Why Emigrate? What I learned from two months abroad


If you are reading this, it is likely you are interested in immigration and the possibility of a future for you abroad in the UK. To leave your home and set out to another place: another home, in search of opportunities and a wider look into new horizons and disparate cultures. Reaching out and pushing ourselves further than we have gone before has always been central to human, even natural history – and in our closely connected, oyster-world, this has never been more true. Despite the accessibility of international travel today, however, it still takes immense bravery to stretch out and truly take the steps needed to leave your home country and establish yourself in a foreign environment. It is at the heart of Vira International’s history, as the business built its second home here in the UK in 2001, after thirty years of operation in India. While for me, London is home and will remain so for the time being, India presented itself as a new frontier as I made my way to Vira’s Mumbai office for the first time in April 2023.

I was a 23-year-old immigration coordinator embarking on a two-month trip to help maintain the strong and well-rooted bonds between Vira’s London and Mumbai offices. Brave and courageous? Not so much. Uncertain and trepidatious? Undeniably.

I arrived on my first day in Mumbai at 09:00 to find an empty office; only later was I informed that the office does not open until 11:00, as they work to maximise overlap with the London office. While I waited, I sat on the floor of the busy office building, going through the names and roles of those I was soon to meet. As the city began to wake up, officegoers and business officials bustled by, paying me no attention as I sat there, attempting to listen in as the crowds past by me. Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi were the some of the many languages spoken, none of which I could understand.

Fortunately, it was not long before I was greeted by my welcoming and friendly colleagues who invited me into the offices and laboured to make me feel at home and comfortable in the new setting. I quickly realised why I came. While I had met so many of Vira’s Mumbai employees online, the personal and invaluable connection of being and working alongside them was irreplaceable. International collaboration feels like a term reserved for investment brochures but the collaborative aspect of my job in a company that crosses continents cannot be understated and this was something I only realised and truly appreciated when physically closing the gap. Whether it is at the desk, comparing our processes and discussing our approaches, or it’s after work, heading to a favourite chaat stall for some Ragda Patty, I gained a renewed perspective on life in another country, especially one so different and dynamic as India.

There is an importance in widening our horizons. While it is not without difficulty and demands conviction and resolve, it is those demands that make it worthwhile. It is the way of life you learn to assimilate. It is the food that you grow to love. It is, ultimately, the people that you meet. I was fortunate enough to meet a diverse and thoughtful group in my Mumbai-peers who constantly endeavoured to help when needed and from whom I have learned so much.

So if you are, as I have assumed you are, looking to emigrant to a new country, I encourage you to. You will find hinderance and you will face obstacles, but I urge you to push forward, further than you have gone before. The experiences that you will be rewarded with, the perspectives that you will gain, you will find it enriching and memorable. When you are ready to take your next steps in life, do so with vigour and I assure you it will bear fruit.

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