A Question of British and European Identity.
A quick look at Past, Present and Future identities for British Europeans and myself.
A European Past
The Island of Great Britain has always bit a part of Europe but slightly apart from it. Partly because it's an island. Historically we've been invaded by Romans, Normans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings, Irish, Dutch, Jutes, French, Spanish and other Europeans. We've been part of culture, politics and war in the mainland since the first Roman arrivals.
I grew up in the UK but was lucky enough to holiday abroad to several European destinations. And I've had had European influences from young. School trips to Europe, French and German in school, Portuguese holidays, Asterix books, WWII stories.
Later it was salsa friends, hockey trips abroad, learning Spanish, then German, Polish and Portuguese. Salsa trips, collaborations with Europeans, visiting European cities, interest in European folklore and art. My parents spent half the time in years before Covid living in Portugal.
Recent UK and Europe
With Brexit the relationship between the UK and Europe changed as the UK left the European Union. It's still a part of Europe but it's relationship has changed and is still progressing to a new state of things.
Like many I was forced to look at identities of being a European and British (or English, Scottish, Welsh etc). Some Brits took the plunge and transferred their residency to Europe. Many lucky enough to have Irish parents or grandparents have now got Irish passports.
Currently there are less Europeans living in the UK, it's harder to travel to Europe or move there, the flow of goods between the UK and the EU has been reduced.
The UK seems as if we are trying to hold on to a legacy that no longer exists. Using advantages that we have already lost.
The UK has trying times ahead. Much of it due to Brexit and Coronavirus. Scotland will try another independence referendum, there are uncertainties around Northern Ireland. We have a government that doesn't seem to have any vision for the future. Relationships with the EU will take a while to reach a new equilibrium and we might be looking at more financial challenges.
I'm faced by the fact that I don't want to stay in the UK. I'd rather try to make a life in Europe. It might be a step towards a global outlook
I could live in the UK fine, but part of me will always wonder what I am missing out on. There is no challenge to it. Maybe if I had a partner or children here then it would be different. But I'd still want to put those languages to use.
I think it's a case of self-development and iteration. going to different environments and seeing where it goes. Some of it comes down to identities and spending some time exploring those.
But then it was hard not to feel at home in a brunch of 16 people of different nationalities in a park in Porto or among a gathering of couchsurfers.
So what does it mean to you to be European?