Iulia’s story is not a very usual one. Because usually people change their lives completely when something’s wrong. But her life was more than ok when she first came to Norway. She had a prosperous small business in Romania, for almost 10 years, a tailor workshop that was working very well. But in her first holiday in Norway she just fell in love with the country. Then she returned and, at her fourth visit, she had searched for her first job in here. Now she has her own tailor workshop where she is making traditional Norwegian “bunad”. And she just loves this country, the tastes, landscapes, people, the optimism, everything. It’s a warm, welcoming home.
Iulia Dima (48 years old) worked in a garment factory in Romania for 18 years. She started as a simple worker, for 9 years, then she became forewoman, for other 9. Then, she had opened her own tailor workshop, that was working more than well. She had a good life in Constanta, one of the biggest cities in Romania.
8 years ago, she visited Norway for the first time, on a holiday. And everything had changed from that moment. “I came in the northern Norway and I simply fell in love with silence and people’s smiles”, she says. And you should see her when she speaks about this. There’s a light all over her face, and a huge smile, and emotion, and real, pure happiness.
The birthday that changed her life
She returned twice and started making friends in here. And on her fourth visit, right on her birthday, something happened. Actually, did not “happen”, was just meant to be like this. She entered a fabrics store, without knowing everything that’s in there. She had spoken to a woman – who, she found out later, was the store’s chief – and told her that she would like to work as a seamstress in Norway.
The woman took her hand and drove her behind the store, to show her they had a tailor workshop there. “I told them I had two more weeks from my vacation, and that I would like to help them this time, for free. And she just asked me – Would you like to work for us, starting from January? And I said yes, I told her it was my birthday, we hugged and I returned in January for my first job. Without her I wouldn’t be in Norway right now, I’m so grateful to her”, she says.
From north to west, Mosjøen to Stavanger
When her contract was over, a friend’s sister, who was living close to Oslo, found on finn.no two jobs that were suitable for her. The first was in Oslo, at tarpaulins for boats, the other, in Sola, close to Stavanger, in a tailor workshop. Her ex-boss called at the second one, and told her to call in the afternoon. “We heard good things about you, we want you here”, that’s what she heard on the phone and was enough. She had bought her plane ticket and traveled 1.350 kilometers, to western Norway, an area where she had never been before.
“They came and picked me up from the airport, 4 years ago, I’ve met my colleague and they had loved me from the very first time”, she remembers, smiling. She didn’t know the language, she wasn’t even very good in English, but she loved her job, the country, and just wanted to learn. So they had sent her to a Norwegian language course, then to a bunad (the Norwegian traditional costume) course. Little by little, working with clients, she learnt Norwegian also.
Her own business, started from scratch
Two years after this moment, she had the courage to make a step forward. She found out that a space will be available in Amfi Madla Mall, someone told her “it’s for you”, a client spoke to mall’s chief and that was all. Two years ago, may 8, she had opened Julia’s Systue, her own tailor workshop, where she makes Norwegian bunad and many more.
Probably many people wouldn’t have had her courage. She had 3.000 kroner in her account when she signed the contract, and had to wait for her last salary to pay her first rent. Yet, she had signed a five-year contract, just being sure that things will work out. “I had never asked myself if things will work out, but I didn’t have a single month with loss, there wasn’t a single day without work”, she says.
She closed her workshop in Constanta one year after she had left, although she had an employee and it was still working. She had brought her sewing machines from Romania, 2 norwegian friends helped her with some furniture for the workshop. Now, two full, happy years after, she says she couldn’t have taken a better decision.
Iulia, Norway and the Norwegians. With love
8 years from her first arrival in Norway and 4 years after she has settled here definitively, Iulia is certainly a happy person. She just loves her job, the country, people she met here. She has friends of different nationalities, discovers Norway’s beauties, in still in love with people’s smile.
“I can’t tell you how satisfied I am, what good clients I have, how much they appreciate me and love me. One of my clients told me that I am as valuable as my weight in gold. I came to this country because I’ve loved it from the very first time. My accountant and his wife are my very close friends, they had been to Romania for my son’s wedding and want to come back again, they liked Romania a lot. I like good, simple people in here, the fact that you are not afraid to let your purse in the car, that you can not see a person who’s not smiling. It’s my home in here, I never faced any kind of racism, people told me it doesn’t matter where I come from, they just appreciate my work and appreciate me”, she says.
And she also loves the climate, summer nights, the ice cream that reminds her of her childhood, the Christmas raspberry juice. “Many people say that Norwegians are cold, but they are so warm, you know. I’m very happy in here”, she adds, smiling, and all you have to do is just look at her and listen to her to understand that she means every single word she says.
You can find out more about Iulia and her business on Julia’s Systue Facebook Page, HERE
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