Cluj-Napoca from an Aerial Shot

Whenever my coworkers ask me about my country or where I come from I know what they want to hear – the ugly facts – poverty, gypsies, thief stories and general complaints. They think of Romania like it’s a third world country and I should show my eternal gratitude for walking on English grounds, ’cause the English are so much better at everything.

But I’ve seen English people and English morals, and while people are more open and their schools better equipped to deal with common issues like bullying and national/racial segregation, they suffer from what I call a lack of common sense. They have forgotten to be proud of their country. Don’t get me wrong – they are proud to be English or Scots or Welsh, especially during a football match, but ask a 17year old pushing her baby around the block if she feels the pride in her bones. She will look at you like you are mad and continue walking on. The mentality of the people around me is so corrupted, it makes me shudder. People think it’s acceptable to drop out of school and get pregnant because the state will take care of everything. It will provide you with a home, with welfare money and for every baby, a sum that will be more than enough to keep them well fed and more. I have seen 2013 registration plates on the cars they drive and massive flat screens in the council houses they live in. I’ve seen them throw their trash in the street, couches, mattresses, old cabinets – when they could have taken them to the local tip… I saw a shopping cart in the bushes at one point.

You might say that the area I live in is bad – It’s actually a middle class zone… The upper class people (not the blue bloods) behave like middle class Romanians.

I come from a middle class family and my values were instilled into me from a young age:

  • – make a home in the house you live in as that is your heaven. do not dirty it or the outside
  • – have a baby with the person you love and once you have the baby, everything you will ever do in life is to assure the best possible life for that baby – clothes, education, loads and loads of love and affection.
  • – do not have more than 2 children if you can help it. You will have your hands full with one and with two you will struggle.
  • – work if you are able-bodied. If you do not work, don’t expect to be paid. Nothing you get for free is of any value.
  • – don’t be lazy and don’t be idle. Idleness is the devil’s work. Keep your mind busy and your hands busy.
  • – always say Please and Thank you when talking to people. Be polite to your elders. And many more…

So when my coworkers ask me about Romania, I tell them it’s a beautiful country, filled with mountains and fast running rivers, with sky slopes and loads of snow in the winter, with pools outside that you can go dipping in the summer, with beautiful women and men that want to look cool but aren’t ( 🙂 ). I tell them my city (Cluj-Napoca) is over 2000 years old and has been called Napoca in Roman times. I tell them about the old folklore tales and about Ileana Cosanzeana who was more beautiful than Helen of Troy ever will be. I tell them that the people are friendly, almost all speak English and another language (be it French or German) and that we learn them from primary school as part of our FREE education system. I tell them about my Uni and how many branches it has. I tell them there are over half a million students in the city studying arts, languages, computer science, geology, physics and many more (for FREE).

I show them my town (thank you Mihai Plesa).

And as they stare amazed at me and try to blink away the images, they ask me: “So, what are you doing in Northampton then, if your city is so beautiful and life is so great there?”.

I want to say: “I’m not gonna be here for long, boys. The wages here are helping me build something amazing over there and when I’m done, I’m gonna fly back home and only come to England to visit and nothing more.”. But that would sound ungrateful. And I am a grateful person to begin with. I love my job and I love what I’m doing on a daily basis. The fact that I get paid about 5 times the amount I would be getting in Romania is also a factor.

So I smile and say: “I came here for the people. I love you guys… And I love this steak. And this Lamp. I f..king love this lamp“. They get the Anchorman comment and laugh and then move on to different subjects.

I miss home now.

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