I woke up this morning to the news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union in what will be remembered as an historic referendum. I’m still in a bit of a shock. As an Italian national, the news affect me directly. I don’t know what will happen to me and my family, or how and when.

I came to the realisation I’m not pro EU, nor against it. I don’t have enough information to decide if it’s in the best interest of this country to stay or to leave Europe. I have my opinions about immigration, taxation, NHS, freedom of movement, and all the other big and hot topics, but I don’t have the insight to fully understand (or predict) the effects of choosing one way or the other.

Britain will change, and in a sort of ripple effect, the rest of Europe will as well. Wild guesses had been made by the experts, but no one really knows what the future holds: this is an unprecedented situation.

The first time I visited England I was only 12 years old. I came here over summer to study English. I just fell in love with the people, with the places, and the culture. I returned home and, with the confidence that only a teenager can afford, I declared to my parents: “I will be moving to England when I grow up”. They laughed at me, of course.

Britain, in my eyes, was the Promise Land.

At first there was the music: The Cure, Joy Division, Clash, Sisters of Mercy, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, Stone Roses, just to mention a few. I remember trying to understand what they were singing about, spending hours translating every word. Their lyrics shaped what I am today.

Then came fashion: pictures of punks in Carnaby Street, the decadence of the goths, the unique style of Camden Town. It was so deeply different from what was popular in Italy! It wasn’t just fashion, it was a statement of values and ideals.

And literature: Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sir A.C. Doyle, George Orwell, and so many, many others. I couldn’t stop reading these books, dreaming about these stories, letting those words – that I could barely understand – transport me to wonderful new places.

It was only when I finally moved here, 15 years after that first visit, that I truly started to appreciate the British people. Most of the people I met are friendly, open, good at heart, and welcoming. I became a better person because of the good examples around me. After no long, I started calling this country “home”.

Italy is still hiding behind its own fears: same-sex couples or single person cannot adopt, black people are still seen as aliens, same-sex couples kissing in public are considered obscene, a man who commits all sort of crimes can still lead the country…

I felt so privileged to live in Britain, a country ahead of times, vibrant, multicultural, and alive. This country gave me so much, and will always have a special place in my heart.

But today I woke up to a different Britain. I don’t feel welcomed anymore, and I worry about whether I’ve overstayed my welcome. At least, that’s what over 50% of the citizen in my town thinks.

I’m sure there is still greatness in this amazing land, but today I’m not sure I’ll be around long enough to still be a part of it.

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  1. Del 25th June 2016 Reply
    • Laura Boccaleone 25th June 2016 Reply
  2. Nadine 25th June 2016 Reply
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