Don’t ask me how many weeks that has passed since that fateful morning when I woke up to find that Britain had made the biggest mistake in history, effectively pushing the self destruct button ,stepping into a time machine that doesn’t do fast forward, but rewind only, and at an alarming pace too.

For weeks after the referendum,I was in a mess along with ,dare I say, everyone else, in my position. I started a Facebook group for EU citizens living in the UK and for Brits residing in other EU countries, and we are still growing in numbers by the day. We come from all over Europe, and we have one thing in common, we are worried and incredibly anxious about what will happen to us post- Brexit. The general advice seems to be to apply for Permanent Residence. If you are a Brit living in the UK and you don’t have any plans of leaving this (sinking?) island, but you want to try and understand what us EU citizens in the UK are going through ? Then take a look at the application for Permanent Residence for EEA citizens. If you are a lifelong insomniac, I can guarantee that reading only the first few pages will be enough to put you to sleep. As a self employed EU citizen, the form immediately becomes even more complicated to fill in. The amount of proof that one needs to submit is beyond ludicrous. And if you are a fellow EU citizen about to fill in this tedious form, read the guidelines with a magnifying glass, preferably after you have had a few strong espressos, just in case you miss out on any minor details that will ensure that your application gets declined. I had spent one cartridge printing out bank statements and other various documents before reading the small print…only ORIGINALS and NO print out’s allowed. If you do print out your bank statements, then you must get each paged stamped at your bank. I am not quite sure how that stressed out woman at my local branch will deal with me cheerfully handing her a pile with hundreds of pages first thing on Monday morning ,-  “Would you mind stamping each one ? Just in case you have nothing more important to do “. Then there are the doctor’s letters, the copy of my rental contract, proof of paying my council tax, national insurance, clients references and contracts, a sheet detailing every single date that I have been out of the country, etc etc etc. One member of the group that I run had to send of 3 kilos of documentation with their application…poor sod at the Home Office who will have to read through all that !

Am I angry about the situation that I am in ? I feel resentful, yes. But I no longer let it consume me, I treasure my sanity far too much. Do I let my worries keep me up at night ? No more. I don’t function without my 7 hours a night. All I can do is to apply for Permanent Residence and hope for the best. The rational and sensible voice inside my head tells me that surely they cannot kick out a mother of a child who is half British, who is born and raised here and who cannot speak  word of Swedish. But then again, how rational is this current government ?

At the end of the day, this country is my Home. I have lived here for over half my life, I have paid my taxes here, I have fully  integrated into the British society, and I think that I and my fellow EU citizens who are settled in the UK  have as much right as anyone else to be here. But whether May and her croonies thinks the same, that remains to be seen…

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On June the 23rd I went to sleep as normal. I have since forgotten what normal feels like.

I fell in love with London on my very first visit as a young teen. I came here with my family ,and I had never felt as home anywhere as I did here. Right there and then I made the decision that one day, this city would be my home. And years later,in 1993, I arrived in London with my suitcase, I had a place lined up at an English course at the International House (not because I needed to learn English,but because my parents wouldn’t have let me go otherwise ) ,and a shared room reserved in a student house on Priory Road in West Hampstead.

I had the time of my life exploring this wonderful,bustling multicultural city. I did the usual Scandi thing of working as an Au Pair, I went clubbing at The Astoria,The Wag and The Hellfire Club. I saw new bands play at The Marquee whenever I had the chance to. And I met the father of my child who is now in her teens. We split up,but there was never one moment where I thought that I should head back to Sweden, because although I was always fiercely proud of my roots, London was now my home.

I set up my own business, met the love of my life, my teen thrives at school and has a great life here. All was very rosy.  Then suddenly there was this referendum…and on June 24th I woke up in the middle of a nightmare,just like the other 3 million EU citizens living in the UK,just like the Brits living abroad in other EU countries,just like the 48% who had voted Remain.

My life here had never been under threat. But now there were suddenly no guarantees that I or the millions of other EU citizens living in the UK  could remain here. Suddenly we found ourselves being referred to as bargaining chips , negotiation tools. Suddenly our futures in this country were uncertain, completely out of our hands,and in the hands of people who seemingly just don’t want us here.

Groups like “Worrying Signs” formed, with people reporting daily acts of hatred against EU immigrants by people who thinks that we are vermin who should “Go Home”…but this IS our home. Tabloid rags such as The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Express have been inciting hatred against immigrants for months and months leading up to the EU Referendum. The far right organisations joined the coat tails of the Leave campaign, and saw the win as a green card to tell us all ” Leave ! ” .

I started a support group on Facebook for EU Citizens in the UK and Brits living abroad, and we have grown in numbers since . We share the same worries and fears…will we be able to remain in our adopted home countries ? Will we be deported ? If we get to stay, under what conditions will it be ?

We never had a reason to apply for permanent residence, but now we are all sharing the same headache over filling our the most intrusive forms which we hope will enable us to stay in this country…in our homes. But not everyone will get their applications for permanent residence approved. Women married to Brits and who has stayed at home raising their children, they don’t qualify. Students don’t always qualify. If you have received housing or council tax benefit, you may not qualify. But the majority of people have lived here for years, we have been paying our taxes and national insurance, we contribut financially to the British society..why should we be punished for having the same rights as everyone else ? And if your application for Permanent Residence gets declined, then you cannot apply for naturalisation. And where does people in that situations stand once Britain officially leaves the EU ?

We cannot reassure our worried children that their mothers and fathers can remain here. We cannot guarantee them that everything will carry on as before, and that they can remain here in the country where most of them were born and raised. We cannot guarantee them that they will be able to remain in their schools with their friends. And we as their parents have always been able to guarantee them up until now that everything will be ok. How do you think They feel ? This is not their fault !

And how do you think We feel ? Many of us no longer feel wanted in the country that we made our Home. Many of us feel afraid to speak in our native tongue in public, just on case someone will tell us to “Go Home !”. We try to switch of from our worries, but we cannot, how could we ? How can we sleep peacefully at night when we don’t know what the future has in store for us. Sure, no one knows what’s around the corner. But the UK is our home. This is were we have put down our roots. This is where are families, our jobs, our friends and lives are. And to be told that we are safe “for now” but that no one knows what will happen once Article 50 has been triggered and those 2 years of negotiations are up ? That is mental abuse, is it not ?  We are Human Beings. We are not bargaining chips. We are not numbers. We are part of the British society, and without us here, without our contributions, where would this country be ?

We deserve to be reassured, not in the near future,not in the  distant future, not years ahead, but NOW !

 

 

 

I moved to London back in 1993 as a 19 year old. I had saved up enough money to last me for a year,but I found work, I found love and ended up staying. The relationship failed 9 years ago ,but before then we had a daughter who is born and raised in London. When she was born the law was different,so even though she has a British father,she had to assume my Swedish nationality as we were not married. So on paper she is Swedish,although she has only visited Sweden once a year and cannot speak the language. Thankfully since last year,a change in the law that I just only found out about when calling immigration last week to enquire about our rights to remain in the UK in the event that Great Britain will leave the EU, will enable her to simply register as a British citizen without me having to pay an extortionate amount for her to go through the whole application process of becoming a British citizen through naturalisation.

But for me, it’s a whole different ballgame. I could apply for naturalisation and for dual citizenship,but apart from it being a very lengthy process,it is also a very costly one. Instead I will opt for applying for a UK residence card, which will help me prove my right to remain in this country as I have indefinite leave to remain after having lived here for over 5 years. But this UK residence card would  be a must for me in the event that the British voters vote to leave the EU in the upcoming referendum. Especially when travelling as otherwise it may not be a piece of cake for me to go through the passport controls when returning to the UK, as it is at the moment.

But I cannot apply for the UK residence card until September, After the referendum has been held,and that does make me worried. Why can’t I apply before then ? I am in a longdistance relationship ,and we are travelling back and forwards between our countries until my half British other half is moving to the UK in the autumn. The application for the UK residence card takes up to 6 months,and I will have to surrender my passport for at least 6 weeks,not an option at the moment.

But more than anything, it worries me that there are so many Brits who blindly believe what they read in the Anti- EU tabloids,such as The Sun, The Mail and The Express, instead of doing their Own research into what option is actually the best for their country,and for themselves and their children. Standing alone has never been strong..Standing Together is the only option. I am  very concerned that just like when people voted in the current government, who has done a very good job in destroying the country,practically dismantling the NHS,the mental health services,leaving the disabled without any money and support,bringing in the bedroom tax and so on…the Brexit voters will not realise the great error of their misinformed votes until it is too late. If the outcome of the referendum is for  the UK to leave the EU, there really is no turning back. And that would be one very sad day for this country…

I just read an article in “The New Day” on the findings of a new study carried out by the European Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology,  that reveals that the number of UK children prescribed anti-depressants increased by 54% between 2005 and 2012,and rises of 60% in Denmark,49% in Germany,26% in the US and 17% in the Netherlands.

In this article one pushy parent claims that our children is not under too much pressure, whereas another parent claims that they are ,and I certainly agree with the latter.

In this country ,children start school much earlier than in many other European countries. Take Finland for example, who are on the top of the leader board when it comes to education,and yet the Finnish children start school at the age of 7. They have no uniforms.No exams. No entrance fees. No league tables.No Ofsted inspections . No math success measurement. They do not divide children into sets based upon ability. Children address teachers by their first names,and no child gets more than 30 minutes of homework a night.

But there in the UK,it’s all about putting the pressure on.And not just at school. How many children in primary school do you know of who are ferried around to different after school clubs every weekday afternoon after school ? They have ballet classes,dance classes,guitar lessons,violin lessons,singing lessons,sports clubs,maths clubs,piano classes,swimming classes. I am not saying that this is wrong,you should encourage your child to pursue their interests, and that is the key here…Their interests,not Yours. I know of children who hates playing the violin,they don’t want to do ballet,they would love to pursue their own interests,but they have no say in the matter as their parents are more busy in keeping up with the Joneses rather than listening to what their children really want. Their children are so busy that they can’t even go on playdates to cultivate new friendships,or make any lasting friendships. And as for the weekends.they are full of activities too. No wonder the children are getting stressed and depressed as many of them don’t get time to unwind and just be Carefree.

And once they start secondary school the pressure becomes even greater. And for the children who are under so much pressure to be the perfect son and daughter, they often do what children under too much pressure do…they rebel. I have seen it happening and I am seeing it happening. I know of teens who self harm,boys as well as girls, I know of teens who seeks love and attention elsewhere, and end up in situations that will affect them for a long time to come. I know this because I am the mother of a teenage child who tells me about the great pressure that many of her peers are under,and what she tells me frightens me and saddens me a great deal.

As parents we must take responsibility for our children’s wellbeing. I am very fortunate to have a relationship with my child that has become even stronger as a result of me bringing her up by myself for the last 9 years. We discuss anything and everything. She feels free to confide in me. I have taught her mindfulness,how to deal with stress in the best way that suits her (in her case it’s sports and arts as she can get rid of any angst through sports,and express her emotions through her creative side as well as talk to me) . I have also taught her to respect herself and value herself , so that she is less likely to get into situations that could be harmful. I am by no means the perfect mother, but I have seen how children can become affected by parents who are too busy to take the time to listen to, and take time out for their children,whilst putting constant pressure on them to achieve. And I want my child to be Happy. And you know what ? It works ! I left the last parents evening with a kleenex in one hand as she made me so proud and I couldn’t help but well up. I have never put any pressure on her, yet she is in the top of her class in many of her subjects and her teachers couldn’t stop singing her praises. And that is not because of me telling her that she Must do well, it is because She believes in herself and in her abilities.

 

Music can evoke so many memories of one’s past,and different artists and songs helps to make a soundtrack of our lives.When I was 16,I heard an album that would change my life. That album was “Facelift” by Alice In Chains. The first time I saw the video to “Man in the box” on MTV’s Headbangers Ball,hosted by Vanessa Warwick, I immediately ran out to buy the album with my pocket money, and a love affair began that has so far lasted for 23 years.Longer than any relationship I have ever had 😉 Their music helped me through some very difficult years,those infamous angstridden teenage years ,and those early twenties when you are trying to find your way in life,and find out who you are.

I first saw Alice in Chains play back in -93,a time of my life when I was still very young and full of optimism and determination.When I saw them again, exactly 20 years later, I felt like I was 19 again,and all the memories from that time just flooded back.I left the venue not only feeling on top of the world after seeing the best gig of my life (and I have seen a few over my 39 years),but also filled with optimism and determination, just like I had felt all those years ago when as a 19 year old I saw them play at the Brixton Academy.It is just amazing how alive you can feel in these special moments,and although I do very much doubt that any of the band will read this, I’d want to thank them for giving me so many happy memories,past and present.

alice in chains 742

 

 

London may not be far away from Sweden, but when I came here as a 19 year old, I had a major culture shock.

I remember my taxi stopping at the address of my student house on Priory Road in West Hampstead. I walked into my room…no double glazing ? I ended up sleeping with two duvets and my coat on ! I walked into the bathroom…a carpet ? In the bathroom ? You’ve got to be kidding me,right ? I rang my parents in disbelief, before walking into the kitchen. I kept pushing the button,but the cooker did not come on ! I was just about to light a cigarette (a nasty habit I have since kicked) when a Japanese housemate stormed in ” No no,don’t light match,the loom smell of gas,you blow up !”. I had never heard of a gas cooker before ! I got my block of cheese out, where was the cheese slicer ? I sound found out that there weren’t such thing,I went around to every shop that I could think of, and everyone looked at me like I had totally lost the plot “No no,you cut cheese with a KNIFE,there’s no such thing as a cheese slicer!” ( some years down the line,the cheese slicer finally arrive in the UK shops,presumably imported by a disgruntled Scandinavian )

Then the major bugbear of mine, and 20 years on, it still bugs the hell out of me….WHY do British people not take off their OUTDOOR shoes when going INDOORS ? Don’t you want to keep your carpets clean ? Do you know of all that dirt that will stick in your carpet when you’re traipsing around indoors with your shoes on ? Ok,by all means, feel free to wear your shoes indoors in your own home, but when you come to my house and I ask you to take your shoes off ? Don’t act like I’d just insulted your mother, I simply just want to keep my carpets clean.That is not being anal, it’s being clean !

Ok,what other bugbears do I have ? Oh yes,the hot and cold water taps…Why have separate hot and cold water taps ? What if you want lukewarm water? What do you do ?

And yes,the litter,litter and dog poo…everywhere ! Now,if you have been to any part of Scandinavia,you will know that it is very clean. We use the bins for our litter, we clear up after our dogs. But in some parts of London,well,most parts probably,you sometimes have to walk in zig zag across the pavements in order to avoid treading in it…lovely ! And then there are the plastic bag trees outside the supermarkets. You haven’t seen them ? The branches are decorated with plastic bags,hanging off every branch. And the London buses ? One great,big bin for empty McDonalds and fried chicken boxes. Seriously, what is so hard about dumping them in the nearest trash can ?

But before I come across as being just a moaning old woman, there are so many things that I like about living here. I like the fact that you can strike up a conversation with a total stranger anywhere you go. An old dear may start telling you her life story whilst waiting for the buss to come, an old man may smile and stop for a chat during his daily morning walk, a stressed out mother may start happily chatting away to you in the supermarket queue once she sees that you aren’t actually bothered about her kid having a full blown tantrum as you say “Hey,we’ve all been there ! Let them stare,don’t worry about it!”, a young guy man start talking to you about the weather whilst queueing up at Caffe Nero to get his daily caffeine kick. That common perception that the world has about the Brits, that supposedly they are very quiet and reserved, that is just not true. And if I think that there is one thing my fellow Swedes could learn of the Brits, it is to open up more. You never know , a stranger may become a friend  ! 🙂

 

This is exactly how I feel, not strictly Swedish, not English, but rather an odd (I would call it charmingly confusing)  mixture of both.

Having spent 19 years in Sweden and 20 years in the UK, it is fair to say that I don’t  always actually know where I belong ,and what really is Home.

When I am in the UK, I sometimes find myself saying ” Well,in Sweden we’d never do this or that “,but when in Sweden,I will find myself saying “Well,in the UK we’d never do this or that !”.
But in my heart, I know that Sweden will always be my home, that is where I was born, that is where I grew up, and that is where my roots are.

This blog will give you an ‘outsider’s’ look on the UK.What someone not born here thinks of the Brits and the British society on a whole.What it’s like to move here, to make a new life here.It will tell you of the up’s and the downs of living in a country which essentially, is not your own.The views are simply my own, and are not reflecting the views of anyone else who are in my position.

But this blog will not just reflect on what life is like for a (sometimes) homesick Swede in the UK.
I will share my views on my native country, what’s going on there , and how the Swedes live and our little quirks , but also on anything else going on in the world that I may have an opinion on.And being very opinionated, this will be one blog with many posts !

Feel free to comment, agree, disagree and debate.

Happy reading ! 🙂