I arrived in Scotland from Belgium in September 2013 following my Scottish boyfriend -now husband- after finishing university with a Master in Applied Communications. After having struggled to find a job in my field, working in retailers and some internships during two years, I finally landed in a job in December 2015. I thought that my career was finally launching.
The Monday after the referendum I was called by my boss and my manager saying that they would have to let me go and they bigged up a story so they had an excuse for firing me. They added quickly that “It was not because of Brexit”. And that was just a month before my wedding.
Since then, I struggle to find a job in my field and I have to work in retail to be able to pay my bills. My self-esteem deteriorated and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
I try to be pro-active in my community, on the political stage and I get my skills at the level of the communications and graphic design fields.
Even if Scotland is more tolerant than some places in England, I always have to face the questions of my customers of where I am from (I am from the town!) and if one day I will go back to my country (but my country is the UK!). That adds up with the stereotypes about retail workers and their intellects (no, we are not stupid).
When I apply for jobs, I barely receive answers when I put my real name. However if I tweak it slightly to look more British, I receive more answers (even negative ones). All my covering letters are crafted and proofread by professionals so it shouldn’t be a problem.
I am more than qualified, have plenty of experiences gathered as intern and volunteer and passion in my domain and helping people/communities.
With the Settled Status which put a mark on all the EU citizen, the extortion for getting the British Citizenship and the new shadow of an unfair point-based system that the government wants to impose, I feel less and less welcome and I feel looked upon like I was a parasite by some of the people here.
One day I might have to choose between feeling recognised for my worth or staying here with my husband.
Aude, 33, Belgian, in the UK since 2013
First published July 2020
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