Studying in America whilst the UK government has been imploding over Brexit has been a particularly unnerving experience. The confusion and despair many Brits are currently feeling, since Theresa May’s Brexit deal was declined by Parliament, has been amplified by the distance between the US and the UK.
The sense of detachment I feel from the Brexit debate is quite unsettling; my British friends and I often have discussions amongst ourselves, but we are used to being in a British university environment where Brexit is the hot topic for debate.
I am now in the position where my political updates extend to the BBC news app and my Twitter feed; I feel like I’m not getting the whole story. With this in mind, it is frustrating when considering that the choices made by parliament now will greatly impact my life and even more frustrating to think that I, and many young Brits, didn’t vote for this mess when casting our votes to remain in the EU.
“It is incredibly difficult to explain the UK’s current relationship with the EU”
Talking to American students here about Brexit is often both infuriating and impossible. The geographical and cultural separation between European and American society has meant that many American students don’t even understand the difference between England and the UK, and those who do have no clue about the complex internal divides within Britain. Even a professor in my Immigration and International Relations class refers to Brexit as the time when ‘England will leave the EU,’ as opposed to the UK. For those internationally aware enough to ask what’s happening re-Brexit, it is incredibly difficult to explain the UK’s current relationship with the EU, let alone the multitude of possibilities which could happen on the 29th March.
“It took me three months to see one lady wearing a hijab”
Also, living in a Southern city, in which it took me three months to see one lady wearing a hijab, means that most people here assume that the Brexit debate is purely about immigration. Therefore, the majority of people struggle to see the benefits of the UK remaining within the EU when they are a product of a society that voted to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.
The fact that American news channels are too caught up in their own political turmoil to consider the chaos occurring across the Atlantic means that us British students feel very much in a bubble and out of the loop. If I were at university in the UK right now, Brexit would be the word on everyone’s lips.
“It’s easy to tune out and pretend that Brexit was a bad dream”
However, being in South Carolina, it’s easy to tune out and pretend that Brexit was a bad dream. The consensus between the British students here is that we’re uncertain about the state of the UK when we return home in May. At this point, I would be more than willing to pay for the postage to send over a postal vote for another referendum.