I didn’t want to be a nurse

I never dreamed I would become a nurse. I think God pushed me in this direction.


One day many years ago, I was on my way to register at the University in my home country of Romania. I was unsure if I would receive a place, so I thought about what I could have as a backup plan. As I walked along thinking about my future, a guy crossed the road to greet me, and gave me a brochure, promoting courses for nurses, pharmacy assistants and masseur technicians. This was an option I hadn’t thought about, but it was attractive to me, so after some thought, I decided to apply for the massage course.


But when I went to visit the school that organises the courses, things took an interesting turn. The registrar told me that they didn’t have enough students for the course, and the class will not be formed. She proposed that I register for the nursing class instead. To be admitted to the class, I had to pass an exam, so they gave me a very thick book to read.


In the end, I passed the exam, and so I was admitted to Nursing School as well as offered a place at University. I spent the next three years working very hard. I took on both full-time courses, which meant double the coursework as well a very heavy examination period for each one, plus the final exams in the same summer. In the second year, I also took a part-time job in a call centre to cover my living expenses.


In the 3rd year, the pressure got to be too much, and I very nearly quit my nursing course. The workload was immense and I felt so overwhelmed. But I really didn’t want to quit. I told myself, ‘it’s only one more year to go – you’ve already paid two years, and you don’t want to lose your money. You never know when you will need this course, so just finish it!’


In 2008 I finished my nursing degree. However, I couldn’t afford to practice because the nursing salary in Romania wasn’t enough to pay my rent in Bucharest plus my bills and food. So I decided to go on to take a Master’s degree in Marketing while also doing my full-time job. That was another long and very full two years!


Then came the big turning point for my future in 2011. I had a week between the end of one job and the start of another. I wasn’t sure what to do next, because my salary was only just about covering my living expenses with nothing to spare. I weighed my alternatives. I could follow my mother and younger sister and go to Spain. My mother had work looking after an elderly lady, and my sister was working in a fruit warehouse. But, I thought, you don’t need a university degree to do that sort of work. I thought about going to Italy, as I can speak Italian well, but it would still be uncertified work.


Then I saw an online advert for a nursing role in the UK. I decided to go for it, even though my English was very basic at that point.