From the short week I have spent in Romania, I have discovered that there are a few words native to Romanian culture that are untranslatable to the English language. I first noticed this when Maria, one of the Romanian students with us, was attempting to describe the certain parts of the traditional Romanian costume and again when everyone was trying to explain the type of bread they were baking. Even though they were unable to find a word for it, we knew what they were talking about.
This weekend, we stayed with a sweet young Romanian woman named Ligia and her family. Her English was not very advanced, so everything she said was translated for us. One particular moment that stood out to me was when she took my journal and pointed at my writing. Her boyfriend told me that she thought it was very beautiful. She proceeded to flip through the pages and noticed one word that stood out from the rest – love. It was bold and decorated. She looked at me and said, “love.” I smiled and nodded. We both knew what that word meant.
Earlier that day, our group visited the hot springs of Salaj County. While treading water with Lizzie in an attempt to exercise, I noticed the different style of kissing Romanians have. They tend to leave their mouth open for a short kiss, which I thought was bizarre. When I brought this to the attention of the Romanian girls we are working with, they told us they always wondered why our kissing looked different in movies. This conversation soon turned into a conversation about love and I was trying to describe to them our “honeymoon” stage of dating. After lots of talking and laughing, Maria perfectly summed everything up: “While we may not kiss the same, we are all on the same page.”
Love. A feeling. An action. This weekend, I loved watching Ligia and her boyfriend just being in love. I did not have to know what they were saying to understand what they were feeling. The way he holds her and the way she looks at him is not describable, but we all know it is love. The word love in English is not even fully capable of capturing this feeling. This has been quite a struggle for me when I try to tell my boyfriend that I love him, but not LOVE love him yet. In this particular case, language is a barrier because the feeling is just not explainable.
This is opening my eyes to how some things will never be able to be translated into words. This Romanian experience is one example. Never will I be able to fully describe the rolling hills or the selfless hospitality of the locals. I cannot explain the beauty of the paintings that covered the inside of the church or the amazing taste of the food here to someone who has not experienced it yet. My FYOS professor, Dr. Duncan, once told me that his biggest mistake in school was not studying abroad as an undergrad, and I now I can see why. Just as you cannot describe love to someone who has never felt it, you cannot really explain another country or culture to someone who has not experienced it. It is just something you have to feel for yourself. So I encourage you to let your heart fall in love… With another country… With a new experience… Or maybe even with Romania.