An International Student of Literature in England.
The day after the referendum, very early in the morning, my family and I were at the airport waiting for our plane to New York. The results of the referendum weren’t all out yet but I was rather confident that Remain would win 52% against 48% for Leave until the end! However, as I was waiting at the gate, I started realising the UK would leave the EU. A few hours later and, when I read “Brexit” everywhere, I didn’t really feel anything. I’d avoided everything related to this referendum because I liked to believe people were more intelligent than that and why bother? I can’t vote in England.
During my first two years in England, the thought that the UK might leave the EU and therefore make things more complicated for EU citizens never occurred to me. And it might seem naïve but the thought that a country would seriously want to leave the EU never occurred to me either (or at least, that one country would let its people make such a big decision).
Over the past two years, I’ve felt like myself and at home in England – a French girl, a European student, like many many many others at UEA and in the UK. I felt so lucky to be part of the EU, to understand its values and why it was created, to be part of a Union in which I had so many options, rights and opportunities that were so easy to seize.
And now, I am slowly starting to realise that because of some (old) people who are simply racist or don’t understand anything about economics, I’m just going to become an immigrant, a foreigner that some people and the government don’t want. At least this is how I am feeling right now. But let’s be honest: we all know their scapegoats aren’t French girls who are lucky enough to be able to go to university abroad… which makes it even worse because of how unfair and racist this is.
The UK hasn’t left the EU yet so everything will be fine for my final year of university… But then, what? I planned to stay and work in England. Will someone give me a job now that I’m a European immigrant who has come to steal their job and money? I’ve come to England for the culture, for the university system, for diversity and multiculturalism, I’ve given them £21,000 for a degree when I could have gone to university in France or in Scotland for free, I want to keep participating in their economy, I want to work for them… But what will happen?
Uncertainty is the thing that infuriates and worries me the most, in life in general and in this particular situation. Nobody knows what will happen to all the European citizen who have been living in the UK, for a couple of years or for decades in many cases (or for the British people living abroad too). It is also so sad for the future generations who might not be given these incredible opportunities.
It is obvious the media and dirty racist politicians didn’t help voters either. I’m just so angry to hear about growing nationalism, racism and Brexit-related hate crimes. And finally, I’m sick of French politicians already using Brexit as an example to follow despite having absolutely no hindsight.
I just need answers and it is obvious nobody has them for now.