Ignorance vs. Rationality
The first offer in job search section on xpatjobs.com in Holland presents you with a position of Temporary Accounting Administrative Assistant in The Hague. When clicking on “apply” button, the first thing you see is the notice in red which states the following:
To apply for this job you need to be currently in the Netherlands and have a valid work permit/sofi number.
PLEASE DO NOT APPLY unless you are within the Netherlands at the moment and have the required permit/sofi number.
I am not a human rights activist, but lately had to disregard the best part of the job offers because of not having a EU work permit. As a matter of fact, I am not alone in this quest for available vacancies. We are indeed quite many in Europe, educated young people from all over the World struggling to find employment and being discriminated on the basis of our nationality. Personally, I have been extending my student residence permits every 6 months since 2006 when I first came to study for a Bachelor’s degree in Finland. The application process is very costly, bureaucratic and at times humiliating. Nevertheless, we willingly go through it, just because our morals don’t let us live there, where we come from. We are moving from one european country to another, studying hard and working part-time or as freelancers, and hoping one day to get a permanent job.
We love Europe for its’ values of honesty, freedom, solidarity and justice. In fact, we simply want to be given a chance to demonstrate our gratitude to this society and to make a contribution. There are easier ways of course, like marrying a EU citizen etc. Yet, my goal here is not to contemplate on available shortcuts, but to present a glimpse of our reality.
It’s rather cool to talk about diversity management at the workplace and overall egalitarianism, but a few have raised the issue of partial treatment for non-EU students in Europe.
And we are humble to talk about our adversities, we are the ones, who have made it through honestly and will persevere eagerly regardless of barriers and prejudices. Actually, back at home things are much worse, success is corrupted and values are twisted. Still, it’s easy to buy virtually everything, even a residence permit. But that’s why we have left, not to engage in Machiavellian battle which we are destined to lose.
My friends are very excited about spending some time in Russia, especially in Moscow, which is known for its extraordinary beauties and glamour nightlife. However, I won’t write about parties here; I believe there is something else about Russia, which would not let me think about jolly money spending guys and gals.
I’m not going to dive into the retrieval of the causes and effects, but rather shortly describe my feelings about the country and its’ people.
The first and the foremost thing which literally shocks me when I travel to Russia, is the all-around rudeness. Last summer when arrived to Moscow Domodedovo, I got the impression, that people were fighting against each other using abusive words as weapons. Swearing people at the airport, at the metro, in the streets, not a single smiling face for 3 hours until I finally saw my friend. She picked me up from the station, and it was like a breath of fresh air.
When you are rich, you drive SUV with dark tinted windows listening to Rachmaninoff , separating yourself from the misery. When you are poor, there is no escape from anger, hatred and humiliation.
The second problem is infrastructure devastation. An awful state of roads, buildings etc. made me sick to my stomach. Things could not be worse, I thought. How dare anyone compare this country to Europe when people live in such a misery… I’m posting a photograph of mail boxes of a TYPICAL building.
As you can see, the locks are broke open, the boxes are burnt, the mail gets stolen. The walls are all covered with a layer of dirt and the smell is disgusting.
There are 9 floors, 8 apartments at each level, up to 10 entrances in a building, 1500 people living side by side. Soviet semi-detached house. Insane.
When I was 10, me and my friend would clean up all the floors, sweep the floor, wash the walls and even do cartoon drawings. It was fun, it was a game we played.
At the basement of the building, where the heating system was, junkies were doing drugs and sniffing glue. Needles were everywhere. I thought it was normal, just the way it should be.
The third problem is extreme poverty. 2011 average pension is 196 euro, while the living costs are often higher than in Europe. In fact, there is no way one can survive on this amount. Children, or any other relatives take the responsibility to help old people. Nevertheless, every day you see someone in the street rummaging in garbage looking for food. That’s all right just to walk by, everybody is struggling to survive.
Then of course there are rich guys with posh cars and yachts. Inequalities are huge.
It’s just a snapshot of overall deterioration in Russia. Material values prevail and make poverty survival not only physically difficult, but also mentally intolerable.
According to World Bank, Russia occupies 6th place worldwide in terms of GDP (PPP).
At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP. Paul Hawken