FRANCESCA

"I believe that the Brexit referendum was based on incorrect political propaganda, which was rooted in ignorance, fear and racism."

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Shot around one of her favourite green spaces in London, Russel Square.

Nationality: Italian.

 

Location: London.

 

Occupation: Museum assistant.

 

How long have you lived in the U.K.?

1 year and 2 months.

Why did you move to the U.K.?

I moved to the U.K. for one reason, to develop my career in Museum Anthropology and African Studies. What I like about London in particular is the strong staff turnover, which means more opportunities to develop my professional career. In Italy there isn’t any kind of staff turnover, especially when you find a job in the cultural sector, they stay there forever!

What does your family think about you living in the U.K.?

They would love to have me back in Italy with them, but they understand that the Italian cultural sector is stagnant, so if I want to follow my ambition, the UK is a better place to be at the moment.

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As a European, what's it like living in the U.K.?

I’ve never felt this strong “European patriotism”. I think of the European Union as only an economic and political agreement. To avoid any kind of social and cultural generalisation, I’ve always preferred to define myself as Italian, not European. Moreover, I don't feel very European in U.K. either, I feel like an immigrant. I feel the burden of English not being my mother tongue on a daily basis. I know that I have strong professional skills, but I don't feel able to express myself as I wish. This is very frustrating, but I guess it will take time and I have to be more patient. I know that I live in U.K. thanks to my European privileges, but I don't feel part of this country. I am an immigrant employee who is sharing her professional expertise in exchange for a wage and work experience.

What do you dislike about living in the U.K.?

Structural racism is what I dislike the most. For example, you can see that the cultural sector is mainly in the hands of British white people, but you can’t openly say that because it is not polite and not politically correct. I hope that this current powerful movement around the decolonisation of the arts will help make the museum sector more accessible. 

 

There is another thing that I don’t like, but it's funny. It took me so long to realise that here when someone asks “how are you?” it's just another way to greet a person. I used to be so offended seeing people ask that and then just leave. Because of this, I don't feel comfortable saying anything other than “I'm good” because it looks like no one really pays attention to your answer, they're just saying “hi” basically. In Italy, when we ask “how are you?” we really mean it. So I guess it’s a cultural difference. But I remember that I hated it so much during my first few months here. Can I say that I still hate this a little bit? 

What do you think about Brexit?

If Brexit is what British people want, then I'm fine with it. I am not a British citizen so I don't think it's any of my business. For everything you gain, you lose something else. But if there is a racist point of view behind Leave voters, then we should analyse Brexit better, and connect it to this political wave going on in Europe and the USA, which is the disgusting rise of far-right parties and racism.

 

Will you stay in the U.K. after the Brexit transition period?

At the moment I live here because there are more pros than cons. If Brexit will create a more expensive, dangerous and racist environment, I will be happily live elsewhere. But I think that Brexit could be a problem for people and families who have no other choice but to stay here.

What would you like people who voted Brexit to know?

I would say to always be very careful, properly informed and empathetic when you express your vote. I believe that the Brexit referendum was based on incorrect political propaganda, which was rooted in ignorance, fear and racism. Saying this, I am just realising that I’ve learnt some British political correctness!

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