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Five Years After the Referendum, How Brexit Has Affected My Life

Greta Scott

Posted on May 15, 2021 15:47

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I was in France on January 31 2020. At a bar, my friends all hugged me as the clock struck midnight and I lost my EU citizenship. Thus commenced the one-year Brexit Transition Period before we lost our privileged position in Europe for good.

Little changed in the way I lived in the EU in early 2020. I was allowed to remain in France without a visa, and even moved to Sweden in September by just flashing my (burgundy) passport at border control. The only real frustration was that I was regularly met with confusion as to how to deal with a British national in the EU. Even at the post office in Dijon, I had to wait ten minutes for the woman serving me to decide whether to put my letter in the EU or the international post box. At that point, Brexit was simply an inconvenience in my day-to-day life.

Then, as the year drew to a close, I had to prepare for the transition period to come to an end. I applied for Swedish residency, which was a simple enough process. I was still being treated in a privileged way compared to most non-EU citizens. Since I was already in Sweden, I had an automatic right to residency. What was worse was in December, when Sweden decided to ban travel for UK citizens because of the Kent coronavirus variant. All of a sudden, my family didn’t have the right to visit me as they didn’t have EU residency. By this point, Brexit was becoming a source of much frustration.

Flash forward to February, and I started to look at options for my master’s. UK government loans wouldn’t be enough for me to fund a master’s in Britain, so I counted on remaining in Europe to continue my education. However, having lost my EU citizenship, I would suddenly have to pay third-party tuition fees. I received an email from my university in France saying that this would cost 18 thousand euros per year, and with no way of receiving funding from any government, this was impossible for me. I had no idea what to do – it seemed that I had no post-graduate prospects at all and the stress was overwhelming.

Now, my situation has improved markedly. The British students succeeded in lobbying my French university, and so our tuition fees reverted to the EU standard. I was accepted to another degree programme I had applied for on a whim, so now I find myself applying for a visa to study in the Czech Republic. Let me tell you, this is the most bureaucracy I have ever had to deal with in my life. It’s an incredibly expensive process, and getting a visa for the Czech Republic is harder than trying to go to Russia or Turkey. I never would have needed a visa had we not left the EU.

What upsets and angers me is that I was always against Brexit on a political and economic level, but now, a vote that took place five years ago (when I too young to vote) is causing me immense stress and costing me time and money. That is the reality of Brexit for Brits in Europe.

Greta Scott

Posted on May 15, 2021 15:47

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Source: NPR

After years of political tumult, the United Kingdom has finalized its divorce from the European Union. The end of Brexit...

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