Living in a Former Communist Country as a Teenager: Romania’s Battle with Progress

During the 24 years between 1965 until 1989 when Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s communist leader, ruled the country, Romania underwent severe changes and the nation had to endure brutal restrictions and injustices. For instance, Romanians were not allowed to speak out against the government, religious freedom was non-existent, there were food/water shortages, people were not able to change homes or jobs freely, any form of birth control was banned, and the list can go on and on. To sum it up, Romanian life under the communist regime was cruel and dreary and completely lacking in any of the basic freedoms that were the norm in other Western countries. People’s burning desire to escape poverty and misery and their need for a better life not overshadowed by this despotic president eventually led to a violent revolution which culminated with the execution of Ceausescu and his wife.

Now, we live in post-communism. Incredible progress has been made since the fall of the regime, however, my country is still trying to heal and move forward. While I don’t believe in generalization, I have been living in Romania for 18 years and the general mindset that I’ve encountered is rather conservative and prejudiced. The wounds that it left behind still remind us every day that we have an awfully long way to go in terms of overcoming our dark past which still affects a lot of people, especially the younger generation.


There is no better word to describe Romania’s current political climate than ”corrupted”. We can’t evolve as a nation if the people who are supposed to be in charge of making sure that our country flourishes deprive our government of money that would be desperately needed in other areas. Our political system is so corrupted that the coalition in charge, the Social Democratic Party, has proposed numerous changes that would weaken justice and end anti-corruption investigations. Needless to say, people are angry and it sparked protests against the ruling, the most recent one being on August 10th of this year. It goes without saying that corruption is taking us nowhere and Romania’s path to being a country where people’s trust in the people who are in charge is restored is getting longer and longer with each and every day when the government is working solely for the interest of politicians (most of whom already face allegations and corruption convictions).

Education & Opportunities

While I have not one good thing to say about our corrupted political system when it comes to our education system, I’m still not a fan, and neither are the majority of people my age. The former communist regime heavily influenced our education system and the Ministry of Education does nothing to distance the system from what communism made of it. Our curriculum is heavy (we have to take up 15 different classes which we are expected to excel equally at) and outdated and yet, no one is hearing out students and teachers who complain about it. Aside from the fact that studying so many subjects at an Advanced Placement level is incredibly stressful and draining, it is not even useful in the long run. Sure, I may know more about the different stages of mitosis and meiosis, but is it really worth it at the end of the day for someone who doesn’t want to follow this particular path? Shouldn’t we be encouraged to follow and discover our passions by choosing the subjects we wish to study than having so many imposed on us?

Equality & Diversity

When it comes to equality and diversity, Romania is yet again guilty of narrow-mindedness utter ignorance as a result of indoctrination. Separating state and church is a pressing issue in many parts of the world but it seems that it is more so in former communist countries. Coaliția pentru Familie (the Coalition for Family) is an association of numerous non-governmental organizations that seeks to ban abortions and promote the traditional family by amending the Constitution to define marriage as “the union between a man and a woman”, so that same-sex marriages would be banned (not that they are currently legal anyway). The abnormally large number of 3 million people signed this initiative, which, needless to say, baffles me. In response, LGBTQ+ advocacy groups, such as Accept, MozaiQ, and TRANSform have expressed dissatisfaction with the coalition’s decision, claiming that it could lead “to a rise in social tensions and hate crimes”. We have such a long way to go in terms of acceptance and inclusion and overcoming homophobia, but we can’t do it if we’re not united. People need to realize what the actual problems in our society are and focus on what truly matters, which is leaving our past behind, not going back to 1965. If you want to read about some of the biggest challenges the traditional Romanian families still face nowadays, check out these articles.

There are plenty of people (including me) who are lucky enough to have been exposed to open-mindedness, taught to think outside the box, and encouraged to create opportunities for themselves even when the circumstances are rough. However, the majority of us choose to work hard and pursue our dreams elsewhere, somewhere where we feel appreciated, where our work is validated, our dreams are taken seriously, and our voices aren’t diminished. I still have hope for Romania but I can’t help but sometimes feel like we’re fighting a losing battle.



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