HOME: It’s the people, not the place

Alex Dascalu spent his summers at his grandparents helping them feed chickens, plant vegetables and pick mushrooms with his grandfather. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Alex Dascalu is a fourth-year journalism and communications student at St. Thomas University from Romania. He enjoys photography, traveling and meeting new people.

When I think of home, I think of Romania and Canada.

I’m from Piatra Neamț, Romania but I moved to Canada in 2010. 

Piatra Neamț, also known as the Pearl of Moldavia, is known for its beautiful buildings and surrounding landscape. In the middle of the city, if you drive up high, there’s a mountain where you can see every part of the city. If you look down, you can see my favourite view of the Bistrița River.

The city never sleeps. When I went back to visit two years ago, I went shopping for clothes and shoes, ate some KFC at the food court and saw a movie at one of the three two-story-tall malls in the city. Other days, I would visit the archaeology museum. But when the sun set, the clubs called my name.

I love Piatra Neamț because of its history. It’s one the oldest cities in Romania, dating back to the 14th century.

Alex Dascalu says home is not where you live, but where your friends and family are. (Alex Dascalu/AQ)

Stephen’s Tower, built in 1499 is one of its historical monuments and was built to serve as a bell and observation tower. Another historical building, Nativity of St. John the Baptist Church, was built between 1497 and 1498 as a royal residence.

Today, the tower and the church are tourist attractions and sometimes the city makes a skating rink around the buildings. I have fond memories of going to concerts at the Curtea Domnească and watching famous Romanian singers. 

Piatra Neamț wasn’t the only home I had in Romania. I spent winter in the city but lived at my grandparents’ country house in Faurei during the summer.

Faurei is the type of town where houses are passed down from generation to generation. My grandparents’ house has been in the family for about 100 years.

My family would visit in the summer for a barbecue, drink too much and sleep whenever they could.

I’d spend the summers playing outside with the other village kids and helping my grandparents around the yard by feeding the chickens and planting potatoes, carrots and onions. Around 5 p.m., I’d wait by the fountain to watch the neighbour’s cows come home from the mountains where they ate grass all day. But what I miss the most is going to pick wild mushrooms with my grandfather.

When I was 10, I remember waking up around 5 a.m to the rooster crowing. My grandfather and I would walk for what felt like forever into the woods where my grandfather knew he could find the best mushrooms. I’d wander away and lose my grandfather in the woods. I’d yell his name as loud as I could and he’d yell back. The game of Marco Polo always helped me to find the right direction.

But Canada’s also my home.

I’ve lived here for almost a decade. I’ve met so many people who have accepted me as their friend and welcomed me into their family. I came to this country not knowing the language or anyone. Now I’m in my final year of university!

Although Romania and Canada come to mind when I think of home, ultimately home is where your friends and family are.

About four years ago, when I used to work at a grocery store, I met David Berry, who I also know Old Man. He’s the type of person who likes to meet international people and talk. Every Friday for the past four years, David and I go for a coffee and get something to eat at Tim Hortons. He’s introduced me to his family and invites me to family events. Through him, I’ve met people from all over the world, from Italy, India, Egypt and more. People like David made me realize home is not where you live, it’s where your friends and family are.

If you’d ask me 10 years ago if I regretted moving to Canada, I would’ve said yes.

If you ask me today, I’ll say no.

It’s not the place that makes your home, it’s the people.

HOME is a bi-weekly column where people from different countries can express what home means to them. If you would like to write for this column, please send an email to features@theaq.net.