Brexit? Is that a biscuit?
I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to be on my Erasmus year, funded by the European Commission.
For a short while, It looked like my chances of a year abroad were slipping away.
Re-wind to June 2016, and for better or for worse, Britain decided to leave the European Union.
As a prospective Erasmus student, it would be hard for me to vote anything but ‘Remain’.
I was delighted in August, as I’m sure were many other British students, to find out we were still able to go on our Year Abroad.
The consequences for leaving Europe had begun to become nothing more than background noise.Since September, it has merely been a story in the news. I realise, however, I will have to face reality when I return home for Christmas.
When I first arrived in Italy, it were as if ‘brexit’ had been branded into my forehead – presumably the students and lecturers recognised my accent.
Therefore, I was very eager to share my disappointment at the result of the referendum.
However, perhaps being in Italy has offered me a little perspective. It has been interesting to listen about the various opinions of students from all across Europe.
I found it all quite embarrassing, not to mention the pain of seeing the European Flag nearly everywhere I looked.
However, the general consensus of non British citizens seems to be one of sadness.
One Italian couple, who are both criminal lawyers, were particularly horrified on the day of the result. I had initially thought it was just the remain voters from within the UK that felt this way, but I was very much mistaken.
Here in Italy, on the 4th of December there will be a referendum on the constitution.
As far as I’m aware, if the country Votes ‘No’ to the new proposed changes, it could create serious instability and uncertainty for the government, citizens of Italy, and the Eurozone.
The worry is that, should ‘no’ be the result the current prime minister Matteo Renzi (similar to David Cameron) may resign. This could leave a power vacuum for a party known as the Five Star Movement, which are calling for a referendum for Italy to abandon Europe and its currency.
(Although this is what the newspapers are saying at the moment, not many Italians seem to agree that voting ‘No’ will have that much of an effect.)
However, in my personal opinion, this would be a disaster. I am no political scientist, but I can only see this causing a domino effect around Europe – that is to say, if Britain hasn’t already caused one.
All eyes are on London, waiting and watching to see how the UK copes both internally and externally with leaving Europe.
Should England pull through, will others follow? Is this the end of the European Union?
Who knows, this of course is just my personal speculation and concern.
With everything that has happened in 2016; Brexit, Trump, and now the uncertainty in Italy, I think this will be a year I would rather forget.
However, as a history student, it is crucial to learn from the mistakes of history, and I’m pretty sure a divided Europe is not something we should hope to return to.
I am reassured by that fact the UK is valued not by our decision to leave but our influence in Europe.
All I hope is that myself and friends from the UK – who are also on their Erasmus – won’t be the last group of Erasmus students from the United Kingdom.
For now, I am grateful for every experience I have had so far. All the people I have met, cultures I have discovered, and things I have seen, will always be special to me.
Despite only being in my first semester at Universita di Pisa, I would like to thank my International Office at the University of Leicester, Erasmus+ and the European Commission for providing me with possibly the best experience of my life to date.
If only Brexit had been a disagreement over a cup of tea and a biscuit. In true British fashion; a cup of tea always solves everything.