Back in Maramureș

I’m writing a couple of words to my English-speaking friends & followers…

As some of you probably know, I left Strasbourg in France and I returned to live and work in my home country, in Baia Mare, Maramureș County, Romania. The reasons are complex and I will not discuss them here.

It is not my first time in Baia Mare, as I lived and worked here about 2,5 years ago. The city is the largest in northern Romania and is situated in the northwestern corner of the country and in the northern part of Transylvania. It has a population of around 124.000 people and was first mentioned in history in 1328 as Rivulus Dominarum, although the area was mined for silver and gold since the Dacian times. Nowadays, the city and the area is a mosaic of cultures and languages, the Maramures County being one of the first areas of Romania to open to the West, its geography near the border with Hungary helping the numerous exchanges. The county, especially the isolated northern and eastern areas – is also regarded as one of the cores of Romanian identity; it is also one of the richest places in the country, despite the official statistics, as the land is heavily forested and the smuggling is the norm. A certain taste for independence and minding one’s own business is dear to the folks’ heart in this area; the individualism is probably the highest in the country.

The photos of this article are taken from the window of my office in the Emergency County Hospital of Baia Mare, where I work as a psychiatrist in the ambulatory. This means I see patients in consultation and I also do liaison psychiatry – that is, doing assessment throughout the hospital, in the other departments, including the Emergency Room. It’s a multidisciplinary work combined with assessments on the spot; there are no beds of psychiatry in the hospital. In the photos you can see the Gutâi Mountains – sleeping volcanoes – and one of the most beautiful sights available.

Personally, it is the first time I work in a state hospital in Romania. I worked in France in the public service but never at home. This has some advantages but also setbacks. The main advantage is the relative stable influx of patients that somehow guarantees a predictable life. Because I had to pass a very difficult exam for this position, I am on a fixed position, paid directly by the Ministry of Health. The downside, however, is linked to exactly the same thing: a loss in my freedom, being constantly under careful scrutiny.

On a deeper level, my life is rather bitter-sweet. I dreamt to live abroad, to teach the others and to follow my passions. And I ended up here. Although I can now be with the persons I care about and in my own country, there will always be a sense of nostalgia regarding what could have been… And in my mind there is still that haunting question:

Is this all there is…?

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