Peter's story

From: Burgas, Bulgaria | Date moved to the UK: April 2014 | Occupation: Trainee Manager

In Bulgaria, I was a business manager at McDonald’s but I moved to the UK to improve my standard of life. I’d previously visited as a tourist and really liked it, and as English is the only foreign language I knew, it seemed a good idea to move there.

Before moving, I was aware of some of the British media coverage. They said a lot of people would come to the UK and expect to live on benefits and exploit the economy. And the public think people come over just to get money from the government. But it’s not like that – we actually spend a lot of money over here – rent, travel, food, that kind of thing. I didn’t expect the UK to be like that - I didn’t think there was a problem with racism or nationalism.

Sometimes, when I’m introduced to new people, I experiment and say I’m Russian. But actually, people are even more concerned if I say I’m Russian because of the recent problems with Russia and Ukraine.

"The worst thing about the British is that they put all people from one nation into one group"

But the thing that surprised me most was how difficult it was to actually settle here. Things like opening a bank account – it’s taken me well over a month to open one and I still haven’t got a proper account because I live in a shared house and they require various proofs of address that I just don’t have. Bank staff were suspicious when I told them I was Bulgarian. Maybe they had a bad experience with someone from Bulgaria, I don’t know.

And even getting a mobile is difficult. If you don’t have a bank account, you can’t get a phone, so it’s a closed system.

The other thing I found really hard was getting a job. It’s not because there are a lack of jobs, it’s that it takes so long to be invited for interview. You can spend one month waiting for an answer. Maybe it’s to make people who want to stay here give up and quit.

When I came over, there were two other Bulgarians on the plane with me. We were all expecting to find jobs and a good place to live. We stayed in contact. But they returned to Bulgaria after one week because the place they lived was small and dirty and they hadn’t been asked to any interviews. I guess they expected faster results.

I eventually got a job in McDonald’s even though I had to start as a trainee manager. My experience as a Business Manager at McDonald’s back in Bulgaria didn’t seem to count. They hadn’t even heard of Bulgaria, like a lot of British people, which surprised me. It’s been covered so much in the media, it’s in the European Union and it’s a tourist destination.

The worst thing about the British is that they put all people from one nation into one group. They say all Turkish people make kebabs, Bulgarians should work in construction, Romanians should be cleaners and Indians should go into customer services. That is something I don’t like – everybody should be treated equally.