I’ve always dreaded  writing about myself, writing autobiographies, motivation letters, CVs or any kind of information about my likes, dislikes, passions and hopes. I guess it sort of forces you to have a look at yourself from an outside perspective, to step away for a bit from your continuously growing or stagnating self, which is both complicated and challenging. But let’s give it a go!

I’m Oana, a 21-year-old girl from Ploiesti, a small town in Romania. I guess it’s that sort of small town outside a capital city that struggles to maintain a uniqueness in the shadow of the giant, but I love and cherish my city more than the quirky Bucharest, as it can still foster the peace and quiet a big city can never promise. I come from a big, beautiful and very noisy family who’s always been so supportive of my dreams. My parents always wished they had traveled more, they would’ve learned and experienced more, but they were not allowed by the communist regime they were born into. They were the rebels of those times, finding escapes in books, western music and films bought on “the black market” and above all French language (there’s an interesting article about daily life in communist Romania if you’re interested).

After being a good student at the best college in my hometown, there was no question that my parents wouldn’t let me go pursue even better education and follow my dreams in another country. They really wanted me to do this, especially as they didn’t have the chance themselves. This is how I got to Southampton, studying a course I’ve come to love more and more as time goes by– Languages (German and French) and European Studies. I love how flexible this course is, how different from the very traditional way in which other universities teach languages, how critical and aware it made me become! My favourite modules have been the ones regarding politics in general, but also the amazing language module “The EU and European identity”. I appreciated the way in which the tutor encouraged me to use my own approach and experience as a person from outside the UK in thinking about the EU, how she made me see that I actually have an advantage, not a disadvantage compared to my English colleagues.

For my year abroad, I am going to Germany, a place I always wanted to live in, to experience and get to know better. I really enjoy the language, I think it’s elegant and beautifully complicated. I will be spending one semester at the University of Potsdam studying Politics, and then on a working placement at the Romanian embassy. I am really excited about this year, I think it will be a decisive one for my personal, academic and professional development. As for the research project, I am having a look at the integration of Eastern European migrants looking from more than one perspective – interviewing students, student organisations, authorities within the embassies, looking at policies that foster integration locally, nationally or internationally. I know it’s a big topic and I’m still trying to get my head around it, but with the right amount of reading and work, I will manage to put something good together.

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