So, thus ends my first week of work. Wow, time flies.
Frankly, I’m still in a daze. I just can’t believe that I have a job. Especially this job. I still can’t. Eventhough I shook hands with high-powered clients on Wednesday, eventhough I’ll be flying to Sydney to meet powerful clients next week and was told that I’ll be working a few blocks away from my client’s million-dollar mansion, I still don’t believe I have a job. I just don’t understand how I got here, really.
Things happened really fast and I still had no time to process it. One day I was with my friends in the Aged Care course, the next day I’m dealing with fancy clients, writing proposals and such.
The disparity between the two worlds couldn’t be greater.
I met so many wonderful people in my Aged Care course – migrants who are filled with such hope that after completing their course, they will get a job. At times, the hope is so thick in the air you could feel it.
But oh, their stories! I loved listening to them. One of my Indian classmates worked as a factory worker for a year to fulfill her 475 criteria for 35-hour-a-week employment for a year. She was a manager in India before. Or another man from India, who works nights as a kitchen hands in an Indian restaurant but is a dental technician. How about the Pakistani lady who has a Masters in Mediation and Conflict Management, but wakes up at 3am every morning to work as a kitchen hand in a university canteen? Or a Portugese lady who lost everything because her business collapsed but is literally the sunlight of the class, brightening up everyone with her jokes and laughter.
These people have a hard life, but they did not grouse or complain that their lives are miserable. As we pile into the dining room during lunch breaks with our cheap, modest food (fruits and sandwiches for most, roti for the Indians and Pakistanis, barely edible food for me) we spoke about overcoming hardships, being migrants in Australia and the hopes we have for our future. I love them all – they are the most honest, amazing, courageous people I’ve ever known.
Then comes the world I’m in now, where my colleagues eat oysters for lunch (okay it was just once), talk about wine vintages, have celebrity friends, wear designer togs and scarf designer coffee by the truckloads. It’s such a different world that I have whiplash trying to adjust. I feel like an odd duck in this world, with my cheap clothes, home-cooked lunches and bicycle, which I use to get to the city.
And I realised what a great divide there is between the world of the struggling migrant and the people who have already have it all or have made it in Australia. Will I change too? Will I be like them?
Because frankly, I love my simple lifestyle. I love spending only $30 a week on food and groceries by shopping at Central Market at 2pm. I love cycling to the city in my $70 Gumtree-bought bike. I love the fact that I buy clothes from Sunday markets, Salvos and Vinnies. I love being frugal and simple.
I feel almost guilty that I have this job. I keep thinking of my friends in class, and how much they too deserve a good job if Australia will only give them a chance.
But the great thing about Aged Care is that it’s an honourable and amazing job that can be so very fulfilling. I envy them for being able to taste that too.