Your formative years were spent abroad in Toronto. Why did you come back?
Two words: For Love
What do you do in Romania?
I am a teacher at a private school in Bucuresti and also run my own afterschool with my wife. Check it out on Facebook, it's called International Afterschool & Club.
While you were away, did you miss Romania? Anything in particular?
Lots of things. After '89, I felt more free in Romania than Canada. There are far less restrictions in Romania (or at least restrictions which are followed by the general population). No last call, no first call; less political correctness, more black humour, etc. You get the feeling, living over here, that anything is possible -good or bad - and that makes it a very exciting place to live.
What do you miss most about Canada?
My family and friends. Proper late night TV shows. Poutine. Cheap Sushi. Service with a smile. Playing soccer. Clubs with dancefloors. Movies without subtitles.
Would you say it's an advantage to come back to Romania after living in Canada?
If you are of Romanian descent, then yes. You are more prepared. Overall, I don't see how moving from a First World country to a Second World country can be considered an advantage. I stand by what I have been saying for over 20 years to people that ask me if I would go back to Romania: "Of course. But only on vacation". My vacation is now extended, but not endless. The standard of living has improved a lot, and continues to do so. One day Romania will become a First World Country, but as my grandfather used to say: "Are the Americans stupid enough to wait for us?!"
Outside of school, what did you 'learn' while living in Toronto?
I learned to be open minded and friendly to strangers. I learned to be respectful of other races and nationalities. I learned to be positive. I learned that following the rules can bring you respect.
If you had to pick one thing to change about Romania (Romanians) what would it be?
To be more confident and optimistic - not to mention hard working. After living in Korea for a year, I saw first hand what a positive, confident, hard working nation can achieve in only a few decades. I hope to see this one day from Romania.
What would you tell any Romanians in the diaspora who are considering a return to Romania?
Buy a 2-way ticket.
Even though he knows damn well I don't agree with his last answer, I'm grateful for Alex's time and insight. I remember how not long ago, in Toronto, I'd get nostalgic and whimsical wondering what it might be like to live in Romania, not just to go on vacation. Now I know. Hopefully, through these interviews, the scope of our common experiences as returning expats should help answer some common questions for those of us who aren't home yet.