Hello, my name is Carolina and I'm an Italian immigrant who has lived in London for nearly five years. In this article, I'd like to thank the United Kingdom for a lot of things.
Thank you, UK, for giving me all the opportunities that degree granted me: internships and jobs without the need to be sponsored by employers, a little more than a nuisance I'm now having to cope with in Australia.
Thank you, UK, for letting me stay there when I was homeless and jobless, trying to find a flat to rent and to look for a job after I finished uni. Thanks for not asking me to justify my presence, for allowing me to become who I am step by step, failure after failure, small success after small success.
Thank you, UK, because that time I smashed my finger in the kitchen door as a student you stitched it up, making me wait less than half an hour in the hospital. Thank you for letting me walk out without any bills to pay. I mean, I was an immigrant. And I was taking advantage of your NHS. Because I obviously love smashing my fingers. Who doesn't.
Thank you, UK, for allowing all my fellow Italian immigrants in. And the French, the Spanish, the Germans, the Norwegians and everyone else I got to meet during those years. Some of them are more than friends: they're family. Some of them have started their own businesses and they're doing very well. Some are struggling to pay rent. But all of them are making London and the UK the nation I've always loved: a mix of cultures, a country that doesn't just have one identity, it has thousands. A country I call home nearly more than my own, because it has looked after me, it has made me grow up, it has made me who I am.
Thank you, UK, for adopting me at the right time and for making me grow professionally. For giving me what my own country didn't offer: the tools to succeed (a little bit, at least). For preparing me professionally for this move to Australia, a big step I wasn't emotionally ready for.
For all of this - and for the wonderful people I met - I am deeply thankful to the United Kingdom. But I'm also sorry. Because in the post-Brexit UK it's very likely that generations of people in my same situation will not be able to do what I've done, or will have a much harder time to do it. So it's to them - and to the UK, without them - that I wish the best of luck.