Name: Doru Tudose
Occupation: DJ, Film maker, bar owner
Overseas since: 2001
Could you name some of the countries you’ve lived in since leaving the place where you grew up?
Holland, Hong Kong, Vietnam.
What’s your definition of ‘home’?
Well…after 13 years, there’s more than one. Home is where I can put my feet on the table without feeling rude.
How did you become an expat?
I didn’t! I’m still an immigrant. I was never imported so I moved to places without the locals approval. I’m more of a pest than an expat…
Have you discovered any new passions during your time as an expat?
Yeah, I developed a passion for drinking to forget what other “expats” talk about… And a few other vices but let’s just call them passions. As an expat, I got to develop some older hobbies and passions that I might not have developed if I didn’t leave home due mainly to some preconceptions.
Have you held any unusual jobs or titles over the years you’ve been abroad?
Except for the title of “white guy”? Not really. I’m an egoistic freelancer (my job does not require co-workers to call me names) and I tend to not learn the local language mainly to keep the holiday feel so if I had a title, I’m not aware of it.
How has being an expat changed your perception of your home country?
There’s a good reason why I left and those reasons did not change because we, as a nation, didn’t change. Otherwise, I’ve learned that what sucks there sucks everywhere and that something that is specifically Romanian, can’t be found nowhere else. I’ll never make friends like I have at home (in Romania). Fact!
Can you think of any particular moment, exchange or encounter that made you mentally or emotionally feel you’d left home “for good”?
No! While home is home in Vietnam as well, nothing will come close to the house I grew up in. I’m one of the lucky ones that never moved (while in my own country) and I can’t exclude the thought of someday going back.
Are there any ways in which your adopted country has changed your behavior or thinking significantly?
Oh man, how much space do we have? Yes. Dramatically but I don’t think permanently. The principles my mom and dad thought me will alway be there but daily action might be a bit different… And that’s not because they do it better or I gave up, but because when you live in another country, you must follow some rules that worked for those people for a long time. While I may not agree with some of the local ways, I accept that I have to conform to some things. Like you obey the law of the country you go to, you must also obey the often unwritten rules of the society. You can go back… when you go back.
Do you have a pet peeve about the country you currently live in?
I don’t hate (though I’m very vocal about stuff I dislike) but I could bitch about so many things there’s no point in starting. Regardless though, I don’t expect “them” (the vast majority) to listen to the 1 crazy dude in the square preaching doom’s day. Maybe I don’t “care” much cause somehow I still feel a Romanian. I “hate” Romanian behavior because I feel in the same boat but I can’t hate Vietnamese stuff because “that’s how they do it”.
What’s most surprising or useful insight you could offer a new expat in your adopted country?
Sit down, have a coffee and do nothing but observe. Before you judge or jump to conclusions, try to understand why that happened historically. Remember, when you say you know everything about a country, you know nothing!
What aspect of life as an expat is most challenging or worrisome for you?
Obviously being away from your family and “home” (friends, food, customs, habits, pets etc). There will be a few mornings when you wake up in tears because you were dreaming about your mom. I never worry otherwise. If it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen.
What, if anything, do the expats you’ve met have in common?
I don’t think it’s that simple but for the “old timers”, I guess they found solutions for the challenges we’ve discussed already. Some had business opportunities, some found love but most got the chance to reinvent themselves. Maybe follow dreams that seemed impossible in their own countries. Let’s face it, there’s no place like home until you find something “better”. For many that move in this part of the world is the exotic environment, the “insanity” of the place, the fact that there are so many “annoying” things but the society still functions. Maybe that’s why you can’t hate local habits. If you wanted the same shit as home, you should have stayed there…
Can you see yourself living in your adopted country indefinitely?
Yes and no. I can’t dismiss the idea because I don’t have a plan like I never had before. You’ll have to ask me in 10 years maybe…
If yes, what makes you stay?
Family (being married with a Vietnamese), business, the seemingly endless exotic holiday flavor (hence not learning the language to keep me out of the loop) and above many things, the weather! No joke!
If no, why not? Is there anywhere that you can see yourself settling down indefinitely?
I can’t say I’ll settle here forever cause people go crazy sometimes, life gets crazy…you never know. Why would I limit myself? Climate might change…