My experience as a Dutch expat living and working in Romania

For the past two years, I have been involved as Process Control Engineer in the design of controls for the new second-generation bioethanol plant of Clariant in Podari, Romania. From May 2021 onwards, I have been seconded for six months to Bilfinger Tebodin in Romania to provide support during the construction phase and commissioning of the plant together with another colleague from the Netherlands who is supervising the Instrumentation. This presented a nice opportunity to work abroad for a longer period and thus combine work with travelling and new experiences in Romania.

Dealing with cultural differences between the Netherlands and Romania

Upon arrival, some of the differences between the Netherlands and Romania take some getting used to. For example, the infrastructure of Craiova in Romania is a bit underdeveloped and the traffic is rather chaotic compared to my hometown in the Netherlands. Fortunately, we have a lease car and apartment provided by Bilfinger Tebodin in Romania, so we can commute daily from our residence in Craiova to the village of Podari where the factory is under construction.

Our colleagues from Bilfinger Tebodin in Romania are all very friendly, social people and since we all speak English we manage to get on really well with each other. However, some cultural differences take some getting used to from both sides. One of these differences is the working mentality, which means it occasionally takes a bit of extra effort to align the approach and agree what the best way to handle and solve challenges. Talking about these differences and acknowledging them helps a lot to create an open working culture and to understand each other better.

Exploring my new temporary home

Since the fall of communism in Romania, the region around the city of Craiova has been in economic decline and it does not feature many touristic highlights. Fortunately, there is an excellent area in the city center with nice bars and restaurants where you can have a great evening. Because we frequently make extra hours and days on site, we have the option of being able to return home for a week once every 6 weeks. But when you do not feel like going home, you can take the opportunity to leave Craiova behind and visit the rest of the country.

Recently, I took a week of leave to drive the beautiful DN67C Trans Alpina mountain route that goes right through the Southern Carpathians. On this trip I visited the historic cities of Sibiu, Sighișoara and Brasov that have a strong cultural character and offers many touristic highlights. On the way back a visit to Bran Castle, dating from the 14th century and attributed in fiction as the castle of the vampire Dracula, could not be missed.

Unfortunately, I did not manage to explore all of Romania in a week but I will still be here for a couple of months. In addition to the hard work I deliver together with the team, I look forward to doing some other trips in Romania. Many of them based on some great tips from my local colleagues to help me discover the authentic Romanian culture!

Аuthor: Alex van Melsen