• Sarah D. PANDIA

Moving from Romania to the Dominican Republic: My Reasons Why

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

"A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don't function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick." - Brené Brown

There's a whole chapter of 2020 I have yet to write about - and I truly hope to be able to share that soon. The most impactful chapters being that of my life during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the birth of my extremely premature baby boy. In the meantime however, let me jump straight into my 2021 undertakings!

If the article’s title isn't explicit or straight forward enough, and you hadn't already guessed on your own, well, that's right folks, my family and I have decided to relocate once again. And not just anywhere, but to the exotic Dominican Republic no less! For those of you who know or follow me, then you also know that I’ve lived in Romania since 2015 and that the continental weather and landscapes are far more exotic in comparison to my very own home island, because well, as a reminder, I was born in Haiti (geography lesson no. 1: Haiti and Dominican Republic share the same island), and I grew up there for the longest period of consecutive years during my childhood and teenage years. In other words, yes, for as long as I can remember and still today, the continent is pretty exotic to me, and it will continue to offer the things I most long for from the island.

So why the need to go back home, you may ask? First of all, "home" can’t ever be defined by one single place in my opinion (let’s not forget I’ve lived in 10 countries and call half of them my "home", I'm dead serious.) And although the grass is always greener on the other side, and we usually want what we can’t have, there comes a time in life where one must mature, make choices and commit. Certain people have a tendency to run away from responsibility, others from serious relationships. I, on the other hand, ran away from home, in a way. You see, growing up, the little home(s) I had to begin with, were never long-lasting, safe nor secure, so it wasn't hard detaching from, if anything escaping was a much safer bet. There is equally a fine line between "traveling" and "relocating" which in my case was very often blurred. I don't have a problem with traveling nor being addicted to it. I mean, if I'm a curious person who has a passion for discovering the world as well as herself alongside it, then so be it. That being said, I do have a problem with relocating and not having a stable home and lifestyle, even more so for my children. I don't know if there are true nomadic families out there who have no issue with not having a single home, and who's children haven't suffered from such an absence, I have yet to find out. For me though, providing a stable life for my children has become my priority.

If you've read my previous articles, Home Is Where The Heart Is and My Dilemma With Choosing A Home Country, you’ll discover more context to my identity and perhaps understand why I had to ultimately choose between Romania and the Dominican Republic and therefore, I won’t go into all the details now. Overall though, the third runner-up I chose to eliminate was France and that's because, despite the fact it was an in-the-middle kind of country (geographically and culturally speaking), I didn't identify enough with it's people's mentality as well as the fact that it was an industrialized country. These are strictly personal and subjective opinions based on my own experiences there, and my desires for the future I want to build.

So why did I choose to leave Romania? And why did I choose to move to the Dominican Republic?

Honestly, life in Romania was wonderful. In all, there was plenty to love about living there. The main cause is that the negative aspects of Romania became too heavy for me during the Covid-19 pandemic. To top it all off, I went through an awful premature birth experience with my second child, an event that has marked me for life. You’ll tell me that this is something that could’ve happened to anyone and especially anywhere, notably in the pandemic context. But I’ll have to disagree on that. You see, I personally believe that due to the way many people are still wired in Romania, my experience giving birth there was treated in a very inhumane manner. I believe that fear can truly cause people to behave in cruel and abusive ways. And I’m certain my experience there was far worse than a lot of other women living in other countries with different standards and mentalities, particularly because of Romania’s communist history, and the archaic way the public health system still operates. Like I said, I must find the strength in me to process and write this unbelievable story down, but until then, I want you to understand that this last traumatic life-and-death experience was the drop that spilled the glass. It was a three-and-a-half-month episode of my life that left me both in shock and disbelief of how low humanity can go if given the opportunity. Following such an ordeal, my only thought was “there is no way in hell I can stay here.” The pain and trauma endured were far too great a deal, and I couldn’t possibly imagine trusting health professionals there with my life, or my children’s lives ever again. It took me six full months to pick myself up, mentally “recover” (if one can ever recover from such things), get back on my feet and decide to leave the country.

This was a very difficult decision because consciously, I really had intended to establish myself in Romania long term. I originally had no intentions of moving again. I didn’t want to relocate my children and put them through drastic life changes, especially my eldest son of four who had already adapted to the language, preschool, family, and friends there… But I decided that in the end, my family would be much better off with a healthier and happier mother than an anxious and depressed one. Staying in Romania meant dealing with more of the “generalized psychosis”, as I’ve come to call it. And Romania had it bad, in my opinion. I had also been internally conflicted and unconsciously longing to go back “home” for a while anyway (hint my previous articles on the subject). Thus, I decided to do it sooner than later. It would be a challenging transition, but so worthwhile in the end, for my own sake, and for the sake of my husband and kids too in the long run. I didn’t want to wait anymore, now was the time, pandemic or not.

I practically forced my husband to agree with me on going back to the Dominican Republic. Of all the choices we had, this was, in his mind, the riskiest one to choose, especially from an economical point of view, and he was very skeptical. He did agree that things happened quite awfully in Romania, and that it was time for me to be closer to my family. We avoided going into detailed plans - instead, we very subjectively chose the place, had an idea of what we could do there and made it happen as quickly as we could, because deep down in my heart, I knew it was the place I wanted to go back to, the place that made sense to me, the place where in the worst-case scenario, I could understand people, and people could understand me. And that’s one of the keys here, the people. Over the years, I’ve learned that location isn’t so important, but it’s the people you can relate to who matter most.

For me, the people I can most relate to now are Dominican. Not French, not American, not Romanian, not Haitian, but Dominican. I’m culturally bound to all of these nations of course, but I mostly identify with Dominicans, because they are positive, ambitious, happy, friendly, welcoming, rhythmical, resilient, and accepting. It doesn’t mean all other people aren’t, nor that Dominicans are perfect, but they certainly predominantly reunite all the qualities I so dearly missed elsewhere. I know, it’s a very narrow and biased point of view, but the good thing is that it’s my point of view, because in the end, it’s what matters since it’s my life I’m altering, right?

It definitely helps that my sister and her family were also established in the Dominican Republic, and I really felt the urge to live by their side for a long time, and for our children to grow up together. I’ll admit that my sister was an important factor in the equation, too.

The quality of life in the Dominican Republic was next up on my list. Its abundant tropical landscapes and warm year-long weather, its rich food, its joyful music and vibrant colors. I love that there is music everywhere, and that people are always singing or dancing.

Another perk is that it’s very customary here to have help at home and boy, is this a game-changer! You can judge me all you want and if you feel the need, but having someone to rely on for cooking, cleaning and helping out with the kids, is just a total blessing of its own. Having two small children, it would’ve been impossible for me to consider going back to work at this stage without this support system.

The best thing is that we chose to move to a not-so-crowded town that happens to be in rapid development. The little town of Punta Cana is well-known for its tourism industry, which creates employment, enables development, attracts a residential community and therefore, is simply a great place to invest and do business as a whole. You meet people from all over the world, there’s a mix of vacation and every-day-living vibes, you can work here and go sip a coconut at the beach anytime, it’s laid back but also quite exclusive. And since the town is privately owned and well managed, it’s very safe, clean, organized and designed with good infrastructure. Life isn’t any easier than elsewhere, you still have to work your butt off to obtain results, but I feel best at home here, probably more than ever before.

In the end, I don’t regret my choice whatsoever. The feeling of belonging is primal and feeling at home all-the-more. I can’t put it in words or don’t fully understand why, but I can naturally relate to people here. There is a genuine sense of community where I live and I’m already feeling much better and had almost forgotten what it was really like to be completely happy, whole and at peace. My husband and children can feel the difference and are much more grounded and happier here, too. We’ve given each other permission to live out our dreams and that’s what we intend to do. My husband is finally giving into his life-long dream of sailing, I’m writing and entrepreneuring again, and the kids are embracing island life just like we were imagining they would, sandy toes and all!

Sarah The Digital GypSea

Dominican Republic, April 2021


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