Jan 04 2022

The Expat Experience

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:12

I left Romania almost four years ago. I know, how time flies, right? I have no plan to return to Romania to live there when I am old and grey. There are many reasons why I left and if you’ve read this blog for a while, you already know them; no need to list them again.

However, I am surrounded by quite a few expats and most of them are sometimes mentioning they miss living in their countries, they actively search for the company of their own nationality, and they live a life that emulates as much as possible the life that they had in their original countries, but with a little more money, I guess. They read books in their own language, they watch the news from their countries, and some of them even use their own language subtitles on Netflix. They also mention how everything is cheaper in their country and their masterplan is to use the money they save here to build/buy houses over there and when they retire, to reap the benefits of an UK pension into a country where everything is cheaper. And you know what comes next… I don’t get it.

Why would you move to a more civilized country than the one you left and lead almost the same kind of life you would live there? Why would you design your little foreign bubble, your little enclave and isolate yourself in it? If you left the country you were born in, for lack of opportunities, because of bad politicians and any other things that bothered you and you chose a country that is slightly better than the one you left, why wouldn’t you want to embrace its culture, why wouldn’t you want to know more about it, why wouldn’t you want to be part of it?
Think of it like going to a party, where you don’t know many people. If you sit in a corner, not talking to anyone, you will feel like shit and think that party is shit. But if you go and mingle, you might meet some interesting people and have a good time.
I have a friend that came here for studies, more than ten years ago. Somehow, he managed to have a small group of friends of the same nationality and after more than ten years he still doesn’t appreciate this society, that provided him a decent education and the ability to buy his own flat at 27. His English knowledge and accent are worse than mine and makes me wonder if he lived in a cave somewhere, because ten years here should have changed him more than this. Only narrow minded people stay the same, smart people change and adapt.

I understand missing family and friends, well, sort of. I mentioned I have a problem understanding this “missing” feeling, since I don’t. The technology evolution though has provided a way to alleviate this. Depending on what you miss about a person, I cannot understand how a video call cannot alleviate your yearning for their company. Here’s why: I am not a touchy-feely person. Thus, I do not miss hugs, holding hands or other affection gestures. What I miss about my friends is sharing meaningful conversations, I miss seeing them smile and hearing them giggle. These can be conveyed via a video call just fine. So, when I miss my friends, I send them a message and schedule a video call. They could be at the end of the world, and we’d still be together if we make time for each other.

Many of the bleeding hearts expats, mention that they miss being close to family. I guess if you had a great family this is justified, but again… unless you need to actually touch them, a video call should be enough.

I was not so lucky, my family life was pretty … bad and looking back I don’t have many pleasant memories of my life in Romania, since the biggest part of my life there was under the same roof with a bunch of physical and emotional abusers. I left Romania in a depressive state and after two years I started feeling… normal. I am aware that fixing all the things they’ve broken will take time, but I have bigger chances of doing it here, where going to a psychologist does not make you a pariah. As for my friends, those that made time for a video call here and there, we are still friends, even if we haven’t seen each other in years. There was an old expression that said, “out of sight, out of mind”, when somebody is important to you, you don’t let them slip away from your mind.

I left Romania and I am not coming back. I don’t think there are big chances for me to have a family of my own, but if it happens, my kids will benefit more from growing up here, than there. I am a realist; I cannot imagine Romania being a better country to live in by the time I will retire. I think Romania is in metastasis, it is too close to The Soviet Union for it to develop into a proper democracy and a respectable military power. The Soviet Union needs a small Switzerland at its borders as men need a testicle on their foot sole. I know technically speaking Romania does not share any border with The Soviet Union, but if you read a little bit of history, you will notice that the nations sandwiched between them are not little Switzerlands either. This unfortunately means that Romania will never become a country I would like to live in.

So, I am burning my bridges and I am moving on. I cannot magically convert my nationality; I am not an idiot, but I will embrace the best parts of Scotland and the Scottish society and culture, and I will make this my home. I will not live a half-life, always with one foot in the door. I will not leave this country unless they kick me out. Or unless I marry a sexy and bright Australian/New Zealander and decide to move across the world together.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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