What Do You Learn When You Travel Abroad?

Do you really have to speak foreign languages when you travel abroad? With today’s technology, translation is always at hand on your mobile. Although being fluent in all the languages of all the countries you are visiting would make you a candidate for the Nobel Price nomination!

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But what do you learn when you travel abroad, really? In preparation, you might do some research about the place you decided to visit. About the country, in general, the regions you intend to see, cities, villages, beaches, mountains. You check flights and accommodation deals, possibly car rentals. What is the weather like? What should you see and do in the place(s) you plan to visit? 

The Huniade Castle, Romania
Images: Pixabay
The Huniade Castle, Western Romania

You might read a bit about the local history, geography, culture. Indeed, you will do some research about food and drinks, nightlife, museum opening hours, local currency and exchange rate. The list does not end here.

Thanks to the beautiful community of travel bloggers and price comparison sites, it has become easy to plan the perfect holiday.

River Danube mountain sculpture Romania
River Danube as it enters the country

So, now you have everything prepared and a few days left until you’ll start packing, you might want to learn a few words in a foreign language that could come in handy as you step out of the airport terminal at your destination. Such as greetings, please and thank you, how much, check, my name is, what’s yours etc.


It is only polite to show a bit of consideration. The locals know that you are a visitor and appreciate your effort. It is something you will observe and enjoy as a tourist.

Mocanita Steam Train, Maramures, Northern Romania
Mocănița Steam Train, Maramureș, Northern Romania

I wonder how much thought you would give to the popular wisdom of a nation before visiting. To their proverbs or sayings. Something you will not master even after you return home but can make you laugh and help induce a more carefree, holiday state of mind even as you’re reading now. 

Brasov Transylvania Romania
Brașov, Transylvania. Central Romania

Not to mention that it is likely to hear one or two at your destination. 

Imagine that feeling when you get the meaning of the saying. See the smile of the local you are speaking with broadening. And the satisfaction that, although you can barely articulate a few words in the local language, you can still communicate effectively – you ARE actually speaking a foreign language! Priceless!

If you chose Romania as your destination, you would discover extraordinary diversity, breath-taking scenery, hospitality and generosity as you’ll rarely find, foods you will fall in love with and remember for a long time and cheap, quality drinks. You would also hear things that will baffle you when translated into English. 

Brown Bear, Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Brown Bear, Carpathian Mountains Range, Romania

Romanian is an ancient language, spoken since times immemorial by the Dacian people, as Romanians were called in the old times. That means before the Romans became desperate to expand their empire towards the dawn of their civilisation and crossed the Danube to occupy southern Dacia.

The King's Rock Mountain in the Carpathian Range, Transylvania
The King’s Rock Mountain in the Carpathian Range, Transylvania. Personal photo

It would be useless to argue over how Romanian was born; there is too much debate about the subject as it is. The thing is, no language was ever created overnight.

One conqueror or another might have occupied parts of the country for some time; some words might have suffered influences, new ones were borrowed. In essence, Romanian has remained the same language spoken in this area for many thousands of years. 

Pelican colony in the Danube Delta, as the river runs into the Black Sea
A pelican colony in the Danube Delta, as the river runs into the Black Sea

It might be the reason why Romanian is a unitary language without dialects, spoken in the exact same way by all the inhabitants of all the historical regions of the country. The accent might vary, after all, Brummies and Scots or Texans and New Yorkers have their own pronunciation as well, you get the idea.

Constanta City, The Black Sea, Romania
Casino in Constanța City. The Black Sea, South-eastern Romania

In time, of course, Romanian evolved, like any other modern tongue. Even more in the most recent times, when a lot of slang found its way into the language. 

Being a vibrant and colourful language and the Romanians a highly inventive, humorous and slightly mocking people, the proverbs followed the trend. They absorbed the creativity of the nation, becoming funny beyond wise.

So, let’s talk about modern Romanian proverbs. Not because I am a native and I get them, but because when translated into English, they sound hilarious.

Bran Castle near Brasov, Transylvania. Not Dracula's Castle
Bran Castle, near Brașov. And no, the real Vlad Dracula had never stepped inside! He was the king of the region south of Transylvania, called Wallachia.

Let’s say you speak with a local and insist something is what you say it is. You won’t give up and push it to the point of driving the local nuts. The Romanian could reply a tad exasperated that you take them out of the watermelons (mă scoți din pepeni!)

Nuts, watermelon, both foods, same meaning, right? Just keep in mind that you driving (as in driving a car) them nuts  (squirrel’s favourite foods) makes just as much sense to them as their watermelons to you!

Chindia Tower Wallachia Vlad Dracula's royal court and place of executions, impallings
Chindia Tower, Târgoviște, Wallachia. Vlad Dracula built it at his court. It was his favourite place to watch executions (mostly impalings). He used to force his guests to watch the horror shows as well!

Maybe it’s time you dropped the argument before they will lose their temper, or their mustard will jump off (îi sare muștarul). You are on holiday; conflict is the last thing you need! 

Relax, the Romanians are way too hospitable. They would rather settle with a tasty traditional meal and glass of wine or țuică, a famous Romanian brandy made out of pears or plums. You will have to annoy them badly to get them to beat you until your flakes start flying (te bat de-ți zboară fulgii!)

I insist, Romanians love tourists, they want you to appreciate the splendour of the country, they won’t beat you! That’s cool; you’d think, sighing relieved. They would say it is concrete (e beton!)

Brasov City Centre High Street
Brasov City Centre High Street. Personal photo

As you follow your plan (or improvise) and travel around the country, you will see scenery that will take your breath away. So much beauty might surprise you, to say the least. But don’t be surprised if a local will proudly proclaim that your face fell off (ți-a căzut fața) when you saw this or that of incommensurable beauty! 

No need to check, your face is still there, where it has always been. Your Romanian is only pleased that their country has something to show that took your breath away.

Brasov Christmas Market and Christmas Tree
Brașov Christmas Market. Personal photo

As there is beauty at every turn, you might slow your pace. You want time to imprint the images deep in your memory and take a million pictures. But the local knows there is a lot more to see and they feel they must show it all to you, so they might get a bit annoyed that you’re wasting time. To them, it would seem as you’re rubbing the mint (freci menta!) 

Don’t worry; you won’t have to prepare any herbal infusions! Besides, you own your time, and you are on holiday, so you can dillydally all you want. Now explain dillydally to your Romanian host! Argh, foreign languages!

The hause where Vlad Dracula was born in Sighisoara, Transylvania, Romania
The house where Vlad Dracula was born in 1431. Sighișoara, Transylvania. Personal Photo

If something confuses you, you might be staring like a turkey hen at the boughs (te holbezi ca curca’n crăci!)

Do not despair; you‘ll get it, eventually. When your coin will drop (îți pică fisa).

Poiana Brasov Ski Resort Brasov, Romania
Poiana Brașov Ski Resort. Personal Photo

Try, if you can, not to do anything crazy, in general, while travelling. To a Romanian, it will be a clear sign you are gone on a raft (ești dus cu pluta!)

It is also sound advice not to do anything wrong or throw your boggers into the beans (să dai cu mucii în fasole). It will forever destroy your reputation as a respectable person.

Transylvania countryside Romania
Transylvania countryside

After so much sightseeing and exploring, you will drop dead, enriched, but over exhausted. You’d be cabbage, actually (ești varză!

You would also be cabbage (no indefinite article) if you didn’t find your passport before your flight back home because you are a bit messy.

The Sphinx, Bucegi Mountains of the Carpathian Range, Romania
The Sphinx. Rock formation, Bucegi Mountains in the Carpathian Range

Don’t stress too much; the passport will show up. Unwind and, since it is your last night in the country, you should have a drink with your new friend for life. 

If you observe that this person drinks a lot, you might wonder why nobody warned you that they were a drunkard.

Well, one or two of their friends might have mentioned that they were a blotting paper (e sugativă), but you didn’t quite catch it!

Dino Park Rasnov, Brasov, Romania
Dino Park, Râșnov, near Brașov. Personal photo

The Romanian wisdom doesn’t end here, but I would like to hear from you now. Which one did you find funnier/more bonkers? And what other crazy things have you heard in your travels? Where? In what language? And do you really learn a foreign language before or during your travels? I would love to learn about your adventures!

Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania
Palace of Parliament, Bucharest, Romania

I hope you enjoyed reading it! Please share the love by saving this pin to your travel or learning languages boards; it will help this blog grow and motivate me to write more for your enjoyment! Thank you!

The World Is An Oyster

Working as a journalist during university was pretty exciting. But landing a cruise ship job barely a year in my new graduate career was something else! Overnight, I moved from an already exhilarating job to an even better one. One that would allow me to wake up every morning in a different country. What more can a twenty-something wish for? The fact that I was fluent in a few languages helped. It made it easier to obtain the position I was seeking at the Shore Excursions department. Apart from dispatching tours in the morning and selling tickets in the evening, I would spend nearly every day on different trips. I did this a few years, spending half a year onboard and about two months at home. I enjoyed it immensely. I met fascinating people from all over the Globe and collected memories to last me a lifetime. Not to mention that I received a salary for seeing all those magnificent places the Earth has to offer! In an ideal world, everybody should live as they want. For me, that would translate into travel, then travel some more and keep travelling!

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77 Responses

  1. Daniel Ng says:

    Is so fun living in a country for a certain period. Not only the language, but I get to discover the culture, food, people and, most importantly, the hidden gems. I would love to stay in Romania for a few months and explore the country. My dream is when I retire.

  2. Joanna says:

    This is such a love filled post. I can see your undying love for Romania in here and I’m not surprise. The landscape and the city architecture are breathtaking and the people seem so welcoming! I only visited a few coastal towns long time ago when we were still beyond the Iron Curtain. Great memories.

  3. On my bucket list. My niece, from marriage, is from Romania and she always spoke with love and now I can see why.
    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful place

  4. Jenn says:

    Learning local proverbs is so illuminating in understanding the way people think, but is is often one of the more difficult aspects of language learning – definitely rewarding though! Thanks for sharing some of these fun ones!

  5. Jeanine says:

    Oh my… If Romania wasn’t already on my DO list it would be now… and the translations are wonderful I love it…The countryside; gorgeous, and the towns look beautiful. I would love to go for Christmas Markets…Thank you for sharing

  6. Every time I read one of your posts, your writing makes me want to go visit the place you wrote about. I love seeing the architecture and learning the history of the places I visit and Romania looks and sounds wonderful!

  7. Jeri says:

    What a wonderful article about Romania. I have to admit, it’s not one of the places I ever thought of visiting, but this article has changed that! Your pictures are beautiful, and the Romanian people sound lovely! I hope I have the chance to travel there someday!

  8. Jeannie says:

    Great read! I try to learn the basics because its fun and easy to communicate with locals, but while in Japan I have to use google translate app its just difficult because most labels and signs are in Japanese.

  9. Great advice! I remember learning in my cultural studies how important it is to at least be knowledgeable of the culture and language of the country you’re visiting.

  10. Marita says:

    Oh, this reminds me of my trip to Romania. I went right into Bucovina, and the language sounded a bit Italian. Then in Transylvania, I was surprised about how many people spoke German, and there are I also met some Hungarian speaking Romanians. Such a fascinating country.

  11. I loved reading this! I would love to travel some more and learn the history of everything! Here in the US we don’t get many vacation days a year so it is hard to travel abroad but so worth it if you can find the time!

  12. Freya says:

    Beautiful photos but such funny phrases! You really don’t consider the little things we say until they’re obviously pointed out. And I love that each country has its own colloquialisms!

  13. The pictures are beautiful! I never imagined Romania would be so beautiful. And some of the sayings are quite comical.

  14. Lovely post, amazing images, it all makes me want to travel again! Keep up the great work!

  15. Danielle says:

    Your photos are beautiful! This was nice to read, I’ll be saving and sharing!

  16. erin says:

    This was so much fun to read, thank you! I always try to learn a few phrases before we travel but had never thought how some of the expressions are so different! We visited Romania last year and fell in love! Your pictures are gorgeous and making me want to visit again! Hopefully soon!

  17. Sarah says:

    Beautiful pictures, they make me want to go to Romania. I have never been there, but it sounds like quite an interesting place to like. I love your take on things, how language works differently, and even though something mentioned something you may not have picked it up because of the wording used. Interacting with locals sounds like a key part of truly enjoying visiting a foreign place.

  18. Mae says:

    Beautiful photos as always! Romania looks stunning! I learn about the culture in every place I go to. I even forget to take a million photos because I am so into being in the moment and just enjoying every single minute of it.

  19. Daphne says:

    I often feel gone in a raft, ❤️

  20. Lisa says:

    Thank you for sharing your photos and insights. I have never been to Romania, but would love to visit sometime. I agree, there is much to be learned from traveling abroad!

  21. Lyz says:

    This makes me miss travel so much! And yes, you do learn a lot of lessons when you travel abroad. I think one of those best lessons that travel has given me is by broadening and opening my mind to what’s out there, beyond the place where I grew up in, beyond the culture I’ve known all my life.

  22. Linda Egeler says:

    I must admit, Romania has not been at the top of my travel bucket list. Your photographs make me think that it maybe it should be!

  23. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Romania … as yet. The Romanian people I meet here are very passionate about their country and I’m eager to visit when I can. Thank you for taking me there with your words and images.

    I absolutely love the way you take us on your journey and pay special attention to the delightful details like proverbs and words of wisdom.

  24. Roshunda says:

    I haven’t been to Romania but I would love to visit. I’m living abroad in the UK and one of the positives is that they speak English, except they have a very heavy accent and still have a different phrase for things. Such as the trunk of a car is called a boot here. And they call their cookies here biscuits. LOL. I’ve gotten used to it now but it was a little challenging in the beginning. Great post.

    • Yep, I know!😂I wondered for years why on earth would mince pies have sugar on them? I mean pork or beef and sugar? WTH? Then I realised the pies only contain fruits, but brits being the conservatives they are, they just kept the medieval name of a treat introduced to the island from Asia, a treat that uses to contain meats back then😂😂😂

  25. Rebecca says:

    I love all the intricacies of language. This was a great post. Makes me want to visit Romania!

  26. Alita Pacio says:

    Oh these photos are stunning. Thank you for sharing them. It brings out positivity and inspiration. I wanna visit these places

  27. Dasha says:

    Such beautiful photos. I love learning the language and culture and local customs. Super interesting.

  28. julie says:

    This is so interesting, and funny!! Your photos are incredible! Make me want to visit Romania!

  29. Jamie says:

    Oh I love this and want to go to Romania now! Thanks for sharing this – so interesting!

  30. Hannah says:

    I can’t agree more and travel is one of the best investments! I love all your photos! Just stunning xx

  31. Europe has so much to offer when it comes to travel. Romania sounds like a great place to visit once it is safe. Stunning photography, thanks for sharing. I had a chance to backpack China during the winter holiday of my year-long study abroad. I found the interaction with locals to be the most fun and memorable part of the journey.

  32. Belén says:

    Great post! The best of travelling is to get involved in the local culture and learn about its history and way of life. And I always try to learn a few words in the local language, people appreciate it.

  33. Jennifer says:

    Such stunning photography!

  34. Jenn Summers says:

    Your photography is amazing some might say my face fell off looking at them haha! I love this so much and I love the humourous side to your post too. Thanks for putting a smile on my face and a lesson in worldy travel!

  35. Lindsay says:

    Awesome piece, I always enjoy reading your posts. Everyone I know who has been to Romania has loved it!

  36. Loved this! You make a good point about researching and possibly learning a few key words or phrases before traveling internationally. But to immerse yourself in the culture and try to understand or even use their phrases is next level.

    You don’t give a lot of thought to the meaning of common phrases in your own language, but when you translate them into a foreign language, it really can be comical. Thanks for sharing this!

  37. Cassie says:

    I have always thought about going abroad, so this post was super helpful! I actually applied for a program to go to London just before the pandemic hit, so of course that had to be cancelled. I am hoping this summer I am able to! Thank you for sharing your experience!

  38. Laia Feliu says:

    One of my favourite things about travelling is learning new things… My boyfriend was in Romania a couple of years ago and he loved it! I can’t wait to go! Also, I’m Catalan and apparently, there are like a thousand words that are incredibly similar and mean the same!

  39. Alyssa says:

    Your face fell off! 😂 I think that’s the funniest one, in my opinion. I love hearing about the differences in languages and how we speak. I would be intimidated while traveling abroad because I’d be afraid of offending someone.

  40. Jenny says:

    This made me smile this morning. When we traveled to London as a family, I didn’t think much of the language barrier because, well, it’s the same. Boy, was I wrong. Some of those sayings went over my head. We then made a game of writing them all down so we could remember later.

  41. Elzaan says:

    What awesome sayings they have!!! Really got me laughing😁 Romania is definitely on my bucket list of places to go and it’s so beautiful!

  42. Nathalia says:

    Very interesting! I’m bilingual and still find it amusing when colloquialisms don’t translate the same way.

    Nathalia | NathaliaFit – Fitness & Wellness Blog

  43. Marguerite says:

    Love this post! So unique and different 🙂 Only after moving to Germany did I realise, thanks to locals, that English also has some pretty odd expressions that confuse non-native speakers but that I took for granted!

  44. Angela says:

    Great post! I’ve always wanted to travel abroad and learn more about different cultures. You learn much more as a traveler. Romania sounds like an interesting place.

  45. Jen says:

    Wow, I never thought that Romania as a destination is this dreamy (a little knowledge on Romania really)! Is travelling there as expensive as other European countries?

  46. Rachel IRL says:

    This was so fun to read! Romania has been on my list for quite some time, and this has totally reminded me why I want to go there.

  47. Daniella says:

    You can learn so much as a traveler if you interact with the locals. Thanks so much for sharing such an interesting perspective of Romania. I’m dying to visit after seeing your amazing photos!

  48. Tegan says:

    I am in awe of your photos! I would love to do a road trip through Romania. Planning to visit next time we’re in Europe; I will definitely read your blog for advice!

  49. DiElle says:

    Wow this looks incredible, such amazing photos. Thanks for sharing this, really enjoying the impression you’ve given here of Romania 🇷🇴

  50. Saptarshi says:

    Read so much about Romania… guess what only in novels related to Dracula!! but now tou took me to a virtual tour of this cultural heritage enriched country!! great going.

  51. Sarah Styf says:

    Beautiful pictures and you make Romania sound lovely. Maybe when we’re finally able to travel and I convince my husband to go Europe 🙂

  52. Paige says:

    Wonderful post! I love learning local idioms, they’re so enjoyable and help you realize how incredible language is!

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