Her perseverance to try to change her life and find a place in teaching meant that Virginia had a difficult path to take, a path taken by many immigrants when they arrive in the United Kingdom.
She was born in a Spanish village called Pozo Rubio de Santiago where there were only 12 school children. They experienced a different style of teaching to other Spanish schools. The teachers of these children taught interactively and as a result, Virginia aspired to learn to be a good teacher.
Following her childhood dream, she was a disciplined student and now has various qualifications such as, a degree in childhood education, teacher training and a master’s degree in special education. She obtained all of her qualifications in Spain, a country currently experiencing an economic crisis which greatly affects the chances of securing a job. For that reason, three years ago Virginia decided to emigrate to England.
In 2006, Virginia travelled to London for the first time as a tourist. Back then, she knew that she would return. But before making the move, she looked for cities offering the best possible opportunities and discovered that Bristol had the lowest level of unemployment. She arrived with her partner, Juan Ramón, and booked a hotel for five days in the hope of finding a job the next day. But this did not happen. Despite visiting every job agency in Bristol, her inability to speak English made her search extremely difficult, despite having excellent training.
It was at this time, in her frustrated rush to find somewhere to live and a job, Virginia, through an advertisement, contacted an English man named Alex, who was looking to hire workers for a canteen.
He promised to help them. First, he found them somewhere to live through a person who worked in cleaning, her name was Carol. She asked for an upfront payment of £4,000 to live in an unfinished apartment for six months.
Alex called them back and offered them a job in the canteen. In the first week everything went well until Virginia wanted to formalise her working situation and asked for the minimum wage. At that time, the minimum wage was £6.20 per hour and the canteen staff were being paid £3 per hour.
Alex was rude and, from then on, was quite unpleasant to Virginia. The situation became progressively worse. One day when serving a customer, her boyfriend was slow to respond and so Alex pushed him. After this they wanted to leave and never go back.
Coincidentally, Carol (the woman who rented the apartment to them) witnessed what had happened and offered them a cleaning job. Everything seemed to go back to normal, until they received a knock on the door one day from a Local Authority representative. Virginia and her boyfriend were told that they could no longer live in the apartment because it belonged to the council.
At that point, they were completely oblivious to the situation, not only because they could not understand English, but also because they had only recently arrived in England and did not know how these things worked. They were scared and did not know when they had to move out, especially as they had paid six months in rent upfront.
Furthermore, their hard labour as cleaners was directly linked to the person that illegally rented the apartment to them.
Finally, after a few days of intensive searching, Virginia and her boyfriend found another cleaning job at a hotel and a new home. After another six months of cleaning, she began to feel frustrated and decided to look for work which was related to her degree. She sent her CV to a nursery and they gave her the opportunity to show how well she worked with children.
Her life had changed to the point that over the course of those three years, Bristol went from being a grey and dark city to a place full of friendly people where she enjoyed herself. It also offered her a professional opportunity that her own country could not offer.
However, her boyfriend encountered his own problems. One day on the way to a warehouse where he worked, he was run over by a taxi. This accident left him unable to work for a period and as a result, he lost his job.
He has now recovered and has gone back to work in a different warehouse; however, he might go back to Spain. If he does, Virginia will have to make the most important decision of her life: let her love go or continue to work doing what she loves, teaching.
(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay