Gladstone parkrun, Christmas 2015
Part Two of an interview with Eve and Cris Staicu by Catherine McCargo.
From Part One of this interview you may recall that Cris (having moved to London) wanted Eve to join him as soon as possible and, crucially, before the two year GCSE cycle began. By December 2013, the first term of the GCSE cycle was ending and Eve was still in Romania.
In January 2014 Eve visited her dad in London and, as she saw more of the city, it reminded her of why she liked it so much in the first place. When she returned to Romania she discovered that she had lost her enthusiasm for living there.
Growing up in Romania I always knew that I wanted to experience a new way of life, a change of scene. I wasn’t challenged enough at school. In secondary school and high school we were provided with a lot of information but we weren’t engaged. There was an emphasis on accumulating information, rather than analysing it, questioning it or forming your own opinions about it. We were provided with essays to memorise and, when we were given an essay to write, there was a very specific structure to follow but little room or encouragement to be creative.
Now she was ready for a change. In April 2014, after convincing her mother in Bucharest that moving to England was the best thing for her future, a 15 year old Eve got a one way ticket to London and started at Bales College, the same month, with a view to sitting 10 GCSEs in June 2015. Although she excelled at studying English in Romania, now every single communication outside of her home with Cris - whether written or verbal, academic or social - was in English. Although Eve knew the meaning of each individual word, the cumulative effect of processing (and responding to) a tidal wave of English words left her feeling mentally exhausted at the end of each day.
On top of that, having missed two school terms of British GCSE curriculum (from September 2013 to March 2014) she was now playing “catch up”. She sat her end-of-year exams in June 2014 and, unsurprisingly, did not do well. A year later, in spring 2015, the results were very different. Eve sat ten GCSEs and achieved 7 A*s, 2 As and 1 B. She then embarked on her A-levels, English, maths and economics.
CMCC: What sparked your interest in economics ?
The stock market crash in 2008 was definitely the trigger for me. From when I was 10 years old, everyone was talking about it, about inflation and how good things were before the crash. I remember asking “What does it mean? Is there any money left in the country?”
The answers Eve received did not satisfy her curiosity and so she wanted to understand the issues for herself.
Having said that, before I moved to England I had no intention of studying Economics. Initially I thought it would be boring as a degree and as a future career but the more I got into it the more I realised that the subject encompasses other interests of mine such as maths, philosophy and politics. Until about year 12 I always thought I’d study something arts related. At one time I wanted to be a painter, then an architect, then a novelist, then a filmmaker.
Eve, Gladstone parkrun 2014
I first heard about parkrun when I was playing tennis with my dad in Gladstone Park. We lived in Neasden at the time. I saw a poster beside the gate saying “Beginners welcome”. I’m not a runner and neither is my dad but we went along anyway. I’d never run 5K before and I hadn’t run hills. On 21 June 2014 Eve and her dad ran Gladstone parkrun for the first time.
CMCC: Did you enjoy it ?
No ! But I wanted to do some form of regular exercise and it was local. The first person we met was Dick Heath-Brown and he was nice and friendly.
Gladstone parkrun has been very welcoming from the outset. I’m positive I’ll keep in touch with loads of people like Charles and Sue Boucher, Dick and Buggsie, Jamie Galal.
Louis Smyth and his wife, Jane’s insights into the British education system were of enormous help for us, at a time when we were completely in the dark. Gladstone parkrun has helped us to connect with the local community. Definitely.
Eve’s PB is 33m27s. Cris (listed as Gabriel on the results sheet) has a PB of 27m02s and will celebrate his 150th run milestone in the next couple of weeks.
A-Level results day:
On Thursday 24 August 2017 Eve went to school to collect her results. She stood alone and opened the envelope. She needed one A* and two As to study economics at Durham, a World Top 30 university in Arts and Humanities. Maths was her strongest subject and she was not optimistic that she had done well enough to achieve an A* – never mind the other two subjects. As she read her results she experienced a mixture of shock, relief then happiness. Three A*s. The best grades possible. Not only that but she later found out that she had achieved the highest marks in her school in all three subjects.
When Eve was a 12 year old schoolgirl in Romania, her teacher asked the class “How many of you want to go to university abroad?” Three quarters of the pupils raised their hands. Since leaving Romania in 2014, Eve remained in contact with many of her friends and, as far as she knows, she is the only pupil from that class who is going to a university abroad.
CMCC: After all your hard work, how would you have felt if you had not achieved the grades to go to university?
I would have taken a year out, gone travelling and applied to university the next year.
CMCC: After all of your efforts over the years, how would you have felt if Eve had not achieved the grades to go to university?
The way I see it, whether she went to this university or the other, this year or the next would only have made the slightest of differences. I never had a rigid roadmap planned for her and therefore no great anxiety about this particular step. What’s really important is that Eve has already made the journey from that blissfully unaware nine year old girl learning French at school in Romania to the person she is today. Along the way she has become a good person, she developed the tools to motivate herself and cope with challenges.
Now she has valid options available and it feels good to see her taking positive personal decisions and appearing to be ready for the road ahead. She's already forging her own path and if the current signs are anything to go by, it could be a good path after all.
I don’t know exactly what I want to do for a living but I definitely don’t want to work in The City as an investment banker. I will try not to lose touch with my earlier interests; I am taking History of Art as my complementary module at Durham and perhaps even giving painting a go by joining the Arts Society. I feel really lucky to live in an era when art is so accessible.
During the summer I saw some of my favourite works of art by the Impressionists at Musee d’Orsay in Paris as well as many famous Dutch masters at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I think that moving to London has certainly helped me redefine my interests and opened my eyes to how much the world has to offer in terms of art and culture. By moving here I hoped to be more engaged and stimulated which I am glad to say has happened.
Eve at Musee d'Orsay, Paris, summer 2017
Eve’s last parkrun is on Saturday 30 September.
She then leaves London, for Durham University, on Sunday 1 October 2017.