There are moments in life for which you will remember exactly what you were doing when you learned some news. The result of the Referendum was just one of these for me.
The morning of the 24 June 2016, I was in bed, dreaming that the results were in when I awoke with a sense of premonition. I looked at my phone and a few seconds later read the BBC announcement which appeared on my screen. I read it three times before waking my husband to tell him. I can still picture his face while he was saying ‘F**k’ a few times over.
I told him ‘It’ll be fine’ but knew immediately that was a lie. WHY? Because I’m one of those EU migrants who came freely to the UK, although in part because of my British boyfriend-hoping-to-turn-husband-one-day.
When I arrived, I did everything I could to immerse myself in British culture. I watched news, movies, TV shows, learned to make a decent cup of tea, learned to respect the cup of tea devotion, learned where to find what I needed, bought children books about British history (better to start early), how to garden (yes your grass is green, IT RAINS), adapt to the ‘lovely’ weather (25 degrees was my average before).
I had to pay a considerable amount of money for a year at University in order to see my French Master’s degree levelled to a Bachelor British standard (I’m an optometrist). Got up everyday at 5.45am in order to arrive on time and graduated with an average grade of 74% (so I guess good for a ‘non native’).
My immersion was total when I gave birth to my two daughters, under the NHS with the help of the wonderful Gloucestershire Midwives. In France, from where I originate, pregnancy and baby delivering is totally different: much more medical, an epidural is a must, you have at least 4 scans, maternity leave starts at least 6 weeks before due date and you get full maternity pay for a few months. But I loyally followed the local system and don’t regret it for a second.
I love living in England, I’m trying my best to raise my daughters as bilingual and bicultural. Which is why I silently suffered so much during the referendum campaign, listening to the blistering attacks against EU migrants. I live in fear now of what will happen to my family, house or work. I look anxiously at the news every time they mention the negotiations. I want to believe that both sides will be fair and intelligent, but in my worst dreams I imagine being told I have two weeks to leave the country. My husband joked he would move to Dover so I could wave my daughters good night.
You could say that regarding my situation I have nothing to fear, but I am not alone in this position, if you look around you all know someone like me, a migrant, who left their homeland, their customs, their friends, and came to contribute and build something new, a legacy for their children. A man who wanted to vote ‘leave’ told me ‘you’ll just have to get British citizenship’, to which I responded ‘would you change yours? We are just at the beginning of the journey that I (and others) did not anticipate.
A Guest Blog from Christelle Busset
Christelle is 34 and is originally from France. She has been living in the UK and Gloucester for the past 6 years and has been married for 4 years. She and her husband have 2 girls: a toddler of nearly 3, and a baby of 7 months. Christelle is going back to work in October as an optometrist. It has taken her time but she is making lot of new mama friends. She also enjoys going to the gym and doing yoga as well as being a marmite hater and a National trust lover (although it will never replace a ‘pain au chocolat’)!
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