A blog in general about Romania and my feelings at the moment, with a focus on design, branding, art and anything else that inspires me.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Transylvanians in Bucharest

I was reading the comments about Cristian's Bucharest entry and it occured to be that even on the blogosphere there are many Transylvanians living in Bucharest. Cosmin asked "Is here a pattern for moving to bucharest from Transylvanya?" I believe there is. It's not a unique pattern, because inflow of people into the capital city happens in most countries, but I wonder if this is particularly prevalent in the case of Transylvania. It's strange in a way, because Transylvania is the region that is most different to the rest of Romania, yet there are so many Transylvanians in Bucharest.

The reason we leave? Well, because Bucharest is a city of 2.3 million people with many more opportunities and in many ways can lead to better life, more income, etc. That's not to say there's anything wrong with Transylvania - it is the most developed region of the country after Bucharest, and foreign investment is starting to pour in. However, it remains part of the provincie. That is, it still has a regional atmosphere.

I should tell you more about my experience of leaving Transylvania. You see, I was born and raised in Oradea and I still love it to this date - it's a great city and I still come home very often. It's also big enough to be able to live in decently, however, I decided to head off to Bucharest to see how it was like.

Even as a Romanian, I took a long time to get used to Bucharest. I'm originally from Oradea - for those who don't know Romania, it's a city in western Transylvania near the Hungarian border. Transylvanian cities tend to be fairly clean and organised, and not particularly crowded - basically, the opposite of Bucharest.

I remember when I moved in a few years ago I took the night train from Oradea to Bucharest, and when I arrived in Bucharest, in early morning, everything was grey around me, and I got to Gara de Nord, and it was a really austere experience. Before coming to Bucharest, I had visited so many other European cities, which I didn't find so provoking, even though Bucharest was Romanian! I really felt like I was somewhere in a foreign land, not as in a foreign country, but a foreign dimension, a foreign world. Bucharest does that to you at first. In fact, I only felt that way in a few other cities around the world - in Budapest, which is really similar to Bucharest actually, and in Beijing, which I visited last year.

I remember that in the first week I totally hated the city. I was thinking to myself (in classical Transylvanian fashion, "How can this city be the capital of our country? Oradea would beat it any day" The buses were crowded, the streets were rundown, there were stray dogs in lots of places... I just wanted to leave. But then, I started to get accustomed to it and see its unique beauty. Now, four years later, I can say I'm really happy to live in Bucharest.

It seems other people have had the same experiences as me. Cristian said:

"I felt sick and terrified for a couple of months"
and the part I liked best,

"I actually felt quicker 'at home' when i moved to Singapore than when I moved to Bucharest."
I believe that though, because I felt the same. It was really as if Bucharest was somehow foreign, and for the first few days it does seem as if you've been plunged into an unknown journey and you keep thinking that it's not true, that this isn't really Romania's capital. Then you realise it is and start to enjoy it so much that you end up never wanting to leave!

If there's anyone with the same experience, don't hesistate to leave comments!


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