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2.5 days, 1 minibus: One student’s momentous journey from Romania to the UK

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Thanks a family friend, Raluca Chitescu travelled to the UK with her good friend on a minibus for two and a half days. Today, the business administration graduate from Coventry University is working as a Customer Success Manager at Multiverse, an education tech company. Source: Raluca Chitescu

Most international students get to the UK by a flight or two. 

Raluca Chitescu, however, arrived at Coventry University on a minibus. Her unconventional trip from her home country Romania to the UK’s 2021 City of Culture took two and a half days.

Her cargo? “Everything,” she says — including over 20 kilograms worth of food.

“They couldn’t afford to pay for the plane tickets, so they helped me by getting a friend to bring me over in their minibus,” says Chitescu.

It goes to show how far her parents will go to satisfy her dream of studying abroad — one that started when she was 15. 

“I spent a whole weekend researching about the UK, US and a whole lot of other countries about what I needed to do to study abroad,” she recalls.

coventry university

Chitescu and a good friend from Romania travelled on the minibus to Coventry University, thanks to a family friend who knew a driver delivering food from Romania to the UK. Source: Raluca Chitescu

Dealing with imposter syndrome at Coventry University

Starting school in a new country can be daunting. Hence, it’s normal for students to experience imposter syndrome — which refers to the feeling of being a fraud.

For Chitescu, she felt that in her first week at Coventry University. As a Romanian who’s never been to the UK, she struggled to understand British slang.

“I’ve never heard ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ before,” she shares.

“I still remember I was in a room just saying yes and no, hoping that it matched the question they were asking me.”

That imposter feeling never faded even as the business administration student started to work as a cashier at Barclays, a famous bank in the country.

Chitescu got her job offer after moving out of Coventry University’s halls to stay off-campus (which meant she had valid proof of address).

“My accent was really terrible at that time, so it was hard for people to understand me,” she says.

“[I am] also in Coventry, which has a predominantly British population. It’s not like London, where you have a more multicultural community.”

Still, she pushed through. Chitescu showed up at her job, served customers, and talked to them about their finances.

“In Romania, I would have needed at least a master’s in banking to work in a bank,” she says.

“I never pictured that I would be able to work in a bank at 20 years old in a different country.”

coventry university

As a faculty representative, Chitescu (pictured second from the left) serves 9,000 business students to ensure they feel welcomed. Source: Raluca Chitescu

Taking her career and student life to new heights

Slowly, Chitescu settled into life in the UK. She learned British slang and met people from other countries.

At Barclays, she bonded with her colleagues by spending time outside work. “That genuinely helped me overcome my imposter syndrome,” she says.

“By having British people and other immigrants in my network, I realised that I do belong here.”

Counting her achievements helped build her confidence even more.

During her final year, she not only graduated but also got a promotion at Barclays and became a faculty representative — serving 9,000 business students to ensure they feel welcomed.

Today, she’s living and working in London as a Customer Success Manager at Multiverse, a education tech company that matches talented young individuals with apprenticeship opportunities.

More profound is the confidence she feels. She’s adapted to studying, living, and working in a foreign country all on her own.

Since acquiring her settled status, the Romanian has been able to live permanently in the UK.

What’s next?

“I don’t know exactly where I will end up long term,” says Chitescu.

“I’m debating whether to explore working in Belgium or moving to Canada. It all depends on where my job will take me at this stage.”