Nele moved to Romania for her medical studies. A country of which, she hadn’t any specific idea of, not of the life and not of the country itself. A good starting point to begin a new phase of life, as she says: „I saw it as a great opportunity to move to a new country and to be on my own. I always wanted to do that.“
The first two weeks were stressful and hard, but soon she found new friends in the international medical study program. Other medical students moved into the shared apartment, where she lived alone during these two weeks. The first challenge in the new country was and is the organization in the study program. All relevant and important information is spread via social media and changes very spontaneously. „Professors themselves do not know how to proceed. You learn to be flexible and that in the end everything will be fine somehow.“
Half of the students at Târgu Mureş Medical and Pharmaceutical University come from all over the world. In Neles study program five nationalities study together. The young physicians come from Africa, Italy, Romania, Germany and Israel. In addition to the medical focus, the university also offers other degree programs such as engineering and economics. However, the international degree programs are limited to medicine, dentistry and pharmacy. They start each winter semester. Already in 1990, the university offered bilingual studies in Romanian and Hungarian. When I asked her, what is different from studying in Germany, Nele answers straight and laughs: „In Romania the authority is very strong. You cannot develop yourself. You have to learn what is predefined. . The study is obsolete and compulsory attendance is everywhere. There is a professor that everyone is afraid of. „There is also more cohesion and a good atmosphere among the students. You meet in groups and learn together for the exams. „I first had to understand that you don’t have to compare yourself with others and that there is a different learning atmosphere. The mood in the university is much better than in Germany. „
The obsolete system and the daily attendance leave little freedom to engage in other activities e.g. getting to know the country and the culture. The city of Târgu Mureş is surrounded by mountains and forests, situated in the historical region Transylvania. Due to the past, some people still speak German here. Even some are interested in learning German again, as recently in the shop for medical supplies, as Nele told me. The woman working in the shop offered her to learn languages together. „She gave me her Facebook contact and said she would make us coffee,“ laughs Nele. „And then I could teach her German and she teaches me Romanian. The people are more open-minded than in Germany.”
Romania joined the European Union in 2007 under several conditions. Coinciding with the date of entry, a commission was established to document and assess the progress, especially in the judicial reform and the fight against corruption. Romania has gained many advantages through EU accession. Poorer countries receive financial support from the EU and the trade is simplified. Now, 75% of Romanian exports go to other european countries. „The country benefits extremely from Europe. There is a lot of development, creating new and modern structures and ambience. Romania is on the right track, it only needs more energy in the right direction, so that the benefits finally arrive at the average Romanian population.”
The fight against corruption was just recently re-discussed, because of the upcoming and current EU Presidency. The current head of government and the Social Democratic Party PSD are accused of many deceptive machinations. For one and a half years, the people in Romania are demonstrating against Liviu Dragnea and the PSD. New laws are intended to decriminalize crime and make abusive use only punishable if there has been a visibly advantage of it. A demonstration in August last year ended with 450 injured participants. Furthermore these riots aggravated the society’s tensed situation and distrust of its government. Even at university, says Nele, there are signs of corruption, even though it’s more likely to be seen on a smaller range. „You easily get in touch with situations and told that, for example, a student in the last semester actually fell through her exams and in the end she has passed, because her parents had contacts to a professor of the study program. As an international student, Romanian corruption is hard for me to see. Sometimes I think that international students have a more privileged life here. We can afford a lot; we often take a taxi and are welcomed by the state and people.“
Nele sees herself as an international doctor. After graduation, she would like to go to France for a while or to another country that she doesn’t know yet. When I asked her, if she is thinking of going back to Germany to study there, her answer remains uncertain. The international degree has many advantages to work in Europe and all over the world.