Let me be very clear: I’m an immigrant, and I’m proud of being an immigrant.
I’m Spanish. I’ve never felt very patriotic, and I don’t particularly love my country. But I neither love the UK, where I’m currently living. Yes, I’m very happy here: I love my job, I have friends who make my laugh and take care of me, I like the green landscapes I see from the train. But I’m here because it’s where I got a job, not because this country is better or superior than my own. I would also be very happy in my Madrid, with my family, and my friends.
Living abroad is not easy. Do you realise how much implicit knowledge you need in your daily life? Because it took me a long time, for instance, to learn that “surgeries” is where you make appointments with your GP. I didn’t know that we have to pay council taxes, which internet company has the better/ less bad reputation, or even what a Sunday roast is. I know some examples are silly, but still. These are things that I had to learn, and that I just knew back in Spain.
This means that every interaction has to be planned. Now I’m feeling more confident, but I still repeat twice in my mind what I want to say when I go to the doctor, buy cheese or need to see the finance team. It’s like I need to rehearse even the smallest of the things. This is exhausting. It takes so much energy. But it’s funny how I find myself rehearsing when I’m in Madrid and I’m happy because eh, I know the exact words here!
Language is, obviously, a problem. The first time I spent some months in London I wasn’t able to have a conversation in a pub. But hey, ask me anything about the First World War! I had learnt academic English first, so I had no idea of how to talk like a normal person. I still feel a bit uncomfortable using slang and more colloquial language, because I think I’ll use it wrong (luckily my friends are teaching me British culture and expressions all-the-time). Sometimes it’s also frustrating because, even if I rehearse 10 times what I need to say, the person at the counter, or the other side of the phone, won’t understand me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. As I said, I’m very happy here and I have no intention of coming back to Spain. Moreover, I know that I’m in a privileged position, because I have a good job, and I’m white, and not too obviously foreign.
I’m just saying that migrating is not easy. And that immigrants should be proud, because in spite of all, we’re doing it.
I’m not going to accept the racist discourse of this government about immigration. Not, we’re not too many. Not, we’re not stealing jobs. We’re fucking surviving.