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Showing posts from October, 2012

Why Did YOU Come Back? - Part 1, Mihnea

It shouldn't come as a surprise, but nobody's quite unique. Following up on last week's post, I thought I'd finally reach out to some friends who are in the same boat. Returnees, tourists in our own country, repats, expats, whatever you call us we're around and it's definitely not just me.

I'd like to introduce Mihnea Dumitru, a friend and former University colleague from Toronto who's been back for quite a few years now. Here's what he has to say about coming back home and his experiences with readjustment.


1. Your formative years were spent studying abroad. Why did you come back? (I know you didn't have resident's status, but would you have preferred to stay there?)

Well, it was complicated. I was 20 when I graduated from York U, so you can't expect much from that frame of life experience. One year later, after finishing my Master's, I thought I was equally immortal and that the world was my oyster, so to speak. I didn't …

The Brain Drain, Romania's Solution?

This is the first time I've addressed the issue directly, but after somebody on my Facebook posted this article, I can no longer avoid it. I read the story with lots of interest and, I'm ashamed to say, a side order of jealousy. From an economic growth perspective Poland's doing well in Eastern Europe, and the brain drain reversal is just another example of what our northerly  neighbours are doing better than us. There's obviously a much bigger Polish diaspora, but let's keep in mind that many of those Poles are two or more generations removed from their homeland, making them unlikely candidates for a return. The four-million strong Romanian diaspora is younger, more fragmented, and still very close to the homeland -at least in spirit. I've no doubt that if conditions were different in this country, the rate of returning Romanians would increase exponentially.

What do I mean by 'conditions'? I often like to point out that the living standards in this co…

A Country's Search For Meaning

It's incredibly easy to get sidetracked when you're trying to analyze the psyche, especially when you're talking about group psychology -in itself a loaded discussion where the lines between fact, generalization, and stereotype are as blurry as they get. Yet, this is what I have to work with, because with each page of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning I was able to find parallels between his arguments and the mentality pervasive in the life of Romanians. His concept, logotherapy, is aimed at individuals not at groups, and yet, much of its tenets are based on his observations of prisoner mentality in Nazi concentration camps, where he himself was imprisoned during the Second World War.

Is it really fair to compare Romania and Romanians to Nazi death camps and their inmates? It depends if we're talking pre or post 1989. Even so I know it's dramatic, but without belittling what a concentration camp was, fifty years of imprisonment in one's own coun…

10 Steps To Changing Romania

It's been a long week and there's been lots of introspection and mulling over ideas on my end. The thing is, this blog is eventually going to turn into something else. Living in Romania is not so much of a novelty anymore and even if it were, I'd rather become more involved than continue in the role of observer. As an observer, I notice things, but all I can do is point them out and then what, move on? I don't want to do that. But since I'm still observing, I thought I'd point out a few things, and maybe provide some form of direction where it's badly needed. 
More than lack of money and influence, Romania and many Romanians are lacking in something greater: Values. I will expand on this next week, but for now I'm fairly confident that this cut and dry statement will hit the mark: The thirst for material wealth and social standing manifested in external displays of 'success' have replaced value-driven mores that can only be measured internally …

If You Can Answer This Question, Your Wildest Dreams Will Come True

A few days ago I was having a conversation with my sister. She's trying to figure some things out. I'm sure she will eventually, but in the meantime she's going through a twenty-something-university-graduate-with-an-existentialist crisis period. Not that there's an age limit on those..
"You gotta do what's right for you." I told her.
"But that's the thing, that's what I've been doing!" And indeed she'd been off to places working, volunteering, learning, you name it, all in the name of herself. It's what we all do. Now that we're living in the age of personal branding, it's even more about doing what's best for ourselves. It's pretty much what we all do all the time, and yet, the doubts and unfulfilled expectations prevail.

"You know what, forget it," I told her, "maybe the real question is, 'what can you do for others?'"
"Yeaaah, exaaaactly!" She talks with lots of drawn …