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Differences-turned-opportunities for Romanian student

By Matt Scotto, Features Editor

Coming to United States for the first time is definitely an experience. Just ask Silvia Stanciu, an English and Creative Writing major from Constanta, Romania. Although there are a few setbacks coming from a country nearly 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, Silvia has somehow managed to make it work. The big move to America invoked feelings of excitement and nervousness. "I was barely turning thirteen," said Stanciu, "so it was exhilarating to move to a place I could only see in television shows or in movies. I loved imagining myself skateboarding or hanging out in the California sun. I only realized how nervous I was after I got off the plane and couldn't go back on."

Stanciu recognized differences between her home in Southeastern Europe and New York almost immediately. "My hometown had about 400,000 inhabitants," she said, "which is certainly a fraction of New York's population. The distances from place to place were also smaller in comparison to New York. The thought of walking to the mall, for example, was not as far-fetched as it is here. I also felt safer, since the crime rate seemed infinitesimal compared to that of New York City."

American television is notorious for it's fast-talking characters, and it didn't go unnoticed by Silvia. "I was accustomed to the clear, Californian pace of the sitcoms I watched," she said, "but I certainly felt the difference when I moved to Queens. The variety of accents and speaking styles confused me at first, and it took a while to catch up to the city's rapid pace."

One huge difference she saw between Romania and New York is safety. While New York has a relatively low crime rate compared to the other 49 states, Silvia said she still feels unsafe. "I don't like the fact that so many areas are dangerous after a certain hour. I was used to spending time outside and roaming the city at night, but I can't feel completely safe in my neighborhood."

Stanciu also found a substantial difference in recreational activities. She said, "the roller coasters I can ride in America are far superior to those back home, but surely Romanians will catch up. Something that I can't really do for fun anymore is go to the beach, since I used to live two minutes from the shore. The beaches and the water were much cleaner and welcoming than the ones I encountered in New York."

As with any big move, Stanciu sometimes finds herself a little homesick but manages to keep in touch with relatives in a very modern way. "I do get homesick sometimes because all my grandparents live in Romania," she said, "but I can talk to them and see them through webcam. It's certainly harder to find the time, since the East Coast is seven hours ahead of Romania."

Although she's experienced a few mishaps, Silvia is determined to make a good living for herself here. "I had no clue that there is a difference between cookies, crackers or KFC biscuits," she explained. "My British English language class in Romania taught me to call them [cookies] biscuits. Silly episodes aside, I worked hard to get over the language barrier, lost most of my accent, and eventually figured out that I wanted to spend my college career studying the English language. Now, I'm on track to apply for Law School."


Romanian-born Silvia Stanciu makes the best of her experience in New York City. (Photo Courtesy of Silvia Stanciu)

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