The following account was given to the museum, as part of the community exhibition with the Multicultural Friendship Association. We will be sharing more stories with you over the next few months. Many thanks to Adeel and other participating members of the Multicultural Friendship Association.
I came to the UK in 2006 as a student to complete my Bachelor degree. Like for many international students, my arrival city was London. Coming from Pakistan, where a degree obtained in the UK holds a high value in the job sector, just the thought of achieving such a goal was pure excitement. This kept me motivated and helped overcome the hardships of social, cultural and language differences.
The student visa at that time allowed me to do a part-time job with a maximum of 20 hours a week. Finding work was a steep learning curve of language differences, I was amazed to see the number of ‘Vacancy’ posters on various ‘office like’ buildings but was disappointed to find what that word meant when advertised by a Hotel or a Bed & Breakfast.
I submitted my CV everywhere I possibly could and was able to successfully secure a customer assistant position in Marks and Spencer. The journey to my M&S store took 2 hours (each way) and included walking, getting a bus, changing into tram and finally taking the underground. I worked in that store for over 2 years and made that journey at least 4 times a week. This might come across as a difficult time, but the whole experience has not only helped me understand the diversity of London’s culture but provided confidence I needed to further my educational and professional career.