Anna 'At Home'

In the months I spent photographing EU nationals and listening to their stories the common theme that emerged was that for a migrant the concept of home is rarely static.

When we decide to move away and leave behind the comfort and security of our country of birth – our original home – we begin to construct another identity for ourselves. An identity in which resilience and adaptability become the essential building blocks, but that can’t be forged successfully without a strong sense of belonging.

The Brexit vote has shaken that sense of belonging for many of us, and has made us really question, perhaps for the first time, our place in the world. Do we belong in this country? If not, where is “home”?

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The concept of ‘home’ has always felt a little different to me in comparison to other people’s perception of it. I don’t see it as something physical but as something emotional. ‘Home’ is wherever your heart is, wherever your soul can grow, wherever your goals and aspirations can be realised.
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Through the years I have learnt that I have the potential to feel ‘at home’ wherever I am. We cling too much to the material, to the here and now, when we should try to look beyond that and explore the endless possibilities out there.

I came to this country in good faith and made it my physical home. I learnt the language and adapted to their culture because I felt it was the right to do, just as I would expect if someone was to move to Spain. If Brexit ends up meaning that I am not allowed to stay then I have no problem leaving, but I’m trying to keep an open mind about it.
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To me Brexit is just a political strategy, a way to rearrange the fabric of society and control people at will based on lies and false promises. But that’s politicis in general. It’s a real shame that they are not focusing more on the human aspect of the situation.

Theresa May famously said “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.” but I don’t agree with that. We are all part of something bigger than the place we happen to be born. The world is our home and instead of trying to fence people in we should consider ourselves lucky that we get to experience it through free movement.

AMAYA - ONE YEAR ON

I recently caught up with Amaya after meeting her for the first time back in October 2016. We took a walk around her local University campus and chatted about the importance of belonging, a future full of hope and possibilities and her renewed enthusiasm for and commitment to the European project.

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I think the initial impact [of Brexit] has gone down but the sentiments, the hurt feelings are a lot more predominant. My emotions are still as high as they were before, but I would say that now my spirit of Europeanism has grown a lot more. Before, I was shocked and angered, and had a sort of ‘deer caught in the headlights’ feeling, now I just feel sadness and a need to search for something that I can anchor myself to - and that’s the European project.
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Brexit has made Europe realise what we don’t want to be. There is this sense of awakening and it has pushed us Europeans into something new, we have transformed Brexit into something positive for us, and that has created a sense of dynamism, enthusiasm and strength. I think that will be an impetus to job creation, to new ideas, and to a vision of commonality between all the countries within the European Union that transcends borders. It is a good thing for us and I want to be part of that positivity.

I feel that I would be more welcomed and accepted with my ideas in Europe than I would here. A lot of energy would be needed on my part if I stayed here, but I don’t know to which end. I don’t see a positive outcome for Brexit, so I would rather direct that energy into something that I know does have a good outcome, a positive realisation, and that is the European entity. It’s on the boom, the younger generations are getting involved in Europe and I want to be participant in that movement rather than fighting something that the British people have voted for.
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[On ‘settled status’ for EU nationals in the UK] It’s very vague, there is no permanency in that word. I think it’s something that will buy the Government time and to get people on board, but there is no long term vision of what happens later on. I think it‘s a good terminology they’ve used because it gives them leeway to change things later.

The ‘settled status’ idea is to keep the 3million EU nationals in the UK semi-content for now, and later on the Government might crack down on visas and on entry, they might even introduce quotas at a later date. I don’t feel reassured at all by this Government, right now my trust lies with the European Institutions.
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[On the upsurge of hate incidents after the referendum] I think it’s definitely still there and I have experienced it myself.

On the day that marked the 60 years of the Treaty of Rome I was travelling on a bus and took a call in a foreign language. This person came inside and, upon hearing my conversation, said something along the lines of ‘It’s great that we are finally out’.

I confronted him and asked him to tell me what exactly he didn’t like about the European Union. He said it was their policies, so I asked him which policies, to name one he didn’t agree with. Then he said he didn’t want to be controlled, so I asked him in which way he felt controlled. I wanted to talk to him about it, to have an actual conversation but he just started shouting and getting very aggressive.

It was really uncomfortable and I felt quite vulnerable. Nobody came in my defence, I was totally on my own. That makes them complicit in that sort of behaviour, it makes them part of the problem. If that’s what British society is I don’t want anything to do with it.

ANETTE - ONE YEAR ON

I recently caught up with Anette again on a freezing cold January morning after meeting her for the first time in February 2017. We took a stroll around her favourite nature reserve and talked about a possible future in Germany for her and her British partner whilst searching for the elusive bittern bird in the reeds at the water's edge.

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Over a year on, and we still don’t know any more than on the day after the referendum, it’s up and down all the time. On good days I can just laugh about it and think ‘this is all so unreal, and so ridiculous’. But in some way it has got worse because the longer we face this uncertainty the more it is taking its toll on me mentally.
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I like to be in charge of my own destiny. But now I am dependent on other people’s decisions. That is why I find ‘the3million’ so important, at least they give us a voice as no one listens to us, no one talks to us. All the papers are full with stories about us: who we apparently are, and what we apparently do, but no one is talking to us and showcasing our perspective. We are side-lined and we can only watch and wait and see what other people decide is going to happen with us.
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(On British friends and neighbours) I get the feeling that for many of them the whole subject is a bit embarrassing and they don’t really like to talk about it. I hear ‘you’ll be fine’ a lot, but I’m not sure what makes them think that.

On the whole, people mainly try to ignore Brexit. I think deep inside they know that it has the potential to go horribly wrong but they want to avoid an awkward or difficult conversation. Here in the UK not so nice stuff gets brushed under the carpet quite often and people just pretend it’s not there instead of facing the problems. I am disappointed by the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest in our fate.
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Moving to Germany with my (British) partner at some point in the future is definitely still on the cards. We are both struggling with the whole situation here.

We considered going back to commuting, me living in Germany and him staying here, like we used to do for several years after we first met, but then we remember how strenuous, costly and time-consuming that was. And we don’t even know if it will still be possible in the same way after Brexit, we might need visas and all sorts of other requirements that make commuting between the UK and an EU country even more unattractive.

But I also like my life here, with my partner, our house, our garden, our cats... I don’t want to give all that up. But the time might come when there’s just no other way, either because they force us legally or because they make our lives so miserable here that we give up and pack our bags. None of us really knows what the future might bring.

ANNA - ONE YEAR ON

It was a pleasure to catch up with Anna – and her adorable dog Angel - again after meeting them in August 2016. We took a stroll in her favourite park to chat about Brexit, Catalonian independence and why you should look after your toys properly. Anna's optimism and energy are infectious and probably the reason why she is riding the post-Brexit wave more successfully than most.

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One year on I’m still not worried about Brexit and remain optimistic about the future. To me it’s important that the decision was taken in a democratic way. If I compare it to the situation in Catalonia, for example, at least the British were allowed to have a say in a matter that was important to them, which didn’t happen in Catalonia. You have to respect that, irrespective of whether you like the result or not.
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The way forward now, in my opinion, is communication and mutual respect between British people and EU nationals - but it has to work both ways. There are a lot of people who come into this country and don’t make any effort to adapt to the culture or the way of life. Some British people have to learn to be more tolerant and accepting towards immigration, it’s true, but by the same token there has to be a willingness to integrate into the community from those coming to live in the country.
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I think there is a lot of manipulation in the information that we get [on the possible state of the economy post-Brexit], both from mainstream media and the Government itself. Most of the time we don’t actually get facts, just opinions or worst-case scenarios, which causes a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. We should now work together as a society to improve things whenever we can and, as individuals, we should strive to be resilient and adapt to the new situation that Brexit will bring.
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[On the rise of nationalism] Extremes are always a bad idea, but I can perhaps understand why some people here in the UK have this strong patriotic feeling. I compare it to a child having a toy he loves and has to share. He is overly cautious and wants to make sure that other children don’t damage it. I think this is perhaps how some British people feel on the subject of immigration. On the other hand, too many times we [immigrants] get tarred with the same brush. It’s true that there are some people who come here and don’t bother to learn the language or contribute to society, but the immense majority of us do – we definitely look after the toy properly.

MICHELE - ONE YEAR ON

After meeting Michele in October 2016, it was a pleasure to catch up with her again in her beautiful London "home from home". Always candid, outspoken and good fun, we chatted about colourful socks, the Empire and how young people are our only hope.

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I can’t say that my life has changed very much on a day to day basis, I haven’t had any bad experiences or people being nasty to me. I really haven’t had that kind of negative experience. On the contrary, people have been very supportive.
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I feel a bit more relaxed, but I’m still angry. For me [Brexit] it’s an aberration on the same level as the Trump election. I blame the education system for not making young people aware of political choices. I think the way forward is with the kids, we need to encourage diversity in schools and give foreign languages a prominent place again. Send young people abroad on exchange programmes and make them travel a bit. Specially, invest in education.
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I think building bridges is going to be hard. Some British people have an island mentality and many of them still consider themselves as part of the Empire, they are still a bit back in time compared to the rest of Europe. I don’t think it’s a conscious thing, but there’s definitely a kind of attitude, they think they’ll be fine without Europe because other countries like India are going to help them out, but they are not.
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The older generation - I mean, those of that generation who voted Brexit - I really think they are a lost cause. I don’t think you can change their minds. The way forward now is the kids, young people, the Millenials and younger.

SIMONA - ONE YEAR ON

After meeting Simona in November 2016, I recently caught up with her again to see how life has changed a year on from the Brexit vote. Now based in north London, we met up at her local park to talk about trees, diversity and the post-referendum hangover.

I used to read the press and worry a lot about Brexit, now that has faded quite a bit. I still follow the news but it doesn’t affect me anymore. I guess it’s because the whole process is so long and monotonous. Nothing has really changed, so there’s still a big question mark in my mind when I think about what it might mean for people like me.
I see myself here long term. Back then there was a part of me that was worried about things getting worse and feeling unwelcome, but that hasn’t happened. I have created a life for myself here, I have many friends and I am building up my career. I am not wiling to lose all that. In fact, Brexit has made me want to stay in this country even more, I am determined to keep what I have gained so far and prove that I am a viable person with a lot to offer.
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My partner and I discovered this tree with some friends who live in the area. I come here often on my own as well. The tree is so reassuring, so welcoming, so positive, it makes me feel really safe and protected. It means a lot to us, it’s somewhere we can go to reflect and to ask for the things that we want in life. We actually literally asked the tree to be allowed to stay in this country, it was an instinctive thing to do. We also come to give thanks for the good things that have happened to us. We both come here often for many reasons.
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British people around me are very supportive, they are against the idea of division and for the idea of union and inclusion. I think diversity is important for the sake of local communities, and there is a real need for dialogue. I have been listening more to people who are pro-Brexit to find out their reasons and exchange experiences, to try to have an understanding. Now more than ever it is essential for people to come together and keep the lines of communication open.

Gabriela

My initial reaction [to the referendum result] was quite raw and quite strong. I remember saying to my husband ‘That’s it. I’m officially not welcome in this country.’

Gabriela comes from Romania. She met Tim - and Englishman and her now husband - in the Czech Republic in 2012 when they were both working for the same company. After a couple of years they decided to move away from the Czech Republic as the language barrier meant that Tim found it difficult to adapt and integrate.

At the time Gabriela would have needed a work permit to come and work in the UK, so they moved to Ireland temporarily instead. When the immigration restrictions were lifted, they both moved to the UK, where they have lived and worked since 2014. 

Gabriela is a Modern Languages graduate and has a PhD in Contemporary British Literature. She works as a team leader in the finance department of a global company dealing in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories.

Anette

To me, Brexit feels like a bad break-up and I still can’t understand why. To date I haven’t heard one single argument that convinces me that this is a good idea. Britain had very favourable terms. I think it all comes down to free movement, which personally I find insulting.

Anette comes from Germany and met her British partner while on holiday in Bali. She moved to the UK to be with him in 2011.

Her background is in Sociology and Politics but in Germany she worked as a travel editor for the online version of a German national newspaper. Anette continued writing for German websites and magazines once in the UK.

Anette also has a keen interest in photography. She has experience photographing wildlife and nature, and has also dabbled in fine art photography. She would like to develop this further in the future and establish herself as a photographer.

Rimante

I am a very open person. This country is beautiful and the people over here are beautiful. I have learnt so much and I feel like no matter what’s happening if people unite we can all just live here happily. If I ever feel like I wan to leave I’ll leave, but not because of Brexit.

Rimante arrived in the UK from Lithuania in 2014 looking to further her education and find better opportunities for herself. She studied Multimedia at her local University for two years and then completed a course on alternative therapies.

For the last nine months she has worked for the buying department of a builders' merchant and home improvement retailer, a role she has found exciting and challenging and that has allowed her to develop and learn new skills.

Ramon

I was at work when the result of the referendum was announced and I wasn’t expecting it at all. The difference was very slim, just 2%, and this poses a big problem because to honour what half of the population want you are going to have to upset and disregard the other half.

Ramon came to the UK from the Catalonia region of Spain in 2003 after qualifying as a flight attendant.

For the first year he worked in a fast food chain in order to settle into the country and improve his English. In 2004 he went back to Spain to undergo the selection process for a flight attendant position with a major airline. Ramon was successful and stayed in Spain for a month to receive his training. 

After completing this, he returned to the UK and started working at London airports. He was soon promoted to a more senior role and moved to a Midlands regional airport, where he currently works.

Begoña

Begoña came to the UK from the Asturias region of Spain 12 years ago to improve her command of English.

She worked as a waitress whilst perfecting the language and, thanks to her background in Economics and her knowledge of Spanish and English, was soon able to find a position in the international finance sector.  

Her plan was to use this experience to build up her CV and return to Spain with a better chance of finding a job there. However, she soon met the man she would eventually marry, decided to stay in the country, and gave birth to a daughter four years ago.

Begoña has worked for the same company, a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories, for the past 11 years, first on a customer service role for the Spanish market and now in a management position within the Finance department of one of the company's major brands.

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I was surprised when l learnt the result of the referendum, neither of us were expecting it. We couldn’t believe it.

At first I felt rejected, the society I have known for years has always been respectful and inclusive, and that appeared to have changed overnight. Later on I felt a lot of uncertainty, both for me and for my English friends who live in Europe, you begin to realise that this is going to affect a lot of people.
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I get the feeling that the UK was never fully involved in the EU, their heart just wasn’t in it. I think the result was partly due to do with lack of employment. When there is an economic recession people start thinking that others are taking their jobs away from them, when in fact a lot of immigrants who come here do the jobs that no one else wants to do.
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I have a young daughter and I am worried for her, she was born in England but she has both her Dad’s and my surname [as is the Spanish tradition]. I’m worried about how people might perceive her because of that, and because she has a Spanish Mum, I worry that perhaps she won’t fit in when she is older.

The other day we asked her whether she felt English or Spanish. She wouldn’t say at first but this morning she proudly declared “I am English, Mummy!”. I can’t help but worry though, as a parent you worry about a lot of things.
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The whole situation is a roller-coaster of emotions. You are OK for a while and getting on with your life and then something comes up in the news and suddenly things become very real and the worry and anxiety start all over again.

For a very long time I have felt that this is my home, but things have changed, I don’t feel that way anymore, I could leave tomorrow.

Yvonne

Yvonne came to the UK from Germany in 2010 to study Economics as part of the Erasmus exchange programme.

After completing her studies in the UK she went back to Germany to finish her degree and then returned to the UK to take up an internship working for a start-up company as a sporting and social events organiser for international students.

She then took up a position with the British Medical Association in London as an events organiser for a period of four years. After meeting her current partner, they both moved to a different part of the country, where he had been offered a place to study Medicine.

Since 2015 Yvonne has been working for a builders' merchant and home improvement retailer in the international sales department. Unsure about what the situation in this country will be in the coming years, Yvonne is hoping to train as a teacher and move to Spain with her partner in the future.

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When I read the news I laughed, it was so unexpected, I just couldn’t believe it. Some of the people at my work were really happy, they didn’t seem to understand how I was feeling.

One of my British colleagues told me that it was their choice who they allowed into the country, that it was up to them and that I had to accept that.

Us Europeans bring a lot of money into the company, yet no one talked us to reassure us that we were still welcome, or asked if we were alright. I was shocked and upset.
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I think the EU is there for a good reason, specially in times like these when we have problems with terrorism on one side and then Trump and Russia on the other. The EU is really important and if you look around in England there are a lot of EU projects going on, so I don’t know where the rejection comes from.
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When I arrived in London I was really surprised to see so many foreign people on the bus, but then I thought “Well, actually, this is England”, it’s so international. It was really nice to be in such an open and inclusive country, you don’t have that kind of integration in many other European countries.

I think the whole immigration issue is just a tool of distraction to deflect from the country’s own issues regarding cuts and privatisation. It’s so transparent, I am surprised some people can’t see it.

Jadwiga

Jadwiga came to the UK from Poland in 2010. She soon found employment as a warehouse worker, which she combined with a part-time teaching position at a Polish school.

She then worked for a leading international infrastructure company as an office administrator, and later on in the probation sector as part of a learning and development team, coordinating training for probation officers.

Jadwiga is currently working as a personal development coordinator for an organisation that helps individuals struggling with homelessness, offending, substance misuse and mental health problems. She is also keen to explore her creative side and is furthering her skills as a photographer, hoping that one day she will be able to combine her passion for helping people with her passion for photography.

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Brexit was like a slap in the face, it was so surreal I didn’t really believe it. I sensed the effects overnight, the situation totally flipped. It’s as if before people had to respect you but now they have invisible permission to victimise you. It’s awful.
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My friend works closely with the Polish community and regularly comes across stories about how they are being victimised, not just by some people in this country but by other nationalities as well. Things like not being served well at stores, cashiers being unpleasant to them, things like that. It doesn’t exactly make you feel welcome.

I am very worried that this wave of hate will continue and that it will get worse when we actually leave the EU. I will affect innocent people who work hard, and that is really unfair.
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I am trying not to worry about things I have no control over, and I feel pretty secure here because of my job and my house. Also, on a positive note, the day after the referendum my manager went out and bought all Polish workers flowers to show his appreciation and that we are welcome. That was amazing, and this is what I hold on to, more than the prejudice that might be out there.

Simona

Simona moved to the UK from Italy in 2009. She holds a Diploma in Business and International Studies, however, after taking cello lessons in her hometown she realised that her true calling was pursuing a career in music.

She worked in a pub for a few years, joined a folk band and immersed herself in the local music scene, collaborating with musicians and singer-songwriters and performing with orchestras in a wide variety of festivals across the country.

In 2014 she received a scholarship to purchase a new musical instrument and enrolled to study a BA in Music Performance in one of the country's leading conservatoires. After completing her studies, Simona would like to carry on working in the music industry, either in a performing or teaching role.

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I cried when I found out about the result of the referendum, for me it was a sign of regression more than progression. I think the idea of controlling people’s movement between countries is quite unnatural and unnecessary. Sometimes we forget how much we are all part of the same land and I actually do really admire people who are brave enough to start a new live in a different cultural surrounding.
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I love the idea of multiculturalism and having the diversity of many different communities. I don’t think Brexit will seriously threaten that. Even if life in the UK is going to be slightly more difficult for Europeans from now on, multiculturalism is still too strong for Brexit to actually stop it or harm it in a serious way.

I don’t think it would be in the best interests of this country to lose so many workers and students, as these people coming along make many different contributions that need to be taken into account as well.
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I have friends who supported Leave and their reasons were more financial than related to immigration. They are hoping for a beneficial change to come from Brexit and, even though I personally can’t see the advantages of such a choice, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

Irrespective of how people voted, I think we have to see past our differences and try to work together somehow. I’d like to believe that things will work out for everyone and in the less divisible way possible.

Amaya

Amaya grew up in a German-Spanish household. Originally from La Paz, she was adopted by a German mother and a Spanish father and lived in various countries throughout her childhood.

She moved to the UK in 2006 to start a Degree in Economics and, after completing her studies, spent the following year and a half doing volunteering work with refugees and local organisations helping the most vulnerable in society.

She then moved to the Netherlands for a year to study European politics at postgraduate level. However, Amaya found the country unwelcoming and struggled to fit in, so she decided to return to England and shortly after found a job at the Citizens Advice Bureau, where she still works today.

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To me it [the referendum result] was traumatic, like a car crash. You don’t experience the full range of emotions right away, they come later, like a delayed reaction. I am now more involved in politics, I want to know what the Opposition are doing, I travel to London regularly to attend conferences and events. There are many of us in this situation, we have to get organised and take action to highlight the contribution we make to this country.
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I think the Remain camp didn’t do a good job explaining the many benefits of being in the EU. They didn’t include us EU nationals in their narrative during the campaign either. Where were the first hand accounts of people like myself who have lived here for years? Of EU nationals who have started their businesses here and are generating employment and revenue for this country?
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The day after the referendum I felt like a guest who had overstayed their welcome. Some of my European friends feel anxious about speaking in English with an accent, they are worried about giving themselves away as foreign. This isn’t a feeling that’s just going to go away, like flicking a switch, it is traumatic and it will take years.

Alzbeta

Alzbeta came to the UK in 2014 from Slovakia to pursue her passion for music. She applied to University in the UK and was accepted into a BA in Music (Jazz) course, which she will complete in May 2017.

With no previous training in jazz music, Alzbeta came to the UK not knowing what to expect. Here she found a welcoming multicultural community and a thriving jazz music scene, where she regularly performs. She regards her decision to move to this country as the best decision she has made in her life.

After completing her Degree, Alzbeta would like to continue her studies in Music and is currently applying to Masters Programmes both here and in other European countries. However, she is open-minded about her future and is also considering taking a gap year to explore another one of her passions – studying to become a Yoga instructor in India.

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I think some British people are not aware of what’s happening in the East or in other parts of Europe. They don’t understand what these people [Eastern European immigrants] are going through, why they move to this country and why they choose to stay here.

For Slovakians it is mainly to do with our Government being corrupt. The middle class is diminishing, the lower class is getting bigger and you have 1% of the population owning pretty much everything.

My own family has been affected by the situation. My mother has two Masters Degrees, she is a lawyer and an engineer, and she can’t find a job in my country.
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I would love to feel accepted and be a part of British society. I don’t want to be looked upon as a foreign person who shouldn’t be here, or who is exploiting the system. There are people out there who are much worse for society, and they don’t come from Eastern Europe.

Michele

Michèle arrived in the UK from the Vendée region of France in 1997 to take a position as a Language Assistant at a British university, a job she held for two years.

She then started a Postgraduate Degree in Education to train as a French teacher in the secondary education sector. After completing her studies Michèle worked in various schools across the East Midlands for a period of 10 years.

Following this, she decided to take a break from teaching and completed a Diploma in Environmental Conservation, trained as a Park ranger and did volunteering work for the National Trust. 

However, finding paid work in the environmental sector proved difficult, so Michèle went back to the teaching profession and started working in Special Needs schools and then in a Pupil Referral Unit as a teacher for vulnerable children. She hopes she can one day combine her love of teaching with her love for the environment.

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“I was very sad when it [Brexit] happened. For the first time in 20 years I felt like I wasn’t welcome. I have been working and paying my taxes, I am teaching difficult groups that nobody else wants to teach, it’s not like I am stealing work from anybody.
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Young British people are so open-minded and friendly, and so well educated. They are very accepting of other people’s differences, be it their nationality or their sexual identity. They embrace people of colour, the LGBT collective, and people with different religions or beliefs than their own.

And then, on the other side of the scale, you have people blaming Europeans for stealing jobs and this rampant nationalism that seems so out of place in a century where we’ve all “gone global”. I really don’t understand where that’s coming from.

Alexandra

Alexandra came to the UK from Greece in 2003 to further her education. Shortly after arriving, she started a Postgraduate course in Drama Therapy, combining her studies with a job as a supply teacher.

She then started a family and began working as a therapist for the NHS CAMS Service, supporting children with mental health issues.

Having been made redundant from this role in 2013, she decided to focus again on her education, enrolling in a Postgraduate course in Psychoanalytical Observational Studies at the University of Leeds.

At the moment, Alexandra is focusing on her family and is also supporting her local community as a volunteer therapist for a local Mother and Baby support group. In the future, she hopes to be able to resume her studies in order to set up her own private practice as a Psychotherapist. 

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Brexit shattered my illusions about the UK being a sort of Utopia.

I left Greece because I realised it had a lot of work to do on women’s rights, gay rights, human rights, immigrant rights, etc. and I felt that the UK was a green and happy land where people were more open-minded and tolerant.

I realise now that it wasn’t that they were more tolerant about immigration, I think there was indifference towards us rather than tolerance.
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I think the country is going to go through some difficulties unless people are really flexible and resourceful. They will have to be more creative about how to be outside the EU and still be a very vibrant and robust country, both financially and culturally. How they go about it is the big unknown now.

Maria and Simon

Maria came to the UK from Madrid in 2014. She holds a Degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the Universidad Complutense and teaches Spanish in the higher education sector.

She is currently enrolled in a Masters Programme to further her skills as a language teacher. In the future, Maria would like to develop her own Spanish-teaching business, using her passion for cooking as a medium for teaching the language.

Simon was born in the UK to an English father and a Spanish mother. Although British by birth, Simon identifies more with his Spanish side. 

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish from Oxford University and a PhD in Spanish Theatre from Queen Mary University of London. 

Simon has travelled between the two countries his whole life. In 2008 he moved to Spain and began working for a theatre company in Madrid. In 2013 he returned to the UK to work as a University lecturer, a position he still holds now.

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I [Maria] experienced a lot of sadness and anxiety at the beginning. Brexit made me question whether this was really the place for me in the long term. I felt left out at a time when I was working hard to fit in and adapt to British culture.

In fairness, I have had a lot of support from some sectors of society, like work colleagues and my own students, which has made me feel a bit better.

I am not sure where I will end up, I’m young and there’s a whole world out there to explore.
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The day after the referendum, I [Simon] was working at a theatre workshop in London with people from all over the world. We were all devastated. Then out came the stories in the press about people telling European waiters to go home. It was disgraceful.

Some people say that the Leave vote was a vote of punishment against Cameron and the Tories, but I think the voters are only punishing themselves. I see no positives at all in this situation. Things seem to have calmed down but you can already see some repercussions.

Anna

Anna comes from Barcelona and has lived in the country since 2008. She has a young son who started school in 2016.

With a background in human resources and customer services, Anna has mainly worked in sales and the hospitality sector for various UK companies.

In 2015 she retrained as a personal coach and now runs her own business helping people work through their emotions to lead happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives.

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Brexit hasn’t particularly affected my life so far. I think there is a lot of confusion at the moment, no one really knows how it’s going to turn out. In fact, since the referendum I have felt more support and kindness from English people than ever before.
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I am happy and content in this country and I always try to focus on the positive. I am not worried about it, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.