This third article in our Expat Series was written by Amina Tariq
- What is your name?
Hi, I’m Amina!
- What country were you born in?
I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan
- What job did you have in your home country?
I was a student and then right after finishing university, I moved to London.
- How long have you been living in your new country for?
Almost 8 years
- Did you immigrate alone or with your family and kids?
As my husband is British, I moved to London after I got married to live with him.
- How are the schools in the new country?
After having my daughter, I started looking at schools and realised how important it is to choose the right school for your child. In terms of curriculum, all schools follow the national curriculum but there are lots of other factors to look at such as the extra curriculars and after school clubs they offer and how big or small the school is.
I’d say most schools are good here but some schools are exceptional. Therefore, it’s crucial that before you set your roots and buy a property, do some research on nearby schools in the area where you want to live. Ofsted provides reports and detailed analysis of the performance of schools and its definitely worth spending some time going through the Ofsted ratings.
- What is your job in your new country?
I am a full time stay at home at the moment, however, before I had my daughter, I worked as a recruitment consultant briefly and also ran a small scaled clothing business from home. I recently did a teaching qualification and am hoping to start working once this Covid-19 situation settles down a little. Keeping my family safe is my utmost priority at the moment.
- What do you enjoy about your new country?
The thing that I enjoy the most is the freedom. People mind their own business and do not interfere or intrude in your life. You have the freedom to make your own choices and decisions and do not feel the need to conform to various cultural standards on what to wear, how to eat etc. I was fortunate enough to belong to a very liberal family in Pakistan, but despite of coming from an open-minded family, I feel that living here makes me feel liberated.
I also feel that, even though initially it’s a bit of a shock, doing everything yourself and not relying on an army of domestic helpers has made me so independent and self-sufficient. And I love this feeling.
- What do you miss the most about your home country?
First and foremost, I miss my family and friends. Nothing can fill that void. Living in a collectivistic society like Pakistan comes with its pros and cons. The biggest pro is the wealth of love that is showered upon you from all sides. The closeness that you have with so many people around you. There is a lot less formality and I just miss living close to family and friends.
I also miss the street food in Pakistan so much. Street food in Pakistan is unbeatable. Period.
Finally, I do miss having the luxury of help around home. As much as I enjoy feeling self-sufficient, I wouldn’t mind someone taking the trash out or cleaning the toilet for me every day. I also really miss the salon services that we used to get in Pakistan.
- What advice would you give someone that is contemplating to immigrate to the country you have immigrated to?
England is a beautiful country with a lot to explore and numerous opportunities for young professionals. But then there are lots of other places in the world which also offer great job prospects. So first, and foremost, sit down and write your set of priorities. List them down. What do you want in terms of career, lifestyle, savings, education for yourself or your children, religion etc. Write everything down and see how you rank everything. Decide how you want to live your life and then do the research on whether you can get that lifestyle here or not.
More practically, research online for jobs and properties beforehand. Air BnB is a great way to find some good deals for those few early weeks.
- What challenges, if any, would you advise them to anticipate based on your experiences when you first moved to your new country?
If you’re moving alone without family, you might need to make and build lots of new relationships. So, try to reconnect with people whom you know that already live here and use your links to make more relationships. Honestly, there is such a large Asian community in England that you’ll be spoilt for choice so make friends with people that you genuinely feel connected to. Don’t feel the need to stay friends with people whom you don’t feel the connection with. Because being with people whom you don’t feel connected to will add more negativity and stress to your life than any positivity. Find your tribe and then build upon it.
- What advice would you give them to overcome those challenges based on how you overcame them?
I was fortunate to come into a family that had been living here for decades but initially when I was introduced to a lot of people, I was a little overwhelmed. They were all much older than me, and all the friends I’d ever had, so I felt a little confused.
The first thing that I realised was that age is just a number. What really matters is finding the people that you can feel a connection with. What’s more important than age is being in a similar phase of life and making friends with people who are in similar phase of life, is really not that hard. So focus on finding the right people and you will have to make the effort to build those relationships because remember, they probably don’t need more friends, but you do. Once you find good friends, it all worth the effort.
- How was the visa process for immigrating to your new country?
For me it was fairly simple as I came on a spouse visa. The process is tedious, expensive and requires a lot of patience and effort, but it is straight forward. Always make sure to research on what documents you will (and might) need for your NEXT application so that you know which letters to keep safe over the years. In my case I did 3 applications in total, to get ILR (In-definite Leave to Remain) and then one final one for my citizenship, and each of those applications required numerous documents over the past 5 years as proof of residence etc. So just make sure to thoroughly research the list of required documents for every application. I used to look at a lot of different websites especially blogs where people had shared their personal lists. Those were really helpful.
- How is the cost of living in the new country compared to your home country?
I’ve personally never run a house in Pakistan so I can’t answer that but my advice on managing finances would be to have strict budgets. For everything. calculate what you can afford and then manage within that budget.
- Anything else you would like to add, or any advice you would like to give to anyone that is contemplating moving to your new country?
England is a beautiful country with lots to offer. Just do your research before you move out here.
I wish all the luck to those who are looking at considering moving abroad. I hope you find what you’re looking for.
You can connect with Amina on Instagram by clicking here.