In the last two days, just like many other people, I have witnessed a sort of letter “battle” arguing for or against UK, accusing either the Brits of having lost their souls or shifting back to the Romanian author of the letter – a girl who, no doubt, still needs some life experience and grammar lessons.
I am Romanian and I lived in the UK. But I am not going to take sides, because there is no point… so JUST STOP!
There are several things which I believe a lot of the Romanian expats don’t understand. And I don’t even think it’s just Romanians. There are people who choose to live in another country, but fail to understand some basic key points.
1. Constantly comparing a new country to your home one is not going to help – it’s like comparing your ex-boyfriend with the new one. They will never be the same, as each has different things to offer. Instead, appreciate what the new one has to offer. He might not be perfect, but you chose him for a reason. Take responsibility for that choice and if you are not happy, you can always leave.
2. You will never be equal with the natives of the place – because we simply cannot all be equal. Equality is a utopia. So let go of whatever status you had in your home country and understand that from now on, you will have to work twice as hard and actually earn the respect of others. Life will not always be fair, but again, you have a reason for being there. Acknowledge what that reason is and if it’s strong enough to keep you going, accept the not-so-pleasant things. Life is not fair at home either.
3. Just because a culture is different, it doesn’t make it wrong – Diversity is a given thing in our world. Don’t try to find the features of you own culture in a different one. You will, most likely be disappointed. Cultures are what they are. You can choose to embrace the new one or not. If not, don’t look down on it. You would be just like the other people who look down on yours. Knowing a new culture should first make you more aware of your own and appreciate it more, not make you hate the new culture you are in. It’s called adjusting and acceptance.
On the other had, a lot of people who live in Romania and have maybe not lived abroad for a longer period of time, also don’t understand key issues:
1. Stop assuming that any country in the West is much better than Romania – life in the UK, Netherlands, Germany or any other place, doesn’t happen in a pink could of happiness. No country is perfect and not everything about Romania is bad. Let’s not turn the West into some God we have to worship because it is definitely better than what we have. I know the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but if you constantly waste time looking over the other fence, the little grass you do have, will most likely die.
2. Start appreciating the things and people you do have in Romania – it is not easy to only see your friends and family a few times a year and over Skype. It’s not easy to always be a Stranger. There are days when that puts you down and no amount of “civilized world” will ever make up for your best friend not being there. There are days when you wish you could ride a smelly buss as long as you know it will take you home, to your mum’s cooking. Most of you can pick up the phone and go out with your friends at any time, if you really want to. Expats can’t do that. They have days when they go back to an empty dorm room and nothing more.
3. Romania, whether you like it or not – is part of who you are – and nothing will ever change that. You are Romanian and you will never stop being that, no matter how much you might not like the country.
Being or going abroad should be about yourself and never about others. It’s your own journey. You chose to take it and if you are not happy, you can always go back.
Being in Romania does not mean you are in prison. You can make a choice and start your own journey somewhere else. If you say you can’t, there are probably more important things keeping you in Romania. So again, it’s about your own values and choices.
I lived in the UK for 1 year and I wasn’t happy, but I never blamed the British for that. Instead I went back home and decided to try other places, until I find my own. UK was my second home and I love it for everything it taught me about myself. Romania is my home, it is part of who I am and I will never be sorry I was born there.