When I agreed to travel to Romania to work with the management team at two plants outside of Bucharest, I must admit my thoughts were: ‘What kind of former Communist country am I going to and why did I say yes?’ Most of the people I told said something like: “That seems odd. What’s in Romania?”
Then I spent a week there and my thoughts were: “Who knew?”
From the beautiful architecture of Bucharest, to the green fields and flowing hills near Ploiesti and Campina, to the incredible friendliness of the people, Romania was wonderful. (Heck, I even saw a shepherd tending to his flock right outside the second-floor window of the company’s headquarters.)
What did I learn?
There is an amazing five-star resort in Ploiesti that may have the nicest swimming pool I’ve ever seen… certainly the bluest water.
The area’s Mediterranean cuisine is delicious.
“Former Communist country” doesn’t mean antiquated. One of the plants has AI technology and a nearly silent manufacturing environment.
Life under dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was demoralizing and repressive prior to the December 1989 uprising and his execution a week later. That said, the people I spoke with who were of age appear to have moved on. “We were hungry, but we figured out a way to survive… and about six years later things got better” was a common theme.
Most everyone I met had a high level of English. One person told me that he learned Romanian as a child, French starting in third grade, Russian beginning in seventh… and didn’t speak English until he was 27.
My pretrip cognitive bias of Romania as a country that only offered the world Dracula’s Castle, Bela Lugosi and Nadia Comaneci was way off the mark… and that’s a reminder not to judge another place or people without first experiencing them for yourself.