Jan '05 - Jan '07
”˜I have been dying to ask you this: how does it feel to be an "international" student? How different is Romania in general from Spain? Is it easy to cope with?
I am an international student myself. I'm the only Indian in the entire architecture and design school here!
It sounds as if you like Spain better than home?!! Don't you miss home and family? I myself am coping better than the other Indian students at my univ. (I'm the only one in the Architecture dept though, so I have very little contact with them.) But I have to confess i miss my hometown. (not family!) But I think the cultural difference between Romania and Spain is much less than India and USA.
The reason I asked you that question was because I think it is an advantage to be from another country...you are somehow able to read/understand culture and society better. Do you find it so?
Being Indian has made it slightly difficult to adjust here. Not only do we have to adjust to an absolutely different system of education, but EVERYTHING is an adjustment. There are the general societal and cultural differences, the language (trust me, Indians speak much better English than Americans, but you will never be considered a 'good' English speaker unless you talk with an American accent, complete with grammatical mistakes!!) Then there are the less obvious and more touchy issues like racism. I can't really accuse anyone of being particularly racist towards me, but one can always feel it. They probably don't mean it, but it exists. Sort of like how women are treated... everyone says they are equal to men in principle, but there is always that subtle difference in how you talk or behave towards a woman. So, being a young Indian female, I belong absolutely and completely to the 'minority community'!
Anyway, all that aside, I'm having the time of my life here. This place has much to teach me and I intend to get every last drop!! The whole group of us travelling to Romania are Americans except for me and I'm sure they are all very apprehensive about the trip, but I'm sure I'll be at home! I'll be a double foreigner!'
Can u say it any better then this?
I've been thinking a lot about this ”˜international student' feeling, but her question and email gave me an opportunity to actually put my thoughts on ”˜paper' (I guess that's a funny thing to say).
I enjoy the feeling of being an ”˜alien'. It might be strange, but I feel the term ”˜international' fits the circumstances. I don't know about others, but I don't really feel like coming from one place but rather homeless, from no men's land, child of circumstances (please excuse this expression), on a trip with no precise scope. And I enjoy this. Kind of reminds me of a vagabond dog (!) ... waging the tail around and sniffing people. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
It makes you wonder what happened to the roots, are there any roots or will you ever have any at all again? I guess they grow a bit in every place you go, that's what makes it so hard to leave. But in the same time that's the reason that makes you leave.
How often can you bare the roots? How often can you tell them they shouldn't get too comfortable? Will they revenge? What am I saying?!
I do believe being from a different country implies a certain advantage (depends on the person, of course). You have a different point of view upon things and new points of view are always good. You know how it's like when you work a lot/too much on a project and then get stuck? When you try to solve a simple problem but just can't because the previous one, the one you erased, is the only one that occurs to you, the only one that your hand wants to draw? In these moments an outside opinion, from somebody that doesn't know anything about the project, can change your vision.
In addition, being from somewhere else implies a different way of life: a process of adjusting and finding your place, of compromises between what you knew and what you get to know, a longing for familiar things in the search for new ones. More dynamic, more alive, more open minded, more. You love the food and music from the new place, but sometimes you just miss something from home. And when you are going to another place, you miss the things from the previous spot. How many things can you miss?
Racism... well...I dislike the word, I think it is too harsh for what I am actually referring to. I don't really mind it. In my trips to Germany, when I was little, I had lots of experiences in this way. I remember now, I was always a bit puzzled and confused by the ”˜easiness' of the people. Being a child, I was fascinated by the life / world I saw, wondering why people don't take full advantage of it. This taught me that usually people don't realise and appreciate what they have. I guess that's why I'm trying to see the full half of the glass (and now all the Monty Python fans in chorus ”˜always look on the bright side of life...').
I usually expect the worst from this point of view and don't really mind (even believe it is justified sometimes) prejudices. They are normal, ”˜til a certain point. But on the other hand I learned that often people are building up their own problems. For example women who are marching for equal rights but expect to be treated differently, are digging their own whole. Ok, I will think of a better example, but you get the picture. This doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist if you don't speak of it.
Due to the high number of Romanian gypsies, illegal immigrants and workers in Spain, I thought people would be a bit more reticent when they hear of my country (but here the Moroccans have it worse). The usual discussion is something like
”˜Where are u from?'
”˜Lithuania?' (usually a bit surprised. People expect a known country.)
”˜aha. Romania. What city?' (I never understand why people are asking me this when they don't really know where Romania is, nor the name of the capital)
Sometimes the discussion goes as far as Gica Hagi or Nadia Comaneci, but they are too bit shy to mention Dracula. This being said, my point of origin is deleted and forgotten. I am not the girl from Romania as Pena is from Greece. It is not exotic enough and in the same time harder to remember when you have nothing to associate it with. So I am from nowhere and I love it.
I will shut up in a second, just want to use the best book title in the world to describe the feeling: ”˜The Unbearable Lightness of Being'.