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Amy, 28, a speech therapist, English, living in Madrid

Diary of a British girl living in Spain after the Brexit

, by Amy Cooper, translated by Marie Menke

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [Español]

Thursday night I was unable to fall asleep, I lay awake watching in disbelief as my compatriots voted to leave the European Union. The next morning I woke to find thousand messages of WhatsApp and Facebook from my family and friends, conversations which just showed the shock we were all going through. No one could believe what was happening, but could it all just be a joke? Since then I have been feeling as if I was breaking up with my boyfriend, I have been feeling confused, sad and angry and I have been checking my phone every 20 minutes in case there are news or some error has been discovered, I have been having false hopes which eventually do not come true. In reality, this feeling is worse than what you feel when going through a break up, because it affects all of us as we are now living on the edge, knowing that we are going to break up with each other, but neither knowing when or how it is going to happen, nor what life will be like afterwards.

I have always considered myself to be more European than British, I have always been proud to be a part of a union where we are allowed to travel freely, where after a short trip you already find yourself in another country with its own culture, landscape and language. Where we have the opportunity to live, work, and study in whichever of the 27 countries we choose. I feel sad that from now on our youth will no longer have the same opportunities I had: going on an interrail trip, falling in love with some girl or boy during your Erasmus stay, choosing a country and making it your home, or in some cases also getting to know young people from all over Europe who have been given the opportunity to study, work and live in the United Kingdom.

I am surely worried about my personal situation in the country I chose to adopt as well as about youth opportunities, but that is only one side of the issue; I am even more worried about not being able to recognise my very own native country. I understand that essentially things are far away from being perfect, it is clear that the referendum has just come to highlight a whole series of fundamental problems of the United Kingdom and its political system, but under these circumstances, how did the idea evolve that we were better than the others? There is more to it, the results seems to allow the alienation of European and non-European citizens living in the UK, this decision’s result also seems to allow racist shout on the streets as well as graffiti arguing against immigration in the bathrooms of our primary schools. I’m worried about my friends and family who are considering moving to areas which voted Stay, because they do not identify with their neighbours’ values. I’m worried about the fractures of opinions in other European countries and about the message the United Kingdom is spreading. I’m feeling rejected by my very own country. The UK which I have come to know is a country full of liberty, openness, compassion and opportunity, where most of the problems can be solved while having a cup of tea.

We could now say that we owe this decision to the politicians and to those who do not have the right information and eventually regret voting Leave. But the reality we have to face is that the United Kingdom and the European Union will no longer be one and the same. The next months will be difficult and we not yet know what to expect from them. Despite the result, I am strongly motivated to fight for a Europe which should stand together more united than ever before, despite what it is turning into. Europe, please, do not brush off the “48 %”, we do not want to break up with you.

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