#IWD2020 - It's been a day
In this #MakingWorkVisible blog, Jo Rowe-Tan talks about her experiences of finding work, both paid and unpaid, since moving to Scotland two years ago.
It’s 7am just over two years ago. I’m about to step on a plane and fly across two continents to Scotland to join my husband. I’m a little nervous and a little excited. We’ve overcome a lot to finally be together, but at the same time I’ve given up everything I’ve ever known to move to a completely different country - friends, lifestyle, a well-paying job.
It’s 7am today. I’m woken by my husband’s alarm. While he gets himself ready for work, I go downstairs and get his breakfast - cereal and a mug of tea - ready.
It’s 10am 18 months ago. I’m at home. I’ve been in this country for six months. I’ve experienced seasons for the first time. It’s summer now, but I still don't have a job. Most of my time is spent sending out my resume to companies, only to hear little-to-nothing back. I still have some savings in my bank account, so I’m still okay. I’m still adjusting to life in a new country. It’s different here. I miss my friends, the local food; I miss the ease with which I could travel around, and the familiarity of each place. I’m told maybe volunteering will help me fit in and ease the loneliness, so I join a local cosplay group.
It’s 10am today. I’m (still) at home, just tidying up various odds and ends around the living room. I’m limited in what I can do these days, since most of my time and energy is now spent growing another human in my belly. Of all thankless jobs, this is probably the one that’s most under-appreciated and overlooked. It takes a lot of work to grow and develop a baby.
It’s 1pm 12 months ago. I’ve been volunteering with the cosplay group. The other members are nice people, and I think maybe I can call them friends. I help to run the charity sales and collection table at the local comic conventions. My work experience means I know how to set up an attractive table display, how to record sales and tally money, and how to keep track of expenses. I still have to spend money to get to the venues, and on food though. My savings are starting to decrease, and I still can’t find a job, though not for lack of trying. I end up signing on with a job help centre. They say they can help me find employment. I hope they can. I don’t qualify for job seeker allowance as I’m a foreigner.
It’s 1pm today. I decide I’ll put a load of laundry on, and have lunch while the machine runs its cycle, before I hang everything up. It’s a little challenging to reach down with this big belly in the way. Breathing is a little harder now because everything is squished inside due to the expanding uterus. I’ve had to turn down attending some local comic conventions because I can’t fit in my costume anymore, and it’s really exhausting to be out all day. I also can’t afford to travel much anymore. I try to help out online by keeping track of the records, stock, etc.
It’s 6pm six months ago. I’ve just been at the job help centre for another appointment. Since I signed up, my key worker and I have revamped my resume and worked on several types of cover letters for the various jobs I’m qualified to do. She’s helped me apply for several jobs; I’ve applied for several more. I have a degree, lots of different work experience (just not in this country); I’m fluent in English. Surely something will bite? I’m told I should try to monetise my hobbies, but that’s not something I’m comfortable with. On the way to meet my husband, I detour to pick up the monthly comics.
It’s 6pm today. The husband is heading home, so I pour him his glass of squash and start getting dinner ready. Nothing too complicated - carbs, protein and vegetables - but I like adding flavours from home and trying out recipes to replicate the dishes I used to eat before I moved here. My friends back home are going out for dinner together. They video called me a while ago for a quick chat, which was nice, but I miss them even more now. It’s lonely. I don’t go out much because that means spending money I don’t have. My husband offers to pay for some things, but I don't feel good always having to rely on his money.
It’s 9pm three months ago. I tell my husband the job centre can’t help me anymore. My key worker can’t understand why I’m not getting hired. Neither can I. I’ve applied for retail jobs: I’m overqualified; jobs slightly above my qualifications: I’m underqualified; jobs at my level: not what they’re looking for. And those are from the handful that have bothered to reply. I don’t tell him I’ve sold a few more of my things so I had some money to buy him a Christmas present. I don’t buy things for myself that much anymore.
It’s 9pm today. I’ve finished washing up the dishes after dinner and giving the kitchen a wipe down. We’re watching TV and just talking about upcoming plans. He’s concerned about me spending too much time at home. So am I. It’s been just over two years and I still don’t have a lot of friends here. Just the ones online, but they all live too far away. Trying to make new friends in a new country requires going out to make them. I can barely afford transport, let alone going out to shop and dine. My hobbies also cost money. I’ve given some up because I only have about £30 left in my bank account.
It’ll soon be 7am tomorrow, and I’ll do this all over again, and hope that something will change.