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I'm an EU student and here are my views a year after Brexit


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In the early hours of a June morning, somewhere in Paraguay. I was awoken by the faint cries of my British friend. Alarmed, I immediately asked her what is wrong. 

As she sobbed, she emotionally uttered the sentence, "51.89% of the UK voted to leave the EU".

After a brief silence, she then said this could be the end of our friendship, this is because I'm an international student who is currently studying in the United Kingdom.

Worse she feared the ending of her relationship with her German boyfriend. She felt like her country betrayed her.

There was not much I could do except comfort her with a hug, but at the back of my mind, I couldn't help but the think of the worst of what was yet to come.

That very morning I received several texts from family members, who were also emotional and expressing their displeasure and outrage that the UK no longer wishes to be a member of the EU. Fearing the worst, most of them told me I might as well prepare for my departure back home. They said it's evidently clear that I and anyone else in the same position are not welcome.

This news devastated me, as I'm a Polish citizen who has been living in the UK for just under five years. All that I've experienced and learned whilst staying in the UK has made me the person I am today. I've had many opportunities, both educational and professional. 

Immigration was the second most important factor given by those who voted to leave. Most news forecasts indicated that immigration to the UK will most likely remain high, if not the same after Brexit. They are also several thousand British citizens, based in other EU member states who applied for citizenship in their adopted homes.  A lot of them were worried that their right to work would be infringed.

Governed by Article 50 of the Treaty of European Union, there will be a negotiation period of up to two years at which point, the UK will leave the EU. With this period set to end in April 2019, it means in a little under 18 months, I might need to pack all my belongings and leave the country. Absolutely not, is what comes to my mind whenever I think about this!

I began to hear countless reports by different media outlets of the ill-treatment of Polish and other ethnic minorities living in the UK. I heard disgusting stories of discrimination and hate crimes. Phrases such as 'go away job takers' and ' you're not welcoming here you illegal workers', all this was disheartening to hear. However, I would like to mention that not all the information spread by the media has been entirely accurate. Although some of the negativity reported has taken place, I for one being Polish have not experienced any hatred since the referendum. If anything, I still continue to feel very much welcome in the UK.

Whenever I get a chance to talk with British citizens about the results, some do blame themselves and express how sorry they are on behalf of those who display any hate or negativity towards those who are of migrant backgrounds. I often tell them, that it's people like you who give us non-British nationals hope that we can co-inhabit in peace and continue to serve the UK and more importantly the world in a more positive manner. I personally feel that due to the opportunities I've had whilst living in the UK, I've served the nation just as equally as it has served me , and I have every right to continue doing so.

It's evidently clear that there is still a sense of panic for EU citizens in Britain. However, I'm confident that so long as you are a hard-working, law abiding citizen who lives in Britain with good faith, you will be allowed to stay. Britain is a welcoming place for people who willing to contribute and I don't think Brexit will change that. 

Brexit is an exit from a 40-year long chapter in the nation's past to a new chapter, one that if done correctly, could be a better one.

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