When in Romania…


Yes, I finally took the plunge and, after almost 9 years of living abroad, I moved back to Romania, my home country. The thought was always at the back of my head but never entertained it enough to actually do it until last year. What you’re probably thinking is the first question my Romanian friends always ask me: but why? (with the derivatives ‘why in the world?’ ‘what’s wrong with you?’ ‘are you depressed?’) The truth is, besides booking my flight to Thailand in 2016, this was, by far, the easiest choice I have ever made in my life so far.

At the beginning of 2017, I was in Thailand on what became one of the most crucial experiences of my existence, a volunteering stay at Baan Dada Children’s home in a tiny little jungle village on the Thai-Burmese border. I could write thousands of posts on that important part of my life and I still couldn’t cover the many feelings I felt, how much I miss the kids and how grateful I am for having met such unbelievable people so I will keep that brief for the time being. As my time to renew my last Thai visa was fast approaching, I had 3 months to figure out where I was heading. England popped up like always as the safe option, the place where a lot of the people close to my heart lived, the country that would give me a decent lifestyle with not too much to complain about. And yet, I was dreading it. Reading this last sentence again makes me feel like a massive douche seeing as England gave me the push I needed in the life I have now.  Having said that, I wasn’t growing as a person anymore over there and all my long-term plans, my main big dream were just being postponed for a comfortable living. In the end, I did return to England in May for a few months, during which I said my ‘see-you-soon’s,  preparing myself mentally and financially for yet another big chapter.

On December 5th, 2017 I was swapping England, the country I’ll always see as my second home, for the country that took me back after so long with its arms open. I had no expectations of how to feel during all this process, but yes, I was nervous. And so bloody excited which overshadowed the rest. I came home, in a small village in eastern Romania, and the only thing I wanted to do for a while was enjoy everything I wish I did when I was visiting in a rush: enjoy my people, my family and my friends, the walks in the village on a frosty winter evening, the food (oh, the food!), the ‘good morning’s followed by the biggest grin to people that didn’t even know me, but whom I was looking forward to meeting, the wood burner, the quiet, the simple life.

Soon after a short work trip to Bucharest, I was offered a place in a program I’m very proud to be part of, Teach for Romania, which will start this coming July. The program is part of a global organisation, Teach for All, whose main goal is to give access to quality education to children from disadvantaged environments and overall improve the education systems ( I will discuss this in more detail later on). As most of the preparations for the program were happening in Bucharest and seeing as I have close to no knowledge about my own country (The ignorance!), I decided to move to the capital until the start of the program and take in a little bit of the impressive chaos that is this place.

Thanks to a really cool Romanian chick whom I met in Portugal just over 5 years ago, I now live all by myself in a pretty groovy flat in Bucharest. Did you hear that? ALL BY MY FREAKING SELF, which has never happened ever before (can you sense the thrill?). Think wandering and dancing naked everywhere in the house despite not having any curtains, not having to clean after anybody but myself, not leaving the flat for days and not being judged for it. It’s fantastic!

The next 5 months are all about getting a better understanding of everything around me and how I can be of use, teaching and enjoying myself and my new life home. And it all sounds easy in theory, but I’m very aware I will come across challenges and different opinions and things I’ve never had to deal with and I’m perfectly fine with it. I’m listening to people and learning from them, I’m getting used to a country I don’t quite know despite reading about its situation all the time while away, I’m being patient and I’m enjoying all of this in the process. I must admit, though I had no expectations, I was slightly disappointed to come back to few reactions of the same sort I had in England such as ‘Eugh, you’re too happy!’ How could I ever explain to someone (without sounding too overly dramatic) that once you hit rock bottom, every single new thing after that it’s an appreciation of a new beginning?

 

P.S. Last month, I organised a film night for children in my village which exceeded all my expectations regarding the reaction of the community and the number of people attending the event. You tell me: How can I not be thrilled? That alone makes me wanna go grab a not too expensive bottle of wine.

 

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Calm winter in Epureni, my village

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