My Expat Story: Tudor Stanescu
A Romanian expat in Canada
At Global Living Magazine we want to connect with our readers. We want to know what you’re all about, what you love, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. The best way to do this? Hear it straight from you!*
We received an email from Romanian expat Tudor Stanescu, who lives in Canada. Born and raised in Romania, Tudor’s family moved to Canada when he was 10. After living there for 14 years, he made the move to England in 2014 with his girlfriend at the time. He has since returned to Canada, where he currently resides. Here is his Expat Story.
What is your favorite part of expatriate life?
What I absolutely love about the expat life is the opportunity to experience life in new ways, learn about different cultures, and not to mention all the crazy cool sightseeing you get to do! As hobbyist photographer, photography has been one of my biggest driving forces behind my journey as an expat. I love seeing new places and new faces that I can photograph. Something about creating and capturing these experiences is very exhilarating for me. Also not to mention all of the amazing people you get to meet and share your stories with. There is always something new to learn.
What has been the hardest part?
I think I have 3 things that I find the hardest in the expat life: Moving from place to place; missing your friends and family back home; and financial instability.
My first move from Canada to England was my toughest one as I wanted to bring all of my photography equipment, my desktop computer and a few other big items that I felt like I could not leave behind. I struggled in finding an effective way of shipping all of the items over. Both UPS and Canada Post quoted me with ridiculous prices, and then I found a moving company out of Calgary that specialized in international moving.
While I moved to England along with my girlfriend, I couldn’t help but feel some loneliness from missing my friends and family. And at times that made it very tough for me.
Lastly, when moving to England I moved there without securing a job. My girlfriend at the time secured a position as a teacher, hence our decision to move to England, but I wasn’t as lucky. England being the expensive country that it is, and the British pound basically doubling the Canadian dollar in value, I felt very stressed out financially at the beginning.
Where have you lived around the world? Favorite places?
During my 25 years of existence on this earth, I have lived in a total of 3 countries. I was born in Bucharest, Romania, and had lived there for 10 years. The next 14 years I spent in a few places across Canada, mainly Calgary and Toronto, and lastly Colchester, England. I would say that Toronto is where I feel like at home, therefore being my favorite place.
Where would you want to move to eventually?
Recently I have been toying with the idea of moving somewhere with a warmer climate. I have always wanted to move to California or Australia. I definitely want to at least travel there one day!
What’s your sense of ‘home’?
My sense of home is a sense of belonging. I feel like I belong in Toronto the most, as it is where I have spent the majority of my life now, and have the closest connection to. All of my friends and immediate family is here.
What advice would you give to first-time expats?
When I left Canada, I was very unprepared. Sure, I had a lot of money saved up to get me through the first few months no problem, but stress I felt from not working and blowing away all my savings was one of the most unpleasant things I’ve experienced. As well as I previously mentioned the exchange rate on the Canadian dollar was very poor adding to the issue. After a lot of research I realized that banks generally gave really poor exchange rates. I stumbled across a company called Knightsbridge FX that offered a considerably better rate than what banks or currency exchange kiosks would usually give you. On the $5,000 exchanged I saved around $150. It doesn’t seem like much, but I would imagine those savings would scale up considerably with larger sums.
What has been the most helpful thing in adapting to your home abroad?
Submerging yourself in the culture and community is definitely key. Finding other veteran expats is also super helpful because they will definitely give you some of the best advice for the area you are living in! Making friends is also important. If you go alone in your journeys, you will most likely feel very lonely, so make lots of friends. Also embrace where you are from, make yourself memorable. I was astonished by how interested people became in me when I spoke with a “Canadian” accent in England. People wanted to know more about be immediately.
Share anything else about your expat life that you’d like us to hear!
Really, just try to make the most out of experience and try not to sweat the small stuff. I think at first I was very reserved because I was scared into accepting this new life, and travel a lot. If you are in a hub which gives you easy access to many surrounding countries which you are just dying to see, please do yourself a favor and just go. You have the rest of your life to work and do other stuff, live in the moment for now and do as many new things as possible.
*If you’d like to be featured on our ‘My Expat Story’ section, send an email to Alison at email@example.com and tell us about your experience as an expatriate by answering the above questions.
Don’t forget to include a picture of yourself, your website/blog information, and/or Twitter handle so we can help you connect with other expats from around the world!