Contrary to the title of this post, I won’t try to get into an extensive political discussion about the UK’s decision to leave EU. Rather, I want to address something which has become more apparent as my time abroad has progressed.
When one moves to a different country, especially to a university with many other foreign students, there are a certain number of openers which one would use to introduce oneself. The most common however, is very simple; your name, what country you’re from and what you’re studying. However, due to the amount of people which you meet in the first few weeks, your name and nationality became almost synonymous with each other. To most people, I was just ‘that British guy.’
That being said, the issue of Brexit has plagued my time in Sweden. I don’t mean to say that I necessarily feel the effects of Britain leaving the EU in terms of policy and things which I can and can’t do, because we haven’t actually left yet. Instead, the way in which some people talk about Britain and its politics is probably substantially different for me, a post-Brexit student than for a student who would’ve been here before the vote.
‘What is going to happen when the UK leaves the EU?’ I’m pretty sure I’ve heard that question in my sleep, no less during my first few weeks here in Sweden. No matter where the other person is from, in many conversations, especially those where you have to introduce yourself (which always includes your nationality), the issue of Brexit will be brought up. That fact that I’m British has, to many others, automatically made me an expert on the subject. However, I’m not a journalist. I’m not a politics student. I’m not a member of any political party back home. I usually pay more attention to American politics than British politics due to the nature of my degree. And although I make sure to read the news every day, I am usually bereft of answers about Brexit, especially the question over what will happen. Because, who actually knows what will happen. I doubt anyone in the world can give a definitive answer, even Theresa May.
Whilst it has led to many interesting discussions about politics and the state of the UK, the issue of Brexit has been one which I find myself in limbo over. We all have our own opinions on the matter, but I do wonder what it would have been like if we did not vote to leave. Would I have talked to all sorts of people about the British political climate had it not happened? Would people therefore be as interested in what I had to talk about? Does Brexit suddenly make the UK relevant again, or is it still that place which many other Europeans envy and loathe? I guess we’ll never really know for sure.
I want to finish by saying that we Brits are not alone in this constant barrage of questions about the political decisions of our country. The vast majority of Americans whom I have met are, to say the least, not supporters of the current president and are not silent in their criticisms. Again, I’m not going to get into a political discussion about the president, but along with the Brexit vote, it has seemingly thrust the two countries into the international spotlight. Whilst America can essentially reverse its decision in two years’ time, let’s hope that by the same time we can at least have a few answers to the currently unanswerable questions that have been posed to me throughout this year.