Phases of emigrant life. Why we don't become what we want to

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Emigration/Immigration is like the army. You start off as a private x and if you happen to get into the right circumstances, if you have balls to take advantage of them and if Ms Success becomes your best friend, you can even advance to becoming a general. Even the president of Lithuania Mr Valdas Adamkus started off in the USA as a blue collar worker in a Chicago factory of car parts.

Once you emigrate life starts evolving in certain phases:

* Workaholism
* Wanking
* Musing (in other words meditations on either to come back home or find a "real" job)
* Rebellion (when you knock on every door possible desperate to get that "real" job)
* Desperation (when you realize nobody is going to welcome you with hands wide open)
* Stubborness (when you persist and finally decide to go to study despite the fact you think you already know everything, but you realize this is to become your major trump card in a competitive labour market)
* etc,
* etc,
* etc,
until a possible "happy end".

Some of us get stuck in the phase of workaholism, others progress in wanking, only some of us reach the critical point of rebellion and only a handful make it through the phase of desperation. Obviously if nappies get in your way life takes a U turn. And the phase of musing is destined to repeat now and again.

There is a relatively new website in Lithuania that calls itself Lithuanian journalists' website (despite the fact it omits the largest online news magazine in the country in its links). A recent debate on the website was brought to my attention by a good virtual friend of mine who is also the author of one of the best Lithuanian blogs (and I am really looking forward to an English one - damn our ancient language).

Anyway. The point of the debate was whether journalists who have emigrated and possibly are picking strawberries in UK farms should still be called journalists or not.

You see, in my country journalists are playing gods since people stopped believing in the state, government or Parliament. The most recent Eurobarometer polls reflect that 79 percent of Lithuanians don't trust the Parliament (as opposed to the average of 43 percent in the EU), 67 percent don't trust the Government (as opposed to the average of 53 in the EU). On the other hand the level of trust in the mass media is way larger than that of the average EU citizen.

As a result a tag "journalist" is highly influential. Many get the taste of domination and manipulation with public opinion while still in their 20s. Some are not 30 yet but they've already tried pretty much every single kind of media in the country, they've worked in all major newspapers, TV stations and radio (the joys of young democracy - diversity, or perhaps as the saying goes we're jacks of all trades yet masters of none). And in a country where the main language is a language spoken by a mere 3 mln people this can become an issue if you aspire to be more than a jack of all trades. Thus some pack their suitcases and leave. Of course if we were an English speaking country (like UK, the USA or Ireland) hordes of us would be flooding the BBC, the Guardian, Sky News and the likes. But alas, it is not easy to become a journalist in a foreign country. What's left is strawberry fields, wine shops and white table cloths. And once you start in that stage it is up to you if you want to move up the ladder. But that is the advantage of Western countries - an opportunity to start everything all over again.

Perhaps I am young and dumb, but I admire the so called "American dream" stories. After all even the father of American press journalism Joseph Pulitzer came to the USA without much English and spend many hours in the library in front of the dictionary before revolutionising The New York World.

This Post has 16 Comments Add your own!
Primal Sneeze - August 1, 2007 at 10:04 AM

One of my friends came here with the usual plan: Work hard in a menial role until her English was good enough to get a real job.

She is educated to masters level and has enough experience to fit into middle-management in her profession.

I arranged for her to meet with another friend who has been working in this field for 15 years. Her dreams were shattered. Her qualifications would not be recognised. She would have to accept the most junior of roles and work for years on low pay until Irish employers would consider her equally qualified as she already is at home.

I think it was better she learned this now rather than later and learned it from a friend of a friend rather than from strangers.

That said, my Irish friend has offered to provide coaching and training so she can convince Irish employers of her ability. So all may not be lost.

Oh, and I didn't ask, but I'm sure she'd tell me she skipped the wanking phase. ;)

Lina - August 1, 2007 at 8:08 PM

Thanks for the comment. I especially liked the last sentence, Primal Sneeze :)

Labas - August 2, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Hi, Lina, thanks for mentioning my blog. I'm still in deep thoughts about whether I should launch an English language blog. I'm wondering if my stories would make high quality reading if I simply translated my Lithuanian ramblings,without actually modifying them. We'll see what happens. ;-)

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