Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, 1902 (Photo via)
When I was little, I used to watch Sex and the City religiously. Which is probably why I was so desperate to move to Manhattan and write for some bullshit magazine. I didn't care what it was, as long as it was in America.
The years passed and I stopped caring about living the American Dream, but that's not necessarily the case for many of my compatriots. A load of people I know here in Romania would do anything to get to the land of hope and glory, but they've never had much luck in obtaining visas to travel there. Luckily for them, the EU has just given the US six months to lift visa requirements on Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Croatia.
But if Washington comply and make it easier for Romanians to fly to the States, is anyone going to care any more? Or is it the fact that it's currently a forbidden fruit that makes it so appealing? I had a walk around Bucharest and asked some people to find out.
VICE: Hi there. Do you think there's actually a change that the US will lift visa requirements for Romanians?
Yeah. A lot of Romanian doctors have already left for America, as have many 20 and 30-somethings. Romanians do pretty well abroad. For example, there was only one Orthodox church in Milan in 1989; now, there are over a hundred. Romanians managed to help a society that had lost its faith. The same goes for Spain.
So you don't think the Americans will reject us?
No, no. If you search online, you'll see that all sorts of European countries are taking in doctors, nurses and labourers from here. Countries like Belgium and Luxembourg – if they analyse you and you check out, anybody can go there. They also have a lot of Roma communities already, which makes it easy for them to assimilate.
Do you know anyone who's moved to the US?
Yes, my brother and nephew live there.
Are they doing well?
Yes, because you have to have ambition to survive there, to not be tied down. And they do.
Would you move to the US?
Hell no. I would go to Costa Rica – miles and miles of sandy beaches. Would you like me to read your horoscope?
By your birthday I can tell that you are a little bit Roma, by which I mean that if you curse someone it comes true. Also, your menstrual cycle is about five days a month, so nobody would hire you in the US, because you would be useless for five days.
Can you think of any reason why the US would want to lift restrictions on Romanians entering the country?
Guy on the left: I can't see a reason, but there must be something. We're probably better dishwashers at McDonald's or something.
True. Do you think many Romanians would be excited to work in America?
Guy on the right: Well, America is out of the economic crisis, so it has enormous potential. Even though they started the crisis, they were the first to get out of it. That gives opportunities to certain people there. But we're like a third world country – not like Iran, Iraq or Pakistan, but still the last place in Europe.
What about terrorism? Do you think you'd be more likely to be attacked in America?
Left: Terrorism was invented by the American government to scare the stupid people there.
Okay, so if there was no threat of terrorism, do you reckon a bunch of people would move there if they could?
Right: Certainly. Everyone wants globalisation – at least, that's what they say. In a thousand years, people will only speak English, Chinese and Arabic; there will be no more French, German or Romanian.
Interesting. Would you personally move to the US if you had the chance?
Left: No. There's this saying: "To be perfectly adapted to a sick system is not a sign of health." But I've really adapted to this place. And I like it here. As time goes by, it grows on you. Plus, I don't know any English. I can't even spell Colgate.
Do you think the Americans will waive visas for Romanians?
I don't know. I wouldn't go there, anyway – I'm too busy selling flower in Bucharest. I'm working; I don't have time to think about what will happen. I can't sit and wait for something to happen.
Wouldn't you like to sell your flowers to Hollywood stars?
Our local stars wouldn't bother buying flowers from me, so why would Brad or Angelina? Of course I would like to, but how can I get there?
Yeah, and isn't too dangerous to go there anyway because of terrorism?
I don't know – is Bin Laden still alive? I guess you can end up with a plane falling on your head anywhere – that's life.
The British were pretty worried about a Romanian invasion; do you think the Americans would worry that we'd come and take all their jobs?
I don't think anybody would hire a Romanian over an American. You think our people know how to speak American? They only understand some of it from movies.
Do you know anybody who lives there?
The gymnast Nadia Comaneci and a blonde singer from a pop music band.
Hi, would you move to the US?
Yes, it rocks there. We're already 90 percent under their influence, so why not drink from the source instead of having it filtered through 50 other nations? It's the same thing anyway.
What are you talking about?
First of all, think about everyday life. We drink Coca Cola, eat McDonald's and watch their sitcoms desperately. We speak "Romglish" and wear fake brand names.
Do you think they'll drop restrictions on Romanians working in the US?
Probably. They want to copy China and make a whole industry based on crappy labour so they can start exporting stuff – thousands of small, badly paid jobs. But they'd still be better than what you get here. So why wouldn't they do it?
Maybe they're afraid that we'd take their jobs.
We're talking about the lowest level of work. A normal American would never do those jobs.
Do you think it's dangerous to go there because of terrorism?
It is, but Romanians don't care as long they can earn some money.