by Rok Hajnšek, Slovenian Expat in Romania
As a Slovenian living and working in Bucharest for almost a decade now, I stand among the veterans of our tiny expat community in Romania. During my time here, I have witnessed first-hand the progress of this country, its evolution, which is often obscured to the eyes of a native observer, prone to sentimental bias.
Arriving first time to Romania in late 2007, despite gathering information and having a rather open mind, I was nevertheless affected by the stereotypes about the country “far away in the Balkans”, shared by many of my co-nationals. I experienced my first revelation after merely a few hours of driving, on the border in Nădlac. Opposite to the vision of an average Slovenian, Romania turned to be much closer to home. During my drive towards Bucharest, the stereotypes melted beyond the physical proximity and geographical similarities. The capital city overwhelmed with its sheer size, it engulfed me with its metropolitan pulse and swiftly adopted me, becoming my home away from home.
Ever since, I have grown attached to many wondrous corners of Romania and forged numerous personal bonds to its passionate and genuine people, features much alike to my own home. While doing so, I got deeply enchanted with the country “not at all far away in the Balkans”. My family and friends from back home, who have visited me in Romania, share my impressions. Equally, many of my Romanian friends have since discovered Slovenia and forged attachments of their own. In my micro-cosmos, distances and differences between Slovenia and Romania are negligible. The mosaic of fundamental ties between two countries consists of personal experiences and this personal account is but one of its many pieces.