Degeaba eu am aici de toate

If you ever decide that writing is for you, one of your passions, and you want to do it on a website and turn it into a job and make lots of money doing it, do not follow my example!

But if you write because you have to, because it is in your heart, then strange and wonderful things can happen. I began this little jimmy of a blog in an ordinary way, telling stories about my adventures here in Romania, tales that foreigners like because this is a strange and quirky country and it’s fun to read about another person’s impressions.

But along the way something interested happened, something that I never expected. I mostly wrote (and still write) in English and so I never thought a lot of Romanians would read these tales. But they did. And most of those Romanians were not here in this country with me but outside, somewhere abroad, somewhere in strainatatea, what we call the diaspora when we use our fancy Greek words.

And to my complete and utter surprise, I found myself giving them a gift, telling stories of their country, bringing them a little piece of home to comfort them on their long journeys so far away from where they grew up. My heart breaks every day thinking about them (you?), who are strangers in a strange land because the only good chance at a better life was to be found somewhere else.

Over the years I have discovered a number of songs in Romanian written for those in the diaspora, telling their stories of separation and being homesick for their native land. Despite what many might think, they are not all in the manele style, although of course most singers in the Romanian language are of this tradition.

Today’s song is by Nicolae Guta, a beautiful and moving piece, somewhat poorly acted out in the video but the heartbreak is expressed beautifully in the singing:

If the above video gets taken down (in the future), you can find it on YouTube here.

Lyrics are translated entirely by me. Each verse is repeated twice and the “chorus” is repeated four times at the end.

Romanian Literal English Regular English
Am plecat si eu din tara I left also I from the country I too have left my country
cu gandul ca in viitor with the thought that in future with the thought that in the future
am sa fac bani multi afara I have with what to make money much outside I could make a lot of money working abroad
intr-un timp mult mai usor in a time a lot more easy somewhat easily
Strainatate, strainatate Foreign land, foreign land But living overseas
degeaba eu am aici de toate useless have I here of all everything I have here is in vain
of cat sufar Dumnezeu ma stie oof how much I suffer God me he knows only God knows how much I suffer
si n-am nici o bucurie and no I have not a happiness and nothing here brings me joy
Sunt plecat de aproape un an I am departed of close to a year I left about a year ago
am venit sa strang un ban I came to save a coin so I could save up a little money
nu-i asa cum credeam eu it is not how me I thought but it’s not how I thought it would be
banii se castiga greu money is earned difficult and it’s hard to make money

But it’s not just because I personally find this song moving that I went through the trouble of coding an HTML table and translating the lyrics. I also wanted to share the comments left on this video on YouTube by ordinary people.

For the original text in Romanian, you can see them on the YouTube page. All the translations are mine, which are a provided here because some of them are not written in “school style” correct Romanian.

From “Adrian Bojan”:

I’ve spent yet another year living amongst foreigners. Yet another Christmas has passed by, yet one more year. I miss everyone so bad I can’t stand it. If I could, I’d return home tomorrow. But what the hell can I do? I’m incredibly homesick. I wish health and good luck to all Romanians who live in every corner of the planet!

From “giovani luca”:

I left for North America four years ago. I wish I could be closer to my home but so it goes. I worked like a hero at the beginning. I believe that the word SLAVE barely begins to cover what I’ve gone through as an immigrant. I managed to make a life here but like Cousin Guta says, “Everything I have here is in vain”.

From “andy001ro”:

That’s how it is, brother. Nobody in Romania knows how hard it is to live abroad. I’d give anything to be able to return but unfortunately it’s not that easy. Every time you remember your country, your family, your friends or listen to a song like this, you feel really bad. I don’t have the words to explain it! I wish health and good luck to all Romanians in this world and I hope that one day we can all return home.

From “Cristina Baciu”:

I’ve been in Greece for five years, time that I’ll never get back and I just can’t take it anymore. I want to be with my family. Romania, just how it is, is my country. People there aren’t racist and you can live your life how you want to there!! Everybody here looks down on you because you’re in their country. Excuse my language but I’m just here in your fucking country so that my folks back home can eat.

From “byla12”:

Brother, I was quite poor as a child. When I was 16 I went to Spain to work. I understand you very well and you expressed yourself very well. You mustn’t forget where you came from, that which 90% forget. I left my country on foot. I didn’t have a rose-colored life and only those who live abroad truly understand what it means to be in a foreign land.

From “badulicionutz”:

I’ve been in Italy for 15 years. Now I am 20 years old. Starting when I was 15 I began to work in construction and even now I do this work but you know what? I’d give anything to be able to return to Romania and stay there. I’d give anything to be that boy that I was five years ago but I really don’t think this could ever be possible. I am sick of this life.

And dozens and dozens of more comments in this vein.

People often ask me why exactly I give a f*ck about this country beyond providing for my own comfort and I hope this explains why – I want all of these people to be able to return if they want to.

That millions of people are forced to live in a diaspora because Romania is plagued by greed, corruption and criminally mismanaged governance is a tragedy that truly breaks my heart.

10 thoughts on “Degeaba eu am aici de toate

  1. Mihaela, just a GREAT link… Anyway, compared to Italians emigrating to USA 100 yrs ago and so on, Romanians emigrated to Italy starting 10 yrs ago with great/healthy/natural food(even if somehow fatty-on demand) or, anyway, greater than Italian food maybe (that’s debatable, but 95% of all Italian food is just junk food like pasta, pizza…etc ;) ). Instead, Romanians went to Italy with even less organization, meaning with more chaos than even ITALIANS :))… Of course, I am not referring here to romanian criminals, who are too many right now in Italy, unfortunately, that even Romanians fear them (compared to Romania, which is a peacefull heaven right now, after ro criminals went to It, Es, Fr…etc), but to normal, plain and hard-working Romanians. Probably that’s maybe just why the Italians can’t stand us… Because we surpassed them even at this, at chaos and food :D Not to mention that, even if a Romanian is almost illiterate, he/she will understand Italian/Spanish language. On the other hand, Italians (in their superficiality, ignorance, stupidity and lack of consideration for anything) can’t even understand Romanian, not to mention speak it, as they can NOT understand/speak any other language in this world… ;)


  2. Everyone does what they think is best for themselves or for their families. They want a bright future, full of wealth and money, yet they don’t realise what they are losing…Nowadays almost everything can be bought, except memories. How will the money you’ve earned so hard soothe your pain when you return home and your child doesn’t even look you in the eyes, or worse…he doesn’t even acknowledge you as his parent. Was it all worth it in the end, I wonder?
    I would have liked if you chose another song for your article, since i don’t fancy this genre of music…but if you found it suitable…who am I to judge…


  3. I’m not going to ever criticize people who leave this country and make their life abroad. But I’m not going to admire them, either. That being said, I don’t know why we should make out of this such a drama. Since the beginning of the humankind, people moved around looking for better places to inhabit. It’s simply a natural occurrence and I don’t think I should cry a river in the case of those poor retired British people who decided to leave their country and come to live in France. People have their own reasons to immigrate and each person has its own unique story. Everyone makes its own decision based on the opportunities and possibilities it has therefore, in my opinion, it’s slightly ridiculous to make out of this yet another case of complaining and pointing the finger. We must make the best of what we have and, frankly, I kinda got enough of lamentations or excuses. Nicolae Guta doesn’t impress me nor did he ever. Maybe when/if he sings something about working hard (with examples, if he doesn’t mind), I’ll consider getting impressed by Mr. Guta, not before.


  4. Mi-as dori sa inteleg prin ce mecanisme ascunse poate cantecul lui Guta sa impresioneze un bookish guy like you, a carui IQ si emotional intelligence este clar mai mare decat a multora (inclusiv a mea) – asa incat sa-l numesti hearbreaking. Da, stiu, gustibus non discutandum. Totusi, nu este decat o alta manea cu lamentatii usor bollywoodiene care pe mine ma face sa rad desi si eu stau in “strainatate”, am copii de crescut, parinti batrani si bolnavi lasati prin tara etc. Guta nu face decat sa speculeze, la modul jalnic, sentimentalismul multora dintre romani si sa faca bani din el. Da, sunt de acord cu cei care ti-au scris, nu este simplu sa traiesti departe de tara, dar nici atat de complicat incat sa ne plangem soarta. Este o experienta unica din care fiecare are ceva de invatat, care in mod normal ar trebuie sa ne dea slefuiasca mintile si sa ne intareasca caracterele. Uita-te la tine, esti plecat de atata timp de-acasa si cu toate astea nu te plangi de dorul de tara, ba din contra ai facut niste eforturi laudabile de a te integra in societatea noastra si mai mult de atat chiar faci o diferenta cu prezenta ta in tara. Pentru mine esti un exemplu. Mi-as dori ca toti compatriotii mei sa aiba taria de caracter, demnitatea, curajul si dorinta de a se face remarcati acolo unde traiesc si muncesc asa cum o faci tu. Dar mai mult de atat mi-as dori ca atunci cand se vor intoarce in tara sa aduca cu ei nu doar bani ci si idei pt a schimba ceva.

    (Posturile in care ne critici sunt mult mai bune decat cele in care ne compatimesti.)


  5. The article touched my heart, Thank you! And the video in the comments about Italians brought tears in my eyes. It was somehow also about us, Romanians losing family traditions not in America, but here, in the country.
    Also, it was very interesting to see the two English translations.


  6. Other European nations went through this in their evolution. Portuguese went to do the low jobs in France, Poles in UK, Serbians and Croats and Turks in Germany and so on. It is a stage when the mirage of a fast earning is making victims. Romanians should pay more effort in education, to work hard to advance on the value chain and to not go only for unqualified jobs. It is sad, I feed very sad for the people who needed to work outside the country. Bun instead of lamenting we need to work harder and smarter. I can tell you that I needed several categories of workers and what I got was a poor quality job but priced quite high. Not to mention the “fitze” in traffic done by the “capsunarii” with their second hand BMWs, Audis and so on. Sorry brothers but in order to advance, to improve our lives we have to recognize what is bad in us. And to work first on ourselves not just to blame the corrupted those in power. Because those in power are not aliens, not foreigners but they are Romanians just like you.


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