Finishing university in the summer of 2015 left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I had just spend £42,000 on a degree that offered me no tangible opportunities, I’d never been privileged enough to have savings, and I couldn’t move back in with my parents in London because they had downsized and I would’ve been sleeping on the sofa. So I decided to move to Berlin.
I arrived as an au pair, living with an awful family and looking after three very young and tired children. I spoke no German, knew no one, and had only visited Berlin once before, but I fell in love with the city pretty quickly. After four months of deutsch classes and a swift move into a shared apartment, I began settling in and reaping the benefits from the vibrant night and social life, delicious food and great music scene.
In the early summer of 2016, 51% of the United Kingdom voted to leave Europe and I was astounded. I was in Italy at the time when I finally accepted what so many people had been telling me about the UK. I don’t hate England, but if you can’t be critical of your own country, then who will? The UK is crumbling under the Conservative party, with the NHS being squeezed dry so that they can claim it doesn’t function and can justify selling it off. The academy schooling system is making teachers hate their jobs and turning education into ticking-boxes rather than instilling a love of learning. City boys are getting richer and the disabled are getting poorer. Porn is being censored, your Internet is being monitored and racist hate-speech is becoming more commonplace.
But this isn’t anything new. It took me moving away from the UK to see it more clearly. And that’s not to say all is lost. But right now, Berlin feels like a more liberal place; not faultless by any stretch, but more accepting than London by far. I have found a job in Berlin that I enjoy, that pays me enough to live in a great apartment, in a central location and have enough left-over to go out, go on holiday and do interesting things. That’s more than I can say for every single one of my friends who live in London.