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Damian Galvin – White Mountain Property
Can you please introduce yourself and share a bit about your background?
Damian Galvin, born in UK to Irish parents, started my career as a car mechanic, working up to automotive design and development engineer for Jaguar and Ford. Eventually I became the engineering design manager for Aston Martin, and later Finance manager at the same.
What motivated you to choose Romania as your expat destination?
I was coming from 2003 to 2007 for charity work (restoring care homes) and eventually fell in love with the country. So, I walked away from my well-paid 24 year career and UK life, to start again from scratch.
What surprised you most about life in Romania when you first arrived?
Surprised is not a word I would use, but noticed the closeness of Romanian people, families in particular. And the overall peacefulness of society.
Can you share a particular cultural aspect of Romania that fascinates you?
Yes, Romanians are very peaceful. I haven’t seen a single fight or sign of violence since 2007 to date in towns or cities. The occasional road rage, but never anything physical. It’s a very peaceful place.
How easy or difficult was it for you to learn the Romanian language?
It was (and is) very difficult for me. I’m not good with languages. After four technical degrees, I’m told by language teachers that my brain is hard-wired away from the skills needed to acquire languages.
Do you have a favorite Romanian dish?
Not so much, I’m mainly vegetarian.
What was your biggest challenge as an expat in Romania and how did you overcome it?
Building true, dependable friendships is hard to do. Unless you speak the language well, you don’t always get the humour in group social settings unless its in your own language. And the expat friendships you build are always transient, as the foreigners usually eventually move on.
Can you tell us about your experience with the healthcare system in Romania?
It’s mixed – good and bad. The specialisms don’t seem to exist here the way they do in the west. And the state healthcare system can be chaotic.
Can you describe a typical day in your life as an expat in Romania?
I work a lot, in real estate, so this involves dealing with all sorts of requests from finding a studio, flat, house, industrial space, to renovations to selling land, even offices and hotels. At night I take dance classes, or walks around the parks, meet friends for a drink when I can. On weekends, I try to get to the beach or mountains, or travel somewhere interesting by motorbike.
How has living in Romania influenced or changed you personally and/or professionally?
I don’t know how to measure it, but I’m still busy and enthusiastic after 16 years of living here, and I have a good team in my company.
What are some social or community activities you engage in as an expat?
I like to go dancing, spend nights out in town, occasional charity work with mentally ill, weekends away, etc.
How did you find your first home in Romania? Do you have any tips for house-hunting in this country?
I bought my fist home before I moved here. Based on that disastrous experience, I opened my own agency, which remains one of the highest review rated 16 years on.
Can you share a unique tradition or festival you’ve experienced in Romania?
Vama Veche beach parties on summer weekends, and May 1st each year.