Immigrant song

Posted on 22.11.2016

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img_4721I left my country to work in another one.

I’d tried multiple times to get a better job or position in my own country, and it was clear no one wanted to hire me. So I took my chances abroad. There were plenty of jobs for people like me, and I was quickly taken on by a company and given a LOT of work. The pay was good, and I felt genuinely appreciated.

I enjoyed my life in the other country, but I still had bills to pay back home. Every month, I sent about 70% of my earnings back to cover bills and debts. The rest was just enough for me to live on, mostly.

After a few years, I wanted to go back to my home country, to be near my family and friends. So I tried. I went home for 3 months and applied for 36 different jobs. I applied in different states, to different places. I didn’t hear back from a single one. Not one.

I stayed with friends, I stayed with family. I slept on couches. I didn’t pay rent anywhere for 3 months, and slept in a total of 12 beds in that time. None of them were my own. I was officially homeless. I spent most of my savings in that three months.

I went overseas again, not sure what to do, but hoping I could find work.

I sat in one country for 6 months, waiting to hear back from a job application. In that time, I couldn’t legally work in the country. So I did freelance work on my computer from my rented room for 12 hours a day. I didn’t get up and walk around. I didn’t go outside. I sat in the room, in front of my computer, from 10:00 – 22:00, for 5 months.

The money I made was just enough to cover my debts and bills back home, and to pay for the rental of a room in a share house. And some food. That was it. We (my partner and I) were poor, hungry, and at the mercy of our friends and family. We were terrified. And I was working illegally in a country I’d entered on a tourist visa. I got paid electronically to my account in my home country, so no one was the wiser.

When the job acceptance finally came, we had next to nothing. All of our possessions were in my home country, and we were somewhere else. We moved overseas to another country for work, in winter. We didn’t even have winter coats. We racked up $15,000 in debt to start our new life in a country far, far from home. I am an immigrant here, and everyone around me knows it.

I’m trying to learn the local language, but it’s hard. I speak my native language at work all day. On my days off, I visit interesting places with my partner, who speaks the same language as me.

We make enough money to live comfortably here, and pay taxes to the country and local government. I still send about 70% of my earnings back to my home country, to cover bills (all of the debt we incurred moving here). As I am sick, I am enrolled in the country’s social healthcare. It’s so much cheaper than health care in my home country. I won’t stay here forever, and would like to live closer to home. But still, it seems that when I try to apply to jobs in my own country, I am turned down.

So living here is good for now.

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If the phrases ‘immigrant’, ‘migrant worker’, ‘illegal alien’, ‘benefits tourist’, ‘lazy for not learning the language’, etc came into your mind, it’s not surprising.

But this is actually my story. This has been my life.

I am an American citizen. I live and work in Japan. I worked in the UK for 6 months with no work visa. So I am all of these things. My Japanese is terrible because I look different and no one speaks to me, and I have to speak English all day at my job.

People on my friends list on Facebook have ranted about immigrants working illegally and taking jobs away from hardworking citizens. Immigrants sending all of their earnings back home. I AM THAT PERSON. This is what I’m doing right now. I send money home every month.

I’m working legally here in Japan, and good luck finding enough people in Germany or Japan to teach native English. These same people on my friends list claim to love that I’m living overseas, doing what I want, and that they enjoy living vicariously through my life.

So why would they stop me from doing that?

They wouldn’t.

But they certainly don’t want people doing it in their country, do they.

Just a thought.

 

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