Hannah Vișan left the UK for Romania in April 2017 with her husband and eldest two children. Their third was born in Romania after leaving the UK.
1) How did you feel on 24th June when you heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU?
It didn’t feel real. I couldn’t believe that people had actually voted to leave the EU and so many had fallen for the baseless lies shared by the UK Government and the UK media. I had had hope that people would see what being part of the EU had given to them and would continue to give over the years to come. The EU is such a positive thing. Unfortunately while many people did share my love for the EU, could see the benefits and could see past the xenophpbic lies being thrown around through all media channels, a greater amount did not and voted to leave the EU. It was a sad day all round and the end of life as we knew it.
2) What were the key driving factors that made you decide to leave the UK?
We had explored the idea of moving out of the UK but a few years down the line. The referendum result brought those plans forwards. Although always hostile, after the referendum the hostility towards Immigrants and EU nationals rocketed. The racists and xenophobes emboldened by the Government using discriminatory language became fearless when it came to expressing their views and to them, abusing people in the street for not being British became acceptable. This was not an environment that we wanted to live in or raise our UK-EU children in.
We had decisions to make. Stay in the UK where we were not happy and apply for my husband to stay in the UK or leave the UK for Romania where we knew we would be happy and build up years of residence on a residence permit for myself and my eldest daughter. The question came down to which country would we rather fight to stay in (if it came to that) and Romania came out as the way forwards for us. We are glad we made that decision and have absolutely no regrets.
3) How/why did you choose your current country of residence?
My husband is Romanian and his family are in Romania too. With the ties and connections to the country, it was the right choice for us. We wanted a quieter and more traditional life for ourselves and our children, living in the countryside. We knew we would be able to achieve a better quality of life in Romania and that was important to us.
4) Do you have citizenship for your current country? Do you still have EU citizenship? If no, are you hoping to obtain it?
No. I am hoping to apply for Romanian citizenship as soon as I am able. I will be eligible to apply in 2022. There is a lot of studying to be done before that point for the language and history tests!
5) Do you plan to return to the UK or hope to move to another country in the future?
I have no plans to return to the UK and to date, have not returned even for a visit. Romania truly feels like home. I don’t think we will move to another country in the future but if the children all moved to a different country when they are older and have families of their own, we may move to be with them. Who knows….
6) What was the most difficult aspect/greatest you challenge you faced in moving?
The language! This part was much harder than I thought it would be and not having the ability to hold a proper full conversation is more isolating than I expected. I think learning the language would have been easier if I was studying at a Romanian institution or working for a Romanian speaking company. With more exposure to the language, you learn quickly. I look after my children at home and work in English so the process of learning has been slower for me.
7) What do you miss most about the UK?
I don’t miss anything about the country itself. I don’t miss the atmosphere we left behind and the constant rushing at full speed 24-7.
However, I do miss my family, more so as time goes on. You feel a long way away when you only text or talk on the phone. It is hard not being able to be there for big events in their lives.
8) What do you love most about your current country of residence?
I would have to say the people, the nature and the food! Not once have I not felt welcome here. We have not been told to ‘go back to where we come from’. I do not worry about my children going to school and being picked on for having a non-Romanian parent.
9) Do you consider yourself to have a “European identity” and what that does that mean to you?
I have not known life without the EU. I consider myself to be a European or a person of the world. I did not choose to be British. British nationality was passed on to me by my parents.
I have travelled around Europe and have always felt like myself and my view of the world belongs there. Being able to travel freely to experience each country has always felt like a blessing. For me, being European embodies togetherness, kindness, openness and inclusivity – my core values.
I love the cultures, traditions, languages and individuality of each country but like how each country is connected by being in Europe and it made greater by all that it provides. Without Europe we would have much lower standards when it comes to many things including Human Rights, the environment and legal protections. I am proud to be a European!
10) Do you still consider yourself to have a “British identity” and how do you feel about it?
Apart from my Passport which says that I am British, I do not feel British. Having to identify myself as a British national leaves a bad taste in my mouth because all thoughts of the UK are tinged with the memories of how badly people are treated in the UK. I would take up Romanian nationality tomorrow if I could.
Additional Questions (relating to Corona Virus)
11) How has the Covid19 pandemic affected your life?
I feel like we have been very lucky in that we live out in the countryside and the pandemic has affected us very little. We have been able to stay at home and stay safe. The children have been able to play in the back garden and burn off their energy without any worries. We have thought often of the people in apartment blocks and flats who have been inside during the pandemic with little access to the outside. I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for them.
12) How do you feel about your country’s response to the Covid19 pandemic compared to the UK government & media?
To be honest, I can’t fault Romania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They acted early even though Romania’s case numbers were low. They shut the country down early. The schools closed in March and will return in September. They closed the borders. Flights in and out were suspended between many high risk countries. 14 day quarantines were introduced and they were enforced. I believe that this early action is what kept the case numbers smaller and along with that, the amount of lives lost to this virus.
It was a completely different response to that of the UK who kept everything open and running for as long as possible and are opening everything up much quicker and for what, money in the Government purse? To me, the price for that approach was a lot more lives were lost. Was it worth it UK Government?