This is turning into serial rants about immigration, but speaking of expats and immigrants, the Brain Family case has once again come to the forefront in British (and world) media. Their case fills me with despair, and a teensy spark of hope. I could easily be in their shoes. I am in their shoes in some respects – in the same desperate, futile situation where my whole family life is in limbo because of ridiculous UK Immigration policy which fails to recognise central London and the back streets of Dingwall are two very, very different places.
If you haven’t heard of the Brains, it’s all over the web, but lazywebs This is an Australian family who followed the same path I planned to – move to Scotland to study and then gain a “Post Study Work” visa and repopulate an area in decline. They managed to get into Scotland a few months before I did (because I was giving birth). By the time I emerged from post-baby fog and started preparing my application, the rules had changed. I’ve spent every moment since 2005 trying to find another way back.
It’s the Daily Mail (ugh), but they’ve found another family (Canadian this time) who are in a worse position than the Brains. This family sold everything in Canada to buy a flagging local store in the Highlands and revitalise it, and are now being deported on a small technicality (we’re talking £8000 a year) because they cannot afford to employ a 2nd UK person in their shop. Despite investing over £200 000 already.
I completely and utterly understand their frustration. I can feel their tears. I’ve travelled through and lived in the regional areas where they are. I’ve befriended the locals, employed some of them. These areas are desperate for new blood.
The only hope is that these high profile cases will lead the UK government to alter their immigration rules, introducing points for people who migrate to regional areas, or get immigration devolved to Scotland.
Recently one of the online networks I am a part of migrated from yahoo groups to schoology (ugly, clunky, difficult to navigate). I finally managed to find 5 hours in my day to navigate the site and get re-signed up. Shortly after I received an email telling me to ‘at least take time to upload profile pic and bio’ as this ‘helps the online community’.
Oh my god.
Why don’t we just get with the times? Why do I have to have ANOTHER profile and ANOTHER platform?
One of the perils of travelling is undoubtedly bad coffee. I knew the coffee was bad when I lived in Scotland because they let ME make it and I didn’t even drink the stuff. Since developing an addiction to it after having a baby I was a little nervous about how I’d cope for a month in the UK, but figured it’s been 10 years, surely things have improved?
Froth has no place in a latte people! Just like single shots need company if you’re going to serve them in a BUCKET of milk, and lastly (but most importantly UK), if someone tells you their coffee was served cold, it is never, ever, ever acceptable to put the whole thing back under the wand! Believe it or not you clown there is a reason the milk is added to the coffee afterwards.
I’m looking at you Princes St Waterstones in Edinburgh!
Only 5 business days before we are due to fly out and still no sign of our paperwork from China. I am waiting the letter and work permit I need before I can apply for our entry visas. It has been about 3 weeks since I submitted the last of my paperwork to the school and I was assured it would reach us by now. Also, based on our previous experience I am sure it arrived in the 3rd week after I sent everything away.
So I have been frantically emailing the HR department at the school. The first email back was not from my usual contact, and at first they assured me they were just waiting on the letters back from the Bureau of Foreign Affairs, however the second half of the email said they would apply for my work permit once they received all my paperwork. ARGH.
I emailed again.
Finally got a reply from my usual chic on Saturday night telling me she was very sorry but there was no way the paperwork would reach us before we flew out and could we just put our travel off?
This is a trip I have been planning for TEN YEARS! It’s more important than the job! No I can’t just “put it off”. Cue all the swears. Not only that, but what rescheduling date should I use? Will it take a few more days? Will it be weeks? Are they just fobbing me off and they never intended to have it ready in time for us to leave in June at all but have always been planning to just send it off with all the other teachers’ applications so it won’t arrive until July????
I have been wondering why I was so reticent towards booking accommodation or making any other travel arrangements. I have booked London accommodation because I was forced to – the start of summer, there are hardly any beds left. It’s London, so even the cheapest place cost a fortune – over GBP500 for 4 nights.
Whether travel or teaching, I’ve never really had much luck with agencies. I have registered with a few over the years – from teaching in the UK to Manpower in NZ (when we were so hungry we were growing food from scraps). I’ve found them all like this to begin with:
But more “this” after about week 3:
Last time I was looking jobs in Asia I started with Teach Anywhere. I had previously been in touch with them re: teaching in the UK and should’ve known better. They’re very keen to sign you up, but once they realised my CV was less than ordinary they became very hard to contact. They also seem to be incapable of understanding that my interest in librarian jobs meant *gasp* I was looking for a librarian job! I kept getting interviews (literally principals phoning me) without notice, or for jobs I had told my Teach Anywhere recruiter I was not interested in. Not surprisingly the recruiter became less friendly.
I found that although their website doesn’t publish names of schools, it is relatively easy to figure them out. I also made a list of major cities and started googling: “CITY + teacher librarian + jobs”. Using these masterful techniques I found a librarian job on a school’s website and contacted the principal. He happened to be on holiday about an hour away, met me for coffee and offered me the job. Interestingly he had paid to register the job with Teach Anywhere and been told they had nobody available (!)
That said, I am considering a proper agency this time. Back in 2009 I had no library experience and was working part-time in a rubbish tip. I had nothing to lose. I also had no idea how much I loved being a librarian. I think it’s reasonable to expect a school who can afford to pay to recruit staff should be able to pay to look after them. Not always the case, but if you’re going to use a free agency you may just get what you pay for.
A friend from Darwin recommended Search Associates and managed to get jobs through them in top schools in Indonesia, China and Cambodia. She also has a lot more solid teaching history than I do, so may have done just as well without the agency. And she still had issues with jobs, so it’s not a guarantee there won’t be a crazy staff…
Other agencies I’ve heard recommended include TIC Recruitment and ISS. It cost my mate about $250 to register with Search Associates, which gave her access to job listings, a dedicated recruiter, an online profile and admission to job fairs.
We have commenced our next Great Adventure, landing in Auckland on Thursday afternoon. Happily, and strangely (for us), we actually had someone to collect us from the airport on our arrival in Strange New Land. Ang and I were mates at college and caught up last year when we had our whirlwind tour of NZ. Matilda calls her Angelina Ballerina and this may have affected her childish memories of Ang as she whispered to me straight away “Is that the same Angelina?” and later that night was still confused about whether we were with the right person. The main difference being that last time Angelina had “yellow hair and a white face”. Strange. She still looks the same to me!
Air NZ flight this time, another exciting aspect for us as usually it’s Jetstar all the way. After the Tasmania Bag Episode I was keen to fly with anyone else and happily Air NZ were having a 4 day special that was well cheaper than any other airline right on the dates we wanted to fly. So, lots of ceiling height, our own tellies and free food, not to mention customer service FAR exceeding that of the budget airlines (allocating us 3 seats to ourselves, offering us extra drinks, asking if we require assistance, providing a speedy departure card so we go to the front of lines etc). I am a big fan and interestingly a lot of people I’ve mentioned this to also admit that their best flying experiences have been with the Kiwi airline, so yay for Air NZ and I hope I haven’t jinxed myself now!
We are staying at a Bible College, believe it or not. Ang works here and lives on campus and it turns out the guest room was available and about $40 where the cheapest hotel was around $64 (All Seasons, was Formula 1 in the CBD, where we stayed last time). Not bad considering we are here for a few days.
Anyway: I hid my Kiwi SIM so well after the last trip I couldn’t find it so our first task was to get a new one. Considering it only cost $NZ20 (about $AU15) it’s not a bad idea if you’re going to be in NZ for anything longer than a stopover. I went with 2 Degrees, like last time, as it was remarkably cheap. And once again, after surfing the net, sending a dozen texts to Australia and a few more to Ang in NZ I still had a little over $18 left. That would’ve sucked my prepaid credit dry with miserly old Telstra.
On that note, Telstra have been total barstools regarding the modem. 2 hours on the phone being transferred around India only to be told it would cost me MORE THAN THE PRICE OF THE MODEM to have the damn thing unlocked from the Telstra network. Apparently it decreases to $27.50 after you’ve owned the modem for 6 months (oh wow, how generous giant ripoff telco). Point being: I already OWN the bloody thing you wankers!! And it’s not even as though I am wanting to use it with another Aussie carrier (although I have a strong desire to do that NOW) – I want it to go overseas!! Anyway, bought one yesterday in NZ. Cost me $NZ99 ($AU80) and for the ironic icing on the cake: it comes already UNLOCKED. And the reception has already proved a lot faster/more reliable than crummy Telstra.
Definitely taking this one back to Oz to use with an alternative carrier.