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The Diaspora - An Interview With Eduard

Following the "Why did you come back?" series, I thought it would make sense to offer a balanced portrayal of the diaspora. Most of us don't come back and we have perfectly good reasons for staying away. In some ways, it was a bit of a fluke I made it back myself, and I imagine that many of us who do, don't always plan it years ahead of time. So, until we all kind of stumble back (where we belong ;) I figured I'd ask some people who are still in the diaspora what it's like being a Romanian away from home, and if they're planning to stay away.

Eduard got in touch with me a while ago after reading some of my posts. I find he has lots of very pointed insights into the differences between Romania and western society and when I asked, he was kind enough to take the time and answer the questions I prepared.

1. What year did you leave Romania and under what circumstances?

I emigrated in the summer of 1994, when the World Cup was hosted in Atlanta. I was 11 years old and I emigrated with my family. I remember clearly that everyone at the time was very enthusiastic about the United States of America.

2. What was the most striking difference between Romania and your new country?
During the first few years I was struggling to understand why everyone seemed to mind their own business. On the street, in the supermarket, or in the mall no one would look at me, as if everyone was purposely ignoring me. I used to ask myself what is wrong with these people, are they scared of me?

3. How long did it take you to adjust to the new language and culture?

I landed in the American culture with very Basic English knowledge. However I was very active and I took to the free American culture like a fish to water.  The first year in the American school system was almost an overload of sights and sounds, and I quickly learned that Nike Air and Tommy Hilfiger was the passport to teenage social acceptance.

 4. What do you like most about living there?

I have explored many cultures around the world from Vietnam to Switzerland to New York City. True freedom of thought and expression can only be found in the American culture.

5. Did/do you miss Romania? If so what in particular?

Of course I miss my mother land. Do I miss the Romanian culture? No. How can I miss everybody [getting] in my business, everybody fully dedicated to the spread of gossip, where clan loyalty is more important than legal and economic principles?

6. Do you visit often?

Yes, because I am interested to see how the Romanian culture interacts with the reality of today.

7. Would you ever come back to live in Romania? Why/why not?

How could I live in a country where only a small percent of the population is able to live to modern standards?  Some Romanians have become wealthy but they face the almost impossible task of earning respect and acceptance in the civilized cultures of the world.
To return to Romania is almost counter evolutionary.

8. What do you do for a living?

A broad spectrum of consultancy from security to financial services.

9. If given the opportunity, would you do the same thing here?

Yes, but with one condition. Civil servants will not talk down to the people and will not use their wealth and authority to oppress the people.

10. Do you ever "promote" Romania where you are? Are you proud of your heritage or do you not mention it?

I might have portrayed myself in this interview as anti-Romanian. However when I am asked ''where are you from?'' I always proudly answer, ROMANIA.


  1. Someone please explain to me this paradox. How can you be disdainful of your country's culture yet claim you are proud to be its native?

    Also, I think that Eduard means "true freedom FROM thought" as there is no free nation as brainwashed as the American nation (generally speaking of course)! How can a vastly uneducated, PC-controlled people be considered free and thinking?

    As someone who moved from THERE to HERE, the true freedom is certainly here.


    1. It's interesting to hear this perspective from another person because I emigrated as well, at the age of 4. It's difficult to explain. The country itself is beautiful, its history is rich. I do side with Eduard though, the culture can be somewhat... annoying.

      Still, being proud to be from a country doesn't mean you want to live there. Living in America, it's hard not to think things are much better here, especially after going back and seeing just how different the two countries really are. Personally, I am proud to be from Romania because it is where I am from. I'd be proud to be from any country as long as I was going somewhere, if that makes sense.

    2. It must be a very different experience having emigrated at such a young age, mainly because your 'Romanian-ness' is unlikely to be rooted in memory. My younger sister is in the same boat and now that she's here I find she has a very pragmatic outlook on things - that is to say, without any patriotic baggage.

    3. As for J's comment, I took exception with the very same statement...but I think Edward was referring to the society encouraged individualism - you can freely portray yourself in almost any way as long as you demonstrate certain merits, whereas in Romania, you are generally not taken seriously when you don't express yourself 'correctly' or dress 'correctly' etc...
      Then again, the tyranny of political correctness in America leaves a lot wanting for that "freedom of thought and expression".

  2. "Some Romanians have become wealthy but they face the almost impossible task of earning respect and acceptance in the civilized cultures of the world."

    Isn't that true of any culture? On the global stage, every culture has been parodied. Where's the dumb American, the techno-Japanese, the daft Brit, the outback Australian, the tribal African (the whole continent gets lumped into that)? It's not like living in America makes you globally respected.

    1. Having spoken to Eduard on other occasions, I'd say this is rather a comment on the fact that Romanians, no matter how hard we try, are seen as second class citizens of the world (and certainly of Europe).

  3. 6. Do you visit often?

    Yes, because I am interested to see how the Romanian culture interacts with the reality of today.

    Translation: USD gets you a lot more fun in Romanian clubs than in American clubs

    1. A bit unfair. I personally find it very interesting how we live in the 21st century and many Romanians are still obsessed with Retro parties, animal prints, and lots of 80s tackiness. Not to mention that in an increasingly regulated world, Romania continues to resist 'officialness' and mass regulation of anything - not that I mind.

      I don't disagree that one needs to spend lots more money in America for the kind of fun that can be had here, though ;)


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