Life is never about only happy days or only struggles. Life—thy name is change. Struggles and hardships play an important role in our lives to keep us going and make us stronger and better. Such are the stories of immigrants.
I recently visited India, where many people asked me how is it to live in a foreign country. Someone who wanted to settle abroad but was not sure about it asked if it was too difficult for him to go and settle in a country such as Canada, the UK, Australia or New Zealand. He said that when he meets NRIs or their families, they always talk about the difficult work and living conditions abroad and that he always finds it quite demotivating.
But I believe that you have to struggle everywhere. I agree that struggles in a foreign country are different and sometimes even harder than in your home country, but if you follow the correct procedures and fulfil the basic requirements a country wants from an immigrant then there is not much to despair. For example, if you want to settle in a particular country, you should be able to speak and understand their language; if you are seeking good jobs in that country, you should be appropriately qualified for that job. And most of all, you should be confident about yourself.
Many would think that even though basic requirements are met, there would still be reasons that hold you back. For instance, employers always ask for local work experience—something a migrant won’t have initially. However, if you are hardworking and know what you want, this is just an initial roadblock that doesn’t last for long.
In the time span of two-and-a-half years in New Zealand, I have realised that this small country accepts you with an open heart. All you need to have is a little patience and a ‘keep going’ attitude.
This week, we share with you the story of Ankur Lakhanpal who feels that he has learnt a lot from his journey to New Zealand and there’s still a lot more to learn:
“The decision of coming to New Zealand was sudden. I had just quit my job in India. I spoke to my wife about moving to New Zealand. Initially, she didn’t take it seriously. But when I started preparing for it, she realised that it was actually happening. She was working for a well-established organisation and had just resumed her job three months after our marriage. She agreed to accompany me.
Our arrival here was no less than an adventure. The place one of my friends had found for us was just a living room with a mattress on the floor and two other couples living in the same place.
Whenever I share my story, I can’t forget one name who was there for us when we had no one to look up to—Gurunishan Singh (whom we fondly call Nishan bhaaji). He is a friend of one of my cousin’s. He did not let us live at that place and took us with him where he was living with other eight to nine housemates—all boys. We lived there for a couple of days and then moved.
Now it was the time to face the real struggle—to find a job. My wife was the principle applicant and studied for a year. Initially, she found it difficult to adjust with the new culture and the way things work here. Hence, the responsibility of working and earning was on me. Our family had already spent a lot of money on our visa, travel and university fee, and now we didn’t want to pressurise them for any more money for our survival here.
For nearly one month, I kept searching for jobs. Whatever we had as our savings were nearly used. I remember, for one week, we had to ask our landlord to give us until the next week to pay, as we had nothing.
Just when our patience was wearing thin, I got a job. Actually, a few contract jobs, one of which also included heavy labour work. At that time, anything was better than nothing. Then gradually, after three to four months of work instability, I started to get better opportunities.
All this while, my wife was focusing on her studies. During her summer break, she started working. I also got a better job with a better position by then. By the time she finished her studies, she got a job in her field. After a year of hard work and struggle, she was made full-time and permanent in the role. Her employer also agreed to support her application for Permanent Residence.
Although all of this wasn’t as smooth as it sounds, I have to say that we have got what we worked hard for and are happily settled.
I wouldn’t say that I have achieved what I wanted to, but, at least, I can see ourselves reaching there if we continue working hard. I believe that this country tests you and your patience but definitely gives you what you deserve.
When I look back, I feel grateful to the people who have helped me and thankful to those who didn’t, as because of them I was motivated to work harder. Everything I have been through has made me a stronger and a better person.”