I came on here today and searched for the word "jealousy" to see if the same issues were just confined to me, and they aren't ! I actually feel a lot better now.
I had a talk to a family member spoke with a family member back home at Christmas and it came on to the topic of me being here in Australia.
There is still this perception among some that somehow, it was / is ‘easy’ here because I had “help” from home, or that I just hang around and surf on the beach all day with the rest of the expat community.
The truth is, I personally don’t have too many “close friends” and that’s not for want of trying within the various Australian community groups (and even my own expat community).
My story is that I came here 12 years ago, on my own and as a very young man for postgraduate studies. Migrating was a dream for me and I saved for four years from every job I ever had to get here and threw my life savings of 4,000 GBP at it, arriving here with a box and a suitcase.
Mum and Dad did what they could to help me while I was here – we never did have ‘lots of money’ or come from a well-off family, but I was lucky enough that when I landed, I applied for and got a scholarship which covered my tuition fees and a bit of a living allowance. I certainly wasn’t living the high life here in Australia as some of them (still) believe.
Being the youngest, I don’t buy into the whole ‘youngest of the family got the best opportunities’ arguments that they’ve banded around in secret. I say “If you work hard enough and want something enough, you can get it, you just have to be willing to give things up, whatever your age”.
I really resent their jealousy (which never gets explicitly said) because it belittles my own achievements here. I don’t doubt that I had help, but it wasn’t anywhere near as good as some international students (like the mainland Chinese) have it now. It was a struggle many days.
What I have found is that whenever there is a problem here, YOU have to fix it, whether that’s your car breaks down, house needs repairing, your visa needs extending, whatever. If you don’t fix it, (esp your visa) there was always the fear you would get deported and would have to leave everything here, plus the 3-yr exclusion order on you coming back.
I’ve known people get deported and it’s not nice. I remember like others, just hoping and praying that my onshore visa would get approved (again) when it came up for expiry and that I would be allowed to stay here for another period of time, and (hopefully), onshore migrate at the end of it all.
When I eventually have kids of my own, I will have to look after them comparatively much more than my siblings did (No extended family here to pass them on to for a night off).
No one did my postgraduate research or wrote my thesis for me. I couldn’t go back for a family funeral because I had to stay here and correct my first submission, which took six months. That would probably get used as something against me, that “I wasn’t there”. In fact, I haven’t been back in eight and a half years because I’ve been busy saving for a house and a future here in Australia.
To those back in the UK who think it’s easy, I say “try being away from your own family for that long and see how you like it”. To those who are thinking of migrating, learn from the experiences of others.
I never had a car before I came to Australia, now I do, which I paid for from my own money.
I paid for my own wedding in cash, I never asked Mum and Dad to help or contribute money and never took a loan out for it.
I never asked for a house or help for the deposit or anyone to pay for it. I now have a house because I saved up and did without “nice things” like a better car, gadgets, holidays and ‘going back home’. You cut your cloth accordingly.
So when someone tells me “it was easy”, I don’t quite agree.
I think some of it is the misguided (plain wrong) idea that they get from shows like “Place in the Sun”, “Wanted Down Under” - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006s5v8 and “Poms in Paradise” (currently screening on ITV and YouTube) where, from what I understand, people essentially get a free plane ticket to go to Australia, have a look, spend a couple of weeks there as a holiday and then decide if they like it enough to migrate.
What a load of cobblers. It is completely unrealistic. But, this is probably how they think I live down here, because obviously, they’ll show the best bits on TV.
Most people don’t have that luxury of a recce. Those who do are usually much better established than some of us were before we came here.
When I first came here, that was it – first time to see the country. Never been here before, not on holiday or anything, no ‘recce’ trip like some. I came here, one flight after another, like a bag of airmail. No ‘stopover’ or anything like that because I couldn’t afford it.
I kindly pointed the above out to the offending family members (who aren’t Mum and Dad, but brothers and sisters). I did so because I feel as though I am never allowed to forget that “I had help”, which although welcome, was certainly not Carte Blanche. Somehow, it takes the shine off my achievements here for me; what was rightfully mine and earned by my own hard work, all because it stemmed from a past event – “if they hadn’t backed you, you wouldn’t be here” is the logic. Where does it stop ? Do I still owe a debt of gratitude just because I was born ?
I told my Mum and Dad that I don’t want an inheritance – “go and enjoy it, you’ve worked hard enough for it and earned it”. I want to be like other migrants and be a self-made man. To me, I’ve had my inheritance and it has set me up here, for life. I would also not want them to sell the family house when they pass on, I would want it kept in the family. We are supposed to be a family and stick together.
I guess that I am probably MIA, or maybe ‘dead’ to some members of our family, but last time I looked, I was still a part of it. I would be the first person to put my hand in my pocket to help out the family, because that’s what families do, and in the past few years, I have.
Considering the amount of presents, duty free, Australian souvenir ‘care parcels’ and David Jones Xmas hampers I have carried / sent back home over the years, they have been extremely ungrateful; so I stopped doing it in case it was just alienating them that it was me big-noting myself as Mr Moneybags, and instead, just sent a card this year and put my sender address on the back. I didn’t receive any phone calls or cards back.
This is me, who has also offered the brothers and sisters to come to Australia, or their son / daughter (nephew / niece) to come backpacking and if they want to stay in Adelaide, they’ll have a place to stay. No takers yet. I guess that they enjoy their own view of what I do, and so joining me in the faux paradise might just shatter their illusions.