I am an international student working as a part-time housekeeper in New Zealand.It is unfortunately the only job I found, and which I liked, because I feel ‘human’ there.
I clean lobbies, receptions, toilets, clinics, laboratories and theaters. My classmate who learned I am cleaning toilets think it’s unimaginably gross. I really think it is nothing to be ashamed of.
I work in a nice private hospital which is really very clean compared to private hospitals in the Philippines. It’s already clean but they maintain the cleanliness and over-all hygiene by hiring us.
I love working there because we have free toast, butter, jam, milk, tea, sometimes muffins and cookies and coffee during breaks. I also love the people I worked with.
Starting from the Bottom
When I decided to come to New Zealand, I was prepared for all possibilities. Starting from the bottom is one. A few months into my stay in Auckland and I was still jumping from one casual work to another.
I worked as a kitchen assistant during a two-day Bruce Springstein concert. My job was to take stocks from the freezer and into the hot kitchen, where I also helped frying the chips.
I also worked as a cleaner for a Filipino cleaning company from seven in the morning to four in the afternoon on Saturdays. I use a heavy backpack vacuum cleaner from morning to afternoon. It was painful on my back and doubly painful when I have my periods.
I worked as a retail assistant for a pop-up store. It was a pleasant work experience working with Kiwis and the Kiwi owner. To save on money I walk back home for thirty minutes.
I worked as a room attendant for a well-known hotel but with very minimal hours that cannot sustain my needs. Then I got this this job as a cleaner in the hospital and I feel home at least for the time being.
I have to do what I am good at
Work opportunities have been elusive for me and yet at school I was noticed for the right reasons. I was getting really very high grades not because I am intelligent but I find the lessons pretty much familiar and easy. I realize then that if work is not being good to me then I might as well just focus my energy on the lessons.
Most of the students do not bother with school at all because after all they came here to earn and not to study. They are actually getting money while I am struggling financially. I feel a little sorry for myself at that because the reality is I also need money, but God instead give me smarts.
Juggling work and school
My housekeeping job is scheduled in the late afternoon to a couple of hours before midnight which is good. As soon as I get home, I am already very exhausted. In the morning, I go to class tired and sleepy. I only pay attention to the most important part of the lesson and doze off. I call this energy conservation.
The lessons are quite easy, the assignments are pretty strict against plagiarism and you have to work for it, other than that it is a walk in the park, besides I can get A+ for 84% grade. I find the standards really hilarious. When I got my grades I was laughing like crazy. But I am really proud having survived the ordeal. Grades are just that – grades.
I actually work hard for it because I have nothing to show for myself. I was hard-up financially, my work is erratic, so I decided that if I am to be worthy as a migrant then I have to focus on something I am good at. I just did my best with the resources that I have.
I manage my time well and spent hours in the library writing my assignment. I could not study at home because it is crowded. My grades are not a security to get me a job here. But at least, I have done my part. A job well done is its own reward.
Pride and Humility
It is true that a job no matter what it is, if done with integrity is descent and is a source of pride. I pride myself working as a housekeeper and I even take pride with the fact that not everyone can take this job with the same pride as I do.
It is a humbling experience which also makes me reflect not only upon my strength and determination; but it also allows me to think about others who are doing the same physical job as I am, in harsher conditions.
I am a subservient follower
I take directions from my fellow worker who knows better than I do. Sometimes I think that she can be bossy but since she knows what she’s doing, I don’t complain. Besides I don’t want to waste my mind thinking about little things when I can use my mind in my creative pursuits. It’s like working, blindly following, and using only very little of my brain while keeping my mind together to finish the physical task for once, until late night.
My dream is still alive
Sometimes, I come close to quitting out of physical exhaustion. Sometimes, I hide in the toilet to let tears roll out of my frustration. Sometimes, I blame myself for coming to this country without even getting a clearer picture of reality. I just jumped off the water without looking into the pool. It is my fault. But then it is too late. I feel like I have just awoken in my sleep and wondered what I am doing here?