I never had the slightest intention of coming to the UK, in fact I always avoided the idea of even spending a holiday here due to bad experiences in the past. I was having my life and a good career back in Hungary. Until one day, 2 years ago, my wife, who is also Hungarian, came back from work (she is a market and business development executive) telling me her employer wanted to relocate her team to London. Her employer offered us a full relocation package, paying also for my expenses. The downside was that my employer (a British company!) was not willing to help me find a job at their London headquarters.
My biggest fear was to end up working in a pub, “washing dishes” despite my management qualifications and technology industry experience. This was judging from lots of horror stories I heard back in Budapest from people who attempted to come here from other parts of Europe. I submitted a few CVs and in 4 weeks I had 3 job offers from top organisations. It seemed the experience I brought from my role back in Hungary was quite a rare thing to find here. I was able to continue my career path, surrounded by British colleagues who graduated from private schools and top universities (I am the only non-British manager). This role has boosted my opportunities and I was accepted to have executive education and start an MBA. I made friends at my workplace: good old fashion pint-drinking, pie-eating, Sunday-roast-in-pub.
They treated me with respect. My British boss mentored and empowered me. After 2 years I have absolutely changed my opinion about Britain and have made London my home. I love this home that has given me the opportunity to contribute to its society and demonstrate how far I could go. This is a country that backs you if you work hard and do the right things. I love this city with its bad weather. I love the idea of finally being able to speak English day and night. I love it with its over-crowded tube lines. Home is where the heart is.
I can’t picture the world anymore without a good pint and sarcastic inappropriate comments. In the last 2 years I have paid taxes, donated to charities and helped those in need when possible. I love it here… and am making plans to launch a business project that will hopefully have a positive impact on society.
But after June 23rd, 2016, it turns out I am an unwelcome economical scourge, like the hard working Polish, the fancy French, the precise Germans, the smart Hungarians, the funny Italians and other Europeans who have come here legally and in good faith. Our voices should be heard by the UK government and the EU. I cannot condone the great injustice being perpetrated against Europeans who, like me, have an interest in integrating into this country and share a pint with its people.
Adapted from a Facebook post on The 3 Million (Forum for EU citizens), published with permission of the author.