Interview with Carmen – Transcript

On Monday, the ‘Romanian’ group set off to interview Romanians in London. At first we didn’t have much luck, no one wanted to be on camera and they seemed quite suspicious of us, but on Tuesday we met the most amazing people. We knocked on the door of The Romanian Cultural Centre in Marleybone and two friendly girls answered immediately. They were incredibly helpful, with amazing background stories. Ivana and Carmen. Ivana is included in our film, and now we’ll present the experiences of Carmen.

– My name is Carmen, I’m Romanian. I work for the Romanian Cultural Centre, as a project manager. I started working more than two years ago.
– You said you were a student?
– I’m also a part-time student, yes. I’m doing my second masters in urban studies. It has to do with cities. I’m trying to shift my career a bit now. Previously I did media communications.
– What are the main differences between your home culture and the culture in the UK?
– I think the first aspect that drew my attention was the fact that I suddenly became aware of the fact that I have a nationality. When you are in your home country, you are not really aware of the fact that you do have a nationality and a cultural background. This was the first thing that hit me when I came here. Then the small things of the day to day life, from transport to how people address each other and so on. Since London is such a multicultural city, it never got boring. So I can’t say I have a general picture of it because I still have so much to discover.
– What were your reasons to come here?
– I graduated from my undergrad in Bucarest, and I wanted to do a masters’ degree. I wanted to go abroad and then I thought I’m just going to go for one year, and I said why not come to London. I never left since then. It’s been almost four years now.
– Did you encounter any difficulties when you moved here because of your different nationality?
– To be franc with you, not really because I went straight into uni. Some of my friends, colleagues and tutors were foreigners. I went to Goldsmith, so everybody was welcome there, there was no room for any racism or discrimination based on people’s backgrounds, social capital or income. But afterwards, when I graduated and started searching for jobs, I picked up on some nuances. But until then, no, I didn’t experience anything negative.
– What were these nuances?
– See, it’s very hard to say… because I came to London in the middle of the financial crisis and arts and humanities wasn’t a field that was profitable for anyone. So whether it was connected to my nationality or because I had a qualification that didn’t mean that much during the crisis, I really can’t say. So I never felt that my Romanian nationality was a disadvantage, but then again, I’m working for the Romanian Cultural Centre, that is probably one of the only places where being a Romanian is a plus or a must.
– Do you keep in touch with your Romanian heritage? If so, where do you go here in London?
– Hmm…yeah I do. One of my flatmates is Romanian for example. But the other one is Chilean and the other is English, so it’s a bit of a mix, London-mix I suppose. And working for the centre I am definitely in touch with my Romanian heritage. At the same time I can also be very critical because I have to work with something Romanian in a British context, and in have to make a comparison sometimes.
– Some of the Eastern Europeans said they feel closer to other Eastern Europeans, even if they are not from their country of origin. How do you feel about that?
– I think this is definitely true. My previous flatmates were Latvians, so I think that Baltic and post-socialist or ex-communist countries do share some sort of common thing. It’s very hard to put a finger on it. Of course it depends on personality as well. But there is some sort of understanding between us, which I don’t really know how to explain, but it is definitely present. At the same time Romania is a Latin country so I do have the same type of non-verbal understanding with people coming from Spain or Italy, or in some regards even with people coming from South America. But it is different for everyone. For example my family lives close to the border of Hungary, so I feel closer to Hungarians than I would with Serbians or with Bulgarians. So it’s also personal, not general.
– Do you plan to go home, back to Romania?
– Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t, it depends on my experiences. Of course there is this will, that I would like to give back to my country, and probably I will go back at a certain point in my life. At the same time I also feel that I need to accumulate more and more skills before I can make a contribution. This is my dilemma. Have I accumulated enough knowledge and skills, to be able to go back and bring about a change or not yet? I’m not sure what to answer, but I do miss my family and home.

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