A BRITISH CITIZEN
Today I attended the ceremony, the last step to becoming a British citizen. I decided to write this post to take a minute to ponder on what it actually means to me.
First, I would like to say a few words to the ceremony. It took place at the Inverness Town House that is one beautiful building inside out. From the outside, it looks a like a mini castle and the inside is decorated with sparkly glass chandeliers, oil painting portraits of important people from the Scottish history and wooden furniture that people like Winston Churchill got to sit on.
I was a bit sceptic about the ceremony before because I take those events as a formality that I ought to attend. I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised with the whole event. It was a very small group and everyone from the council made us feel very special and welcome. The actual ceremony took only about 30 mins and it followed by a sophisticated reception with tea and cake; and small talks of course. My overall feeling from this event was a genuine interest and friendliness to every single person in the room.
I have decided to become a British Citizen to avoid uncertainty that comes with Brexit. But for me, it was not a case of coming from a dangerous country where becoming a British citizen would mean that I would finally be safe. I was born in the Czech Republic, a country that is in central Europe and is a part of the European Union.
I moved to the UK, London specifically, when I was 19, straight after high school. I came to study at university, learn English and experience living in a different country. I started with a Foundation Course and then followed with a Bachelor degree. If I am totally honest, when I was applying, with the help of my boyfriend at the time, I did not really understand what a Foundation Course was, but I was told to apply for that, so I did. It meant that the Tuition fees were lower for the first year, but it also meant that I was not able to take out a student loan.
I spent the summer before coming to London working almost every day in a cafe in the Czech Republic and with help from my mum and my savings I was just able to have enough money to pay for the Foundation Course. It was not easy, I have to say, graduating from my high school, taking extra English classes for the IELTS exam, preparing for a new life and working as much as I can, to be able to pay for my Tuition fees, all at the same time. But I do not regret any of it.
I am honoured to become a British citizen because despite always being Czech in my heart, I spent the crucial years of defining myself as a person in my early adulthood in the UK. Living in the big city that is London, opened up a whole new world to me. There are so many opportunities, and I have met so many different people from different countries. Anything seemed possible, even though I was not able to live the ‘typical’ university life like my classmates because I had to go to work in the evenings and weekends or I could not afford to travel back to central London. Often I felt sad and not included. The first year when everyone had created the lasting relationships, I was desperately trying to at least understand what people were saying, but I was not able to join fast conversations. By the time I had translated what people had said and would be able to react, the conversation had already moved on. I do not regret it though. The struggle I went through made me stronger. Learning a new language comes with its sacrifices. You just have to get through the initial 1-2 years of feeling lonely and not as included as others. In general, people in the UK are used to foreigners so apart from a few exceptions, they are understanding.
I am grateful for living in the UK for over 7 years. Adopting an English mentality and perhaps the flow of foreigners has taught me that possibilities for what my life can look like are endless. It opened my mind to trying new things despite the fact that it might not work out; because there is a beyond and it is entirely up to me if I decide to grab it or settle for easy. On the other hand, I learned how to embrace the everyday things like exploring your local area, spending time with your family and learning about the history of the area you live in.
Becoming a British citizen does not mean that I am giving up my identity of being Czech. I am hoping to take the best of both and combine it to be a better person no matter where I live. I will honour both nationalities. I strive to embrace what I have learnt living in the UK thus far and be a great example to those who think that some things are not possible for them in the Czech Republic.
Comment below if you have any questions or want to share your experience.:)