One of the biggest requirements of getting a work visa here in China is that you prove your education and work history. It didn't really occur to me this would be very difficult, because when i moved to Canada it was enough to give them my LinkedIn page and photocopies of my work contracts, bank statements and so on. But when i moved to Canada i was applying as a spouse, not as a skilled migrant. Applying for a work permit without some arbitrary family connection appears to be much more difficult.
China needs to see my university degree and at least two years of "work certification", which basically means reference letters from previous employers indicating that i really worked there, and that my job involved more than making coffee. What i didn't expect was that i can't just give them the docs and let them figure it out - for every "official" document i give them, there is an extremely long and painful process required to "legalize" it. That is, each document has to be notarized by a justice of the peace inside the local government district where it was filed, then it needs to be authenticated by a federal government department in that country, then it needs to be legalized by a Chinese embassy in that country.
So, i need to pay for (and presumably show up in person to obtain) three different bureaucratic certifications on my university degree which i have literally not used for anything in my life up until this date. Seriously. It is still inside the same tube it was when the university sent it to me back in 2006. There are three (!) countries worth of postmarks on it because i keep getting family and friends to send the useless thing all over the world for me.
But anyway, yeah. Immigration. Fucking. Sucks. It is incredibly stressful, expensive, frustrating and time-consuming. Anyone who thinks immigrants are getting a free ride needs to take several fucking seats. Immigrants work harder than anyone with birth citizen privilege to contribute to a country.
This morning's emails from various consulates and visa offices uncorked a torrent of pent-up Australia hate. I had some great times and made some great friends there, but it was always a place i was dragged to reluctantly. I spent years longing to move to America, which is the country i had dreamed of moving to after finishing highschool in Holland. Australia's macho, sports-crazy culture did not suit my awkwardly androgynous nerdface at all. My little scene of hippies and ravers was relatively open-minded, but i still had trouble integrating. I swung between being sort of happy there and struggling to escape. Nowadays i know the country i wanted to escape to is possibly even more racist than Australia, but at the time i was still caught up in the mythology. Ugh, fuck everywhere. Perhaps i never gave the place a good chance, but after 10+ years i left and have not once looked back.
Except for, you know, when fucking immigration laws forced me to look back. And that's what annoys me the most. I know it's China that has the strict documentation requirements, not Australia. But i resent the fact that i am going to have go back just to get this stupid documentation sorted out. I resent that i ever got my degree there. I am annoyed i spent so many years stuck, because now every time i need to immigrate somewhere new, this is going to fuck me. Again and again, Australia will fuck me, even when i thought i left it good and well behind. Why? Because while living there i clawed my way through part-time, correspondence-based university courses in the hope the degree would be my ticket out. It wasn't. I guess those efforts have finally opened at least one door for me now, but dear God it's not a convenient one.
I have so much more to write about, and was intending to this morning, till this whole shit happened. I want to write about the interesting Chinese term 热闹, but instead i will write about me.
I was thinking the other day about how i do not have a culture of my own. I guess i am something like a "third culture kid", but that's not entirely true because many "third culture kids" do have some kind of home country. I don't. My father and mother were born in different countries, i was born in another one, and by the time i turned 18 i had lived in five more. My core identity is a traveler. Not really an aimless bum - although i definitely enjoy holidaying like that - but perhaps more like a hobo or a seasonal worker. I like to live in the places i travel to, work for a while and contribute to the community. And then leave. What struck me recently is that it's not because i have commitment issues or because i am a self-hating white person or whatever other thing lots of armchair psychologists have thrown at me. No - this is really, honestly my culture. My father has itchy feet too. My grandfather's stories scatter the globe. This is the only life i have ever known.
And this lifestyle - moving around a lot and not having a home country or a credit history or a paper trail - is not something modern society really supports. Immigration law in particular - in all countries - really fucking fails me. Sure i could be a douchey "digital nomad" and flit around not paying any taxes in the countries i temporarily live in, but i care more about my hosts than that. I just wish my hosts would make it easier for me to be a legit contributor to their society in the first place. And make it easier for everyone else who wants to immigrate, for that matter. God, i fucking hate borders. They truly are the worst. Nationalism of any and all stripes can get fucked.
When i was young i thought i would grow up to see world peace, a world government, complete freedom of movement, something like Star Trek. Instead my own country of birth has turned its back on me and millions like me. All around the world people are wanting to erect taller walls and cower into ever smaller and more ethnically uniform bubbles. This isn't the future i signed up for, and i don't know what i can do to change it.
I am going to watch science fiction and try to forget it all for tonight :(