Our first six weeks in England haven’t at all gone as I had planned. I thought life in England would be easier than in life in Spain for the simple fact that we spoke the language. But our time here has been anything but simple. Since we arrived (and even before) our days have been fraught with bureaucracy, hurdles, and more paperwork than I could have ever anticipated. Most disappointing has been the fact that I haven’t had a single chance to wear a fascinator, and I am really keen to wear a fascinator.
Last week, it all sort of hit me. The weather was cold and cloudy, my ovaries had taken me hostage, and I was tired of dealing with stuff. I was tired of overcoming hurdles only to encounter new ones and, oh-my-goodness, I was beyond tired of dealing with paperwork! So I stopped. I took a few days off to mull over where we’ve been and where we still have to go, and I decided to write a little rant about it.
So, without further ado, here is my expat update rant about privilege, patience and life lately.
The lack of internet at home is getting to me. I know this is one of the most privileged things I can complain about, but not having wifi at home sucks. I’ve become so used to it and so dependent on it that not having broadband has been an adjustment. Every day, packing up and wandering the streets of Leeds in search of a wifi connection and an accessible plug (because my ancient but beloved computron, refuses to work without a near-constant power supply) is tiring. I don’t envy those who have to do this day-in-day-out for months on end. It’s only been a few weeks and I’ve had it.
There have been a few days here and there where free wifi has been strong enough to reach our apartment, and those have been glorious. The first day I had access to the interweb from my kitchen I sat there quietly, browsing just one website at a time in the hopes that I wouldn’t spook it and have it disappear. Yes, I was treating the internet like a wild rabbit or a deer, and you would too if you’d been without for four weeks. It lasted four hours and I can honestly say they were the best four hours of my life.
Not having wifi has really put it in perspective how vital it is to my everyday dealings, from looking to jobs to just staying in touch with family and friends, life is harder without the internet. I am pretty much ready to hand over my money to anyone who can get me reliable wifi.
Thankfully, I’ve discovered a co-working space located not too far from our flat. It’s a bit of an investment, but worth it to guarantee that I will have a quiet and clean space to work in with reliable internet access and a plug until we can sort out this home broadband situation.
The search for employment has ebbed and flowed throughout the month, but on the whole, there seems to be semi-constant interest, which is nice. A few times in the last couple of weeks I’ve needed to remind myself to be more patient – we haven’t been here all that long and these things take time – so, eventually it will figure itself out.
But it can be hard – I’m in a place in my career: where I have too much experience for entry-level, but not enough experience for senior management and above. It’s frustrating trying to find that one little box that I fit into.
Because the career-job search was moving slowly, I decided to go out and apply for a few part-time jobs, something to keep me going and out of the poor house while I continued looking and waiting to hear back. I was full of hope at first, but slowly, as each day passed without a phone call I started feeling down: was no one calling because I’m over-qualified; because I’m actually not qualified; or simply because they didn’t want me.
I already suffer from a pretty great case of imposter syndrome and the fact that I wasn’t even being called for an interview from local retailers was starting to get to me: apparently, I’ve been right all along, I am an imposter.
Then, in the throws of my over-thinking, I got a call, and then another; an invitation for an interview here, and another one there. And then, there was an offer. Almost immediately, it felt as if the clouds parted, the skies brightened, and I was just once again reminded that I’m not an imposter, and most importantly, I need to be patient.
One of the things that has surprised me most in the last few weeks, is the level of overt sexism I’ve been faced with when people learn that my partner’s job is the reason we chose to move to Leeds.
Thankfully I haven’t dealt with any more sexist comments in professional settings, but there have been plenty of comments from strangers that have caused my eyebrows to peak and my eyes to roll; comments about my career and possible next steps, comments about how we may or may not be handling our finances, comments about basic life choices – you name it, and we heard it from strangers. At first, I thought I was being overly sensitive to them, but upon chatting with Dave, he mentioned his shock and outrage at a few of the comments, so I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking they were out of line.
It’s disappointing, and honestly, it seems so out of touch with reality — well, either the commenters are, or I have been living in a beautiful little equal rights bubble, one I wish to return to posthaste — but Dave and I have quickly learned to laugh it off and move on. There’s no point in engaging with people like that, they simply don’t matter.
As you’ll see in tomorrow’s post, this is not unique to me or my situation here in England, offside comments are thrown at trailing spouses and expats all the time. It’s unfortunate, but apparently, it’s a reality of living this unconventional life.
Although I’ve decided to use this blog post to rant and complain, I have to say life this month hasn’t been all bad – as you’ll read about later this week, we’ve been making strides on certain fronts and have had a really great time getting to know our new city.
Life in England just seems to be two steps forward, one step back. It can be frustrating at times, but really, life would be like that anywhere that we lived. Thankfully, we’ve been able to move forward, laugh it off, and not let it ruin this pretty great experience.
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