Adult woes and decisions

I awoke this morning in a paralyzing blind panic. For some reason, the fact that I am at a serious crossroads in my life just hit me all at once. Now admittedly part of this panic was clearly initiated by the subconscious, in that I had been dreaming that I was at a bakery and simply could not decide which delectable item to buy. And I also spent a bit of time yesterday chatting with my recently-repatriated sister about the pros and cons of being back in the US. So perhaps it is not such a surprise that I had life decisions on the brain. Plus, as of last weekend I have been in the UK for 4 years, which means my shiny work permit visa with a five year lifetime is fast coming to an end. There is thus paperwork to do. Mounds of paperwork. The very thought of which makes it sound like a really good idea to hightail it back to the US into some job where I have the right to work for life without more paperwork. And where, truth be told, I have a far greater support network than I have now, even after four years of living here. Listening to my sister’s tales of woe after two months in her new job and new city reminded me that after four years I’m really not that much better off in some crucial ways.

Generally speaking, being an immigrant has been harder than I expected. And I could not have predicted how much more uncomfortable it would be under the coalition government that now rules Britannia. I am very much aware of the fact that I am a non-EU citizen. Somehow, all of my other colleagues at work in this status have managed to claim EU citizenship through a relative or spouse, and so I am really alone in my worries about being a foreigner. Although I have been generally in favor of the reforms the new government has been introducing (my American-ness perhaps means that I was shocked to hear that all persons with children get handouts from the government regardless of income just for having children) I really hate the culture of “British jobs for British workers” and feel slightly expendable. This week marks the mammoth spending review in the UK, in which every sector of employment (read: nearly everyone) expects to be hit with cuts that will affect our jobs and our lives. VAT is about to rise, and as such everything we buy is about to become 2.5% more expensive. And I just moved out of work-subsidized housing into the private sector and am literally paying the price.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I woke up sweating over being a single, employed, non-EU migrant living in the UK. And softly singing The Clash to myself:

Should I stay or should I go now

If I go there will be trouble

If I stay it will be double

The indecision’s killing me

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12 responses to “Adult woes and decisions

  1. There’s no place like home…
    There are advantages and disadvantages, whatever you decide to do.
    good luck. I am away from home..In Italy from UK. I did have the chance to return to the UK , but declined, The weather in Italy is better! I weighed the pros and cons…The weather is still better!!Jokes aside I love England. but my work opportunities were far more favourable here. It all depends what you want from life.

  2. But at this point, you can get leave to stay indefinitely, so that’s one bunch of paperwork and then you’re set. A lot more paperwork if you move countries and get a new job. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But, to each her own… I have a hard time imagining living in the US again.

  3. I remember getting physically sick from the stress of trying to figure out which side of the Atlantic I was going to be living on . . . I had no choice but to go back to the UK, but when I got there I couldn’t get a job, so ended up moving back to the US when I was offered a job here. It ended up feeling like it wasn’t really a deliberate decision, more like following the path of least resistance. It is SO hard!

  4. Britain sounds so bleak at the moment. Who on earth voted for these guys? Or didn’t they say any of this in advance of the election?

  5. Your experience as an immigrant in the UK is very interesting. I haven’t had to deal with quite the same issues because I am a Spanish citizen and was so before moving to Spain from the US, but it’s still rough at times. The situation in the US isn’t very different from the one in the UK right now. It all depends on where you live, of course, but unemployment is high, the middle class is being squeezed from both sides and the dollar is experiencing a free-fall. To add to the woes, the government isn’t really doing anything about anything because elections are coming up and the Right is more worried about shooting down Obama than cooperating for the sake of the country and the Left wants to stay in power. Still, you would have a larger and better support system, and you are American, so you wouldn’t have to deal with renewing permits and so on. There really are advantages and disadvantages to every choice.

    I have to say though, based on your comment about how you hate the culture of “British jobs for British workers,” that you must not have a lot of close contact with immigrants in the US. There is a fierce culture of “American jobs for Americans” and has been for a long time. The crisis seems to have made it worse, however. People are fed up with outsourcing and are getting more and more anti-immigrant. All in all, anyone who emmigrates to the States has it way worse than you do in the UK, even if you aren’t an EU citizen.

  6. Oops, doubled my -m- there in emigrates. Lol, I hate committing spelling errors.

  7. I sympathize with your weariness about immigrant legislation. We hadn’t been here two months when my partner’s company asked us to consider how many years we were planning to stay, because new restrictions were likely and they wanted to prepare our Visa renewal. Since we still aren’t sure if (or when) we want to go back to New York, it’s a very difficult question to answer.

    In any case, whether you go back to the States or not, you’ll undoubtedly benefit from your experiences here. Every time Sky delays installing our internet, I try to remind myself of this. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I was totally shocked to find out about child benefit when we moved there, too! And the trust fund, and the tax credits and all the other moeny that was thrown at us. Un-american, but I sure didn’t complain. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck with your decision.

    You indicated you might be interested in a UK workshop – details are now up!

    UK workshop info! http://americanmum.blogspot.com/2010/10/unworkshop-uk.html

    Hope to see you there!

  9. Hope you decide to stay in England, I’m biased but I think it’s the best country in the world. Yes, we are almost bankrupt, cannot even pay the interest on the national debt but what ho! We will survive.

    I come back to the fears of Londoners in 1880s that they will not be able to cope with the horse muck that accrued from the large numbers of horse drawn vehicles in London. What happens is the internal combustion engine and by the early C20th horses are going from our streets.

    Brits have to learn that the Government is there as a safety net, we need to take personal responsibility for ourselves. Child benefit, once called Family allowance was paid to mothers as the culture was then (1940s & 50s) that mothers stayed home, managed the household and brought up the kids. Dad was taxed on the family allowance which at first was not paid for the first child. In those days married couples were taxed as a unit, husbands had to sign their wives tax form. This was changed when Margaret Thatcher came to power when she discovered that Dennis had to sign her tax form.

    We receive winter fuel allowance, free travel within London and other discounts for reaching the advanced age of 60 but we would be willing to pay say ยฃ25 a year for our Freedom Pass. We pay that for a senior railcard that entitles us to one third off rail fares. At least we help to create employment when we go off on our jaunts for a day by the seaside or up to London for an exhibition and lunch. We give something back too, I volunteer at the local studies library using my professional training.

    BTW, Americans, Canadians, South Africans, Australians, Poles are welcome here, they fit with our culture whereas so many Asians want all the British benefits whilst expecting us to change our ways to theirs. If life is not to their liking they claim they are being discriminated against. We were told by one Asian woman who had ignored planning rules “We don’t care about neighbours, we will do what we want”. And they do and they get away with it as the authorities are scared.

  10. Found your blog via 3bedroom.. I have been to the UK and lived there as a child. I always thought it would be fun to live in London, but never considered the things you mention in your post.

    I would certainly miss my family and that would be the deciding factor for me.

  11. I just wanted to commiserate and say “I’m right with you, sista!” These visa reforms are the icing on the cake. I’m making my own decisions on working in the UK in a permanent position versus consulting versus taking a job on the continent and commuting back and forth to see my sweetie. This all on top of writing papers and stressing over the fact that our faculty is now saying they won’t have our degrees for us until AFTER my visa expires. Sigh.

  12. I know exactly where you are coming from. I moved to Germany a month ago and am still in the process of getting my work visa. Since I’m from Australia and therefore a non-EU citizen, my work visa will be granted on the fact that they can’t find an EU citizen who will do my job. Thankfully, I’m being relocated from my company in Australia to our EU office so I have company knowledge that a person off the street wouldn’t have. Still it is a stressful position to find myself in, especially as huge debate has erupted in Germany about immigrants. However, it is the same in every country. Australia’s recent election saw both sides demonising immigrants from Asian and Islamic countries which I found totally despicable.
    Every country has the tagline that they want their own citizens to have the jobs in that country. It is popular with the working class masses. However, in most countries they don’t have the skilled workers they need and that is where us immigrants come into the picture. But that doesn’t make a nice catchy slogan.
    I’m sure this decision is going to be a long and hard one for you. Best of luck with it.

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