From Tourist to Local | Interview with Maria Alvarez

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If she had to leave Romania, she would miss “lots of things, but now comes to mind only spring, long walks through the medieval cities from Romania and bors (Romanian soup)”.

In our last article from Tourist to Local Campaign you’ve let you find out what Michael thought about Romania and how he feels staying here, running a business in the Little Paris. Today we share with you what you’ve talked with Maria Alvarez, what she told us about the places she loves from Romania.



Coming from Spain, Gijón, Maria Alvarez is working full time as a teacher at the Letters Faculty at ”Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University from Iasi, Romania. Having a passion for traveling, she has been working far away from home for a long time. She loves what she does and she definitely loves Iasi, the place she calls home now.

Maria Alvarez interview:

1.      How and when was your first visit in Romania?

My first visit was in September 2007, but it wasn’t quite a visit. I arrived in Romania to work at a high school from Iasi, as a teacher. I worked 6 years at “Dimitrie Cantemir” high school, teaching Spanish to students from philology (bilingual program).

2.      What made you stay in Romania? / Why Romania?

First, the opportunity to continue my work in high school and last, the fact that I’ve met someone. So when, my contract expired I didn’t leave Romania, instead I looked for another job here.

3.      Did you come alone or with someone?

I came alone, but I got here due to a collaborative program between the Ministry of Education in Spain and 10 high schools in Romania. From Spain I came with other 9 Spanish colleagues, but we all were in different cities.

4.      How was your experience in Romania so far? / Tell us about a little about your experience in Romania.

Generally, my experience in Romania has been good. At first it was hard, like in any other country, but along the way I’ve made good friends, I’ve met a lot of valuable young people (students and high school students). I’ve learnt a new language and I’ve learnt how to get along with Romanian bureaucracy, which it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I lived a new life.

5.      I assume it was challenging to move to another country. Have you given up something?

Not on the professional level. Back in 2007 I didn’t have a job in Spain. I miss my family the most, but still it wasn’t the first time I left the country to work.

6.      What was the hardest thing to do after you came here?

To adapt to a new way of living, to lack of friends or known people and to a new educational system. But most of all the language. Obviously, it took me a while until I reached a sufficient level of language.

7.      What made you fall in love with Romania?

I stayed here because I fell in love with someone and I fell in love with Romania. I enjoy travelling in Romania, to discover its scenic landscape, all its beautiful traditions. Oh! And the food, the Romanian food is amazing, it’s so tasty… I’m in love with the Romanian cinema and a few brilliant writers from Iasi.

8.      What is the first word that comes to mind when thinking about Romania?


9.      If you’d had to leave Romania, what you would miss the most?

A lot of things, but now it comes to mind only spring, long walks through the medieval cities from Romania and bors (Romanian soup)!

10.   Some people say Romania is ”different”. Why is that?

I think it is different for those who come from West. Romania is little bit less organized, a little more chaotic, there aren’t so many rules to live in the community (like it is in Spain). But, on the other hand, Romania is a country with such a complicated bureaucracy. Here, the villages are so different from the ones from Spain. Living in the villages is like a step back in the future, there is no electricity, no water supply. There kind of things are hard to find in Spain. Romania is different because it has a rich and interesting culture, a diverse nationality, a cultural heritage that is unique in its harmony of styles.

11.      Romania would be a better place if …

It wasn’t thrown garbage everywhere, in the rivers, forests, street…If you take a walk in the Botanical Garden from Iasi, there are bottles thrown in the lake and this is just an example.

If the state placed more money social programs, public medicine, and education. In Romania are professionals working in harsh environment.

If it weren’t so many dogs on the streets. And I’m saying euthanasia, I’m referring to the citizens and country’s responsibility.

I’m glad to see that the corruption is prosecuted and punished and there is not a natural thing to receive or give bribes.

12.   I think many people said to you ”why would you go to Romania” or ”where is Romania” and so on and so forth… If someone would like to come to Romania what would you say to them?

Romania is a country that it is worth visiting. Everyone who ever came in Romania leaves happily of what he saw, ate or drunk.” Romanians are very friendly and kind. They will discover that it is not true what foreigners say about the Romanian people.

13.   If not Romania, then where?

If not Romania, then I’ll go back to Spain.

14.   Do you have any funny travel stories?

Of course. In 8 years spent in Romania it happened to me all kinds of things. I have both funny and less funny stories. There was one time when I arrived at work and the chancellery tables were full of food. One of my colleagues invited me to serve and gladly I wanted to find who’s birthday was. She told me that a beloved person died one year ago, that’s the Romanian tradition. In that moment I was so embarrassed, I could only hide my face in shame. In Spain we don’t offer food in such occasions.

15.   What’s next? ( in the future)

This is the hardest questions and I really don’t know what to answer right now.

Iasi, a city with diverse facets and personalities
Place » »

Iasi, a city with diverse facets and personalities

There are few cities in Romania with such a great personality like Iasi.

The Palace of Culture Iasi, a true landmark of Romania
Place »

The Palace of Culture Iasi, a true landmark of Romania

An iconic monument of Iasi, an undeniable landmark and a part of the city’s identity.