Carolyn’s Diary Entry #3: Feeling the resignation

It’s both rewarding and difficult to be in a new place for long enough to go through periods of adjustment. It’s difficult because culture shock is actually kind of the worst and it turns me into a monster. But it’s also rewarding because my eyes are opened to different facets of Moldovan culture the longer that I am here.

For example, Daniel and I arrived in November – just in time to enjoy the bleakness of winter in its entirety. We are no strangers to gray, cold, dreariness, but it takes on a whole new level in a city that is almost entirely concrete in varying stages of crumbling. The amazing thing is that my eyes didn’t fixate on the bleak concrete apartment blocks when we arrived. I was too wrapped up in the dazzling adventure of living in a foreign country. Every word in Romanian or Russian was exciting; every interaction or new experience was a magical one. When asked by Moldovans whether I liked their country, it was easy to answer with a resounding yes.

The longer I am here, though, the more I am able to recognize – to sympathize – with the ever-present despondence that grips this country. I look at the overwhelming number of people who move abroad to work, or the way in which Moldovans thirst for glitzy American culture….and now I begin to understand. It is HARD to live in a place day in and day out where the loveliness lies beneath the surface…where the loveliness is so rarely visible. I think of our past trips to San Diego and Santa Barbara: It is obvious why people desire to live in those places. They are objectively stunning! The longer I stay in Chișinău, the more I realize that a person’s opinion of this city is subjective, but it is most often a view of resignation.

For example, there are “lovely” things here. There are parks maintained by employees and monuments to various famous people. There are assorted statues and sculptures and fountains. But I have to be honest with you, I’m not sure I could call many of these things objectively beautiful. Or if they once were, they have now fallen into disrepair.

Below is a series of photos from one of our runs through a park. At the entrance to the park is this gate, with the words “Izvor de la Sculeni” across the top. “Izvor” means natural spring. It also happens to be the name of this park. Sculeni and Elena are names. The entrance looks kind of nice, right?

It all starts to derail when you walk through the entrance and go down some stairs. More crumbling concrete, metal railings, and a sign that says the water is not potable.

And here is the final scene. I can only assume that is the natural spring – accented with green painted concrete, graffiti and litter. Can you understand the conflict upon seeing this thing that seems like it should be beautiful but is questionably so?

And below is a series of pictures from another run we took. The first building looks pretty snazzy in my opinion.

But immediately catty-corner from the Energbank building is what you see below:

I was intrigued by this derelict place, so I did a little internet searching. I would post the Wikipedia page here, but it’s only in Romanian. So you’ll have to trust me on this one. 🙂

This is the Stadionul Republican. It was built in 1952, and apparently demolished in 2007. In its glory days, it hosted soccer matches on an international level. Today, both its appearance and its story perfectly embody the layers of discouragement in this country. The Wikipedia article details what is now 10+ years of failed promises and negotiations to create a new stadium or sports center or something. The recurring theme is a lack of money to do anything.

I have thought of what we might do or see if any of our friends/family make it to Chișinău to visit us. Of course, I am thrilled with the thought of playing tour guide in our home away from home. However, my heart also sinks a little with the lack of obvious places to show off. Will my friends/family appreciate the complicated and hidden beauty of this country? Would they want to walk through the parks or by the Stadionul Republican? And then I get even more sad when I think of native Moldovans. Imagine living in the capital of your country and being at a loss for what to show off to a traveler there.

But now I must return full circle because – remember – we are still in the last throes of the dark winter. Moldova has not yet experienced Daylight’s Saving Time like America has. I have a sneaking suspicion that the underlying beauty here might burst forth with the spring. And I wonder if the juxtaposition of concrete and plant life could be marvelous. What is more, Chișinău might look run down, but it remains a very safe place to live. Daniel and I were considering how certain parts of inner cities in America might appear neglected and decaying like parts of Chișinău do; however, we feel much safer here than we would be in any of those American locations. Like I said, it is a gift to experience someplace new for one whole year, not just for one week.

One Reply to “Carolyn’s Diary Entry #3: Feeling the resignation”

  1. […] am hopeful about the completion of the projection. As we have shared before, Moldovan politics are notorious for unfulfilled promises due to lack of […]

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