When Brexit was officially confirmed in 2016, especially the young generation became worried about their future. The British student Cicely Hedges-Robinson (21) is currently studying in Amsterdam and considering to follow a masters degree there as well. However, Brexit could thwart her plan.
Text and photos by Julia Pulm
Cicely grew up in the south of England. Moving from the countryside to Birmingham, she finally settled in London. Currently, she is studying ‘Art History’ as an Erasmus student at the University of Amsterdam. The decision to study in Amsterdam was planned a long time ago, but she was already worried that Brexit thwart her plan. “Luckily it was still possible to live and study abroad without any borders”, says Cicely. She is probably one of the last students who are able to participate in the Erasmus program. “My eighteen-year-old brother might not have the chance to join because of Brexit.”
Brexit is a sensitive topic in the British society in general.
When Cicely heard that Britain’s withdrawal was confirmed in 2016, she got worried and upset at the same time. Britain leaving the European Union (EU), something that didn’t cross her mind. “I think people who voted for leaving the EU didn’t know what that would actually mean, ” she feels certain. All of her closest friends, her family and herself voted for staying in the European Union. Still today, the future of Britain is completely unknown. “We don’t know what’s going to happen, this is something people are scared off. Brexit is a sensitive topic in the British society in general.”
Cicely noticed a real ‘Brexit Anxiety’ within the British society. People are worried about restrictions in traveling and living abroad. Brexit means a lack of freedom for its own citizens. “We are missing the chance of being connected, ” she says. Cicely loves studying in Amsterdam and she always has been curious about living abroad. That’s why she is considering completing her master’s degree in Amsterdam as well. “But now I am not sure if this will work out when Britain finally leaves the EU.” Thinking about not fulfilling her dream, makes her feeling sad and upset. “Other people’s decision will affect my life and not in a positive way.”
Three years of process to conclude Britain’s withdrawal, it’s still uncertain if there will be a ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’. If there is a ‘deal’, this will allow a transition phase until december 2020. During that time, British people will keep the same rights as an European citizen. Whereas a ‘no deal’ implies that it’s up to each individual country how it will treat British citizens. As a consequence, this means an uncontrolled exit without any agreement between Britain and the EU. This is a worst-case scenario for students like Cicely who want to study abroad. “British students which already started their studies in the Netherlands, will probably get a guarantee to continue studying here, but for potential students, it’s not the best situation to be in,” explains Jamal Shahin, professor at the University of Amsterdam of the course ‘European Studies’.
The single market within the European Union allows the European countries to bring goods from country to country without any borders. This could be over after Brexit as well. Especially out of an economically view, the British society are scared by its consequences. “When Brexit was announced, the pound went down rapidly,” explains Jamal Shahin. However, this means rising rental prices. Also, students will be affected by this in order to find an affordable room.
The reasons why so many people voted for leaving the European Union are still unsettled.
The reasons why so many people voted for leaving the European Union are still unsettled. “After 25 years of misinformation by the British press about the role of the European Union, there is a general distrust for the EU within the British society,” Jamal Shahin assumes. During the voting in 2016, the music festival ‘Glastonbury’ took place and attracted many young people. In Cicely’s opinion, this was one of the reasons why the young generation was not as active as usual during a voting: “Many people haven’t seen the need to vote and thought it was a waste of time because they were totally sure Brexit is not going to happen.”
The effects of Brexit are still vague. But we can say for sure that especially the young generation will suffer from this resolution. “The European Union is not the land of milk and honey, but does provide these key benefits like free traveling, stability and trade without borders,” Jamal Shahin states. The final agreement will show on what benefits Britain can take advantage of.