Vera's story

From: Brasov, Romania | Moved to the UK: October 2012 | Occupation: Interpreter | Qualifications: MA French Language and Interpreting

There were a lot of things I couldn’t do in Romania. There is so much corruption. I would never have had the life I wanted if I stayed there, which is why I came to London to start a better life for myself.

I never once thought about asking for benefits, so it’s frustrating when people think you come over to take state money. I read some of what’s written in the media and obviously it makes me quite upset and a bit offended. Some of them print so many lies. It’s saddening.

What the media said about the ‘invasion’ just wasn’t even true. They insisted that all the country would move to the UK. I know lots of Romanians who moved to England years ago, but I don’t know one Romanian who has come over since the restrictions were lifted in January.

"Before it didn’t matter that I’m Romanian, now it suddenly matters"

In general though, British people are quite nice, but sometimes when they realise I’m Romanian, they make a face. And I’ve noticed a slight change in people’s attitudes towards me since the media’s hate campaign. It’s hard to explain. I can’t say they are more aggressive, but whereas before it didn’t matter that much that I’m Romanian, now it suddenly matters. Before it was a problem with Polish people, now it’s a problem with Romanians.

But many Romanians are hardworking. I actually have two jobs. I have my own eyelash extension franchise and I’m a freelance interpreter for hospitals and courts across the UK. I also used to work at a pub although I recently quit. I was just too tired to do three jobs and the pay was very bad.

My mobile eyelash extension business is the same brand as Harrods uses, so a lot of my clients are A-list celebrities. On the whole, my clients have been quite nice to me. But the franchise owner told me once that one of her clients was complaining about foreign people and they said ‘I think those Romanians do awful work with eyelash extensions’ as if nationality determines how good you are at something. It was quite strange why someone would assume that.

I’ve seen things written on walls, too. I have a friend working in construction and he showed me where someone had written, “Romanians go home, you are scumbags.”

Even when I was at university in Switzerland some people wouldn’t even talk to me because I was Romanian. They think if you are Romanian you must also be a gypsy. But I’m Romanian and I’m educated. I can speak several languages: French, Spanish, English. And I want to learn Italian. I’m just a normal person.

People shouldn’t be so influenced by the media. So much of it is lies. It’s sad to me that the press write bad things about Romanians, as if we are all the same. The culture, the country, they write such bad things all the time.

But I know I’m hardworking and I’m actually proud to be Romanian. The press shouldn’t put anyone in the corner because of where they are from – it really isn’t fair.