I don’t normally talk about my real life on my blog. I don’t mind talking about it, but whenever I write blog posts about my life I get overwhelmed with feelings like, “No one wants to read about your real life, Ashley!” So I delete them.
But today I’m throwing those thoughts out the window so I can have a real life rant. I really need to get this off my chest because I’ve been stressing over it for weeks!
This rant is about three things: love, jobs, and visas.
My boyfriend and I are totally star-crossed lovers
I swear the fates are against us. Every time we take a step forward, they throw us another curveball.
You may have heard of my boyfriend before on this blog, but if not: he is the infamous Coding God and the love of my life! I call him Coding God on my blog because he is a freaking coding god. And somehow that became his Nose Graze persona.
We met online in 2006. We started dating in 2009.
He’s British. I’m American.
Immediately our biggest challenge was: we’re in two separate freaking countries. Over 5,000 miles apart. For two years we worked through a long distance, international relationship. When I woke up 11am, it was already 7pm for him. That was our life for two years.
Fates: 1 Ashley + Coding God: 0
I switched universities and traveled across the world to be with him
In 2011 I transferred to a university in the UK so I could be with him. That’s where I’ve been for the last 2 years (starting my third now). We’re still in a long distance relationship, but at least we’re a train ride away instead of a $1200 plane ride!
Fates: 1 Ashley + Coding God: 1
My plan was always something like this:
- Finish my first 2 years at the UK uni
- Work for a year as part of my year in industry
- Go back to uni and complete my third/final year
- Transfer into a “post study work visa” and work in the UK for two years
- Then re-evaluate from there
Well sometime in between when I started my first year of uni and now, the UK border agency eliminated the post study work visa completely. There goes one part of my epic plan. Now the only way I can stay in the country after I graduate is to get a normal work visa (super hard to get) or get married.
Fates: 2 Ashley + Coding God: 1
Over this past summer, people were constantly asking me, “So what are you going to do after you graduate? Stay in the UK or come back to America?” My answer was always:
“I don’t know, I’m not really thinking about it yet because I still have 2 years to decide.”
And at the time, that was true. I was going to be starting a one-year-long job in September, then after that I’d finish my third and final year of university. Two more years on my student visa, two years to figure out my life.
Fast forward to the end of September. I quit that job very soon after starting. I quickly realized that it was NOT the job for me. In fact, it made me so fiercely realize that I want my own company. I want to make a living as a freelancer or the owner of my own business. I don’t want to go sit in an office and be told what websites to make and how to make them. I want to call the shots and pick the projects and determine for myself how to code them.
But quitting that job sped everything up. A few weeks ago I thought I had two years to decide my future. Now I’m down to ONE.
Fates: 3 Ashley + Coding God: 1
Will stupid visa laws keep us apart?
Right now, I see that my boyfriend and I have 4 options.
1. In the 3-4 months between my graduation and my visa expiration, I find a job in the UK
If I wait until after the 4 month mark passes, getting a job becomes exponentially harder due to work visa rules. They then have to run market tests before hiring me. The tests have to prove that no one in the UK is qualified for the job and thus they ABSOLUTELY NEED me for it. But if I can get a job during that 3-4 month window, it’s easier to get a job because the employer doesn’t have to run that market test. But here’s where my next dilemma comes into play!
I want to work for myself.
I know I could get a normal job and just stick it out… but I don’t want to be miserable. I don’t want to get a job that I hate, work 9-5, and be grumpy and mopey most of the time. I don’t think anyone wants that!
But there’s no way I can work for myself on a UK work visa. I have to be employed by a company.
I have been look through job listing sites every once in a while just to see what’s out there, but I can’t find anything that interests me. I don’t JUST want to be a web developer.. I want to make websites that I actually really like and really care about. That’s why I quit my other job, because I didn’t give two shits about the websites I was supposed to be making. (There are also many other reasons, that’s just one of them.)
2. I go back to the US… and my boyfriend comes with me.. but is this possible?
The biggest problem with this is that my boyfriend already has a steady job. I can’t uproot him from that. The company he works for does have a few offices in the United States, but they wouldn’t just let him transfer there. The job positions are very clearly divided according to location. The back-end developers (my boyfriend) work in the UK. The front-end developers work in San Francisco. Another reason why they wouldn’t want to let him transfer is because if they did, they’d have to pay him more (apparently). And obviously they’ll want to avoid that if they can. *grumbles*
3. I go back to the US and he stays in the UK.. until we figure things out
This is an absolute last resort that I’d want to avoid at all costs. For obvious reasons.
4. We get married
To be honest, I’m totally and 100% down with this option. My boyfriend and I have been dating for 4 years and living together off and on for at least like 6 months (it’s hard to count since it’s off and on, a few weeks/months at a time).
I think if I was 30 with those same numbers (dating 4 years, living together for 6 months), no one would bat an eyelash at the idea of getting married. But since I’m only almost 23, my parents would freak. Everyone would think we’re just getting married so I can get a visa.. and while I guess that would be true, it’s not entirely true. I really feel like my boyfriend and I are getting married one day. Period. And right now it looks like our options are either:
- Get married while we’re “maybe a bit too young”, but we’ll be able to stay together.
- Go back to being in an international, long distance relationship for a few years, struggle through it, and just bide our time until it’s more “acceptable” for us to get married.
I don’t know what you think, but I think #2 sounds like shit.
If that’s what it comes down to—either get married, or be separate for a few years and THEN get married—I’m going with #1. I honestly think it’s pointless to struggle through years of having half of a relationship (which is what an international long distance one is) just to wait until it’s more acceptable to get married.