UK politicians have decided to use xenophobia as their angle for this next election by closing multiple visas, counting students as immigrants (I am an international student studying in the UK), and discussing allowing only wealthy British citizens to be able to live with their non-EU spouses in the UK, all whilst shouting “British jobs for British workers!” Anyone reading this, if you ever say “British jobs for British workers” with any sign of support for the phrase, I will hate you. (I should probably warn everyone reading now, that this will not be a polite rant.)
But you know, politicians do things that depress me all over the world, and normally I would probably have gotten this out of my system by ranting to my friends and family. But I read comment threads on the internet because I am a masochist. Another awful thing is that Cameron wants to take away housing benefit payments from people under 25. Fortunately, a lot of people are upset about this. But of course, people can’t just blame Cameron. No, the comments are full of people blaming those lazy immigrants and international students for coming over and taking all those benefits from British citizens.
So, where are these benefits you’re complaining about me stealing? Because if I’m going to be demonized for it then I’d fucking well like some. I can use NHS while I’m a student. The Post-Study Work visa I was hoping to get after I graduated, but can’t now, because the UKBA ended it, wouldn’t have even let me use that. I’m not exactly sure of what help you can get on other visas, and I think it depends on which it is. But really, there’s a reason you have to prove you have money to support yourself for however long when applying – because it’s hard to get benefits and having a bunch of immigrants starving on the streets doesn’t exactly make the UK look good.
But you know, we really aren’t coming to the UK just to steal all your benefits, we’re coming to steal your jobs, too! Of course! I’ve heard these lines in America too, and couldn’t stand them then, but now that I have actually experienced moving to another country, they are a berserk button for me. Do you honestly believe that this is easy? That this is the undemanding alternative to living for lazy people? Because to all of you assholes who say things like this, I would like to see you try it.
Move to another continent far away from your friends and family. But wait, first you have to go through all the paperwork. As a student, you have to apply to universities with different standards of applications than what you’re used to. But make sure it’s a public university because the visa changes are hitting the private ones hard and you might end up stranded. Go through the paperwork to get your visa, which could be denied for small errors which would cause you to have to reapply, paying the full £200-something fee over again. Also note that you can’t apply for the visa more than three months before term starts as it will be automatically denied if you do. Be very aware of how short a time you have to fix things if something does go wrong.
Of course, you also have to afford the plane ticket and the shipping for any stuff you plan to bring, as well as the higher tuition fees for international students. It will be easier to move into halls if you can’t afford to visit before you move, like me. Of course, if you can’t afford to have a family member or friend come to help you do any moving stuff, it’s still going to be hell.
But moving isn’t the hardest part, obviously. At that point, it’s still sort of like a vacation where you way over-packed. No, the months after is where it gets hard. When you run out of money for food because international student loans come in so much later. When you realise you’re straining your friendship with the person you know in the country because you need more help than either of you thought. At some point it hits you that you’ve been so focused on adjusting and keeping your grades up and staying alive that you’ve not made anything more than acquaintances and that if things went really wrong, you’d be shit out of luck.
And then this description is from my experience, and I have it so very easy. I’m a white, cis, American whose parents had good enough credit that I was able to get a loan. I haven’t been required to register with the police and I have the maximum of allowed working hours a week that a student visa allows. I know that the people who say “British jobs for British workers” aren’t picturing me when they complain about immigrants, but all knowing that does is make me feel even worse, for feeling so beaten down by the minimum of difficulties for moving.
The thing is, as ugly as this all is, I love my city and I love living in the UK. Though I’ve spent a mostly isolated year here, I have begun to make friends and build a life for myself, and it kills me every time I realise that in a few years I will have to leave it all behind and start over. It hurts to get close to people when you’re aware that there’s an end date where you’ll end up having an ocean between you and all of your friends.
And through all of this, in politics and the media and by everyday people, you will hear how immigrants are coming to steal all of the benefits and jobs, and international students are just pretending to come over to study because it’s easier than getting any other kind of visa and they just want to steal benefits and jobs too.
Seriously, fuck you.