• Julissa Zwemmer

Foreigner on the job

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

At some point in our dreams, we must think about money. As well as for this experience, it is necessary to find work to turn those dreams into reality. Moreover, this could be a great opportunity to experience interviews/work as a foreigner and putting our overseas skills to the test. Yes, challenge accepted! With a good level of English, an university degree in the pocket and a good spirit, I believed we would be a good fit. Nevertheless, after the third interview, I found myself running away. I left the ‘good behavior-, skills- and IQ- tests’ behind and felt the urge to call my friend. ‘I can’t believe you just run away, what happened?!’ She laughed her ass off, when I told her that my guts just ordered me to get the fuck out of there. After a mini mental breakdown, I realized, I have to lower my expectations and just take what there is to take. Later on, we found the solution for our money problem: temporarily work through recruitments.


My first job was provided by Sidekicker; a platform for casual jobs. Due to this platform I had many different jobs, from serving events in a fancy church, to serving drinks to drunk rock-lovers during a concert. These jobs got me in some crazy situations; I got yelled at, got bloody hands of opening bottles and I was in between two fighting managers. ‘Go and pick that up for me!’. ‘NO! What are you doing?’ ‘Well, I’m just doing what I’ve been told, you two have to make up your mind!’ My direct Dutch reaction, surprisingly, resulted in having two angry managers making me do all the cleaning. -_-

Besides getting myself into trouble, these jobs got me some benefits as well. One time, I was the lucky one to attend a fashion show. ‘Would you mind guarding one of the emergency doors?’ Well of course not! I also saw Sam Smith preforming and the Breakers playing. All that, while getting paid. Winning! Furthermore, I could save up some money, due to taking leftovers of caterings back home. I think even now we still have some left in the freezer. There was food in overload, but other times I was secretly eating from trays at fancy yacht occasions, because the supervisor wouldn’t allow us to eat in front of the clients. I understood his point, but do you want me to drop death? No food during a 10-hour shift, but make sure you keep smiling, while getting nauseous of hunger.

Click right for more pictures >


I got a job at Transdev as a Customer Service Administrator, thanks to a recruitment. It was pretty good to see the inside of Auckland’s office-life and it turned out to be quite old school and layback. I did my job well and ended up with having good times with the CEO’s. They turned out to be Dutchies too and after some beers, I could even enjoy some Dutch humor, which means laughing hard about toilet jokes.

Crombie Lockwood Insurance

Another office job, data entry, brain-killing work. After all who knew, I got a lot of inspiration while doing this kind of work. When you start working on an automatically basis, the brain wanders off and you will find yourself in miraculous mind-spaces. Unfortunately, it only lasted for two days, after that I was just bored.

Portland House Pub

Nice pub with live bands. At last, I was in a nice place with friendly co-workers of my age. Only, the manager lacked in managing skills. I will spare you the frustrating details, but it ended in being kicked out of the roster without a proper conversation and them expecting me to be available as back up. Well, what do you think man, I’m not crazy Henkie! (bad Dutch saying translation- Ja wat denk je zelf, ben gekke Henkie niet).

After 3 months of working in Auckland, I could say: I have seen it all. From the bottom to the top. Meetings with CEO’s and serving CEO’s. Within these 3 months I learned some valuable lessons and gain some rich experiences.

First, being a foreigner on the job, is remarkable. People see/hear you are not from here and assume you probably can’t pore a drink, hold a tray, know how a computer works or even may be deaf when you don’t get what customers say straight away. Come on! Dear customer, you could scream SAUV, one more time in my face, but if you would pronounce the actual word (Sauvignon blanc) I would exactly know what I could get for you. Secondly, it also made me understand how strong the connection of ‘outsiders" can grow. It is comfortable to connect with people, who are in the same situation. Feeling stupid together: I’m looking at my Brazilian co-worker, with panic in my eyes. ‘Do you know what a CC dry is?’ She looks at me and pulls her shoulders up. ‘No clue’. She jumps up the bar, gives me a supporting look: ‘I got this. Sorry sir, what on earth can I get you?’

Finally, I learned how to NOT deal with clearly underqualified managers. My direct way wouldn’t have the same results as back home. Authority is still a strong, visible aspect in Auckland’s hospitality world. Don’t speak, until spoken to. Stay put and don’t get any ideas in your head, even though those could help everyone. I tried to be patience, when getting yelled at and knowing you could do better. Pff, we foreigners might come over as stupid, but we are definitely not unintelligent. Just help us to understand your local way of doing things. I will keep this in mind and hopefully I’m able to share this insight. It will be so helpful to create more understanding for all immigrants and refugees. Not only for them, but also to smooth'en local interaction with foreigners.

After all the world isn’t theirs or ours, it belongs to mother nature and we are all her guests.


©2019 by Travel Thoughts.  Photographs by Rowan Linschoten Photography©