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An Expat Talks about Living in Chisinau, Moldova

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Chisinau

How long have you lived there?

3 years

In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

The people are remarkably homogeneous. Be prepared for unabashed stares if you don't fit the typical mold. A lot of people judge based on appearance, but are willing to make friends regardless, and a friend will stick by you no matter what.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

There are a lot of jobs for expats teaching English or doing editing work. Moldovans are highly educated and place great emphasis on educational standards. Agriculture is central to the economy, though, so there are a significant number of jobs in agricultural consulting, micro-enterprise development, as well as university level teaching.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

It's much more laid back than the states. The pace of life is slower, family is of utmost importance, and people make sure to take time out for social gatherings - often, in summer, in the forest for "shashlyk," or a type of shishkabob.

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Be aware of the language issue - Russian tends to be the language of commerce, but it's also seen by many as the language of oppression. Only around 13% of the population is ethnic Russian. The majority are Moldovan and speak Romanian (though Russians call it "Moldovan," in an effort to impose psychological separation between Romania and Moldova). It's a touchy issue, entwined in the country's history.

Make sure to visit the wineries - they're amazing, and during the summer and fall do most of your food shopping at the outdoor markets - the prices are cheap and you'll get some of the best produce you've ever had.

Bring with you a good pair of jeans, and some smart clothes. People dress up for all types of occasions, and just walking down the street is like walking through a fashion magazine. But you also wonder where they get this stuff, because the selection you find in stores and at the market is meager and overpriced. You can get a good winter coat cheap over there, but take a good pair of lined, waterproof boots with you for winter. Take with you any kitchen tools you can't live without, though now you can get things like a garlic press and can opener. If you're going to take electrical appliances, also take an adapter.

Good medicines are easy to find, just don't be afraid to ask the pharmacist what they recommend for your symptoms. Lasagna noodles and pepperoni were the 2 foods we could never ever find, but most everything else could be either found or approximated. Tupperware, on the other hand, is scarce and expensive.

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