1. Life in Transnistria is not all that bad
Balkans Danube Europe Ex-USSR Moldova Polska
Like youth everywhere, young people in Transnistria are depressed about little things but not as anxious as their peers in the West. The lack of information and the feeling of living in a bubble make it easier for them to survive. Despite what you might often read in western media, life in Transnistria is not all that bad.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the narrow strip of land between Ukraine and Moldova declared independence from Moldova. Transnistria is one of the famous de facto states not recognised by the international community, located in the post-Soviet space and trying to survive with a Soviet melting pot identity in a globalised world.
How does it feel to be young in Transnistria? Most of the youngsters in the country feel to be in a “transition” period between childhood and finding a job in Moscow. All Transnistrians are fluent in Russian, significantly less in English, and have diplomas from the “State” University in Tiraspol – which outside Transnistria is only recognised by the Russian Federation.
Of those young boys who stay, they usually take care of their families or try to find a job in the public administration, often after coming back from a short stint in Russia. The women are overall more educated and head West, to the European Union to find low skilled work in Central Europe or sometimes even further, as far as the United Kingdom. To do so, they use their “other passport” – most Transnistrians have a second passport from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia or Bulgaria.
Time is not money
It is difficult to capture the atmosphere in this para-state. If you have the opportunity to walk the streets of Tiraspol and to talk to young men, they will warmly invite you for a drink and pay with Transnistria roubles – a currency not recognised anywhere else in the world. Some people speak very good American-English because of all the American television-shows they watch or video games they play, which is the main activity for young men who have nothing to do during the long Transnistrian winters. After a few drinks, they invite you to spend more time in a Transnistria dacha, an unforgettable experience with a relaxing lifestyle – something that few of us in Europe can enjoy.
In Transnistria, time is not money, so it is important to enjoy the little things and not to worry much about the future. It might seem to be a paradox but Europeans and Russians are constantly worried about getting a diploma, finding a job in order to pay off student loans or how to afford an apartment, while most Transnistrian youngsters enjoy a more peaceful life. Some young men repair their houses outside the city, go fishing or drink homemade alcohol with their friends.
Many young women still dream of marrying a rich foreigner from America, the UK or, of course, France. The charming women, usually of Ukrainian, Moldovan or Russian descent, are quite successful at this game. You can meet them in the clubs around the city centre. Their style is not vulgar or cheap, and they are very careful not to rush into relationships and want to know more about the person before visiting them in the West.
Transnistrian women also want to keep in touch with their families and if they are ready to give up their lives in Transnistria, they want to make sure their western partner is prepared to return for holidays with their relatives as often as possible. Most Transnistrian women end up with Russian tourists, simply because Europeans and Americans are not able to speak Russian.
Young people in Transnistria are curious, open-minded, and usually good at geopolitics with a very specific focus on identity issues and state building. Contrary to what we imagine, they often describe themselves as European more than Russian and from time to time, the last Soviets of Europe.
- The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: eu