My expat experience in Luxembourg

Roxana Mironescu ,Meet the Expats,Foto:Gerry Huberty

Photo: Gerry Huberty / Wort English

Romanian national Roxana Mironescu joined her sister in Luxembourg in 2012 after completing her studies in Aberdeen. She has since worked for the local media and is now pursuing a communications degree at the University of Luxembourg in the country she now calls home.

What brought you to Luxembourg?

I moved to Luxembourg from Scotland after finishing my Bachelor studies in journalism, attracted by its central location in Europe and its great multicultural and multilingual character.

One year before relocating, I travelled to Luxembourg to visit my sister and really liked the calm and cosy atmosphere defining the city.

From a professional perspective, I knew that Luxembourg had many stories to offer, therefore the journalist in me was eager to give them a voice and spread the word as much as possible.

What helped you get settled in Luxembourg?

Right from the beginning, I started being active in the international community.

Funny enough, the first person I met in Luxembourg after leaving Aberdeen was a lovely Scottish expat, Lisa McLean, who offered me an internship at Ara City Radio. Through this opportunity, I gained access to many events and communities and got to meet a lot of inspiring people who became my friends and in some cases highly valuable professional connections.

What do you like most about Luxembourg?

I love the fact that Luxembourgers are genuinely in love with their country and always take pride in their little Grand Duchy. Although it’s difficult to handle at times, especially for people from monolingual countries, Luxembourg’s multilingualism is also a great asset and makes one feel like living in a true global(ised) city.

If you could change one thing about Luxembourg, what would it be?

Better communication between Luxembourgers and non-Luxembourgers. Most foreigners living in Luxembourg find it very difficult at the beginning to meet Luxembourgers, but once they do, long-term friendships, viable professional partnerships and sometimes nice love stories unfold.

Also, as a general rule, I wish people were more open-minded in their approach to others and their different lifestyles. So many stereotypes, so many misunderstandings and so little time to properly meet people and cultures.

Like many expats, I would love to go shopping on Sundays and would appreciate a better customer service in some contexts. Also on my wish list is an outdoor swimming pool in Luxembourg-City. Imagine the fun, celebrating Luxembourg National Day at a pool party in Clausen or the Grund.

What tips would you give new arrivals?

It’s up to you to make Luxembourg your city. Irrespective of your professional background, nationality or intention to spend one year or a lifetime in Luxembourg, try to be active, stay informed, network as much as you can and always show an interest in meeting other people.

Also, knowing a few words of Luxembourgish always makes a nice impression. In fact, learn all the languages that you can while living here and expand your horizon through as many activities as possible in 24 hours. This way, Luxembourg can be a life-changing experience, staying in your heart no matter if you settle in or continue the journey to some other fascinating places in the world.

An interview published on Wort English at the end of July 2015.

Reflections on my Romanian identity ahead of Romania’s national day

The Romanian flag

The Romanian flag

Given this year’s troubled political context both nationally, on a European level and internationally, I find it somewhat difficult to write about my sense of belonging to one country or nation, without mentioning that nationalism is on the rise, giving birth to a lot of xenophobic and intolerant behaviour all across the world.

While I have been living abroad for the past 6 years, calling home, for different periods of time, the city of Madrid, in Spain, Aberdeen, in Scotland and Luxembourg, at the end of each day and mostly at the beginning of each conversation, I am Romanian, coming from the region of Maramures, in the north of the country.

Frankly, I think I have never been ”more Romanian” in my whole life than in the past 6 years both in my soul and in other people’s minds. It is funny and strange to reach the conclusion that you become  ”more” Spanish, Portuguese or American once you live somewhere abroad.

Yes, I am a proud Romanian, but I also like to be given credit for my personal skills, opinions and perspectives as to my own identity, origin and future. I refuse to be defined by others’ definitions of what is like to be Romanian or any other nationality for this matter.

Of course, there are many things that all Romanians have in common, among which the language, the cuisine, the friendliness (at least that’s what I want to believe), and other things linked to traditional outfits, music, dance, film and history. And I am happy to confirm it, to even emphasize that Romanians, be it home or abroad, keep in their hearts those moments in time and history that contributed to the creation of our nation.

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Romania’s location within Europe

These days, it’s not easy being Romanian, as much as it is not easy being any other Eastern European or a non-European on the old continent and in the extended western world. Sadly, certain countries and some of their people are still patronising and offensive in their behaviour and political engagement, leaving a bitter taste on many people’s lips.

But, I don’t want to spend more time on that. I would like to rather use this opportunity to encourage each and all of  you to be avid learners of others’ cultures and origins, to seize the oportunity and become wiser, smarter and better-equiped for today’s globalised world.

Yes, we do live in a global-oriented world, but that doesn’t mean that people’s characteristics are or that they should become standardised, but rather that it is more important than never to respect, appreciate and tolerate others, no matter their ethnicity, nationality, physical traits, fashion style or music taste.

I am happy and grateful that I was born in a middle-class Romanian family, in the region of Maramures, having the parents that I have, the family that shaped my transition to adulthood and mostly to have infinite reasons to pe proud of other succesful and hard-working Romanians that have made the world a better place.

I am just one person, and of course I want to be respected for the values that I stand for, but I also know that it would be simply too complicated to understand billions of people based on their unique and personal choices. Therefore, stereotypes do make sense to some extent, but they should certainly not be misused to the outrageous degree that they are used today.

This being said, I want to wish all Romanians, no matter where they are, or how much they have succeeded or failed to date, to embrace their strengths and weaknesses, to not tolerate anyone’s wrong judgements or mistreatment and to always think that one’s belonging to a nation or more, is a blessing as much as one’s belonging to a family is.

Finally, I wish everyone Happy National Day on December 1 and let’s hope that Romania will soon become our permanent homes again, if that is what we truly wish for,  with less and less people leaving their families and children behind for a better-paid salary and life in a more efficient, well-developed society.

We have a lot of potential, we have natural resources, human talent, we belong to international organisations that make today’s decisions in the world, we have had 25 years to make the transition from communism to real democracy, there are no more excuses!

Now, we need the long-term strategy and vision, the strength and maturity to vote for the right people to represent our nation. Individual change first impacts on the local community, but it then creates further fundamental and systematic transformations and encourages others to act.

Let’s learn from past mistakes and be determined enough to build the future that we all deserve!

Internships – why, when and how to make the most of them

As a ”senior intern” as I like to call myself, a few days ago I wrote a few thoughts about being an intern, why it is important to make an impression, but mostly what to do to face the ever-growing pressures and challenges imposed by the current economic climate.

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The text below was published on the blog page of Individuum, a Luxembourg-based venture providing student recruitment services. Find out more about Individuum’s blog page here.

You have probably heard this before a million times, however, undertaking an internship is crucial for your post-university time and welfare.

As you know, job prospects in Europe and elsewhere are still not looking great for students or young graduates and ironically enough, most of the times when you browse the internet for entry-level jobs, existing openings require previous experience, numerous skills as well as additional work samples and portfolios.

Well, here is where internships come in handy. Working over the summer for a company or volunteering a few times a week besides your studying routine is more likely to give you a significant advantage on the working market.

Internship

Planning when to start applying for internships is also important. Although, most students find themselves pressured to find a summer internship in their final year or right after graduating from university, you should definitely consider applying for temporary openings and placements from the very first year of your degree programme.

Since finding a suitable job or a promising internship feels like winning the lottery these days, you might as well keep trying your luck, sending emails and applications away on a regular basis.

We know that giving advice is much easier than practice, but truth be spoken, you should truly keep your eyes and ears wide open not to miss out on any opportunity.

A common mistake students make while still enrolled at university is underestimating the need for practical experience in their fields of interest. Although some career paths such as architecture, arts, media or medicine are very practical by default, studying law, finance, management or other theoretical degrees should not make you believe that summer time is designed to be spent exclusively on partying.

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As current students or recent graduates ourselves, we know better than anyone that being ‘‘young’’ sometimes equals ‘‘inexperienced’’ rather than creative and enthusiastic.

For that reason, it is important that you start planning on your future career path. Take advantage of any chance you might be offered to ease the transition from student times to a settled working lifestyle.

Don’t focus too much on financial rewards, don’t expect others to thank you for your work, but rather be determined and ready to learn as much as you can.

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Remember that once you’ve secured yourself an internship, the true battle to prove yourself is just beginning to take shape. Try to make an impression, ask questions, do your research on the company’s profile and generally work as hard as you would do if you were a full-time employee.

As several recruiters previously pointed out it is not only during the interview that your skills and overall potential are assessed, but throughout your entire time with the company.

This comes to prove that most companies take interns very seriously, investing their time and funds in that person. In some cases hiring individuals for temporary tasks is used by companies as a means of finding the right person for the job in the long run.

This has been the case on many occasions when following a placement, recent graduates or final-year students were kept on the job or offered a similar permanent position within the company.

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Undoubtedly, whether you are going to be offered a permanent position or not, the time you invested in your internship will bring you back new skills and knowledge, confidence, positive feedback and the self-assurance that you are following the right path.

We are not the only ones to suggest that internships equip you with invaluable skills that will gradually turn you into the perfect candidate for the so much desired job.

Other recruiters have previously confirmed the importance of knowing what to do and how to do it most effectively by having experienced various working environments.

Jenna Follet, UK-based recruiter at Bloomberg, pointed out in an online article for the Gateway that ‘‘The more knowledge you have, the more credibility you will build for your personal brand.”

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Think of your internship as the perfect marketing tool that you can use to promote YOU, your brand and your unique selling proposition.

Why is it important to do an internship?

Because above all, being an intern gives you access to new experiences, interesting people, gives you a place in a professional network and helps you come across as a credible brand.

Promote yourself and your skills in various places and through diversified experiences to make sure that when the time comes, you will be the right person at the right time and the right place.

Ziua Iei la Luxemburg-Poze si Impresii

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Ideea de a organiza un eveniment dedicat iei romanesti pe 24 Iunie in Luxemburg mi-a venit intr-o secunda, inspirata fiind de proiectul La Blouse Roumaine, ce s-a transformat ulterior intr-o adevarata comunitate online.

O clipa mi-a fost de ajuns pentru a realiza ca fara intiativa si devotament, nu putem avea asteptari prea mari de la altii.

Stiam ca exista o comunitate numeroasa de romani stabiliti fie in Marele Ducat al Luxemburgului, fie prin imprejurimi, in orase precum Arlon (in Belgia) sau Thionville (Franta). Mizand pe ideea ca o intalnire informala, ce se dorea a fi o punte de legatura si cunoastere intre romani, va reusi totusi sa aduca fata in fata cateva suflete dornice sa sarbatoreasca si promoveze frumusetea camasii romanesti, am hotarat sa merg mai departe cu aceasta intiativa.

Meritul principal ii apartine Elenei, o romanca de-a noastra, stabilita si ea in Luxemburg, care a raspuns pozitiv initiativei mele, fara a sta pe ganduri.

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Impinsa de acest imbold venit din exterior si care mi-a oferit un dram de entuziasm, am lasat deoparte orice indoiala si m-am pus pe organizat Ziua Universala a Iei la Luxemburg.

Nu aveam nici asteptari, nici mari sperante pentru aceasta zi. Imi doream doar ca cei prezenti sa se simta bine la intalnire, fie ca erau doua persoane sau 20, 30 de indivizi.

Primul pas catre promovarea intalnirii noastre, s-a facut pe Facebook, unde spre surprinderea mea, in cateva zile circa 40 de persoane s-au aratat interesate de a participa la Ziua Iei.

Mai apoi, si-a oferit ajutorul si Horatiu, un om deosebit, pasionat de cultura, muzica si dansurile romanesti, un om cu experienta in organizarea de evenimente dedicate romanilor din Luxemburg.

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Datorita lui, Ziua Iei s-a facut cunoscuta in randul a sute de persoane, dintre care multi s-au tinut de promisiune si chiar au venit la intalnire imbracati in straie populare.

Si iata c-a venit si ziua cea mare! Cu putin inainte de 7, ora stabilita sa ne intalnim in centrul orasului, pasesc cu incredere in Place Guillaume, mandra de ia mea romanesca si fericita sa vad deja cateva doamne in ii asteptandu-ma.

Dupa cateva minute, mare mi-a fost bucuria sa constant ca peste 60 de persoane au venit la eveniment, printre care as dori sa amintesc o doamna de la Ambasada Romaniei in Luxemburg, o femeie de afaceri de success de origine romana, multi angajati romani de la Institutile Europene din oras, si chiar si un domn roman stabilit la Luxemburg de cateva zile.

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Si pentru ca scopul principal al intalnirii era, pana la urma, promovarea si celebrarea iei romanesti, am fost nespus de multumita sa vad o multime de doamne si domnisoare purtand ii si straie populare provenite din diferitele regiuni ale tarii noastre.

Dupa cateva momente de dans oferite de acelasi Horatiu, care printre multe altele este si dirijorul corului ”Voci din Carpati” si instructorul grupului de dans popular cu acelasi nume, s-a incins o hora romaneasca veritabila, ce a atras privirile curioase ale trecatorilor.

Asa incat am dansat, ne-am bucurat, ne-am fotografiat, moment in care ni s-a alaturat si domnul primar al Luxemburgului, Xavier Bettel, iar apoi ne-am indreptat catre un pub irlandez, unde toti participantii au socializat si s-au simtit bine.

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In final, vreau sa imi marturisesc bucuria de a fi putut organiza Ziua Universala a Iei la Luxemburg, ocazie cu care am intalnit romani nemaipomeniti si mandri de originile lor, persoane implinite profesional care au venit de la zeci de kilometri departare pentru a ni se alatura.

Multumesc tuturor celor care a venit la intalnire pe 24 Iunie! Multumesc foarte mult Elenei Afemei si lui Horatiu Dragan pentru ajutorul de nadejde oferit! Multumesc Alexandrei et al. pentru sprijin!
Si in final, iti multumesc tie, cititorule, pentru timpul si rabdarea de a fi citit toate aceste randuri scrise de o persoana multumita si recunoascatoare!

Anastasia Elena

Since today it is the 1st of June, a special day for all children across the world, I couldn’t find a better way to celebrate and emphasise their importance, the joy and miracle they represent to their parents. Last Sunday, one of my cousins baptised her first baby girl, called Anastasia Elena and therefore, for our family this particular day was beyond special. Luckily, I could take a lot of pictures, some of which are being published here to mark the occassion.

How Facebook changed our lives and privacy


Facebook needs no introduction, really. Everyone nowadays uses it and if one has still resisted the trend, they must be very tempted to surrender.
I joined Facebook about 3 years ago. I wasn’t sure what it was at that moment, but above all, one thing was clear! My online presence on Facebook helped me stay closer to the people I like, love and respect. At this stage all seemed nice and smooth.

After three years of Facebooking- the latter is actually supposed to be a verb- I have started thinking how, why and how long I was genuinely engaged with the site for. Without actively posting or sharing anything, I was still logging in everyday. But what was it that was generating my online addiction? And to my surprise, I wasn’t the only one to be trapped by the Facebook phenomenon.

For the past 8 months or so, I have been strongly engaged with the idea of privacy and to the extent this is still valid in contemporary societies. I am inclined to believe that much more human interaction takes place online than in real life, at least for some individuals. And the internet not only encourages us all to reveal multiple aspects of our identity, but it actually uses all the data we provide for the benefit of international companies. That’s the power of marketing and advertising, inviting people to tell you everything about them and then using it in your favour.

And there is something cynical about it. Every individual has the right to protect their privacy, personal space and private information, however, by March 2012, 901 millions of people were monthly active users and 526 million used Facebook daily. Let’s put it in other words. If your mobile phone network provider mistakenly leaked data about yourself, you would be very angry and offended. But in reality, at least half of that data was already made public by yourself through social media and forums.
You don’t type in your full address on Facebook; nevertheless, you do mention where you live, where you work and even where and when you obtained your professional qualifications. This put altogether, can be used to track one down very easily. You are making it so damn easy for wrongdoers to find and learn as much as possible about you.

That being said, how can you wish for privacy and further claim to be entitled to it, when the current lifestyle constraints us to share everything that we do and experience. Think about it, few relationships are serious if they are not made official on Facebook. You don’t fully graduate or get a new job, if you don’t post on Facebook at least a picture capturing the moment. More recently, people have been adding important events to their lifetime line from when they were born, to when they had their first baby or bought their first car. All this details summed up make a person who s/he is and ultimately how one experienced life.


As a counterargument, some may say that Facebook provides privacy settings. Well, it more certainly does, perhaps random individuals cannot view your profile, if you don’t want them to, but as a company Facebook collects all data and passes it on to advertisers, whom you actually further endorse by Liking their pages. There is a very interesting article discussing Facebook’s advertising value or the dollar value of a Like. In brief, no one knows how much your Like, comment and share value; how much they cost advertisers.

Ultimately, the video above shows a documentary produced by the BBC and invites people to take a look at Facebook from the inside. However, the most important aspect that I came across by watching it, was provided by Elliot Schrage, Vice-president of Public Policy at Facebook. Surprisingly or not, according to Schrage by liking a brand individuals are firmly communicating that they are associating themselves with that particular company or brand which arguably creates a story and a ranking mechanism. It is definitely worth watching the video and reflecting on how we are managing our Facebook accounts.

It is certain that today, social media and the impact of the internet create numerous challenges for people. It is more important than ever to manage your image efficiently, keeping a clear balance between what should be published online and what should remain confidential. We should see ourselves as brands and create a consistent image around our public persona in the same way companies construct their brand image. Facebook helps individuals keep in touch and enhances their social life, however, on many occasions, sharing your life explicitly has resulted in job dismissals or in never being invited to a job interview. It all depends on what you choose to like and how you choose to portray yourself to the outer world. Like this article if you agree!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Who says that people need a special day every year to express their gratitude and love for those who hold a special place in their life?
To me, Valentine’s Day is just a valid excuse for eating chocolate. I don’t need a specific day in my schedule to be nice and think about love.

There are two main types of people out there in the world: those who are over-excited about special dates in the calendar and those who hate sticking to some dates that someone else has set up for them.
As usual I am in the middle. I like being the observer. I don’t like and don’t hate Valentine’s Day either.

Perhaps, I am just aware that in the same way Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day are overly-advertised to enhance consumerism, Valentine’s Day is also there for a reason- to bring someone more money.
Maybe it’s also about the way United States have exported their purely commercial traditions to the whole world. In most of the countries around the globe, Valentine’s Day is known under a different name and most frequently is also celebrated on a distinct day.

10, maybe, 15 years ago, not many people knew or celebrated the 14th of February as the official day of love. Today? People rush and get frustrated for not having managed to book a table in a fairly decent restaurant or for not having gotten good tickets to see a romance movie on Valentine’s Day.

Do we really need that? Do you really need to make the most of Valentine’s Day? What if you celebrate love the day after or maybe the day before that?

Even if I wanted, I would never manage to celebrate it as expected. I am always too busy, too stressed and caught up in some never-ending project.
However, to get into the mood but not go over the top of things, today I fell in love with chocolate, again, the same way I did the day before and the day after.

I don’t need a special day to tell people that I love them.