Five young Eastern Europeans reveal the harsh realities and culture shocks of life as an immigrant coming to Britain and hoping to stay. Is this really a land of opportunity?
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This programme contains some strong language.
MUSIC STOPS WITH A SCRATCH
For the last ten years,
it's been a magnet for the people of Eastern Europe.
They see it as a place where dreams are made.
I'm expecting so much from this trip.
Maybe it will best years of my life.
And where hard work will lead to a better life.
Come on, I'm 18,
I really earn more than my own father.
So many now come to work in the UK,
that special bus trips are being laid on to show them about Britain
and their place in it.
We're going to Clacton-On-Sea. It's in Essex, but it's on the seaside.
On board THIS one are five new arrivals
who THINK they know what they're getting into...
Britain is the promised land for all of us,
if it wouldn't be then we wouldn't be here.
..but who are about to find out, Britain may be more of a culture shock than they realised.
I was really scared,
because it was just Muslims and black people everywhere
and I was like Jesus what am I doing here?
In their search for a new start,
have they made the biggest mistake of their lives?
I speak English, Hungarian, German and French
and I can't find a job as a street cleaner.
They're a long way from home
in a country that WON'T always make them welcome.
I don't think they should be here.
England is England, innit. It should just be English.
We should have kept them out.
And where the realities of modern Britain may be NOTHING like they expect...
My family called me and asked what was happening in London?!
It seemed a little bit scary.
As they struggle to make a new life, who's here to stay,
and who's on the next plane home?
The Hungarian city of Bekescaba may be over 1,000 miles from Blighty.
But that doesn't stop one of its residents being obsessed
with all things British.
The British flag means for me my dreams.
24-year-old Norbert is planning a new life away from Hungary.
I dream about many days, many weeks that I will be in Britain.
I will get a job, a good salary,
good friends and a good environment.
As much as Norbert loves Britain, he'd prefer to be able to
stay with his mum, dad and grandma in their rural house.
But he needs a job.
And he knows he can earn a lot more in the UK
than he would staying at home. Especially with his language skills.
Norbert will miss his family
and perhaps his collection of animals even more.
But the time has come to follow his dream.
He's travelling to Britain to find work as a German translator.
And in his pocket, his savings of £500.
It would take him two and a half months to earn that as an interpreter back home.
I hope it will be very exciting, because London is a great city
and this city is waiting on me to explore it.
I am expecting so much from this trip, maybe it will be
the best years of my life.
Norbert is one of 35,000 Eastern Europeans
who come to live in Britain every year.
And around two thirds of those come from just one country - Poland...
..where in the city of Lublin two and a half hours from the capital,
someone else is getting ready to leave.
It's one of Poland's poorest cities, and in one of its many tower blocks,
24-year-old Anna is having some last minute nerves.
I was stressed when I realised that I was leaving for good.
I couldn't sleep at night for a few nights in a row.
I hope I won't be packing all night, but it is possible.
I am travelling to England,
because it is really easy to go there and find job and live.
There you don't have to worry about they won't let you in.
Anna's successfully completed a masters degree in Sociology,
but even so, still sees her prospects as much better in the UK.
England is more exciting, because it's a different.
I don't want to end up in the same city,
in the same country in 50 years time.
Before she sets off,
it's time to say goodbye to her family.
Anna's travelling on one of the 20 buses
carrying Polish immigrants to Britain every day.
And she'd better get comfortable,
because her journey will take her 27 hours.
I am excited of course.
Leaving everything behind me is a little bit sad.
I will miss my family and friends.
Now everything, will change.
Most Poles arriving in the UK are aged between 18 and 35.
And in London another is already settling in.
18 year Antoni has just finished school,
and it's his first time living away from home.
I've lived with my parents my whole life so it's a big deal for me and for my parents as well.
We all miss each other. I feel a little bit lost here.
Antoni's travelled to England from his family's flat in Warsaw.
He's been offered a place at the prestigious Oxford University.
But his parents can't afford to support him,
so he's come over to find a job to raise the cash.
You know Oxford has been my dream for a really long time
and I feel so close to making this dream come true
and to think that it might just go away for financial reasons
seems really unfair.
My mother was joking all the time that she would sell her kidney
so that I could go to Oxford.
It was a little bit scary, I didn't like these jokes.
Before looking for work, Antoni had to sort out somewhere to live.
And with very little money, he hasn't got a lot of choice.
He's living in Edmonton, one of the most deprived parts of London.
And he's sharing a small room with three other Poles.
Antoni sleeps on the floor.
There is only one room and two of us sleep on the bed,
we take the pillows from the couch and put them
on the floor and two of us sleep on the floor.
It's like really, really poor.
When I came to this apartment, it was like such a mess,
the sink was out of order, there was food scraps in it.
My priority is to have the lowest rent possible, so I was prepared.
But he's sharing with more than just his fellow countrymen.
The room is infested with bedbugs.
You can't sleep at night worrying about these little bastards
sucking your blood and once you wake up and see several dozen bites,
you start to worry.
Also starting to worry is Hungarian Norbert.
Hello, my name is Norbert and I am looking for accommodation.
Like many optimistic new arrivals,
he's come to London WITHOUT arranging a place to live.
It's already gone.
And he's having no joy finding anywhere.
Hello, my name is Norbert and I'm looking for a room to let.
It's gone. OK. Thank you.
It isn't so easy to find accommodation as I thought.
I want to rent just a room, about £65 a week.
With the average London rent £250 a week,
Norbert's £500 isn't going to go very far.
It is much more expensive than I expected.
I don't have enough money to pay the rent
and two weeks or sometimes three weeks deposit,
but I heard there is a free kitchen in London that I can eat free.
Maybe I will go there.
Luckily for Norbert,
there are 35,000 Hungarians living in Britain.
And one of them is his friend Tibor.
Tibor has lived in Britain for three years,
so knows what Norbert's up against.
He must have a lot of money.
He needs to pay his rent and that is not cheap.
And if he doesn't work, he'll have to go back,
so that's why important to find very early job.
Tibor has allowed Norbert to sleep on his sofa,
but the landlord won't let him stay long.
I have to find some accommodation,
because I don't want to sleep on the streets as a homeless.
Anna's decided that London's too big for her, so has based herself
in Nottingham, where there's a large Polish population.
But it's a stark contrast to her home back in Poland.
This area where I'm living now.
This place is quite different from my old place of living.
My first impression was that the streets are busy
and loud and noisy.
In Poland I used to live in one of the most peaceful
and quiet neighbourhood.
Whereas here in Nottingham,
Nottingham was once the city of the highest
shooting rate in the whole UK.
So I must admit that I felt safer in my home town.
It was in 2004 when the EU expanded into Eastern Europe,
that the influx of immigrants to Britain began.
But in the last few years, it's got tougher for eastern Europeans
trying to start new lives in the UK.
Over 300,000 of them have returned to their home countries.
So charities have now sprung up to support the new arrivals.
One of them, ISS, has started organising
regular bus tours to give them a Great British day out
and help them understand what their new country is REALLY like.
and Anna have all been invited on board three of these trips.
Today is the first.
So as they set off what do they make of Britain so far?
Britain - crappy weather and why are you driving cars on
the left hand side of the street? I don't understand it.
I'm surprised at how many Poles,
and how strong the polish community in Britain is.
I drink Polish beer, because it's available in every grocery store.
It's not only the Polish beer that the immigrants prefer.
Norbert's not too keen on the British ladies.
I don't really like English womens.
This is the German shape, this is the Hungarian shape,
this is a Polish shape and this is the English shape!
Joining our trio on the bus today are two more immigrants
fresh to the UK. Lovebirds Mario and Michaela,
cuddled up on the back seat.
-Hello, my name is Michaela.
-Nice to meet you.
-Where are you from?
-I am from Poland.
Mario and Michaela have recently arrived
from the Czech Republic and Slovakia to set up home together in London.
Right now Britain is lovely, beautiful and awesome
so hopefully it's going to stay like that.
No wonder Michaela's smiling.
Because the couple have never lived in the same country before.
At home we didn't live together and we had to travel 500km,
I don't know every second, third week or month.
Here we want to start a new life and finally live together.
Today's bus trip is to a theme park in Milton Keynes,
so the immigrants can see how the Brits have fun.
I thought I'd be soaking, but I'm only wet,
so it's not as bad as I thought it would be!
And in 21st century Britain,
it's not just the rides that give the new arrivals a shock.
It's incredible how many Muslim people are here.
I've never seen so many.
You can hardly see any white English people, there are only immigrants.
It isn't only the mix of cultures they're finding hard to digest.
British food is not so healthy.
The sliced bread in England is really awful, it seems
so artificial, like it's full of chemicals which make it look pretty,
but it tastes like paper.
All five have come to Britain because they believe
it offers the prospect of better jobs and opportunities.
But now they've left their homes and families behind,
does the gamble seem worth it?
When I first came to Nottingham,
it was 19 person in six-bedroom house.
-19, yes. Three people per room.
Where we come from, I don't know if it's underdeveloped or
developed more, but I haven't heard about bed bugs in Warsaw.
And here in this lousy flat in Edmonton,
there is a rash all over me, little bastards.
We live in a great place
and it costs £550 per month. We are living with black people,
but we don't really mind, because they are really friendly.
The new arrivals have been inspired by hearing tales of the thousands
of eastern Europeans who've already successfully settled here.
I see my friends who came here five years ago
and when they started, they were working in a warehouses,
and now they have much better jobs, they are buying houses.
In Poland, after five years, you can't afford to but a house.
Norbert's obsession with all things all British
leads him to make one last observation of the day.
There is a lot of truth about Britain in that series,
Little Britain. The British women have the mood like Vicky Pollard.
I dunno, I dunno, I dunno, I dunno! It wasn't me!
It's the end of today's trip.
The immigrants are due back on the bus in two weeks time.
But how many of them will still be here?
Or by then, could some have already given up on their British dreams
and be heading back to Mum and Dad?
Many immigrants who come to Britain don't last the first month.
But Norbert is determined to make it his home.
He's eventually found somewhere to live.
And he can split the cost by sharing with fellow Hungarian, Atilla,
who he knows from home.
With the rent paid, it's time to get settled.
But before they can MAKE the bed they've got to fix it.
I'm stuck in here.
To save cash, the boys will be sleeping together,
but Norbert is keen to lay down some ground rules.
If I get a woman, a girl, he has to go.
The living room is a common place, there is a couch.
If he find a girl, he will go downstairs with the girl.
It won't be a problem.
But Norbert's got bigger problems than meeting the opposite sex.
His money is quickly running out.
I don't have much money. Around £100, £100 maybe a little bit less.
I have to find a good job,
because if this £100 gone, I also gone.
It's been a week since Mario and Michaela
left their home countries to move to London.
-I am very excited to live together with my boyfriend finally.
-Me too, absolutely.
In this city, I love London already.
But it isn't just love that's brought them here.
We came here also to improve our acting.
We started acting in Czech and we really fell in love with it.
There are really many good acting classes here
-and want to improve that and maybe something...
-Will happen, who knows?
With dreams of being the next Brad and Angelina,
the couple chose Britain, because they believe
it has some of the best drama teachers in Europe.
And that's why they've given up everything to move here.
I was used to quite a high standard in my parents' house
and here now we have almost nothing, we have two bags
and that's our whole life now, so that's a bit sad about this thing.
I came here because I wanted to try something new
and I'm prepared to start from zero.
I can't be a small daddy's girl forever!
Having to come to terms with
a drop in their standard of living isn't the only shock to the system.
They've moved to the London suburb of Leyton,
one of most multicultural parts of Britain.
This area is a bit different from home.
Absolutely it's different. From where I come from,
we don't have so many multicultural people in my town.
It's the same in my country in the Czech Republic,
all over, it's just white people.
I will have to get use to it, that's all.
In Nottingham, Anna is looking for a job.
And with all her qualifications, she's after a good one.
Hello, I would like to register with your agency.
-Have you got your CV with you?
-Yes, I have.
Have a look at that. I'll pass it through to the consultant
-and see if they can help you.
-OK. Thank you.
I haven't been thinking what would happen
if I don't get a job, because I don't think it's possible.
I am pretty confident of finding something,
because I don't see myself doing some warehouse job.
Anna's expecting her working conditions
to be better than those she's left behind in Poland.
People in Poland they have to work harder
and longer to reach the same level of richness.
Here people don't have to work 12 hours to make ends meet.
Of course Poland is not a third world country,
but it's not as rich as the western European countries.
And the money is why, despite the global recession,
Eastern European migrants still see Britain
as their number one destination. It's why Norbert came.
But getting a job isn't as easy as he'd expected.
My name is Norbert and I've seen the vacancy on the window.
Have you done this kind of job before?
-No, not yet.
-I would like to see your CV,
-then I can tell you if you're suitable for this job or not.
-Norbert has already spent over £300
on his accommodation, leaving him with little money left to buy food.
He needs to find a job fast.
-Do you have vacancies?
-You can leave your CV if you want.
-We will call you if we need somebody.
-Yeah, we are looking for some jobs.
-We are quite busy right now.
-Quite busy. OK.
Things are getting desperate for Norbert.
Everywhere he goes, it's the same answer. No experience - no job.
I am tired and hungry, because I haven't eaten quite well
in the morning, because I don't have enough money
to buy enough food for me.
I just tried to share one bread for two or three days.
I already lose three kilo or more of my weight.
It's not so funny. It's not funny at all.
Norbert and Atilla have being pounding the streets looking for work for days.
And after yet another knock-back, Norbert's patience is ready to snap.
There is nothing at the moment.
I wanted to be just a German speaker, because I speak German.
Show me any Britain people, any England people
who can speak another language, not just English!
I speak English, Hungarian, German and French
and I can't find a job as a street cleaner or a station cleaner,
but no previous experience, you can't find a job.
My feelings is broken, it's in the bin, the huge England bin.
Norbert is a little bit angry now.
Me too, because we were a lot
of restaurants and we get a lot of CV,
but nowhere to get a job.
I came here leaving back Hungary, I spent lot of money to get here,
to get a job, new life, but what is it?
The whole life is in a big toilet called Britain.
Oxford University hopeful Antoni hasn't found a job either.
He hasn't earned a penny in the two weeks he's been in Britain.
And without work, he can't afford to start his course.
I'm a little bit pessimistic about the job opportunities here.
I don't know for how long I will have to send out CVs by email
or walk around the area, but it might take some time.
But there IS one last option he may have to consider.
His Polish flat mates are all rickshaw riders,
earning good money taking tourists round the sights of London.
The most I've earned on the rickshaws in one night was 250.
I earned in five hours so £50 per hour it's a really good wage.
I really earn more than my own father which is like...
come on, I'm 18 with no significant experience at work,
not really well educated, no university graduation
and I am really able to make better money than my own father,
which is great.
But earning that kind of cash doesn't come without risks.
Rickshaw riders have been involved in many accidents,
most of them with taxi drivers who accuse them
of stealing their business. It's war.
They're dangerous and they're a danger to the public, aren't they?
I've seen them colliding, I've seen them
coming straight across lights and have accidents with other vehicles.
I've seen them... buses, colliding with buses.
These blokes come from goodness knows where,
put a young lady in the back, you don't know the character
of the gentleman driving it! You don't where he's come from!
So far, the dangers of driving the rickshaws have scared Antoni off.
But with the start of term fast approaching,
he's having to weigh up the risks.
I treat it as like the last option.
I'm not sure if I'm prepared to work in a stressful
environment like this, but if I don't find a job until the 28th,
because then I have to pay the rent.
I will have to take the rickshaw job and we'll see how it goes.
Budding actors Mario and Michaela
are also struggling to find work to pay for their acting classes.
But today, Mario has an opportunity for a job
and is taking a day's trial as a waiter.
-Good luck, sweetheart!
It's a real change for Mario.
He's more used to being a company executive in the family's business.
I can't say I really wanted to do this job,
but it is a job I can get most easily.
As soon as I get a job I can start focusing on acting,
I can start search for acting classes.
That's why I want to get a job as soon as possible.
Yeah, I can say I am pretty confident today.
Mario's trial is in one of the best restaurants in London.
How will he cope with the demands of some of Britain poshest diners?
To eat here? Quite expensive.
In a few years, maybe I will be able to afford to eat here. Who knows!
Mario won't be EATING here for a while
and if he isn't careful, he won't be working here either.
Just when you come out, you stop over here.
Not stop, but just look up, because
if he go like come up and doesn't stop, he will bump you
and you will flop it.
The manager doesn't think he's getting any better.
-You make a mistake, all the time.
-Yes, I know what you mean.
After a telling off, he's feeling deflated.
My last job, I was working as a managing director.
This feels like a step back and not forward.
It's been a long, tough day.
And at the end of it, he finds out that he HASN'T got the job.
I was a little bit counting with this position.
I want to start acting lessons as soon as possible.
I need to have a job when I want to start it,
and also we're running out of money now at the moment.
But things are looking up for Norbert.
He's finally got an interview with a language agency.
It could be his first step to fulfilling his dream
of becoming an interpreter.
Trouble is - he's been asked to come smartly dressed.
It's not typical interview dress but maybe they will understand
because I don't have money to buy new clothes.
I think it doesn't matter how I look.
If they need my knowledge, I could go in just underwear.
My name is Norbert and I've got an appointment.
If Norbert gets the job he'll be paid £12 an hour.
A figure that would be considered a fortune back in Hungary.
First up is the written test.
Norbert learned his languages from watching TV
and written translation is not his strong point.
It's very hard because
it means carpet but I don't know how to say it in German.
To speak is easier than writing.
I'm stuck a little bit, just a little bit.
He's more confident when it gets to the proper interview, but oh, dear...
..it looks like his clothes ARE a bit of a problem.
Would you mind taking off your cap for the interview
-because inside we don't wear them.
It is very much about the first appearance.
Now would go to a job interview dressed like this.
It's an awkward start but soon Norbert is on a roll...
THEY SPEAK GERMAN
It seems his best just isn't good enough.
I think the standard of his German is a bit lower than he thinks it is.
It's not terrible
but his German networking skills are not good enough to get a job
where we expect somebody to be fluent in German
and not for a translating role.
It's a disaster for Norbert.
His British dream was based on being a translator.
Has he finally run out of options?
It's the weekend and time for another of the charity-run bus trips.
This one is designed to give them a real slice of British culture.
They're off to have a lovely day at the seaside, Essex style.
So, of course, the skies are grey and its freezing cold.
Today the group are being looked after by one of the charity's volunteers, Zak.
He does these tours because he's passionate about helping immigrants settle into British life.
And now the group's been here a couple of weeks, he's keen to know how they're doing.
How you all finding the UK?
It's good here but the weather is totally different.
It's more cold here.
-Is Slovakia quite warm?
SONG: "Oh I Do Love To Be Beside The Seaside"
With its Victorian pier and miles of sandy beaches,
Clacton-on-Sea in Essex is a classic English seaside resort.
And its delights are a welcome distraction from the stresses of looking for work.
The chips are really good,
you know not like the ones you get in McDonalds.
I would like to try it with the winegar you use to put on it.
-I haven't tried it yet.
Ironically the fish and chips I had in Poland were better than this.
But one of the eastern Europeans hasn't made the trip.
Norbert is back in London
preparing a packed lunch for a journey of his own.
After failing to get the translation job,
he's reached the end of the road.
His money's run out and he's heading home to Hungary.
I came here full of hope, dreams, plans
and now all of my hopes, dreams have gone.
Now I am here making sandwiches for my journey to get back somehow.
Britain has given me nothing.
Norbert's met plenty of other eastern Europeans while he's been here.
And as he leaves, he meets one more.
I'm going home now. I'm going back to Hungary.
-Where are you from?
-Are you hungry?
-I'm from Hungary.
-Are you hungry?
-No, I'm not, no.
Norbert's only got enough money left for a bus ticket to Dover.
From there he hopes to hitch back to Hungary.
Norbert's British dream is now not in the bin but close to the bin
and maybe one day I will come back.
Norbert is the first of the immigrants to leave.
And back in Clacton, the rest of the group think he'd been unrealistic
about what Britain has to offer.
To me he seemed a bit immature.
I'm not sure if he was ready to emigrate and get a job here.
You have to behave somehow, you have to be professional.
You have to behave like a professional.
He maybe thought that everything's going to be really easy.
If you decide to change your life and to come somewhere like London,
it's not going to easy at all. He wasn't well prepared.
He thought that £500 is enough and it's not.
Bus tour guide Zack has seen it all before.
Groups that have come to the UK maybe thought the streets were paved with gold,
that there were going to be a lot more economic opportunities,
that they would be able to get jobs that they couldn't get back home.
There's been a harsh reality that those jobs haven't been available to them.
They're struggling to live here and sometimes face worse conditions than they did in their own countries.
Taking Norbert's seat on the bus is a new arrival.
Irina from the Russian Federation of Siberia.
Are you from Moscow?
It's the middle of Russia.
And while Norbert had no plan, Irina is completely the opposite.
She's left her executive job as a concert promoter to pursue a single dream in Britain.
I came to Britain from Russia because I want to get a job in the company of my dreams.
I chose the biggest company in the world
who operate such concerts.
I would really love to work at this company.
The other immigrants have some essential survival tips.
You have to be careful with whom you want to trust
and with whom you are going to speak.
That's probably the most important advice.
If you want to buy cheap food, go to Asda.
A spin on the fairground ride is the best way to get to know
her new friends and also her new country.
It's a little bit scary.
But while the group can enjoy British places and do British things,
there are British people who'll always resent them being here,
accusing them of stealing British jobs
and angry that after three months,
many are entitled to benefits.
In Clacton, and the rest of the UK,
some locals feel it's as if the country has been invaded.
There was hundreds here at one stage.
Especially Poles weren't there?
I don't think they should be here.
You don't see with other countries like Australia
and you don't see them in boats turning up with 200 weird people on it.
They do work hard, but we should have kept them out.
England is England, so it should just be English.
I'm not ashamed of being an immigrant.
I can't say I'm proud of it although maybe I should be.
I wonder how many of the guys here would be able to go abroad,
learn a different language, communicate in it freely.
It's not easy. I think most of the British people don't really have an idea
how difficult it is for immigrants.
I also I think that the fact that people emigrate into the UK
is sort of the compliment for the country, you know,
because it means that they've got a nice country.
It's the end of today's day out.
By the time they board the bus for their next and final trip in three weeks,
the group will need to have worked out if Britain is somewhere they really want to stay
or if it can ever live up to their expectations.
24-year-old Russian Irina
has travelled 3,500 miles from Siberia to the UK.
But as she arrived in the London borough of Lambeth it was all kicking off.
Riots were breaking out all over the country.
And the flat she's moved into was right in the middle of the action.
Her flatmate filmed what was going on just outside the window.
Irina's come to Britain because she's determined to get a job
with one of the world's biggest music promoters, Live Nation.
She's so focused on working for them that she produced
this unusual promo video for YouTube.
Hello, my name is Irina. I'm from Russia.
I work as a concert promoter.
For this reason I'd dearly love to work for Live Nation.
But will it boost her chances?
She'd contacted the company once before looking for work, and got nowhere.
So now she's gambling everything on a trip to meet them face-to-face.
They'd told her last time her English wasn't good enough.
So she's invested hundreds of pounds in an intensive two-week
English language course to get it up to scratch.
Keep answering questions right. Do whatever you need to do,
but practise it the whole way through, once.
Many immigrants coming to Britain can't speak English well enough to get a job.
The government's planning to force some of them into classes like the one Irina's taking.
Where to liven things up, they learn the lingo by role playing the TV series, Dragons' Den.
-We can offer you just...
It's more than we have offered, firstly. So... 30%.
When do you think to reach your break even?
We are going to break even in six months.
With the date of her meeting with Live Nation approaching,
the teachers have offered her a mock job interview to see if she can cut it.
Why is it you want to work in the UK, why is it your dream?
I want to work in the UK because I think that
the UK and London is the capital of music,
the music capital of the world.
What would your place be within Live Nation?
I think that I can help with the expansion into the Russian region.
I haven't actually come across anybody quite like her.
Not somebody who's come and decided just to do a minimal amount of English,
before then embarking on
something incredibly challenging and really having almost, some would say,
a pie in a sky dream of working for this particular international company.
But after two weeks of classes...
Irina knows her English is still an issue.
After three weeks in Britain, Antoni's still struggling for the cash he needs to get to Oxford.
With his rent due the next day, it looks like his only choice is to join his roommates,
and take his chances working on the rickshaws.
No matter how much savings from Poland you bring here it's still too little.
My priority should have been finding a job as soon as possible
but I was looking for something probably too ambitious.
I came here to save money for university.
So, basically, I need to earn as much as possible, so the sooner I start the more I earn.
But if he's going to earn the money to get him through university,
Antoni will have to work long hours, day and night, competing for business with other rickshaws,
not to mention the cab drivers.
Excuse me, mademoiselle, would you like a lift somewhere?
And after a shaky start it's not long
before he picks up his first customers.
Antoni's on fire. Still new in town,
he's used online maps to memorise the layout of London's West End.
And it looks like its paying off.
To Victoria station, £20 for a single rickshaw is the standard fare.
It's been a long, but successful, first night for Antoni.
It went much, much better than I expected.
I mean, I was hoping to come back home with anything at all
and I earned almost 100 quid,
it's like overwhelming.
It's probably more than I would make
working in an office or anywhere else for minimum wage.
After tonight, yeah,
Oxford seems much closer than it seemed yesterday.
But while Antoni pedals towards his goal...
..aspiring actors Mario and Michaela are no closer to their big break.
For me, it's a dream to become a professional actor.
Before I came here, my mum, she sent me an SMS
that she's really proud of me that I've have the balls
to go to and to try to achieve my dream, you know?
Mario has now managed to get work as a waiter,
and Michaela has a job in a shop.
They're both working long hours,
saving money for acting classes, and today is their first lesson.
So, folks, if I could introduce you to Mario and Michaela,
they're going to participate in the warm-up,
and then they're going to see how the class works.
Beep, beep, beep, beep!
That was a bit different than we were used in Prague.
So, it was something new,
and it was fun. It was probably much better than in Prague.
Drama teacher Cat is keen to see Mario and Michaela perform.
The only good thing about my friends is watching them get drunk.
But she can't ignore something that over here
she's sure will hold them back.
At the moment, I would be concerned about the accent,
because, realistically, people are going to notice the accent
before they notice the character.
So you would have to give them roles that reflected that accent.
-Where do you live, Harper?
-It speaks! Whereabouts in London do you live?
At the moment, there's nothing remarkably extraordinary
about the acting I've seen.
I haven't got a clue.
I would feel they were too much of a risk
if I was casting and about to take them on for a paid job.
I have no guarantees, because of their limited experience.
Thank you very much again.
-OK, you're very welcome. Good luck.
In Nottingham, a month after she arrived,
Anna has found herself a job -
in the one place she didn't want to work.
She came over from Poland,
hoping to become a high-flying human-resources manager.
But today, it's her first shift working in the warehouse.
The work, it's basically packing things.
You have to have these robotic moves, and act like a robot!
After a month's here,
I think I will have to go to a psychiatrist or something.
Because when your work doesn't involve your brain,
it will get you bored, yes.
I am earning the minimum wage,
so it's, like, almost £100 per week.
It's not a good place to earn a lot of money,
but it's better than having no job.
80% of the people working in the factory are Eastern Europeans.
With a reputation for working hard for low wages,
they can be an attractive bet for employers.
But this sort of work isn't why Anna came to Britain.
It's like moving backwards.
I have a masters degree, I have experience,
and now I am doing the worst job I ever had.
It's something sad, because a lot of Polish
or Lithuanian, or a lot of people from Eastern Europe, from abroad,
are coming to England
and they have to do work beneath their qualifications.
I will stay here until I get something better, yes.
Today, Antoni is getting a taste of what life could be like.
He is visiting the historic city of Oxford,
home to one of the best universities in the world,
and where he hopes to spend the next three years.
I don't think I've ever been to such a beautiful place as Oxford.
All the way from the bus stop to the college,
I was smiling, like, a really broad smile on my face.
This has been my dream for years.
This is the place I want to be
for the next few years, and possibly even longer.
Oxford is, like, probably the stereotype of England.
British gentleman from, like, upper-class families,
5:00 teatime, there's the royal family -
at Oxford you actually meet such people!
-Generally, all the first years will come and eat dinner here.
And all the professors go and eat dinner up on the high table.
Every now and then, if you're a student,
you might get to eat on the high table,
but it's pretty rare!
Oxford is everything that Antoni had hoped,
but being so close to the hallowed halls reminds him
how much money he still needs to save.
It will be really, really hard for me if I couldn't start living here
and studying here in October.
Cos it's, like, I already satisfied all the academic requirements.
All I need is a few thousand pounds.
It's time for the Eastern Europeans to meet up for their last bus trip.
They've been in Britain for nearly two months,
long enough to have learned exactly what it takes to survive
as an immigrant living in Britain.
Make a plan before you come here, and take a lot of money with you.
Yeah, you have to be prepared not just with money,
but you have to be prepared also
what to expect and what can go wrong.
Today's bus journey is to a traditional farm.
With most immigrants settling in cities,
this trip gives them a chance to see rural Britain.
I really like blackbirds.
Come on, you can say that!
But just like last time, someone is missing.
Irina is back in London, getting ready to go home.
Even after the intensive language course,
her English wasn't good enough
for her to get the job she'd been desperate for.
I'm going home tomorrow, because nothing holds me in England now.
I think there's no point in staying here,
because I haven't got a job in Live Nation now.
Back at the farm, the other immigrants aren't surprised.
-Always, you have to have a plan B.
-Yeah, that's true.
I've been studying English for 15 years,
and two weeks is definitely not enough, you know?
That's two out of the group
whose hopes for a new life in Britain have come to nothing.
It's heartbreaking, but it's a fact of life at the moment in the UK
that people who come for a better life,
they can't get that job they really want, and they end up going home.
The rest of the group haven't realised
all their British dreams either.
And they know that, to some people, they'll always be foreign.
Do you feel you could one day call this place home?
-You can't really still...
-Compare it with your real home.
You can't still compare it with your real home.
The immigrants usually tend to do the worst jobs.
Basically, they do the jobs that people don't want to do
because they would rather just claim benefits.
The group are used to the fact that,
whatever their talents, they may have to start at the bottom.
But for some of them, things are starting to pick up.
Antoni's been racing against the clock, working as rickshaw driver
to earn enough cash to go to Oxford Uni. But the hard work has paid off,
and he's earned enough to get him through his first term.
It's been, like, a completely crazy summer, I'll never forget it.
Coming over from Poland to Britain,
moving out of home for the first time,
making a living here, saving up money and now going to Oxford.
It's like, you know, a breakthrough moment in my life.
Michaela and Mario may have jobs,
but it's not the sort they're qualified for.
I'm a shop assistant right now,
which is not actually what I studied at university!
But they're earning the money to keep up the acting lessons.
And Michaela is starting to love her new multi-cultural world.
The first time when we moved, I was really scared,
because I could hardly see white people,
it was just Muslims and black people everywhere.
I was like, "Jesus, what am I doing here?"
But somehow, it works, you know, that there are different cultures,
there are British people, there are Muslims, and we are happy right now.
Anna is still doing long hours for the minimum wage in the warehouse,
but she's started a part-time masters degree
at Nottingham Trent University,
and is more positive about her prospects in Britain
than back home.
I'm generally the kind of person
who's always optimistic about the future!
I moved from Poland, so I'm glad, because I'm somewhere else!
So I am glad, yeah.
As they board the bus for the last time,
these four immigrants have no plans to leave.
And over the next weeks and months,
tens of thousands more Eastern Europeans will join them.
I think Britain is the promised land for all of us!
If it wouldn't be, then we wouldn't be here, of course!
I think we're all ready to work as hard as possible
to achieve what we came here for.
And we will get it, I strongly believe that.
Some will, but thousands more will find
Britain isn't the country they'd hoped.
While the bus takes these immigrants back to their new lives,
first to leave Norbert is back where he started, in Hungary.
I came to Britain with hope, hope for a new life, a new start.
I am very disappointed.
It seems Britain let me down.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Five young Eastern Europeans reveal the harsh realities and culture shocks of life as an immigrant coming to Britain and hoping to stay. They think they know what to expect, but have they got it all wrong? As they get to grips with their new home, the immigrants join special bus trips laid on for the tens of thousands of Eastern Europeans who flock to Britain every year. On and off the bus, they'll decide if this really is a land of opportunity or a land of riots, bed bugs and fat people eating bad food. As their money runs out, some of the group are forced into jobs they would never have considered back home.
Will they succeed in starting a new life in a country that won't always make them welcome? Or could some of them find themselves on the next plane home?