I’m Gastarbeiter in Austria. Gast as a guest and Arbeiter as a worker.
A year ago I was done with teaching English for pocket money in the heart of Java island and eating too much rice. I was dreaming about cheese and with an idea of making fair amount of money in few months I started to apply for seasonal jobs in Austria, my neighbour country. Funny, I had Austria on my mind for a while, but never applied. Then my high school friend contacted me on Facebook after a years asking me about my tropical life. Telling me he was thinking to go for a holiday somewhere far after hard work in the kitchen in remote Austrian village somewhere in the mountains and I came across his mind. Planning his exotic escape he ended up sharing information how to apply for work in Austria with me (and did not make holidays so far). Few days later my German friend generously translated my partly fake CV to proper German. It was about beginning of April when I booked a ticket to Europe end of May. After that I settled down in a tent south of Java with a person who I already knew it will be hard to leave behind once I’ll fly to the other side. But I was determined it was enough of rice, which was more or less what I could afford at the time. The rest will follow! So I sat by the Indian ocean with my slow laptop and it’s confused keyboard eaten by mold, sending minimal ten e-mails per day. My non-existing cleaning experiences were obviously convincing enough and in couple of weeks I got a deal to start middle of June. I did not feel good about my made up CV at all and I tried to hold on my grandmother’s words: “Small lies are sometimes harmless.”
I was pretty afraid they will send me home once I arrive and they figure out my German is too bad. I did learn it for almost ten years, but never used it. For last two years I was talking mostly English and Indonesian. They did not send me home, but I was mixing German and Indonesian at least for a month. I was surprised by my understanding which was good. Speaking and writing I did not improve that much during rubbing floors and toilets. I did get solid by chit chat with guests and caught some useful phrases, which, once you know them, they stay and you think no further. Unless some unseen situations occur. But I handled everything by now.
The whole point was: make a lot of money fast and return back to islands as soon as possible.
I did go. Back to islands. Many of them. Started to develop a product. Visited dear friends. Meet new friends. Spent time with my dear person. Enjoyed vitamin sea and went through roller coaster of emotions. Wore red lipstick. Did yoga. Did not eat rice and bankrupted on chia seed yogurts and cakes (so not local food!). As I write this, I see many throwback post possibilities! O yeah! Well, I did not really run out of money because of gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese or Bali Buda bagels, it was more because of flying to remote islands within Indonesia, which cost me the same amount of money as if I would be flying to Europe. Anyways, I wasn’t making any real money to continue at such pace. Therefore I decided for another summer season in Austria.
So here I am. Zimmermädchen again. Zimmer as a room and Mädchen as a girl. Daydreaming about Java humidity, magnificent Natuna rocks and Balinese scents. Wishing there would be more opportunities to work in archipelago and working visas wouldn’t be such an issue. Or that business ideas wouldn’t take so long to develop. Or that at least this place would not treat me with such bad attitude. I believe not all places in Austria are the same and I’ve heard good stories. Sadly, I must say I feel foreigner here more often than I ever felt down under in Indonesia. I switched places already and my current situation is: searching new opportunities and seeing them in pink color; I’ve heard it helps make it happen.
Meanwhile I work, because we all know that cheese money won’t just appear while sitting around. I mostly clean, running up and down the stairs and three floors seem like a mountain I climbed when I call it a night. What I also do: prepare breakfast, wash the dishes, waiter the tables, iron, do laundry, clean boss’s apartment, work at the reception, check in the guests, get them coffee or beer, explain them about the place and cook my own dinner after I’m done with everything. Mitra, my Gastarbeiter friend from Slovenia, says I’m going to be a good wife to someone when the time comes.
It’s a joke, as two of us are not fitting ‘perfect wife’ model. For the time being I enjoy little things. My anthropological soul is fed seeing the rooms of Chinese people filled with instant noodles smells, chopsticks all around and a rope with drying laundry installed in the bathroom or on the balcony. I take it as a kind of a travel to China and I’m fine.
Reminder to myself: pink is power of mind!
With a lot of hope and patience,