Yesterday Jeff and I voted for the Brexit referendum. I remember thinking, before going to bed, if the following morning anything would change. I guess we found out pretty soon this morning. As we got up, we turned the TV on and the first thing we saw on Sky News was “UK votes Out.”
I thought I had misread. Speechless. You know those moments you would never think would happen… but then you realize it’s actually happening. It’s difficult to cope with reality, sometimes.
I thought many times that, as a European, I don’t like the European Union we’ve got, at all. And I think that nobody really thinks of themselves as Europeans. We don’t have a strong sense of identity: ask someone from Minnesota where he is from, and he will answer “United States”. Ask a French or an Italian or a German… They won’t answer for sure “I’m European.”
However, it is thanks to the European Union that we can move freely among the states, and that made the difference for many young people. They didn’t become a burden on their country and found a job and a new life somewhere else, and their families go beyond nationality, color, language and religion. Many of them not only can speak English, but also a third or a fourth language. The European Union has made us more cosmopolitan, more interesting.
On the other hand, in love as in business, a relationship where one is not happy, is destined to fail. Better a honest breakup than an unhappy marriage.
So it happened. And here we are. In the news, that’s the only thing you can hear non stop. This morning, at the office, a Brexit email came in, reassuring the employees that nothing will change in the immediate. However, in a company that is 90% composed by expats from Europe because of their language skills, it is difficult not to wonder if they will be willing to pay for working Visas or if it will simply be easier to relocate somewhere else in Europe. Languages are assets to any multinational companies, and if Britain wants to bring in more immigrants from the Commonwealth as opposed as from Europe, will they teach them French, German, Polish, Russian, Italian?
People are also concerned about the fall of the pound. Chatting around, someone calculated that our salary based on today’s exchange is 300-400 euros less per year. Of course, things will change.
Will they put up borders with Ireland? Will the bombs come back? Have Europeans shifted from privileged immigrants to unwanted, third-class immigrants? For now, there is little difference in our lives. Just the feeling that a big change is happening and we are here, breathing it.
Categories: Life in the UK