Class divides

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.

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6 thoughts on “Class divides

  1. hey susan, i like your blog, i think i should start one myself 🙂

    i too shall make the big move to Perth next month.

    I am very glad and also very surprised to hear you have a horde banging on your door begging you to work for them…ok… slight exaggeration about the horde but to the impressionable mind a few job offers after just arriving is like an invading army during a war… SO.IMPRESSED…

    what do you think helped your score? your blog? your prose?


  2. Hi Susan, I read your blog and like it very much. I will be moving to Adelaide too in the near future. I have an obligation to live in South Australia for 2 years. I obtained my visa around the same time as yourself and I have already made my first initial entry few months ago. Initially, I was hoping to get a job first before moving permanently to SA. I have tried that but although there have been a few calls but none have succeeded. The job market in adelaide is very small and vacancies are scarce these few months. I guess after i moved permanently, I need to consider working part time jobs while waiting for an opportunity.

    any idea where is the best place to look for part-time jobs in SA?

    Anyway, very happy to know you have a good job in Adelaide.


    • Whatever you do, network, get to know people in Australia and pass the word around that you’re looking for a job. This may sound stale, but has ads for part-time work. Here, really is one of the better ways to get work – that, or Career One and the newspapers. But whatever you do, network like craz! I got my first two part time jobs through recommendations.

  3. Pingback: How do you get a job in Australia? | Malaysia to Adelaide

  4. Pingback: Same shit, different bucket | Malaysia to Adelaide

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