A post Brexit immigration

Walking down the streets of Southampton, I feel truly at home. This is mostly because just two months earlier I had left Romania and my days of playing “how many black people will i see today”? are truly over. When we landed at the famous Heathrow Airport I was in awe at how i suddenly didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, i became invisible, just another black girl walking the streets of England.  Southampton certainly has its charms, its a sort of small town with a non overwhelming big city feeling all rolled into one. From the charming Bargate constructed in Norman times as part of the southampton city walls ,which was the main gateway to the city,to the Cenotaph, a stone memorial at Watts Park  originally dedicated to the casualties of the First World War, to the beautiful parks and the docks, where, just before noon on 10 April 1912, the Titanic began her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.  As you walk along the ancient city walls, there is a plaque that tells you that Jane Austen  lived there and walked along the same walls.The city museum has a titanic exhibition and the city gallery has some interesting works which could keep you busy for a solid hour.  Its like walking into history, almost like going back in time. Being a history buff, I have welcomed this city with open arms and it,me.                                            I have had my fair share of culture shocks of course, like the first time I got on a bus and had no idea how I was supposed to pay so I went on and sat and noticed, the driver, as polite as british people are, was waiting for me to pay him without even letting me know! it took a nudge from a fellow passenger for me to realise what was going on. Then there’s the time I was in the supermarket and the cashier asked if I wanted a 5p shopping bag, for me ‘p’ meant pounds, period, so i went on and complained that 5p (which I thought was 5 pounds) was too much for a shopping bag. The cashier was too polite to point it out (you have got to love british etiquette) but I found out later and out of embarrassment avoided that particular cashier since.      ‘p’ means pence by the way, and it takes a 100pence to make a pound. (hahaha).                 It was three weeks after I had arrived that i first heard about the EU referendum. I watched the debates, the news so closely and my perception of this country changed. As i walked along the streets I began to notice that there were so many languages being spoken by people as i walked past. This, something i had loved and marvelled about the city, suddenly made me feel uncomfortable. I felt the pro leave supporters had some sort of right to want to leave the EU and its relaxed immigration laws because their home had somehow become unrecognisable. So instead of counting how many black people, I found myself counting how many people i met that I could somehow guess were not truly, a 100 percent british. I lost count. However being an immigrant myself and of less than three months, I definitely gravitated towards the remain campaign and watched with disappointment when the result was delivered. Immigration of-course was not all the leave campaign was about but it made a very strong case. As i walked down the streets after the `brexit’ vote, i suddenly wanted to appear more british. I wondered as i walked if people could tell that i was an immigrant, I remember an incident where a man was following me and when he asked where I was from, i answered him, in the best British accent i could muster that i was from London. He wasn’t, it turned out,  a racist bigot but rather a philandering fool, but I was protecting myself from what everyone assumed would be a xenophobic post brexit Britain.  There were of-course a few hate crimes reported across Britain and closer to home, a group of racist bigots had arranged an anti-immigrant protest which, thankfully, was squashed by an even bigger pro-immigrant protest.                                                                                                                                                                                               I still feel at home here, as I walk along the streets people still smile and say hi . Most people i meet still claim they voted remain, obviously to avoid uncomfortable conversations. At the playground, there is usually more than three languages being spoken and the only game i play now is “guess the language”. I now have an ear for romanian, polish, german, spanish, french and igbo so i’m doing pretty well. For me a post Brexit immigration is like anything worth something in life, a challenge. A chance to succeed and be a representation of my culture in a foreign land.

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Jane Austen plaque

 

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the Titanic leaving Southampton for New York

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the Cenotaph

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a model of the Titanic, in the city museum

 

About amalembo

I am a Zambian living in the United Kingdom, spent nine months in romania and now living in Hampshire...my blog is about my experiences here, there and everywhere
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