Moved from the United States to the United Kingdom… and back to the United States. Currently in long-term limbo. My good, bad & ugly experiences as an expatriate and possible permanent repatriate (who'll continue traveling no matter what).
Exactly 1 year ago today, I received a letter in the mail that’d change my life for a long time, if not for good.
It was a Thursday evening, and I came home from a long day at work, with my team on duty for 3 days straight. I was glad to be home. It’d been my home for a little over 3 years, and I thought I’d be there for a long time to come.
There was mail in front of my door. I picked it up and saw that one piece was from the Home Office. I thought to myself
Oh, good. The Home Office will renew my visa. I’ll get to stay here a bit longer, save money, travel a bit, and even look into dual citizenship.
I put away my belongings, settled in to read my mail and maybe watch a little television – likely something I DVRed, no doubt. I opened the Home Office mail and read it. Then my heart sank deep into my stomach. The Home Office denied my visa application. I was a overstayer.
I re-read the letter a few times to make sure that it wasn’t a joke. But nothing in the letter changed. I was an accidental overstayer. I was speechless for a bit, and even fought back tears. (I can’t remember who won – me or the tears.) I called my aunt and let her know, and I told her I’d keep her posted.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of the end – the end of my expatriate life, the end of my independence, and the end of my life as I lived it for ___ years. And to this day, I’m still feeling the effects – they aren’t as strong as 1 year ago or even a few months ago, but they’re still there.
I hope my day is so busy that I don’t dwell on the anniversary. I hope that the bitterness goes away completely one day – some of it is gone, but some still remains. I hope that I can handle unfinished business over there. But in the meantime, for the way my expatriate life ended over there, that place can go straight to hell.
I’m looking forward to: getting my hair done; it has been over 3 months. Having next Friday off for seeing my stepmother & sister next weekend. Getting away for that weekend. The time when I’ll be able to really travel again. The time when I’ll finally be back on my feet, independent again.
I’m learning that: I’ve come a long way, but still have a very long way to go and more self-work to do. Sometimes, just listening is all a person needs to begin healing. (Luckily as an introvert, listening is one thing I do alright.) I don’t have to allow someone else’s negativity to affect me. I’m seeing how some people give without expecting anything back in return. I may have to do even more than I’m already doing to lose weight (and trust me, I’m tracking & doing everything possible). Expecting less = less disappointment.
I’m enjoying: my aunt’s NutriBullet juices & smoothies. The experimentation has been quite tasty.
I’m grateful for: being employed in spite of the job being imperfect. The ability to buy a bus ticket to see my stepmother & sister. Paying off 3 debts so far this year. Doing the tarot reading that my friend kept insisting I should try; it was a new experience and gave me lots of food for thought. My aunt & uncle. My stepfather. Learning something new every day. Dodging literal bullets. Joining the gym. Finding a Groupon deal for the local kickboxing gym; it helps me mix up my exercise/workout while saving a few bucks. Finally making & completing one of my doctor’s appointments. Living in a peaceful home with aunt & uncle from the very start – they say it’s my energy/spirit/aura, but surely it isn’t just me contributing. Chatting with my friend’s daughter in England on Whatsapp – she’s getting married next year, very happy for her and will definitely attend. Getting a call from another expatriate who’s still in England but hopefully returning here soon – it was so good to hear from them.
Around the house are: fans and an air conditioner.
In the kitchen: fruits that aunt bought to experiment with juices & smoothies.
In the coming week, I plan to: follow-up with one more doctor’s appointment. Cook once or twice. Work out (as usual). Get a lock for the gym locker. Weigh myself (for better or worse, it hasn’t been done in over a month and it needs doing). Work late to have Friday off to see my stepmother & sister. Speak with someone who can verify my hours for my next professional license paperwork & test. Think even more about my tarot reading – so much food for thought.
I’m listening to: blowing fans keeping us cool. The TV – FIFA World Cup Costa Rica vs. Greece with my uncle. (Haven’t followed the World Cup aside from this, to be honest. Basketball is more my game.)
I’m thinking: I’m so glad that this is a short work week. I want to re-start studying Portuguese again. I need to brush up on my Spanish; I took it for too many years (even minored in it in college) to just let it die. I need to update my résumé, fill out some paperwork for the next highest professional license, and apply for another credential. I wonder if I should take up my friend’s offer of getting a psychic reading? Never did one before…
I’m reading: nothing now, but that should change this coming week, as my now-former supervisor gave me 2 more reading books for my profession. I should be able to get myself a Kindle in July.
I’m looking forward to: having a short work week. Going to the gym; it really impressed me and I look forward to going regularly. Paying off 1 debt. Having something to do for the weekend (hopefully).
I’m learning that: I must stop always feeling the need to explain myself. Losing weight won’t mean much if my self-confidence is negative. Nothing will get done unless I do it – someone on my social media news feed said “Never ask for help. The ones who tell you don’t be afraid to ask are the same ones who claim they can’t help.” and sadly, I must agree. It isn’t even from a place of frustration anymore; it’s just a resigned acceptance and the story of most of my life.
I’m enjoying:these pita chips, which are healthier than buying & eating a bunch of cookies.
I’m grateful for: taking a free Krav Maga class last week, although it made me quite nostalgic about taking it while overseas. (I can admit that sometimes, I miss that place in spite of what they did to me. Blog post about that coming soon.) Joining the gym. My stepfather. My aunt & uncle. The ability to choose to stay away from (potential & definite) toxic situations with toxic people. My work team (minus upper management). Speaking to my friend’s daughter in England earlier today – I miss their family so much.
Around the house are: lazy folks enjoying a lazy weekend.
In the kitchen: new groceries.
I’m planning this week to: follow-up with the doctor’s office – doing the job of 3 people at work makes me quite forgetful, and it is time for me to just write a note so that I don’t keep forgetting because my health is more important that any job. Cook once or twice. Go to the gym. Get extra workout clothing and a lock for the gym locker. Do something for the long weekend. Look for a ticket to see my stepmother & sister since I couldn’t see them this weekend after all (long story).
My quote/verse for the upcoming week is: none that I can think of for this week. However, I suggest DailyOM for wise words when you want.
I’m pleased to tell you that after 7 months of hell & unemployment – an employer that turned out to be shady, forced repatriation, sending out hundreds of copies of my resumé, receiving countless rejection letters (or not receiving any responses at all) after interviews that turned out to be fruitless, and many other disappointments – I finally got a job offer and began working a few days ago.
Words fail me, as I’ve experienced so much over the past 7 months. Betrayed by an employer, betrayed by certain relatives, rejected by recruiters & recruitment agencies in England, etc. 7 months of hell. Therefore, I can’t find the words now to express my feelings/thoughts. For now, I’ll just say thank you, supporters.
More writing to come in the future; I’ll have a lot to say and need to figure out how to organize it. Little by little, step by step, day by day.
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”:
I am looking to see if i can find a worksponser for you in London, will keep you posted ASAP
(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)
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.
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.
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.
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.