Cristina Florea is 23 years old and was born in Brașov but graduated highschool in Sfântu Gheorghe, Covasna. She is currently located in Bonn (Germany) after living for some time in Zagreb (Croatia). Her current position and working place: National Talent Management Director at AIESEC Germany.
Dan: Why Germany? What brought you here?
Cris: I always had some sort of attraction for Germany. Their history, culture and language are truly inspiring. I studied German language for almost 11 years in Romania, however after finishing high school I realized that I was barely able to make any conversation or follow any discussion in German. So my decision to move to Germany – apart from working there for one year – came also as a wish to practice my German speaking skills and deal with their cultural differences.
Dan: How do you feel in Germany?
Cris: I feel like home here, I really love this country! The people seem cold and distant at the beginning, but they start to be friendly as soon as they get to know you. In some federal states, you can ask for directions or order food in English from a translated menu, however in some other regions (especially in Bavaria, southern part of Germany), people are a bit more arrogant and they expect you to ask everything in German. There are a lot of preconceptions about Romania or Romanians (gypsies, vampires etc), but I personally stopped getting offended and I tend to ignore rude comments. I am not a gypsy, nor a vampire and I don’t steal, why should I get offended by something that I don’t identify myself with?!
At my working place, I work directly with 8 Germans and 2 other foreigners. I also coordinate virtually a team of 5 Germans. I often get the feedback that I’m too German, because I’m never late, I’m always very structured and organized. I believe these are not standard characteristics of Germans, its rather a working culture and professional behavior that I like. I enjoy very much working with Germans, as their reliability and professionalism is always motivating me to do my best. They have as well their random moments (especially when a beer or two are involved), but besides that everyone is focused and efficient.
If you’ll have the chance to visit Germany, my main recommendations would be you to Oktoberfest in Munich, The Cathedral from Cologne, or the Christmas market from Dresden.
Dan: What’s your biggest professional achievement?
Cris: Definitely being able to live abroad in the past 2 years due to my work experience. Before joining AIESEC I was not able to travel abroad, and even if I would have had the money to do so, I simply didn’t had any reason to leave from Romania. Now, after seeing more than 10 countries from Europe, working with foreigners and taking ownership for international and global projects, the world seems like a perfect playground for self development.
I am 23, I didn’t graduated any BA yet, but I’m already dealing with strategic decisions and business models that are influencing 47 local offices and over 2500 student volunteers across Germany. I am leading a truly global organization, enhancing students and young people from Germany and other countries to be purpose driven, to challenge themselves by taking leadership positions, by participating in internships abroad, to learn through practical experiences and in the end, to strive to make the world a better place through their own positive contribution.
Being abroad brought me in the point of understanding that a perfect academic background means nothing, if you have no idea how to deal with other people, how to go beyond cultural differences or linguistic barriers, or what is your real passion and personal calling. My professional learnings are not build so much on degrees and qualifications, but rather on actual experiences, moments of self-discovery and life lessons. I know this is pretty controversial, but I think everybody needs to decide how they want to lead themselves and what kind of legacy they want to build.
Dan: Are you planning to return in Romania?
Cris: Not very soon… I was always very passionate about education and related to that, the educational system is not an issue only in Romania, but rather a global issue. There needs to be a dramatic change in the current approach, as more and more young people are finishing studies and they are completely immature and unprepared to face the current societal challenges. Ideas like competency building or self learning platforms need to brought also in Romania, as the educational system here is simply too old. However, I would rather consider staying abroad and building my expertize in more open minded cultures.
My note: I am very proud to say that I was one of Cristina’s teachers during highschool and that I insisted on her getting involved with AIESEC. I am very happy for her that she did.