Migrants, Multiculture, Profiles

An immigrant who still feels like a foreigner

Rosario has lived in England for 25 years, but still feels like a foreigner. She describes Henley as her home, although she says that when she returns to Spain she feels like she is truly arriving home.


Sonia Gumiel


A Spanish woman, married to an Englishman and with two children, lives in Henley-on-Thames.

Despite all the opportunities that England continues to offer, today, her greatest desire is to return to Spain.

Rosario always liked languages and picked them up easily. With her aim being to learn other languages, she studied English and French in Spain. Her first experience of coming to England was on 4 August 1991. Rosario travelled to England with her brother and her friend. She tells of how they arrived at the Isle of Wight and started looking for work, without any success, for two weeks. It was thanks to Sara, an English native, who taught them English classes as they found employment on the island, that Rosario  settled in a hotel with the job of making beds.

This experience lasted until September, when she returned to Spain and continued her language studies, although Rosario and her friend’s plans were to return to the British island, to continue learning the language.

These plans abruptly changed for her friend after the sudden death of her mother. At that time, Rosario was left without a travel companion, and although her idea was clear, feelings of insecurity seized her.

Rosario returned to the Isle of Wight and moved in with a family that a friend of her friend had recommended; she also started working at Hosiden & Besson, an electronics company, where she carried out mechanical tasks and tasks within the production line.

In January, the company decided to dismiss the 10 most recently hired employees, with Rosario among them.

The company left the door open for her to return in case more labour was ever needed. This led to a new challenge for her: finding a different job. She soon found work in Priory Seeview, a hotel on the island. Rosario tells of how it was one of her worst experiences, not only because her duties were hard work, but because her colleagues were unpleasant to her.

But then luck came knocking, more specifically in the form of Hosiden & Besson, who newly required her services in the company. Rosario was reunited with her old colleagues and it is thanks to one of them that she met her husband.

Her life changed again; she married in Almeria (Spain) and on her return to England moved with her husband to Henley-on-Thames. During this time she had her first son, David, and dedicated herself entirely to her son and to housework. Later, her family increased with the birth of Alex.

Once they became more independent, and after spending 7 years outside of the working world, Rosario started a position caring for children during their break times at the Sacred Heart School in Henley.

From there, the director offered her a position to provide support classes to one of the children with learning difficulties, a challenge where she was required to be self-taught and learn the best techniques to fulfil her duties.

This led to a new position as an assistant teacher, where she helped with different lessons two days a week. It has now been 8 years that she has been at this school; she also has another job in a school in Henley as a Spanish language assistant, which she says gives her a lot of personal gratification.

Rosario has lived in England for 25 years, but still feels like a foreigner. She describes Henley as her home, although she says that when she returns to Spain she feels like she is truly arriving home. She misses the character and culture of Spanish people and her aim is to retire and return to Spain. “I wouldn’t like to die in England, and if I did, I would want my ashes to be returned to Spain, to be scattered in the Mediterranean Sea, in my house, in my home”.

Photos: Pixabay  –  (Translated by Sydney Sims – Email: sydneyebsims@gmail.com)

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