The fifth episode of “Our Voices” tells the story of Cynthia, a nurse from the Philippines who left her home two years ago in order to live and work in the UK. Growing up as the daughter of a pilot, she describes how she was used to being on the move from a young age; however, her decision to move to the UK would be more than just another flight.
Cynthia recounts the reservations she felt while making the decision to leave her family and friends in order to come to a country where she had no connections and would be starting again. She talks about how the experience began to become real during her flight to England and how at the time she felt “a mixture of anxiety and excitement”. She wasn’t just planning on making an adjustment in terms of her country of residence, from the tropical islands of the Phillipes to the “gloomy” weather of the UK, she was also looking at making an adjustment in her career trajectory.
Previously working as a research nurse rather than a clinical nurse, Cynthia would have to reapply skills which she hadn’t used for some time. But she also saw the value to taking on the challenge she had chosen: “the UK is a land of opportunity… not only financially but career-wise”. This is something that would be quickly demonstrated as Cynthia achieved a promotion at work within her first two years in the country.
Financial and career progression are not the only benefits Cynthia has experienced from being in the UK, however. She contrasts her experience here with her time spent in Singapore. She spent eight years there and reveals that “people can work there but they’re not open to foreigners settling there.” This is not an issue she has encountered in London, where she feels that she has been able to embrace the culture, attitudes and even the humour.
Describing why she finds her career in nursing so rewarding, Cynthia reflects on the fact that she has an opportunity to profoundly impact her patients. This is particularly evident during these times of the Covid pandemic as her interventions have focused on prolonging lives as more and more patients find themselves requiring intensive care.
Cynthia also describes having a particular fondness for elderly patients. Living so far from home and her family, she regards caring for them as “like interacting with your parents or grandparents.” She talks specifically about a 90-year-old former belly-dancer who provided both her and the rest of the ward with great entertainment while she was being cared for.
Overall, it is clear that Cynthia has no regrets over her decision to start a new life in the UK. She has had to be tough to face the challenges that recent times have brought, but her attitude has remained nothing less than positive and single minded: “I need to rest…I need to keep healthy…because if I’m not fit myself, I can’t give to my patients.”