Andrei is from Iasi, Romania and happens to be my fiancee as well, so I thought he would be a fantastic first participant in my podcast!
He grew up in a small village in Romania and then after middle school he was sent directly to boarding school in a larger city a few hours from his home village. From 14 Andrei left his home and matured rather quickly as the comforts of home were not available to him, I don’t think that I could’ve been responsible for myself and my studies as a 14 year old living with a frenzy of strangers in a boarding school house. Lot’s of kids take this route for education in Europe, it makes me wonder if because if the majority of American’s all attend a public or private high school’s while still living at home with Mom and Dad may have a lasting affect on why the college experience for many in Europe is entirely different from the college student experience in America. I feel as though high school failed violently in preparing me for the world and it seems in Andrei’s case he had more of a head start in acclimating to living in real life.
In talks about financial logistics of university, Andrei was actually paid to go to college because his grades were so high. A small percentage of the student body were actually given money monthly by the university, which Andrei says was enough to sustain his living expenses, if he were to have lived in the student housing provided by the institution. I feel this provides great initiative to students to want to strive for the better grades, and be continuously held to a higher standard by their universities. Some would be paid to go to school, for others it was priceless, and those who performed worse than the other two sectors paid a small fee, less than 5,000 USD annually. I know a handful of people in college right now, just taking whatever random courses they can find so they can finish with enough credits to graduate. While in Romania, the only score that is ever recorded for review, is the score he gets on his final thesis, and all the classes he took before that and their averages fall inconsequential. Where as I bust my butt to get a 4.0 every semester through all my classes so I can just simply graduate Magna Cum Laude.
Andrei also noted that he thinks students in his home country are far less riddled with anxiety and depression, and he often didn’t even hear of the disorders before moving to the United States. Andrei believes that American culture is a huge attribute to why students here are so stressed out and depressed. The American student body is more intoxicated than that of any other culture, whether it be alcohol, drugs, illicit drugs and even caffeine and processed food. The go-go-go mentality is very exclusive to American culture for students, where many of us go from class to work to the library and then home to sleep, to just repeat it all again the next day. I often feel so strung out by my workload I feel delirious, and zombielike at times. Andrei says a big change that he noticed was how much time American’s spend in the car, like everyone is living their lives out of their vehicle. Never mind the absurdly long commutes people have in this country, which is mostly unheard of in Europe. People eat, answer emails, store clothes, taxi around all sorts of things in their cars each and everyday, which seems very normalized in American society. Where as even drinking a soda in a European car could be challenging as the cup holders aren’t accommodating, all of the cars require two hands being standard shift, and they’re all about the size of a glorified go-kart with a similarly sized engine. Andrei says the reason Europeans refuse to work somewhere with a long commute is because it is further away from the family, and family meals are valued very highly in Romanian and many other European cultures. My dad almost never made it home for dinner when he was working lots, and sometimes my mom would let us get a meal while we were on the road to soccer games or school events if she didn’t have time to cook.
Regardless of how much ice countries put in their glassed beverages, the differences between the student experience of a Romanian range wide and varied to the experiences met by American students.