I am finally ready to share my testimony. I guess it took so long as it’s easier not to talk about it or think that so few would understand!!
So, my name is Celine, I’m French and I’ve worked in the UK for over 20 years. I originally came to Stirling University to do my MSc and I haven’t left since. I worked in research, in marketing and now I am an assistant head teacher and head of science in a big secondary school in Kent. My husband is British and my 2 boys have dual nationality. The Brexit vote in 2016 tore apart our family as my parents in law voted leave…. apparently God told them to do so? Since then our relationship has been very tense. If it was up to me I’d never speak to them again but can’t do that for my kids.
Anyway, after the shock, anger, sadness, disbelief of Brexit actually happening, I noticed a shift in people’s behaviour and for the 1st time felt like a foreigner in the country I chose to live in after my MSc. I even hesitate talking French to my boys when we’re out as I’m fed up of the dirty looks (we live in Kent).
Last year, I thought I’d finally found a way out. I managed to get a great job in a Swiss bilingual school. It would have been perfect for our family. As I was discussing details of moving to Switzerland with the HR manager, she said my husband could not find a job in Switzerland (or Europe) with only a British passport. This was a huge blow! I know you can get sponsorship to work there, but not as a math teacher… it’s cheaper to employ someone from the EU. Anyway, to cut the story short, I had to let go of the job and we are still here.
My husband is trying to get his French citizenship but he’s struggling to pass the fluency exam as his French speaking it really poor (trust me I’ve tried for nearly 20 years).
So now, I feel totally stuck. I used to LOVE the UK and a part of me feel that I wouldn’t belong in France anymore, but a bigger part of me want to leave this country I do not recognise anymore. I do not know what the best thing to do for my children is and I genuinely feel like here is not “home”.
Celine, 43, French, in the UK since 2000
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