Romania in Italy: A discussion of Culture and Education

Carla studies International and Diplomatic Sciences in an Italian University. She was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1995 and lived there for 11 years before moving to Pordenone, a little town in North-Eastern Italy.

When asked to describe herself, Carla simply answered: “I’m a woman”. She is a feminist and embraces the battle for equality. She doesn’t feel  Italian, or even Romanian for that matter. She identifies herself as a European. Therefore, she doesn’t feel like a migrant. She thinks there are no huge differences amongst European Countries, who share history and culture. However, when she moved to Italy, she didn’t feel this way yet.

Carla moved to Italy when she was young, and has come to observe quite a bit.
Image: Alice Mini

Her cousin and her aunt, who moved to another part of Northern Italy, had no problem integrating. On the contrary, her mum had quite a hard time: the linguistic barrier was hard to tear down and she suffered a period of solitude.To Carla, however, integration wasn’t hard at all, the only real obstacle she had to face was in her own head.

In 2007, her mum had to move to Italy, where salaries were much higher, because of economic issues. Carla joined her about four months later, against her own will.  She didn’t accept the changes in her family and longed to stay back in Bucharest,the place she had always called “home”.  She decided she wouldn’t talk to anyone in her new little town.

At first, she didn’t like Pordenone at all: too different from Bucharest. Too small, too slow. However, time passed by and the situation inside her family changed radically: her bond to her mother grew stronger, so she decided to give Italy a chance.

Despite she had never spoken to anyone, she learnt Italian by reading books. Thanks to that, meeting new people and creating friendships came easily to her, especially during high school.  She met people who shared her interests for history and reading, and her passion for Latin and Greek culture.

Carla tells her family had to experience a few episodes of racism when they moved to Italy. For example, once she was kicked out of a shop together with her mum just because they misspelled a word. Another episode she had to go through happened in a park: she was sitting on a bench together with her mum when a dog showed up; despite the dog wasn’t big, she was scared (she was bitten when she was little and, even today, she has a certain fear) and, noticing that, the owner of the dog told her not to be scared because “Italian dogs don’t bite”. Carla told the lady that nationality had nothing to do with it.

These episodes were quite common in the past: Italian television used to depict Romanians as “dangerous criminals”, therefore, part of the population was wary. However, the situation has changed. Media has now decided to target  immigrants who come from Africa and brainwashed people into turning against them, but is still a little suspicious of people from the Balkans.

Though Carla longs to see Bucharest, she admits to have warmed up to Italian culture, and its education too.
Image: Alice Mini

The Romanian community has grown bigger throughout the years. Nowadays, it is possible to find typical Romanian food in the stores. This is a good sign: the Italian population has accepted them and is making it possible for them to feel like they’re home.

Carla confessed she doesn’t miss her own city as much as her memories of it. Bucharest has changed a lot since she moved to Italy: it’s not the same city she used to know. It has been completely reconstructed. She misses hearing people speaking her mother tongue, Romanian music (the n.1 in the Balkans, according to her) and the way people have fun there, that is completely different from that of Italians. In Romania, people go out very late at night and come back home early in the morning. On the contrary, Italians love meeting for “aperitivo” (they meet to have a drink before or after dinner); the whole night, in her homeland, they would listen to a different kinds of music depending on what was being done.

She regrets never having the chance to go out of Bucharest and admire Romania’s stunning landscapes, but  she knows that she will visit them one day .Despite she loves Romania, she’s happy she had the chance to grow up in Italy. She loves its literature, the language and the amazing landscapes; she also likes Italian people, and has warmed herself to the local culture quite a bit.

Times have changed in Bucharest since Carla was a child. The city has apparently been given a complete makeover.
Image: Alice Mini

Even so, as much as she dislikes the internal division in classes existing in Romania (there’s no middle class, only extremely rich or poor people), she doesn’t like the existing division between northern and southern Italians. The population looks (and is, sadly) divided. She notices that although connected by common roots, they seem uncappable of overcoming their differences (“you really seem to come from different places”, she states).

Though Carla has always been creative and curious, she wouldn’t have been the same person if she grew up in Romania. She says she would have ended her studies at the age of 18 and she would have been already married or with a child because “women have better be married if they want to have a shot in life there; single women are disadvantaged and underrated”.

Another reason why she’s thankful she grew up in Italy is that it gave her a better chance for her future. Italian universities are renowned! Italian education made her see the world from a totally different point of view  and made her grow as a person (in Romania, humanistic studies are neglected in favor of scientific ones).

Of course, she loves and misses her Country of origin and she wants to go back there and visit all the places she has never seen but, in the future, she wants to see and know the rest of the world as well.



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