Without a couch in London
Have you been unexpectedly left in the deep end with no job or home on your arrival in the United Kingdom?
By Shannon Gillies
HAVE you been unexpectedly left in the deep end with no job or home on your arrival in the United Kingdom?
Exhausted after your long-haul flight to London, you survey the crowds of people at the arrival gate for the familiar face who promised to pick you up?
There is your friend of almost 10 years, tapping their finger on their watch exasperated at how long they had to wait for you while you declared everything in your bag to customs. They scowl at you and you gesture towards the two customs officials put on duty to process four plane loads of people. There is a warm embrace and an exchange of friendly banter.
On arriving in the United Kingdom, you usually have up to two years to make it in your chosen career or find the love of your life who will marry you just so you can stay longer. However that first initial night in London, you’re simply reflecting on what an amazing journey it has been just getting to this side of the planet. As you curl up on the inflatable airbed on your friend’s lounge floor you cannot help but feel you are destined for big things.
Unfortunately though, your “guaranteed” bed has made other plans without telling you. That makeshift bed that made you feel so safe the night you first arrived can do nothing to help you now as you face the reality of a douche mate and the prospect of no home.
What happens when you no longer have your guaranteed base to help you establish yourself in the UK?
I discovered via Facebook that my home was to be no more. My mate’s UK friends started congratulating them on finding a flat for her and her partner. I did not know that my temporary bed was so temporary. Thanks to the heads up from Facebook, I knew I had about a month to get out. My ‘friend’ never did tell me what was happening but acted a little too happy when on my third day of staying with her I was able to announce I would be out in two weeks.
Thankfully I had found the ‘British Universities North America Club’ – BUNAC. With their induction programme, I was able to find a job and a place to stay so quickly. Not wanting to be an unexpected burden on other friends and also dreading their reaction when I told them what happened, I hit the wonderful world of the internet with guidance from BUNAC. This is what I did and what I recommend to fellow travellers who suddenly find themselves cut adrift:
Get in touch with the agency or company that might have helped you with your visa. While I did not tell BUNAC what my situation was, I did point out that I needed a job quickly and preferably with a house. I was given a raft of websites to check. My saviour in the end was a site called Work About: Workabout.uk.com/home.aspx. It is a website set up for hospitality employers to get new workers. There are a surprisingly large amount of jobs attached to houses which is very helpful. The website Gumtree can also be of help or try Dee Coopers (Livein-jobs.co.uk). The internet is amazing in circumstances like these. If you need an out, there are always possibilities available.
I also found that I had to get over my ego very quickly in regards to what work I’d do while in the United Kingdom. This helped me settle into the work scene quicker than if I had been stubborn and picky. Needless to say I survived my sudden close call with homelessness. And now I am happily living the UK expat life!
Have you had a similar experience? Tell us about it below: