Born in Ciudad Real, Spain, she qualified as an emergency medical technician and at the age of 22, it was clear that she could work in different trades in this country that would give her the chance to learn English and provide opportunities.
One year was the expected time for Alba to enjoy her experience. The first question that was asked was what would be the first step to establish herself in the country. She said that she would start in the simplest way: being an au pair, a position that guaranteed a place to sleep and met her basic needs while she was learning the language and integrating into British society.
Alba looked for work as an au pair on a website that was recommended to her. The interview was via Skype. A Polish family, located in Bracknell, England, with a baby boy and a 3-year-old girl gave her a roof over her head, food and £100 per week. Alba only had to take care of the children and keep the house tidy. She felt happy and welcome.
However, it did not take long for her to realise that things were not as she thought.
The working day lasted from morning till night, there was no difference between working hours and her own time.
The lady of the house controlled everything she did, even her internet access and her communication with her family in Spain.
It reached the point where she was embarrassing her publically on social medial with such comments as: “Talking on Facebook? Is this what you are doing while you are looking after my children?”
Next she told Alba to stop using her mobile phone. Alba obeyed the order, despite knowing that they were violating her rights, as she was an au pair and not a nanny and her contract clearly said that she had 5 hours of work per day. Nevertheless, the arguments continued, therefore the working relationship had to end.
Then Alba went to a friend’s house for two weeks until she found a job, again as an au pair. This time she was lucky. Her new family were from Windsor and her new boss’s mother had been an au pair from the Basque country.
In some ways her story and that woman’s story had similarities, in that it was the beginning for both of them in England. Therefore Alba felt comfortable. Her new family even helped her when she was ill and understood her needs as an immigrant.
Alba lived in Windsor and one weekend when she went on a trip she met her now-fiancée, originally from Albania and living in Reading. Their dates were complicated by the distance and different working hours. As a result, they decided to move to live together in Reading.
This changed Alba’s life again, not only on an emotional level but on a professional level. She stopped being an au pair in Windsor and in Reading she started to work in a hotel in Henley on Thames, a place situated in the county of Oxfordshire, nine kilometres from Reading.
Working there would not have been so difficult if the transportation had been better, as having to make a change at Twyford station meant she had to get up at 4 am to go to the hotel.
This is why she decided to look for a job in Reading again, in the same sector – the hospitality trade – as, according to her, this area has more job options.
She currently works in Reading at a cafeteria in a shopping centre and is enjoying her love story.
It is true that almost three years ago she moved to England when her plan was to be there for only one year. What she has learned is that “in this country you cannot make plans”. Something that scares her a bit, as her idea is to return to Spain.
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by Donna Davison. Email: email@example.com)