Thursday, 12 July 2012

Immigrating to the United Kingdom: Useful Tips

After the crunch decision to move to a new country follows the realisation of what the process entails. It helps when the move is to a region or country with climate and culture similar to the one the individual is leaving behind. Where the move involves a leap across continents the challenge may sometimes be daunting.

A migrant moving from Africa, the Caribbean Islands or any of the other warmer regions to the UK soon finds that like a child he has to be taught or learn the hard way the basic things about his new environment.

Swapping beach shorts for leather and wool clothing

The difference in climate between the tropics and Europe is well documented however one needs to criss-cross both regions to get an actual feel of the contrast in temperatures. In England, for instance, it can get so cold that one is advised to don as many layers of clothing as possible to withstand freezing conditions whereas in a hot climate like Mbosi in Nigeria if not mistaken for a madman and whisked away to a mental institution for wearing multiple clothing, then the heat will probably kill that individual.

Crossing from a hot climate to a cold region, a migrant should expect to spend a considerable sum of money on the appropriate clothing. An individual born into the cold environment would probably never know the extent of this expenditure because he would have acquired the right attire gradually over time.
However, the migrant from a region with an average yearly temperature of 28 degrees Celsius will find a mild autumn temperature unbearable thus would need to acquire quality warm clothing within a short period.
In keeping with the law of demand and supply good quality winter clothing do not come cheap in temperate climates. From item like hats/caps and scarves, undergarments like thermals to duly lined/padded wool and leather coats, these garments involve substantial financial outlay.

Asides the face cap that serves to shield one’s eyes from the direct rays of the sun, hats and similar items have always been seen as mere accessories in the tropics. It is fascinating how a fleece scarf, wool cap combined with other pieces of clothing goes a long way in protecting an individual from the harsh effect of the elements in a cold climate.

Geography - knowing your turf
In a year or two a man about town will probably know enough about his new environment to make things happen in the UK, however, a migrant needs to ‘hit the ground running’ because most cities in the UK are expensive to live in.

A few months after moving to the UK a former colleague attended an interview in central London; though the interview was with a recruitment agency, it was meant to be a dress rehearsal for an eventual meeting with the employer.
In the course of the interview, the recruiter informed the candidate that the employer’s office was located in the West End. The candidate at the time had never heard of the West End and naively inquired about its location from the recruiter.

In the words of the migrant, as the recruiter described the part of London referred to as the West End, it was clear from the expression on the recruiter’s face that he was unimpressed.
In seeking any job role, a reasonable knowledge of the territory is essential. This is especially so where the job in question has an element of field work.

Unlocking the Language barrier
It is trite fact that the ability to communicate in the local language is essential for any migrant. In particular fluency in the language must include the ability to write well as being able to pronounce words in a manner that the indigenes will understand.

For instance, the English stress the letters ‘th’ when pronouncing many English words while some migrants treat the letter ‘h’ as silent when pronouncing same words. Hence the word ‘three’ when pronounced by a non-native English speaker may sound as though he/she is saying ‘tree’.
Another common example is the pronunciation of the word ‘debt’. This, of course, is pronounced with the letter ‘b’ silent. Again a non-native English speaker may pronounce the same word as spelt thus giving the impression that he/she meant to say ‘depth’. These are just two of the multitude of the possible hindrance to communication that a migrant may encounter.

Coupled with the above a migrant has to learn to comprehend the various British accents like the Scouse, Cockney or Geordie dialects commonly encountered in everyday life.
With most job advertisements highlighting the need for excellent communication skills, no employer will feel confident taking on a candidate found deficient in this skill.

Lifestyle and Etiquette
Culture of a people are often defined as its custom or way of doing things. It is not uncommon to refer to someone as rude, uncultured or without manners when that individual’s actions do not conform to the behaviour of the locals. The British are just like other nationals in matters of this nature.

Something as simple as failing to add the word ‘please’ to a response (not just a request) could be misconstrued a rude behaviour. If a potential recruiter or business partner perceives a migrant as rude it is very unlikely that the relationship will blossom.

Building Financial Credibility
No matter how much income you are able to muster in the first few years, it is important that you demonstrate financial prudence. From ensuring that you have a current/Bank account that is credited with a regular income to making certain that the account is not overdrawn unnecessarily.
It is equally important that any utility bill in your name is settled promptly and that you are never in arrears with your rent. Every time you default in your financial commitment, this adversely impacts on your Credit score.

For transactions as simple as a mobile phone monthly contract, the phone companies rely on a financial report from credit reference agencies to reach a decision on whether to offer you a contract.

A UK resident’s financial standing plays a vital role in numerous transactions. It could be a landlord seeking to ascertain whether an individual would be able to afford rent and has a track record of meeting financial obligations. Some employers also refer to the credit referencing agencies when recruiting for roles that involve handling of money.
Insurance companies also often make reference to an individual’s credit standing and of course banks and other financial institutions refer to it when reviewing a loan or credit card application.

In the United Kingdom, persons arriving from non-European Union countries with the exception of a few countries have to go through the full process needed to acquire a driving licence.
Owning a full driving licence is a great tool to possess in the UK as a lot of jobs are tied to having one.
Paying for a provisional licence, the theory test, tuition, as well as the practical test all, require considerable financial outlay. This could pose a challenge to a migrant struggling to secure a steady job and affordable accommodation. For migrants who have years of excellent overseas driving experience, this could prove even more frustrating.
Hence the decision on the right time to acquire a driving licence would depend on each migrant’s circumstance.

Except a migrant is conversant with the UK and its people either from previous visits or research, no one expects a new entrant to pick up all there is to know about a new country in a flash. Rather the aim should be to imbibe as many of the local customs as quickly as possible. The foregoing is therefore meant to prepare persons interested in taking that leap of faith with the hope of advancing their careers outside their shores for life in the UK.