster was shortchanged (or the victim of an attempt at shortchanging) in places like Railway stations, shops etc. At one Internet cafe in Brasov, this foreigner was overcharged on no fewer than 3 occasions by the skinhead employee. The foreigner kept tabs. on his time consumption with his stopwatch. When the foreigner challenged the skinhead employee stating that overcharging was taking place, the skinhead employee replied 'You have pay' ..when foreigner insisted on paying the same as the Romanians, skinhead invited foreigner to 'step outside to settle matters'...very threatening behaviour.

HOTELS and LODGING: Rather limited and pricey for what you get. Do not use the Hotel Bucba (also called Hotel Andi) at the Gara de Nord area. This foreigner asked the desk clerk to see a room before putting money down. The foreigner was shown a room. Foreigner checked to see whether there were two sheets (as this foreigner has allergy to blankets which do not have an undersheet). When foreigner discovered only one sheet on the bed and told the desk clerk (a middle aged lady)...the desk clerk started screaming 'You are upsetting the system have put the room in a mess....get out!' Extraordinary rude behaviour.

Foreigner stayed at Astoria Hotel (2 star) expensive at 37 Euros a night. The toilet flush system did not work, and the breakfast consisted of 3 tiny slices of white bread (stale) with some ham, cheese, and tea.

In the provincial towns and cities you can stay in Pensions at prices in the 10-15 Euro a night range.

FOOD ROMANIA: Turkey is far superior with regards to choice, quality and prices of eating establishments. In Romania eating out is a luxury and there is very little choice. Most restaurants cater to rich businessmen and tourists.

Foreigner tried the 'Julia Pizza' restaurant in Brasov. The pizza was a disastrous mess of slimy cheese and what looked like ketchup as the sauce. Foreigner was charged 120.000 lei for the priviledge ($3.62).

Most Romanians appear to subsist on a variety of cold cuts (salami, ham and cheeses) with bread, tea and beer....not a very healthy diet.

Big Mac, Fries, Coke - 87.000 lei ($2.62)

Greasy meal in Restaurant (pork with potatoes and beer) 130.000 lei ($4 dollars).

Beer: This is cheap and good with prices ranging from 12.000 to 30.000 lei depending on whether bought in a shop or restaurant (0.40-0.90 cents).

DANGER: The 'street kids' in Bucharest and Brasov are surprisingly harmless, because they are so 'high' on glue and other noxious substances they inhale that they have no energy to attack or run after foreigners. They will merely ask you for a few coins. They are dressed in a pitiful state, and it is shocking to witness the complete passivity of Romanian passerby to the fate of these poor kids. The substances they inhale help them ward off hunger and keep them from feeling the cold. There are also many gypsies, but if you keep your wits about you, they are not a problem.

TEACHING ROMANIA: Compared with Turkey (which has an 'open door policy' with foreigners) teaching in Romania is a nightmare, and the chances of landing employment are slim to none.

New rules have come into place:

1. Go to the Office for work force migration.

2. Clean police record (both employer and potential employee).

3. Proof of 'Legal Selection' for the job.

4. Resume for the foreigner.

5. Police record for the foreigner (second copy).

6. Medical exam (full).

7. Notarized statement that foreigner has a working knowledge of the Romanian language.

8. Copy of border entry stamp.

If you manage to get all the above, you might be approved to work for 3 months (yes approval for 12 weeks...not one year as in Turkey).

PRIVATE SCHOOLS: They are not interested in employing foreigners in Romania. Owners were approached and the response was always negative 'We do not have positions.' Other excuses inculded 'You need Romanian language to be able to teach English in this country.'

SCUALA HILDA: Advertises all over Brasov with glossy posters of what appears to be an upmarket language school. The reality is that this 'school' is located in a three bedroom apartment located in a seedy neighborhood close to the railway station. Foreigner phoned the school (with the help of a Romanian friend) and told to come for an interview at 6 pm. Foreigner showed was closed. Phoned the owner to be told to come back the next day at 1pm. Showed up at 1pm, to be told by the secratary that the manager was busy. Told to come back at 3pm. At 3pm...told by secretary that foreigner needs to know the Romanian language to teach at the school. At this point (after wasting 2 days running around the town of Brasov) foreigner gives up quest to land Romanian job.

GABRIELA CHEFNEUX ([email protected]): Dr. Chefneux (Ph.d University of Iasi) is an authority on teaching in Romania. She states that foreigners have little or no chance of landing employment in Romania whether in the public or private sectors. The Ministry does not take a favourable attitude to foreigners taking jobs away from Romanians.

Moreover, in the unlikely event of being offered a job, the pay (50.000 lei per hour/ equal to 1.5 Euros) would not permit a living wage for a foreigner. There is no free or subsidized accommodation in Romania, as is the case with Turkey. Rents for foreigners would be at least double that given to a Romanian (around 300 Euros a month at least). Your salary would only cover a fraction of the cost of your expenses in the country.

Romanians cannot understand how ESL teachers in Turkey are paid twice the salary of the local teachers in Turkey. In Romania the opposite is true...the feeling is that foreigners should have no advantages over the locals.

VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS: Yes might have the priviledge of teaching in Romania if you join one of these organizations...but in that case you (the teacher) have to pay for the priveledge of teaching in Romania. Typical prices are around 900 to 1000 pounds British for a one to three month stay. A scam you might say.

SUMMATION: In Turkey the opportunities for teaching are numerous and generous compared with Romania. Romania is not open for teaching.

The only decent jobs might be found through the British Councll. But competition for those jobs is tough. And the 'average' roving teacher on this forum would not stand a chance of getting on board.

The only question is whether Romania will change their policies toward foreign teachers when/if they join the European Union in 2007.
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Joined: 27 Mar 2003
Posts: 344
Location: Bucharest, Romania

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Iíve been here for a while now, I thought Iíd update Ghostís post with a few observations/corrections.


Turks are certainly friendlier and more approachable. Romanians are quite suspicious, especially of strangers, but once you get to know them they treat you firstly as a person. I found that Turks rarely saw past your Ďforeign-nessí. It seems people here are used to people only being kind or helpful when they want something, so you get peculiar looks if you stop to help someone unasked. It takes a little longer to win peopleís trust.

The observation about Romanians being quieter and less prone to asking the same old questions is true. Sometimes I miss this, I must confess, especially bantering with shop owners in Turkey. Here service in cafťs, shops and restaurants is perfunctory and the waitresses in particular appear to detest leaving their cigarettes to come and serve you. I certainly miss Turkish service ethics (except in government institutions, of course!). I have to travel by train a lot and often end up in conversation with other travellers Ė as far as my Romanian allows me to Ė but apart from these opportunities itís much rarer to end up in conversation with a stranger.


There are certainly more cultural activities in Bucharest. You can pick up a free magazine which covers all weekly events from film to theatre to classical concerts and there is normally something interesting to do every night. There are lots of cinemas, some showing older classic movies. The parks are great and generally well looked after and feel safe Ė not overgrown and full of drunken tramps as they are in Istanbul. There are plenty of bars and nightclubs and these are often cheap and busy all week.

I guess Ghost was lucky in his choice of internet cafť as all the ones Iíve been in here have been full of kids playing those war games or chatting. However, those playing games have always been wearing headphones so it hasnít disturbed me in the least.


Again, it seems Ghost was particularly unlucky. In five months I donít recall ever being overcharged for anything (unless perhaps something so cheap that I wouldnít have noticed). Iím especially surprised that a taxi driver hasnít attempted it yet. Most items in shops and markets are labelled and restaurant bills have always tallied.


I canít really comment as I have my own flat here. I came to Romania for a holiday in 2003 and found hotels to be adequate but definitely priced for foreign visitors. Most younger Romanians prefer to save money by camping or getting together a large group and sharing the price of a self-catering chalet or villa in the mountains. You can often find people hanging around the stations in the more popular tourist towns who are offering cheap accommodation in their private homes.


Turkish food is certainly better than Romanian food, although Romanian food is quite nice, if somewhat limited. The only difference is that Romanians are more interested in trying new things than Turks are so the shops and restaurants are more varied. I was delighted to find prawn crackers (the ones you fry yourself) in my local shop. There are plenty of supermarkets with a very wide range of ingredients. Good news for those who, like me, love to cook.

In the short time Iíve been here Iíve been to a Vietnamese, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Hungarian restaurant, as well as many Romanian restaurants. The Romanian restaurants are very cheap and serve good-sized portions. A decent meal for two with a beer each can cost as little as 4 EURO per person. The most Iíve ever paid in a restaurant was at the Russian restaurant. Starters, main course, shared a desert, a vodka and orange, a large jug of juice and a couple of coffees, accompanied by good service (by Romanian standards) and live Russian music: 14 EURO per person, hugely expensive by Romanian standards but excellent value in comparison with other large cities. Generally you can eat out well for 10 EURO per person, but much MUCH cheaper options are available for those on a tighter budget.


Loaf of fresh bread: 0.20 EURO
Bottle of water: 0.25 EURO
Bottle of beer in supermarket: 0.50 EURO
Bottle of beer in bar: 1.00 EURO
Packet of Marlboro: 0.80 EURO
English novel: 8-9 EURO
Phone call to Europe: 0.24 EURO/min peak, 0.19 EURO/min off-peak
Phone call to USA: 0.23 EURO/min all times.
Phone call to Australia: 0.41 EURO/min all times
500km domestic train trip: 12.50 EURO/one way (2nd class intercity)
1 month, all lines, Bucharest travel card: 6.50 EURO
10 trip metro card: 1.50 EURO


Bucharest is a lot more dangerous than Istanbul, mostly due to the large Roma population. I feel very vulnerable when going to visit clients in my suit in certain areas of the city and getting followed and eyed up by the gypsies Ė imagine how you would feel swimming naked in a shark tank with chunks of raw meat tied to your limbsÖfeels something like that. Itís very rare to meet someone who hasnít been a victim of theft here and even on a weekend at night in the centre of town the streets are devoid of people Ė except drunks, pimps and hookers. Compare that with Istiklal Cad. at 11pm on a Friday night.

Iíve seen people attacked and robbed, Iíve been robbed twice myself, and you canít expect any help from passers-by who are afraid of reprisals from the gypsies so just turn a blind eye. Itís definitely a city where you need to keep your wits about youÖ

As Ghost says, the beggars are generally harmless, only the kids can be a little annoying at times.


Ghost has summed it up quite accurately. Romania has very few teaching opportunities. You certainly couldnít turn up and hope to get something here as you can easily do in Turkey. People donít have enough money to pay for more expensive lessons taught by native speakers and schools therefore couldnít afford to pay a native speaker much more than a local, an amount which a rent-paying foreigner certainly couldnít live on. There are some private lessons to be had but I doubt whether you could make a good living off of them. Most Romanians also firmly believe that you need to speak Romanian to teach English, so prefer Romanian native teachers anyway. Basically, Turkey and Romania are at completely different ends of the scale when it comes to EFL opportunities.


- Chatting to shopkeepers, waiters, taxi drivers, etc.
- Excellent service in restaurants, bars and small shops.
- Sitting on a rooftop terrace in the summer on a Wednesday afternoon sipping a cold Efes, having a smoke and chatting with a view friends whilst watching life on the Bosphorus slip byÖunbeatable!


- The city being easy to navigate, with a simple and practical system of trolley cars, trams, buses and the metro. All land-based transport around the city can be used for a monthly fee of 6.50 EURO.
- Mici (like kofte) and beer in a terasa in the summer. Having the choice of more than one type of beer!
- Walking around the parks at weekends.

In summation, Istanbul was a city where everything I encountered was either wonderful or infuriating, lovable or detestable - a city of extremes where the first shopkeeper will rip you off shamelessly and the next will invite you to sit down with him for tea and pastries. Bucharest, in comparison, rarely surprises you and is certainly more like living back in the west.

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