Carla Bancu

Advertising / Strategic Planning

From: Romania

Lives in: Austria (for now)


I was born in a rather small city in Transylvania. It’s called Tirgu Mures. That is where I lived for my first 18 years, the place I call ‘home’. That’s where my parents live and where my closest friends are from.  I never thought I was going to emigrate. I told everyone I’d leave for 2 years to do my masters abroad. Now, after almost 5 years you might say I emigrated, but I still don’t see it like that. To me it’s like a slow journey, one lasting longer than planned.

I had mixed feelings when I first arrived in Austria. Mostly it was cool, fun, international, filled with trips and new people. But it was also difficult to adapt, learn the Austrian dialects, keep up with a much more demanding school system, and learn the rules of daily life.

The first year was the most annoying one. I was studying and Romanians still didn’t have access to a work permit within the E.U. For me this was an ongoing feeling of not being accepted. Like someone constantly telling me I’m not as good as their people, I don’t have the same rights. I know this is common, but I think it’s stupid. Being able to work should be based solely on skills, not on provenance.

During my stay in Austria I keep trying to implement some habits from back home. Like sharing everything. Thinking of others. Being an impeccable host. I think I cooked Romanian soup for about everyone I met since I live in Austria. I would love to know my neighbours better, know the names of their pets like back home. I try to be more humane, to see if fellow Austrians open up the same way. I often feel I might intrude though.

Among the best lessons I’ve learned during my migration journey was the importance of tolerating everything. That people are different from one country to another. Not better, not worse, just different. That common sense is the most subjective thing there is and that one gets accepted only if they learn to embrace this difference between people. Once you stop comparing yourself and your culture to the new country’s people and culture, that’s when you become part of it.

But you know, Bucharest is still as much of an option for me as any other destination. If I were to apply to new jobs now and Bucharest would have the best offers I would accept for sure. There are no perfect places in the world. Back home is the only place where I never found myself asking ‘What am I doing here?’ I miss that feeling.

But while living abroad, I think that staying informed is the most important thing to help you integrate. I got a lot of really good information from the local immigration office and they helped me get my papers right. There are always solutions. Just ask around, ask people in the same position, talk to people in official positions who know the law and can get you advice on how to better integrate. Integration is a long, active process. It’s not a privilege that comes with time.

Wherever you want to live, learn the language first. The accent, the insider jokes. Don’t make fun of the local cuisine, even if they do call mashed peas “soup”. Be tolerant if you expect tolerance. Respect traditions, religions and habits. Wherever you end up living, remember you are not better than anyone. All there is, is a different perception of what “common sense” is.