I could label myself in many ways – female, wife, mother, sister, aunt, British, English, southerner, Londoner, or European citizen currently resident in Germany – but I never think of myself as an ex-pat. I haven’t left anything. I’ve not escaped. I’ve not given up one country for another. Instead, as an EU citizen, I now have access to so many more countries and have become richer as a result.
That is to say, richer in opportunities, in experience, in outlook, in friendships, in choice of where I live and work, and in ways to express myself in a language other than my own.
Sometimes such change is triggered by chance – a foreign language course, university study, voluntary work or a company transfer.
In my case it was a new job. My husband was offered a teaching post at the British School in Bonn (at that time still the western capital of a divided Germany). The international school circuit then took us to Stuttgart and to Hamburg, though it could just as easily have been Madrid, Paris or Rome.
I’ve loved the opportunity that first the EEC and then the EU has given us for well over 30 years now, helped by the reciprocal health and pension arrangements and the ease of travel (I can remember the time when we were limited to the amount of foreign currency we were allowed to take on holiday).
I want my children, who are now living and working in the UK, to have the same opportunities and the same benefits I have had.
I don’t want to risk losing this wonderful freedom. I want my children and all future generations to inherit it.
Angela – Hamburg, Germany
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