Ramona's story

From: Timisoara, Romania | Date moved to the UK: 2009 | Occupation: Recruitment consultant

London is a totally different culture from where I’m from – there are people from all over the place. I like it. And having lived here for a few years now, it seems that people are actually more civilised in the UK. They are more respectful.

When I first came over, I’d never been to the UK before, but I was confident about getting by. I had been a translator and interpreter back in Romania so I was already fluent. A friend was already living in London and she said she could help me find work.

I was lucky to get a job so quickly. I’ve been working in the same place for over four years and I love it. I’m really respected here. It’s a specialist recruitment company for the NHS. There are three other Romanians where I work and we are seen as hard-working and dependable, totally different to what the media portrays us as. It’s a nice atmosphere.

It’s a bit different when I go out though. I always avoid saying I’m from Romania. I just say I’m from Eastern Europe. In my personal opinion, it’s because there are a lot of gypsies. They are not like proper Romanians, but people think gypsies and Romanians are one of the same.

"I feel embarrassed to say where I’m from. I feel if I were to say straight away, people would make assumptions"

The media says so many bad things about Romanians but I have seen some positive stories too. There was a recent BBC news story about an owner of a really big business and he was saying he preferred to work with Romanians because they are hardworking and honest. I was just so happy to read that.

I do feel embarrassed to say where I’m from though. I feel like that if I were to say straight away where I’m from, people will make certain assumptions. Sometimes they say, ‘whereabouts in Eastern Europe?’ so I admit it eventually, but it’s hard.

Since the law changed in the January, I think it’s a good thing that more Romanians will come over. It will be a good time to demonstrate that we are a really honest country and we can change the image that people have of us, the image that was set up in the media.

The stories that the media puts out are just crazy. Why do people think Romanians come over just to get benefits? Why would you spend all your money moving to the UK just to get benefits which aren’t much anyway? If you make an effort to come over, it will be to get a job.

And it’s laughable that the media say that every single Romanian will come to the UK. Imagine very old people coming over! Why would they want to leave and uproot their lives to come to a country where public opinion is against them? It’s crazy to think that.

Having said that, I have so many Romanian friends in the UK who are working in good places and who are really respected by colleagues. So I think that the more people come over, the more we can change perceptions.