About the Kingdom

Well, first of all, as I mentioned in my last post, be prepared to spend some time to get what you want. By that I mean not just filling in those 20 sheets to get one easy job on a football stadium, but also to take some phone calls, drive to another town, wait for the delivery etc. I must admit that England has taught me some patience (and my mom as well). The very first thing to do is to get a National Insurance number (NIN). That is needed for working, getting loans, and benefits, putting up pension, and saving accounts. In Reading they have a job center office, but for some reason you have to go to the next town (Oxford or Slough) to the same office to apply for the NIN (yeah, I don’t understand that either).

The first thing I noticed arriving to that office was that I saw no typical British face. Indian-British mix yes, African-British mix yes, but no typical white British guy who you could call John Smith. The staff there was very helpful and nice, I have no complaints about that, whatsoever. After getting another bunch of papers we were sent upstairs to wait with the other applicants. Of course, they were all foreigners, but the surprising thing about it was the English language level they had. Next to me sat 3-4 guys (probably from Albania or Romania by the appearance) and 2 girls (probably from Poland). All of them struggling a lot to understand the interviewer and answer the questions. One of them even with the very first question: Can you please tell me Your surname?! I am no one to judge, but at that moment I was thinking: „Wow, and I was worried about my English skills!” When the interview was done, off you go and wait for the royal mail to arrive.

When you are planning to either travel to UK or set yourself in for longer time, you should know that public transportation is quite expensive. So, either take your own car or bike with. The only option we had, after the car’ s breakdown, was to walk. Before moving here I felt tired already after walking from the center of Haapsalu to my apartment (max 2km). Not that I was that inactive, but everything was just so close that you got used to it. Here, on the other hand, I am used to walking to the downtown and back, easily (around 13-15km all together). For all you lazy ones, the ticket for one ride in a bus is 4£ (4.5€), in a train to the next city 9£ (10€), you can calculate the rest. So, if you are planning to save some money, take out your sneakers.

Another adventure we had was when trying to open a bank account. British employers refuse to transfer money to foreign banks so we needed to join some local one. We literally walked in every bank in the center of Reading and 90% of them we left with the answer „no”. Why? Well because we did not have the address approval in a form they wanted. By that I mean when you are planning to open a bank account, go to work, apply for NIN you need to prove that you are living in UK. We had a letter from the house owner with an utility bill (her name on it), but most of the offices ask for a bill coming to a certain address with your name on it. Well, guess what, no bills are coming with our names on it after just few weeks from moving in. Fortunately, found one bank that approved our letter and we got the awful thing done. So, GO HSBC!

In working field I found interesting that a minimum wage is rising by the age. So when you are 24 (like me) your minimum wage is 6.95£ (7.8€), but from 25 it already raises to 7.20 (8£). Higher than that it unfortunately doesn’t raise. Although, in all minimum wage rises every year, so from April the highest will be already 7.5£ (8.4€). There are tons of agencies which will provide you with part-time or just temporary jobs in a field you would like to work. Despite physio, though. As long as you are not registered in UK (HCPC) no one will hire you. Different types of registrations are required in quite many fields. Even just a laborer needs to have a certificate, and it all costs money, of course. For just a construction working you can manage with about 20-50£ (22.4-56€), but as a physiotherapist be prepared to save some cash. For only starting the process of the registration you have to pay 495£ (554€) and that do not guarantee you the certificate. When you indeed do get through it and will be registered then for a so called license (for a year I think) you need to pay another 90£. Good surprise after paying almost my one month salary, huh?!

People… people are very helpful and kind. Most of the British and foreign people I have met here are happily willing to help you with whatever. When working few shifts on Reading stadium I saw how nice people are, and not just your co-workers, but the customers  as well- makes your heart warm and beer cold.

Still, within those few weeks we met some terrible people as well. I guess it is like that wherever you go. So this happened: we were walking back from the center, talking about some serious „what is life about” (okay, probably about what to cook for dinner) stuff when suddenly I saw from an eye corner that a car is coming. Seconds after realising it is not going to stop, it was already in a contact with us. Well it did not hit me, but it did hit Tom and hard enough for me to see his legs flying in the air. Shock- jahhaa?! The car stopped, I was checking on him, everyone else around us as well, but not the ones sitting right in front of us in the car. Fortunately, nothing happened and we walked home on our own feet last 6km, but the fact the driver did not even ask if we were okay or come out of the car is unbelievable. You just hit someone with a car and you don’t come out of the car? I even say “sorry” when I walk into someone in the shop or slightly punch the arm when passing by. Maybe, it’s just me. After some time just standing next to the road with the people discussing why did the car drive so fast and did not let the people on the road cross it, guy on the side seat opened the door. He didn’t say anything, just looked at us. Tom was in a shock and asked instead if they are okay. He replied: „No, she’s a new driver!” (yeah, I know, weird excuse, huh). What is more, an older guy starting to defend us got named by that guy with a whole list of ugly words. Not sure how young people are raised here, but I am taught to show respect for elderly people even if you do not agree with them. And for sure you do not call them any names. Long story short, they did not apologise nor come out of the car, we just left after being sure that we were okay. With that I call you all up to notice people around you and behave like humans. Sometimes it is not about being right/wrong, but to demonstrate some humaneness and respect.

And last but not least, the weather. Well it is supposed to be winter right now and it is constantly over +5 degrees, lately even 0ver +10. To be honest, it doesn’t sound like a winter to me.  As the car broke down and I had to take only essential clothes and stuff with, as an Estonian I thought essential in winter to be winter boots and parka. Yeah, you can guess how „too much” is it even for a warm-lover like me. Fortunately, I have a pair of sneakers as well, and my winter boots can be put away for next „winter”. With the parka I’m still struggling, because with wind it is too cold to open it up, but at the same time too hot to keep it closed. So, the weather hasn’t been that bad as I expected the British weather to be. Usually half of the week is sunny, which is more than enough for an Estonian.

And a perfect song for the end of this post would be from Odd Hugo as it is raining right now.

 

 

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