"As a non-binary person, I find it freeing to be out and proud in the U.K."
Shot around one of their favourite green spaces in London, the Cross Rail Roof Garden.
Occupation: Novelist, optical technician.
How long have you lived in the U.K.?
Three years and counting.
Why did you move to the U.K.?
Originally, I moved to the UK to study, and to do some more in-depth research for the book I was writing at the time. Over time, I’ve re-calibrated a little, and it seems like now I’m looking to start a career – and working on a completely different novel.
What does your family think about you living in the U.K.?
I’ve been very lucky in that my family have told me that as long as I’m happy and pursuing my goals, they’re happy for me, no matter where I am in the world. We keep in close contact, so it’s almost like I’ve never left – if anything, being so far apart has made our relationship better. Luckily, it’s easy enough to jump on a plane and fly over (when we’re not in a pandemic!), so I’ve still been visiting pretty frequently. My mum says she’d be happy to have me back there permanently, but I don’t think I see myself coming back for that long.
As a European, what's it like living in the U.K.?
As someone who’s effectively bilingual, most of the time I can pass for someone who grew up here, or at least someone who has been here for much longer than I actually have, so thankfully, I don’t really experience any outright negative treatment, which some of the people I know (who are also expats/immigrants) do. Still, I think the UK is a much more liberal place than Poland – it’s not perfect, but it definitely allows people to express themselves more freely. London especially has long been a place where so many different cultures come together, which I think broadens the horizons of everyone who comes here, however long they decide to stay. There’s much more freedom to be who you want to be, and not have things weighing down on you as much as they would in a more straight-laced, conservative society. As a non-binary person, I find it freeing to be out and proud in the U.K., whereas back home, I’m pretty sure people would think of me as a freak, or think I’m “going through a phase” if I admitted it to them.
What do you dislike about living in the U.K.?
Multiple taps, and no plug sockets in most bathrooms! Also, the social conventions that require people to say things they don’t really mean, just to be polite – there’s nothing wrong with understating or overstating something, but if someone’s only doing it because they’re required to, I’d rather they don’t say anything at all.
What do you think about Brexit?
It’s such a strange idea to want to leave a safe, beneficial agreement, I’m still racking my brain as to how it even came about. I’ve seen a lot of EU-scepticism and outright hostility back home as well, and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that there are people who think the Union takes and takes, and gives nothing back, when in reality, it’s given us a lot of opportunities and resources to grow, in so many sectors. A lot of people think what the UK did was great and revolutionary, and that they’re going to be much better off for it, but in reality, the socioeconomic ramifications will be severe, and they’re already starting to come out. It’s nice to feel important because you’ve just stuck it to The Man and The Establishment (however misguided it is to call the EU that), but the rush of adrenaline usually only lasts for a minute. After that, I don’t think it’s a lot of fun.
Will you stay in the U.K. after the Brexit transition period?
I think I will, at least for now, I don’t think I’m done here just yet. Plus, I’ve settled down a little, I’ve started putting down roots, as much as I’m into living in other places at some point in my life, here’s been pretty good thus far. Also, pulling off a cross-country move is difficult! You start realising how much stuff you’ve accumulated. I think all my houseplants especially would require a special moving arrangement, since there are so many of them.
What would you like people who voted Brexit to know?
I’d like them to sit down, have a nice cuppa, and reflect for a minute – was all this really worth it? Also, a lot of Leave voters might not even see a lot of post-Brexit Britain, so to those guys, I think I’d like them to know that they’ve just made a lot of younger people’s lives much harder, while they enjoy their retirement in relative peace.
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