New documentary explores the truth about Romanians in Britain

The Romanian community’s expansion in the UK transcends into a big voice. Csilla Kulcsar meets with two Romanian producers and discusses their upcoming documentary, ’13 Shades of Romanian’.

It is no longer unfamiliar to anyone that immigration in Britain has been a widely discussed topic. The national newspapers have been battered with negative headlines on immigrants and truth be told, Romanians have been a lot in the attention of the media.

Britain is known across the world as one of the countries that provide the strongest job market and opportunities for people from all cultural backgrounds. According to a study done by Migration Watch UK (March 2014) the net migration levels are five times higher than they used to be in the 1990s and 35% of the population believes that “immigration is one of three most important issue facing Britain”.

Also, 76% of the public opinion (by the same study) thinks “immigration has placed too much pressure on public services, such as health, transport and education”. It is understandable that the public opinion is concerned about their public services, however, the unnecessary false image built on immigrants is producing stir among Romanians.

Let’s take an example widely known to the United Kingdom.

Channel 4 has launched a few months ago a documentary called “The Romanians are coming”, which, in their own words is “a documentary series exploring the levels of Romanians trying to make a new life in Britain, and seeking out the truth behind the headlines about immigration”. As the documentary episodes’ unfolded, a narration upon the Romanian life described the poor conditions in which some communities live.

The Telegraph has stated:

“The argument made by the film was that the majority of Romanians come to Britain […] to escape lives of grinding poverty back home”.

Interestingly enough, this documentary triggered a debate about the Romanians in the UK and two of the biggest British newspapers – The Independent and The Telegraph – have given their review on the documentary and don’t agree either with the unapologetic views presented. The perspective that was created by “The Romanians are Coming” have offended most of the Romanians already established in the UK and some have even protested outside Channel 4’s headquarters.

While I was on a quest of finding answers for the stigma put on the Romanian immigrants, I’ve met two Romanians living in London whose project seeks to challenge the views of many people. Anda and Dragos Teglas are the producers of the upcoming crowd-funded documentary called “13 Shades of Romanian”.

The project came to life as an inspirational movement meant to change the perspective on the Romanians in Britain. In an interview with them, I managed to undo the woven threads of this project.

Interviewer: Csilla Kulcsar. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Interviewer: Csilla Kulcsar. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Dragos Teglas is the founder of the production house “This Is Insomnia”, where he acts as a Senior Editor, Post-Production Supervisor and Director and his unique style of editing along with his creative vision stand out in his visual work. On the other hand, his sister, Anda Teglas, has joined the company as Co-founder and Creative Director. With the aid of many years of experience in production and her bubbly personality, she oversees the creative aspects of the development, production and post-production stages.

Anda and Dragos Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Anda and Dragos Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

The Teglas brothers are not new to the media world. They have many years of experience across the film, advertising and entertainment platforms. As Romanians themselves, living and working in the UK, the immigration stigma has gotten to their ears and have decided to shift people’s perspective about Romanian immigrants.

“13 Shades of Romanian” is a project that aims to shed some light on the lives of Romanians in the UK. When the campaign had started, Anda and Dragos hoped their project would successfully echo overseas.

People from all around the globe contributed, and the goal of £12,000 has been effectively achieved.

The idea of creating this documentary had come from the premise that nobody has yet tapped into the positive side of the Romanian community. The two brothers have said:

“ We wanted to showcase a different side of the Romanian community living in the UK and to start with positive stories, stories that people haven’t had access to before.”

They have considered of doing a project of this kind previously and they knew they had to wait for a perfect moment to put everything in motion. Projects of such scale take time and funds, but more importantly, it needs to be driven by good stories and motivation. Dragos believes that our entire knowledge comes from stories; however, some stories are not particularly factual or conclusive. The levels of migrant communities have significantly increased in Britain and so did their negative illustration.

“I think that right now, we don’t have a great image; and not only Romanians suffer from that”, is what troubles Dragos’s mind and it was vital for this project to be put forward.

The launch of the documentary has a particular personal connection to Anda and Dragos. They want to capture the main essences of the stories that the documentary will present, so that “people will be able to understand a little bit better what a nation like Romanians are doing in Britain”.

Dragos Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Dragos Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Anda talks about the context into which “13 Shades of Romanian” was born and she has mentioned one important thing:

As I said, we have thought of creating such a documentary for a long while, but we haven’t taken action until The Romanians are Coming documentary. Even though it was born at the same time, it is not meant to be seen as a direct reaction to it.

What we’re trying to achieve is a more balanced view of the Romanian community; but it’s not meant to have any political affiliations or implications.”

 

Anda Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Anda Teglas. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Whilst trying to maintain an objective course and to convince the audience to see it as an independent film, “13 Shades of Romanian” still manages to raise questions. The title itself is a reflective conglomeration of words and many of those reading it are probably thinking it might be something related to the famous ’50 Shades of Gray’ movie. However, it’s not.

Number 13 is in many cultures a superstition, perceived as having negative connotations without solid grounds, which has lead me to believe that 13 stories within our documentary will be a good link” Anda explains.

13 Stories. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

13 Stories. Photo courtesy by Rita Santos

Furthermore, it’s all about marketing tactics. Anda wanted something that made people wonder and make them be interested. The two terms have been tied together in the hope that the wider audience will want to know more about this challenging project. And it is challenging, indeed; selecting the stories was not an easy task. Dragos considers that that was the most challenging part of their journey so far:

It is a hard job to select anything. I, myself, as an editor have to decide everyday from thousands of possibilities. It is not everyday that happens for someone to send you their personal story or to open up their heart and tell it.

It’s something quite special.”

Although hundreds of stories have been sent in, the documentary can only present 13 of them and they are going to be narrated by a British Journalist. The producers wanted someone passionate to be the documentary’s narrator; someone who could appeal to people and their choice had fit the requirements. Richard Green, a friend of theirs has been selected for this special task.

He’s very talented; he worked with The Sunday Times for over 15 years and now freelances with over national publications.”

Richard Green. Photo via This Is Insomnia

Richard Green. Photo via This Is Insomnia

As a travel journalist, Richard has travelled all around the world, and, surprisingly, never worked in Television.

He’s natural and knows how to get deep to the bottom of the problem when he speaks to somebody. We really wanted him”, Anda and Dragos have revealed.

The impact on the British audience might be very revealing and the creators of the idea are very optimistic:

People are much more open to see a positive and good story and we think we’re going to capture their souls.

As filmmakers, we hope that after they’ll see the film, they will say that their time wasn’t wasted.”

Immigration is a continuously widely discussed topic and through this project, the producers hope to bring transparency and straightforwardness towards the image of Romanians living in the United Kingdom.

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10 things I’ve learnt from being an international student in London

As it has been a few years since I moved to London, I have realised that being here has had a greater impact on me that I first expected.

The cultural diversity and social divergence in London is greater than I’ve ever experienced and understanding the different layers on which society works has been a metamorphic process in which I have rediscovered myself and learnt that challenges can become rewards.

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Moving out from my parents’ house has been indeed a cathartic way to discover more about my skills and accomplishments and  how to become an adult.

Is there a precise way of learning how to be an adult? No, there isn’t. But let me tell you this: You build your own strategies and tactics in life.

1.Be aware of your and other people’s needs. 

Being nice and polite is a must, but knowing when to say ‘no’ to things is vital. Understanding that everybody comes from a different cultural and social background is essential to buildings up new relationships.

2. Meals shouldn’t be just chips and take-outs.

Learning how to cook simple meals is indispensable. Your health for the following years will rely on this and there are endless, on-budget options.

3. Think outside the box, or even better, remove the box.

Don’t get follow stereotypes. People  come from very different social backgrounds and they might have other views that yours. Carefully choose your words or you might offend/ get offended by awkward situations if you don’t act with care.

Be considerate to others.

4. Create a budget but don’t forget to have fun.

As a new person to the hustle and bustle of  London, spending money on things you don’t really need may be very easy. Keep in mind what is your monthly expenditure and try not to go overboard when shopping. You might realise you’re penniless a week after your pay-check.

5. Find a part-time job.

It can be in an office, a cafe, a restaurant, walking dogs or baby-sitting. As long as it does not interfere with your studies, go for it.

If you are lucky enough, you can get a job in your desired field and as Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

6. Find time for your inner peace.

Being a student and having a part-time job can be quite stressful and joggling between work and studies can bring you to the edge sometimes.

Find the time to relax and enjoy the day. Go on a 10 minutes walk just to relax, read a book, listen to your favourite band, Skype with a friend. You’d be surprised to see how much this can help.

7. Don’t forget about your roots.

Living in London can be quite transforming.

It is very easy to get lost in the abundance of new things or habits coming from other people and it is natural to want to experiment.

But, bear in mind everything you’ve learned from your parents and make sure you leave a print on the world.

8. Stay connected with what’s happening at home.

Although exploring London can be fun and filled with new experiences, you can lose track of what’s happening at home quite easily.

Being caught in the routine of studying and working you’ll realise you haven’t checked the local news from your country or you have even forgotten about the new elections coming up.

It’s vital to remain on track with information from home or else, when you go back, you’ll find yourself confused by the amount of things you missed out on.

9. Move on with your life and build new relationships

I understand how important are for you the relationships you have with your friends from home.

But as soon you leave, they move on with their lives – they still care about you – but they keep the party going.

And you should do the same.

Another thing, “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” ( Albus Dumbledore), because you’ll end up being sad and lonely.

Get out there, meet new people and have fun!

10. Be yourself!

No matter what you do, you don’t have to live your life to please anyone.

Your decisions are yours and yours only.

No one can tell you what do and you shouldn’t be bothered by that.

It is true, you can be advised about doing certain things, but, never, ever let yourself driven by someone else’s passions.

Stay positive and learn to love yourself and people will start loving you.

Love,

Csilla

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Visit to Google campus

In a world where technology is slowly taking control over values, ethics and morals, there is a sparkle of hope from a major corporation that intents to connect the entire planet and make internet available to everybody.

Google is known worldwide.

Even from its launch in 1996, it has reformed the meaning of online surfing and the power the Internet has so that it became the leading corporation in Internet-related services and products. Not only that, but Google offers products that are accessible for everyone, such as Gmail, Google Books ,YouTube, etc.

One of the most attractive products that leads the market is YouTube, the video-sharing website that managed to bring together music from every corner of the world.

Being an LUIP Ambassador is more than just representing Middlesex University at a national level, but also enjoy some of the  bonuses  that come along ( as many of you already know!) and this time, I visited the Google Campus o  and admired the beauty of the campus, met two brilliant vloggers, Sanne Vliegenthart and Helen Anderson, and of course, had a chance to catch up with all the fellow ambassadors and mentors.

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The View from Google Garden

After exploring the beauty of Google Campus, it was time for some more serious things and we were led into a room where we were welcomed with goodies from YouTube, snacks and drinks, and of course, a masterclass about being innovative and expanding our shareability.

YouTube goodies

                    YouTube goodies

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Our mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

9 Notions for Innovation:

1 • Customer Need = Creative Inspiration
2 • Ideas come from everywhere
3 • Fail quickly and learn
4 • Allow ideas to morph
5 • Creativity loves constraint
6 • Share everything
7 • Data informs decision-making
8 • Users come first
9 • A license to pursue passions

Google’s intentions are all about connecting the people from every corner of the world and making the world a better place for everyone.

The greatness of their upcoming projects is so big, that even myself couldn’t believe some of the things that can be accomplished with enough money and power. However, in a world where competition is at stake, Google knows well its market and how to deliver the general public the required products.

 

On a different note, the discussion we had with our guest vloggers was more than inspiring. As a part-time blogger myself, I understand the necessity of filling the market in the required areas, but as they said, things can get easier if given enough time and energy.

If you are currently a blogger or you are thinking about becoming one, make sure you know your market, write with passion and just be brave enough to put yourself out there!

 

Love,

Csilla

 

LUIP Ambassadors and mentors, Google staff, Sanne Vliegenthart and Helen Anderson. Many thanks for Kim Duller for this awesome photo!

LUIP Ambassadors and mentors, Google staff, Sanne Vliegenthart and Helen Anderson.
Many thanks for Kim Duller for this awesome photo!

The magic behind the London Underground

Diving into history for a little bit, today is all about the London Underground: history, development, secret locations. As an Ambassador in London Universities International Partnership, I was given the brilliant opportunity to visit one of the closed – and secret to the public – tube stations, and, truth be told, the experience was breathtaking!

Going back at least a century and a half, the idea of creating underground transport in London was more than simply a dream, it was meant to tackle the problem of congestion in the main areas of the capital. Therefore, in the early 1830s a few plans of linking London to the railways came to life, but it was only in 1843 when the first underwater tunnel opened.  The first plans of creating bigger connections and better undeground transport took life in the early 1860s and towards the end of the 1800s, London’s facade was entirely revolutionised.

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1863: A contemporary lithograph of a steam locomotive on the Metropolitan line near Paddington StationPicture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The desire for extension was bigger and bigger every year and London had become in the late 1800s a city that took proud in its transportation system, mainly because of the low fares and due to the speed to which citizens could commute. For example a journey on the City and South London Railway (now part of the Northern Line), from Stockwell to the City, took just 18 minutes.

Tube Firsts

  • The journey of the first Tube train took place on 9 January 1863.
  • The first Tube line was built and financed by a private company, the Metropolitan Railway.
  • The Tube’s first escalator was installed at Earl’s Court in 1911, featuring a diagonal finish to the stairway, meaning the right  foot reached the top moments before the left.
  • In 1907 a spiral escalator opened at Holloway Road.

( The Independent)

"Underground"-branded Tube map from 1908 showing the newly opened tube lines in central London

“Underground”-branded Tube map from 1908 showing the newly opened tube lines in central London

The way the underground system in London has developped is impressive and it is one of the most effective in the entire world. Here’s a documentary about the history of the Tube and how it has become the greatest tool of London:

Now, as a LUIP Ambassador, I have to say that I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to visit one of the secret, closed off stations and have a short sight into history. Our guide, David Leboff, Principal Sponsor-Line Extensions has given us a beautiful tour of both the TFL House and the closed station. There are many rumors and books written about it, but none of them actually understand how mysterious it actually is. Filled with evidences of history, traces of events and bits and pieces of action, the station resembles of an old house with removed furniture. As you are walking in the tunnels, you can see how much it was put to use, to both transport and other secret missions and why it is vital that the general public doesn’t have acces to it.

I’d like to carry on the discussion about the station, but if I would disclose more graphic and geographical details about the it  how secret would it be?

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LUIP Ambassadors and Mentors at 55 Broadway, enjoying the view and the weather.

However, here’s some pictures I took, as a small taste of our experience! 20150124_145940

Fellow Ambassadors as we were explained further details on the line expansions

Fellow Ambassadors as we were explained further details on the line expansions

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Train Intervals at the Tfl House, as they were in the 1980s, and David Leboff explaining the signifiance of the panel

A little sneak-peak from the secret location: To the Train

A little sneak-peak from the secret location: To the Train

And right before I finish and say goodbye, another one to cover your curiosity, a classical:

Classic: WAY OUT

Classic: WAY OUT

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Always follow your dreams.