Came to study, stayed for the balance

Actually, I came to Germany with an Erasmus scholarship, but I’ve found myself in Bayreuth. So I decided to finish my studies here and start a new life.

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Daniela Roşescu already has her bachelor’s degree in German and English Studies. The Romanian student has come to Bayreuth from the University of Bucharest on an Erasmus scholarship and is gearing herself up for a new start in the Bavarian town. In this interview, she reveals why Germany has become her new home.

Daniela, you’ve been in Bayreuth for several months now. Why did you choose Germany?
Actually, I came to Germany on an Erasmus scholarship, but I’ve found myself in Bayreuth. So I decided to finish my studies here and start a new life. There are quite a lot of immigrants in the town and they feel welcome and supported here. Bayreuth is also a reception centre for refugees from Afghanistan and Syria.

In Germany now the subject of refugees is being discussed ferociously. How do you feel about this discussion? Are you angry that refugees are crowding onto the same job market, or are you happy that your new homeland is taking care of these people?
I’m an open person and have no fear of people from other places. I accept all my fellow human beings, because everyone has his or her own way. People with prejudices and who suffer from xenophobia should read something about interculturality.

How do you interact with the other migrants? Do you perceive in society here a certain separation between Germans and people who have come from elsewhere to Germany?
I don’t see such a separation. I feel more integrated here than in Romania. Wherever I go I feel welcome here: at the workplace, with the children I sometimes look after, in the Tutors’ Association, at my sports club. I think it depends on each person, on the willingness to adapt. Interaction with the other migrants is going well.

What convinced you to continue your university studies in Bayreuth?
The library, the university, the technology, the society, the freedom and my boyfriend. The chance to work in a mini-job on the weekend, which at the same time allows me to study in peace without having to worry about how to finance my studies. Many students here have mini jobs; no one’s ashamed of working in service jobs or as a cleaner.

What do you think is missing for a student in Romania?
Large, well-equipped libraries and proper jobs to balance study and life. Many have no means of paying for university. Perhaps a support system (such as the BAföG) would help students concentrate on their studies.

Are student part-time jobs in Romania automatically associated with a loss of status? If so, how do people finance their university studies there?
In Romania, unfortunately, there are far too few or even no student side jobs. Either students work part-time or full-time – that is, at least four hours a day – or they get money from their parents. In Germany, students work only ten hours a week.

How can a student best find a balance between studying, job and free time?
In Germany, university studies and many mini-jobs are designed so that students can also enjoy their free time. For example, I work on only two evenings, on the weekend. This allows me to prepare my courses for the university, but also to enjoy my free time with friends. Leisure, job and studies fit together quite well for me.

What if something unimaginable were to happen in Romania and you would return to Bucharest as soon as possible. What would that be?
Unfortunately I can’t imagine returning at present – at most for a visit. Our politics would have to change in a radical way; we would have to learn at last how to function normally, both as a country and as individuals. Stop the hatred between students, workers and colleagues, the unnecessary competition for grades and money, and the bribery in every area of life – for example, with doctors and nurses in hospitals. The country would have to find a way to work with people who are morally honest and know their jobs.

Where do you feel most comfortable, and why?
In Bayreuth. The society and people here are different. And everything works – both on the large and the small scale: from the city administration, conversations with people and the respect shown by bus drivers to courses at the university. You don’t have to bribe anyone to get what is rightfully yours. Everyone is nice and helps you with a smile.

What advice would you liked to have had before coming in Germany?
That the paperwork can take forever. Anyone who comes to Germany needs to be prepared to spend a lot of time processing documents. Otherwise, I can’t complain about anything: everything is going better than expected, better than in Romania.

How has your standard of living changed?
For the better: I have tons of books, a job as a tutor in the housing complex I currently live in and one in a restaurant, a boyfriend from Afghanistan and my Dutch language course. I’m also a member of the German-Romanian Association, which promotes integration in Bayreuth. Living in the strongest country in Europe you have to feel good, right?

You’ve told us how much Germany has given you. We’d now like to ask what you think you can offer Germany. What skills and ideas do you have that can make Germany an even better place?
At present I’m still at university, so at I can give Germany only what I’m learning. But I already have some plans for the future.

How do you imagine your future?
I’d like to work for a publisher or a bookshop, travel with my boyfriend, and start a family. As I have a passion for coffee, maybe I’d like to open a cafe.

This text originally belongs to the project FOKUS pe GERMANA. In this project, journalists from Germany and Romania discuss topics, problems and processes that will shape and define the future