Thin line between love & hate (Part 1).

I’ve meant to do this series for a while, but I’m glad that I waited until now. I’m not fully “there” yet, but I now feel comfortable enough to write.

As I’ve said countless times, living as an expatriate is a mix of the good, bad & ugly. I’ve been back in the U.S. for over 5 months now, and I’ve had many moments of clarity. A few of those moments entailed mental lists of things I love & hate about the United Kingdom from my experiences living there. Since the country (and its people) basically did a number on my life as I knew it, and it’ll take me a long time to recover, I’ll start with the things I hate about the country. As with any of my lists, they aren’t exhaustive; this is due to concerns about my privacy, possible future developments, and my hate can only last but so long. :-|

Please note: if you’re from there and easily offended, don’t bother reading further than this. The following points will be raw & bitter. These points are my truth, as well as the truth of a few others who’ve had a similar experience to mine. I’ll say what I have to say, and that’s it; if you don’t like it, walk away now. I don’t battle trolls or keyboard gangsters.

1. Dark parts of its history – currently, Britain has invaded all but 22 countries on this planet. All but 22. If you don’t understand how much that is, I’ll make it simple for you: that’s almost 90% of the planet… that means if there were only 10 countries on this planet, Britain would’ve invaded 9 of ‘em. That means Britain gave zero fucks about anyone or anything but itself & its interests. And because of my experience, I learned that Britain is still very much a shady, conniving, low-down country not only on a macro level, but also on a micro level toward people. Its populace inherited the country’s conquering & brutalizing spirit, as shown by the way that they treat people who don’t fit their agendas, whether the affected people know it or not.

2. Sweeping things under the rug – Britain (and some of the United Kingdom’s inhabitants) likes fancying itself as a diverse utopia. While the United States and the United Kingdom have somewhat different stories in terms of slavery & immigration, one thing that’s similar about both countries is their love of sweeping things under the rug – making believe that things did or didn’t happen or, when admitting fault, downplaying it as much as possible. It’s as if they say

There, there now. Fair enough, we conquered & destroyed & disemboweled & killed & pillaged & raped millions of people… but that’s all in the past! No need to bring it up again. Come on, let’s have a cup of tea (United Kingdom)/grab a beer (United States) and forget all about it.

Until Britain (and any other major conquering country) fully acknowledges its part in fucking up most of the planet in some way or another, it’ll not only continue affecting other countries in a negative way, it’ll also continue shattering the lives of people who live there. I mention the lives of people living there because the same characteristics that Britain used/uses to destroy countries got passed down to its populace and they, in turn, affect each life and later make believe that nothing ever happened. Whether they like it or not, some of us may forgive but never forget.

3. Rude people – I’m sure I’ve written about this before (here & here & here). The people are some of the rudest I’ve ever met in my lifetime. Do you have a question or need help with something? You’ll be lucky if anyone hears you and/or gives a straight answer. Are you used to saying “good morning/afternoon/evening” to people around you, no matter who they are? Don’t bother doing that because it’s as if courteous people are aliens from another planet. Do you need to sit down because of an injury, ailment, illness, pregnancy or being elderly? Don’t expect anyone, especially the men, to offer you a seat (or anything else to make things more comfortable for you). As a matter-of-fact, a female is more likely to help you than a male. I’ve traveled to 12 or 13 countries so far and, hands down, people in the United Kingdom are the rudest I’ve ever met.

4. Child welfare – I’ve worked in social services for many years, and I can say with confidence that while the United States can improve upon its services, the United States is more advanced than the United Kingdom in that regard. I prefer it here because one can work in various fields, learn different practice methods, and safeguard better. I also think that social work education is better in the United States. The United Kingdom has a long way to go to improved social services not just for child welfare, but all aspects of social services (including educating & training potential social workers).

5. Cost of living – If I remember correctly, London is more expensive than my city… and that’s saying a lot. And don’t get me started on the increase in wealthy people from all over the world buying properties in London for various reasons (if you’re smart, you’ll figure it out). It’s getting so bad that many native Londoners get forced out of their city, and I bet that’s by design (just like my city).

6. Narrow roads – I’ll admit that this one is silly, but come on. Why are the roads so narrow? Were they purposely designed to get people into accidents and road rage incidents? Even when America wasn’t filled with fat asses like me (and even when I wasn’t fat), damn near everything got built big. I’ll take the wide 3-7 lane streets & highways here over those narrow ass streets any day. The same goes for the sidewalks.

7. English breakfast – this is another silly one, but it’s one that many people over there take seriously. I’m sorry, but I can’t get with English breakfast. That link calls it “splendid”. I’m not fond of beans or fried tomato with eggs, but whatever… I can tolerate that if I had to. But anything containing mushrooms or black pudding… not one bit splendid. :-|

I think that’s it for now… I think. If you live in/lived in/visited the United Kingdom and there were things that bothered you, what were they? Is there anything I may have missed? I’m getting forgetful in my old age. :-|

My next post will list the things that I miss about the country. In the meantime, check out the video below and pay attention to the chorus. To be continued…

13 portraits of homeless people.

This link resonated with me so much that I decided to post it on my blog. It resonates with me more than most people will ever know (but may discuss at a later date?). You never know who’s going through what under the surface.

The portraits are from the United Kingdom (London, to be exact). Thanks to Alternet for this link.

13 portraits of homeless people as they want to be viewed http://www.alternet.org/culture/13-portraits-homeless-people-they-want-be-viewed-slideshow

Staying put.

In the words of the Prophet, “It is finished.”

Everything they've done since August has led up to this.

Everything they’ve done since August has led up to this.

(PLEASE NOTE: I’m using the picture to make my point, not for any religious purposes.)

After giving this some thought recently, and after reviewing the requirements for a work visa application, I’ve decided to stop looking for employment opportunities in the United Kingdom.

The visa application website requires potential applicants to qualify for a certain amount of points before moving forward. I hadn’t looked at it since 2010, so I didn’t remember what the requirements were. I took the preliminary test to see if I could go ahead with the application, and I met each requirement… except the sponsorship part. Therefore, I couldn’t go ahead with the application.

I don’t think it’s too difficult to get sponsorship in my profession from employers over there. What is difficult, however, is finding a reputable recruiter/recruiting agency to find a decent employer willing to offer sponsorship. Unfortunately, my experiences over the past few months led me to believe that most recruiters/recruiting agencies over there are shady. They’ve shat on me from the start, making shoddy promises and displaying a major lack of professionalism. Here are 2 examples of their “professionalism”:

Hi (Spinster),

I am looking to see if i can find a worksponser for you in London, will keep you posted ASAP

Regards

Recruiter Name

(P.S. I copied/pasted the e-mail exactly how the recruiter sent it to me.)

(P.P.S. The e-mail subject was “.” Yes… a period – that thing with which we end sentences.

)

Another one never spelled my government name correctly and used smiley faces in e-mail correspondence. (And no, it wasn’t a woman.)

I got so fed up with recruiting agencies over there, I decided to change the settings on 1 employment website such that recruiters can no longer contact me. I also changed the settings on another employment website such that neither my former employer nor another shady employer – which flaked out on me 3 times – can ever contact me again. If I work over there again, it’ll be on my terms and to hell with recruiters/recruiting agencies overall.

I’m also still experiencing the negative effects of what the former employer did to me. Now don’t get me wrong… overall, my time living in the United Kingdom was alright, but the last few months of my time there – along with my current challenges – left a really bad taste in my mouth. I try not to let those months color my whole view of the country, but I admit that it’s very difficult.

Will I live/work there – or any other country outside of the United States – ever again? I don’t know. After this experience, I don’t think I want to expatriate again. (I’ll always love travelling, though – that’ll never change.) But I’m not 100% certain about this, so who knows what the future holds. I’ve applied & looked for jobs all over so I’ll go wherever the money is. And if that means leaving the country again to get back on my feet, then so be it… even if – since I know that expatriation isn’t all cupcakes & roses – I go kicking & screaming for 1-3 years. However, I’d prefer getting my life back on track here, not in another country.

When I returned to the States, the ticket was round-trip because it was cheaper than a one-way ticket, and I scheduled to return sometime in Spring 2014. I plan on changing the ticket date to later this year. (Hopefully my life will be drastically different by then.) If I still feel a certain way about the country (and it is possible that I may feel the same way in the future), I’ll cancel the ticket altogether. But I think it’d be good to see a few of my old colleagues and a couple of friends, so I’ll likely just change the date instead of cancelling altogether.

There’s a lot more, but I’m going to end here. I don’t want to pass on my doom & gloom to anyone reading this, and many things are better left unsaid (until later?). It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. I’m fat, but I’m not singing… yet.

(WARNING: the following song has curses and derogatory words)

I will not lose…

Related posts:
Home (bitter)sweet home.
http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/home-bittersweet-home/

Hard knock life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/hard-knock-life/

This sounds familiar. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/this-sounds-familiar/

Reset my life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/reset-my-life/

Jobseeker(s). http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/jobseekers/

Some things change… http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/some-things-change/

Limbo. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/limbo/

Limbo.

It has been a while since my last update. Here’s why…

A good friend & donor to my fundraising campaign suggested that I take a break from anything & everything having to do with looking for employment during the holidays. She knows how much stress I’ve endured since August because of this situation. I listened to her and it did me a world of good. After the holidays, I re-started looking & applying anywhere for almost anything.

Looking & applying haven’t been fruitful overall because the economy here still sucks. From August 2013 until the end of 2013, I got calls for only 3 job interviews (1 part-time position, 2 full-time positions) out of countless jobs for which I applied. (Still haven’t heard anything from either of the three.) However, last week must have been a lucky week because I interviewed for 3 different positions (1 part-time, 2 full-time) in 3 days back-to-back; one of them called me for a 2nd interview, which I also attended last week. Hopefully something will come through. If not, I’ll keep looking & applying anyway, just like I’ve done since this situation began in August. I’ve looked and applied in different states & countries, for different opportunities and on different levels (over-qualified, under-qualified, and everything in between).

Returning overseas… I’m ambivalent. While I’ve fundraised the money needed for a new work visa (by the way, still accepting extra donations to help me get back on track), I vacillate daily between returning to England for 1-2 years and saying to myself “WTF is the point?” The country, and everything that happened to me, left a horrible taste in my mouth. I also feel somewhat defeated. I don’t know… my life (and my Self) is still in a very grey space and it’ll take me a very long time to get clarity. I still receive inquiries from England recruiters, which is alright, but I’m unclear about the visa process (haven’t applied since 2010) and may need sponsorship first before applying. So that’s another dilemma to handle, as I’m not sure what’ll happen with job opportunities here (or anywhere else, for that matter).

This is the short version of the story called my life. I’m still in limbo until further notice.

Related posts:
Home (bitter)sweet home.
http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/home-bittersweet-home/
Hard knock life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/hard-knock-life/
This sounds familiar. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/this-sounds-familiar/
Reset my life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/reset-my-life/
Jobseeker(s). http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/jobseekers/
Some things change… http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/some-things-change/

Some things change…

and some things stay the same.

Still applying for jobs. There was a potential employer in England, but they flaked out on me… twice. Still not receiving any calls back, despite editing my résumé countless times and having many versions of my résumé. Still nothing in spite of applying for countless full-time, part-time, per diem, temporary & seasonal jobs.

Adjusting to being home isn’t an issue at all. My main issue is being unable to get back on my feet as quickly as I’d like. My feelings about all of this are negatively indescribable. But I have no other choice but to continue applying for work and hope that one day, someone will say to me “You’re hired.” Whether that’ll be here or in another country, who knows. What I do know is that I’m used to being home now, and maybe it’s not in the cards for me to leave again. Then again, I might be completely wrong. Everything is up in the air.

I fundraised the money needed to apply for a new visa, which is good and speaks to the genuine kindness of some people (including strangers). If things continue in the way they’ve been for the past few months, though… I’ll do the right thing after the holidays.

That’s it for now. I’ll try writing something for Xmas if I have it in me. Thanks for your consideration.

Related posts:
Home (bitter)sweet home.
http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/home-bittersweet-home/

Hard knock life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/hard-knock-life/

This sounds familiar. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/this-sounds-familiar/

Reset my life. http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/reset-my-life/

Jobseeker(s). http://spinsterscompass.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/jobseekers/

Reset my life.

I’ve tried getting back on my feet for a while now, ever since this saga began. Unfortunately, that’s difficult for a few reasons.

- The job market here sucks, to put it nicely. I’ve applied to countless jobs in different cities & states, but to no avail.

- I’m either over-qualified or under-qualified for many positions. The positions I’ve applied for run the gamut from receptionist to (insert top positions in my field).

- As a result of what happened, I don’t have money for a new work visa. So even though I’m still getting inquiries about returning to work in England almost daily, I can’t do anything without a new work visa… which I can’t get because I don’t have a job.

- As an aside, it’s still so odd (to me at least) that almost all the calls & e-mails I’ve received about new work opportunities are from England… yet I’ve applied here in the U.S. and only 2 employers have called me. I haven’t even applied to jobs in England; the agencies see my CV online and contact me, not the other way around. Very odd. I don’t even know how to take that… does that mean something? I have no idea; still trying to figure it out…

On a positive note (don’t want to drive anyone away with too much doom & gloom), I’ve received calls from 3 people back in England, 2 of whom are also American. It warms my heart knowing that a few people give a damn about me. I also received a call today from another repatriate who left England about 2 months before I did. And every once in a while, I get e-mails from a couple of old co-workers & new friends over there. Those are bright spots on days that are often difficult.

I still don’t know what’s next or where I’ll be. I wish I had a crystal ball. But such is life, ain’t it. I have no choice but to hope that I get back on my feet, whether here in the U.S. or in another country for 2-3 years. In the meantime, while I continue applying for jobs, I started a fundraising page on GoFundMe to raise money for a new work visa. I didn’t even want to do this, as it’s difficult for me to seek help, but a few people suggested it to me so I decided to try. Please see the link below. If you or anyone you know can find it in your hearts to help me, I’d appreciate it.

Reset my life – work visa http://www.gofundme.com/518b6s

This sounds familiar.

I’m just gonna leave this link here. I’m not in the space to discuss further now, but trust me when I say that details will come in the future. In the meantime, check out the following link because I know this story all too well. Please take this as a cautionary tale, and comment if you feel so moved.

Australian therapist given just a few days to leave Britain >>> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/fury-at-border-agency-over-case-of-the-australian-nhs-therapist-given-just-a-few-days-to-leave-britain-8935743.html

3 years (part 3).

(If you didn’t read the other parts, here you go: part 1 & part 2.)

Last but certainly not least, what else have I learned here so far?

11. If you can make it in another country, you can make it anywhere. Add a bonus if you live in a big city within another country. Becoming an expatriate is not for the faint of heart. Many people can’t make it for many reasons. That doesn’t automatically make those people weak, so don’t assume that that’s what I mean. What I do mean is that some people have illusions about what it’s like to expatriate. I’m sorry to break it to you, but Eat Pray Love is not real for anyone except Elizabeth Gilbert (or other [Caucasian] people who can afford it, and since the economy has been garbage for the past few years, maybe they can’t either). So if you can put aside your bullshit illusions, accept what you aren’t familiar with, and be as patient as a saint, maybe then you’ll survive with just a bruise or two.

12. I need to live in or near a big city. I already discussed this here.

13. I appreciate living near the European mainland. It’s easier & cheaper to get to other cities & countries; sometimes it feels like the center of the earth for that reason. Even for me, getting home is as simple as a direct flight without any layovers or plane changes. It’s unfortunate that I’ve not taken as much advantage of this as possible, but real life got in the way. I hope to take more advantage of this next year; I’m well overdue for a long trip somewhere far away.

14. You’ll have to do almost everything (if not everything) on your own. One of the annoying things about living here is the amount of red tape one has to cut through to get anything done. For example, if you need a technician to check your boiler and the expected wait time is 1 week, just go ahead and add an extra week to your wait time. You may as well buy a book for dummies and check the boiler yourself because you’ll get it done quicker that way. There’s another way that people get things done around here – either threaten to cancel a service like I did or raise hell until you get what you need.

15. No matter where I am on this planet, I’ll look back at experiencing expatriation with indescribable feelings and a wiser mind. I’m glad that I made my dream come true.
———
There are more, but that’s it for this series. I think too much sometimes, and I don’t want to make this any longer than necessary. Thanks for reading.

Keep calm and drink tea.

Keep calm and drink tea.

While each expatriate’s experience is unique, have I missed anything that you’d put on your own list?

3 years (part 2).

(Did you miss the first part? Well, here you go.)

What other things have I learned so far?

6. There are a few enlightened Caucasians in the world who fully acknowledge systemic & institutionalized (or overt) racism/prejudice. “What do you mean?”, you say. Follow me for a moment:

As a person of color growing up in the most racist country on the planet (based on my personal experiences travelling and living abroad), everyday life is often colored by, and viewed through the lens of, race. Honest conversations about race & privilege – historical, current, and future – are rare in the United States. Conversations about race (and sometimes privilege) usually turn ugly and more often than not, those in the majority (or those who identify more with the majority) don’t understand where people of color are coming from. (Some don’t care to understand, but that’s another topic for another day.) I admit that when I first arrived here, one of the first things I asked my colleagues of color was “So… how racist are the White people here?” I admit that because I’m willing to look back, personally and for this blog’s purposes, and see how presumptuous that question was. But understand that coming from where I’m from, race & privilege are part of our daily lives.

I’ve been very lucky to work with, and meet, non-American white people who are open to these sorts of conversations and have them in a frank, honest & calm way. I’m not saying that there aren’t racists or racism in this country. As a matter-of-fact, stop-and-search (as it’s called in the United Kingdom, like stop-and-frisk in the U.S.) and outright racism especially in suburban & rural areas are just two of a few problems in this country when it comes to Black and minority ethnic groups. I’m saying that I have been lucky to work with & meet British (and other non-American) white people who are more open to discussing these issues. It is refreshing, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m ambivalent about returning to the U.S. for good – the United Kingdom is the lesser of 2 evils for now.

7. Contrary to popular belief, the United Kingdom – like the rest of Europe – is not a (socialist and/or liberal) utopia. As a matter-of-fact, with the recent benefits reforms and other changes now afoot, the United Kingdom is looking more like the U.S. as time goes on.

8. I appreciate having access to universal health care. There are some in the business classes who want to privatize the NHS (Wikipedia), and while it isn’t perfect (what health care system is?), I prefer it over U.S. health care. Health care is a right, in my opinion, and shouldn’t be a privilege. It’s a shame that those in the business classes want to take that away from people.

9. British humor is different from American humor. It’ll still take me some time to fully understand it, but the little I understand so far is pretty damn funny.

10. Aside from tea, which I’ve always loved, I now like a few different foods and/or food combinations. I like chutney on sandwiches, digestives (even better with chocolate), condensed milk in my tea, and my renewed love of bacon. Now granted, I need to cut it out because I’m not in the best of health :-|, but those are just a few things I’m now used to.

Consider this part 2. I think I have enough for a (last?) part 3; I could do more parts, but I don’t want to bore anyone. To be continued…

Another one bites the dust

Spinster:

Yeah… this definitely happens in some form or another if you’re an expatriate. Nothing much to add, as the original post says it all; check it out and feel free to comment.

Originally posted on Wanderlust:

London, love live it and leave it.   Another expat has come and gone as is typical for the city.  I will have been living here for five years come September and I’ve had no less than seven friends leave the big smoke for greener pastures.

We Wanted To Be The Sky - London Pleasure Garden

Older readers of the blog will know that it took me ages to really like London.  Actually It is safe to say I hated London initially and then slowly over time things changed.  I did fall in intense like with the city at one point but I have to say I’ve never fully loved it.  I wanted to Love London like SJP loves New York, or at least as much as many others seem to, but alas it isn’t meant to be and I’m okay with that.

Why did I come here?  I’ve been asked that countless times by Brits over the years seemingly…

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