Columnist Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe writes in her weekly column about life as an expat in Romania. This week she writes about having to decide whether to stay in Romania or return back to her home country Denmark.
My whole journey here in Romania has been unexpected in so many ways. I knew when I arrived in Romania, that it would change my life, I just didn’t know at that time in what way or how. But I was curious to see what would happen if I moved to another country, and where this change would take me.
When I arrived in Romania, my initial idea was to stay for one year, to take a year abroad, which is something many people in Denmark do. The time seemed right to do that. I ended up staying here for three and a half years. Things have changed in many ways, and actually in many ways life here in Romania has been better that I could have imagined or even dreamt about. As I say to myself or others, as a motto: Life gets better in ways than you can’t now even imagine possible. This is the describe the great feeling we – hopefully- all have experienced, when you enjoy life so much, in a way that you had never imagined possible when growing up in your younger years.
Most people, I believe, have a direction or an idea about what they want to do in life. But if someone told me four years ago, when I was living a whole different, but great life in Denmark, that I one day would be living in Romania and end up having slight difficulties in deciding whether to stay in Romania or go back to Denmark, I wouldn’t have believed it. I didn’t see that one coming!
A crossroad has appeared in my life, at now it is decision time. Much like in the song: Shall I stay or go now? And a decision has to be taken. I can see now three options: stay in Romania, move back to Denmark or go to another country.
Friends in Denmark are asking me to come home, saying I already experienced much more than I had expected, so now it is time to return home. I feel what they say, as I do miss many about Denmark, I am still Danish and will always be the Danish girl.
But what strikes me is that in those three and a half years, I often mentioned the word integration and wrote about the integration process in my articles. I must admit I have become Romanian-ized in a good way. So what initially was just an unexpected journey to me, to put it at least, now I, the Danish girl - the Viking girl who always has felt Danish to the bone - am feeling at home, maybe for the first time in my life.
Life has had its ups and down, like rollercoaster life can be, but finding a home or maybe finding myself here in Romania was unexpected. I had embarked on this “expedition” in search of something unknown to me: an adventure, a new wind, a climate change.
Living in Romania has indeed broadened and opened my horizons, and I haven’t regretted one second that I moved here, because I have had so many amazing experiences in Romania. I know there are many opinions about Romania, mostly among people who have never visited this beautiful country.
In one of the possibilities, I am an expat trying to settle in Romania, and one of my priorities is to find a job to make a living, and to continue my journey here in Romania, a country I can’t let go of, and don’t believe that I should. So this is the opposite situation than what can be usually read in the foreign media: Romanians coming to take your job for a lower salary, or Romanians moving to your country with bad intentions, like stealing and doing crime.
I say: Broaden your own horizon and don’t be so judgmental. These are modern times, this is a new era, and people travel today around Europe and around the world in search of their own home. I honestly believe people of today just want to find their path or destiny in life and that includes a job to support them and their family.
So it is going to be an interesting journey, going the other way, and becoming an expat who wants to find work in Romania. Yes, the salary level is lower here, and forget about pension or the usual benefits that you can be offered and you do get offered in, for example, Denmark. Cherish these benefits because many people all over the world don’t get them.
Romania has given so much to me, so now it is for me to find out how to give back to Romania. But this is not something I worry about, it comes with ease.
I stay Danish but with this extra Romanian touch to me, I am curious what will happen. There is a deadline: I finish my school around the 1th of July and then a new chapter in the book of life will begin.
If you have any ideas, feel welcome to add them, sharing ideas with each other should never be underestimated.
By Eleonore af Schaumburg-Lippe, columnist
Eleonore is Danish, she holds a BA in Organization and Management and specializes in Corporate Communication & Strategic Development. She is also a Market Economist and a Multimedia Designer. As a Danish Viking in Romania, with a great passion for ’covrigi’, she has a burning desire to find out more about Romania especially Bucharest, and enlighten the small differences in the culture between Denmark and Romania. Her weekly columns will give you insights into an expat’s life in Bucharest written with humor and a big Danish smile.