I realized Friday that I haven't taken very many pictures around town, so I decided this weekend to be more intentional about that. I wanted to show you some of the things that are pretty typical of my life here, especially those that are different from life in the U.S.
After doing some errands one day I had the afternoon free, so I decided to grab some lunch to-go and wander around town. Although there are a few hamburger stands and a new sandwich shop, if I get hungry while I'm out and about "în oraș" (in town), I usually just find a snack. My usual choice would be a mozzarella-filled pretzel or a turnover with fruit or cheese, but Friday I stopped at a newly-discovered shop called "Happy Pie" and got this fresh slice of meat pie with a bottle of mineral water. This set me back 5 Lei, or less than $2, and was quite tasty. Since I walk everywhere, I eat things like this pretty often.
Another important aspect of Lugoj life is market day, which happens every Tuesday and Friday. The market is open daily, but on these days the whole city is buzzing with pedestrians stocking up on fresh produce and doing other errands. The market was pretty intimidating the first couple of times, but now that I know what to expect, I kind of enjoy it.
Friday night we went to a dinner party at a nice restaurant for the last night of the holocaust conference. A live band played traditional Romanian music and we ate a typical Romanian party meal: multiple courses and a very rich dessert, which this time was crepes filled with ice cream and served with a berry sauce. Between courses people danced a traditional Romanian dance, which I was tempted to join. But not knowing how to dance and not having a wing-man to look silly with me, I decided to pass. Maybe next time.
Saturday we went to a mall in a bigger city, and on the way home we had to wait for some pedestrians to cross the road...
Finally, today is Sunday, so of course we went to church. The service usually lasts about 2 hours, which sounds like a long time, but since there is no Sunday School it isn't really too long compared to a lot of American churches. We usually go to one of two churches, either the large Baptist church in town, or a church plant in the poorest part of town. This morning we went to the church plant, which is currently meeting in what used to be a bar. Renovations are in progress on a much larger building next door that will serve as both a church and community center with showers, a laundry room, and a large kitchen and dining room.
One thing you need to know about church in Romania is that if you are a visitor, you have to say something. This is when it's good to be a person who actually reads the Bible and has a growing relationship with God, so you will have something to say. Most of the time it's something like "Hello, I'm so glad to be visiting here from _____," plus an encouraging Bible verse or something spiritual that is relevant to your being here. This morning my Grandma was in town, so she talked a little bit.
These are a few of the things I find different about Romanian culture -- not so much the language or the food, but the lifestyle. For me, getting adjusted hasn't meant that I can be completely independent, but that I'm finally at the point where a lot of these things are not new anymore. Romania is still very different in some ways, but every day it is becoming more familiar, and for that I am thankful.