During a bike ride in Myrdal, Norway

The choices in freedom

Well, hi. I haven’t blogged here in several months. Quite a bit has changed, I suppose. I moved out of my old flat, and I did a trip to the Nordics recently (Norway, Sweden, Denmark). (Finland is somewhere on that to-visit list. Maybe when I’m a bit wealthier.)

Work has been good. My team at work won a bit of new business recently, so it’s been hectic trying to get things in order as we transfer in some of these new responsibilities.

Other than that, life has been relatively regular. I’ve been dating on and off with people I meet via apps, but nothing solid/consistent has come to fruition. My opinion on this has just been that “at least I’m trying”. At least I’m putting myself out there, right?

I have been concerned about other things in the past couple of months though. Things that are starting to creep up on me, and I have been trying to muster up the courage to consider it in the most realistic, most mature way possible. Both these things relate to each other:

  1. Brexit
  2. My Tier 5 visa expiring next summer

I’m a part of a couple of “Canadians in the UK” groups on Facebook, and over the past year, as Brexit has neared, I’ve seen more and more young Canadians living in the UK post about the difficulty of getting sponsored by their company for a Tier 2 visa. This was back before the summer, in April, when the UK hadn’t changed their current Tier 2 policy to exempt medical professionals like nurses and doctors. Now, with Brexit inching ever closer, I’ve been reading more and more articles about the consequences of the UK leaving the EU. And with my own Tier 5 visa expiring next summer, I now need to come to a decision if I want to stay in a country where it will lose many economic benefits as part of leaving the EU trading bloc.

So I don’t know. I haven’t fully decided. I am a lot happier in this city than I was back in Toronto, but this is all before Brexit. Things could will change when the UK leaves the EU. Travel will be more expensive; food will be more expensive; electricity bills will be more expensive, etc. Will all of this be worth it? Will London’s even lower quality of life be worth staying for an additional five years?

Brexit is making me realize that I don’t really enjoy the mass beliefs in this country at all. This is a generalization, and I am most certainly not calling out all Brits here, but the utter apathy of what is happening to this country’s political efforts is just embarrassing. Or if people do care, they only bitch and moan about it. There’s a lack of activism or a lack of confrontation that’s really holding Brits back from being a better version of themselves.

Why do they fear speaking out their true opinions? There’s such a widespread characteristic of sitting back and not challenging the status quo of a social group that everyone in that social group ends up following each other around, being overly agreeable to each other’s thoughts. Before I moved here, I knew that the UK leaned slightly towards collectivism than Canada’s individualism on Hofstede’s business culture charts, but sometimes this widespread peer pressure still continues to surprise me.

But back to Brexit. I came across a great couple of tweets today that describe British people’s feelings towards Brexit very well. I considered sharing them on Instagram, but figured they might offend the actual Brits who follow me there, so I thought I would share them here. They relate back to an analogy Graham Norton used during a TV interview very recently:

I am convinced that the attitude most UK people have towards Brexit nowadays is entirely because of this. They’ve been brought up to be proud countrymen, but now, even when their country is actually going to the shitholes, they are too stubborn to admit that they’ve done something wrong. Instead, they would rather point, make jokes, and laugh at Theresa May’s terrible effort of governance rather than discuss why it happened in the first place.

The government for this country is why I have issues with the behaviour of some Britsh people I’ve met over here. I don’t blame the people (most of the time) because they’ve been brought up this way, but I wish more British people were genuinely more sensitive and more empathetic towards other people and their experiences. It’s 2018; there’s no British empire anymore. Both globalization and immigrants make local economies stronger. They need to wake up that governments don’t change unless we all collectively speak up and challenge each other’s thinking.

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I did an epic journey via Uber and train from Canary Wharf, London to Gatwick Airport with three massive luggages and one carry-on on my last morning in the UK. It took me three hours because I had to somehow get all three bags – two of them were overweight, one of which was 31kg – from the second floor of my apartment building to the @AirTransat airline counter. An airline counter that wasn't even in the same terminal as the train station I would be arriving in.⁣
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So, from second floor flat, to a 30+ minute Uber to Blackfriars, to the second floor of the Blackfriars train station (by lugging two bags 20 metres, then the other two 40 metres, repeat), to the Gatwick Airport train station, to getting an airport employee to find a trolley for me (by asking him nicely as I stood there waiting by my four bags because lol I'm not going to drag four bags across a busy airport terminal), to somehow pushing my trolley cart onto the inter-terminal train, to finally, reaching the airline counter of #AirTransat.⁣
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For three hours, from 6:30 AM, to when I finally had all my bags checked in at 9:15 AM, I was running on pure adrenaline. I don't even know how I was able to do it. I was like a bull on a mission, to get from point A to point B to point C etc. But what I also remember, was my body basically crashing into a damn near anxiety attack while at the counter. I was gulping for air, taking deep breaths, and trying to calm myself down. When I finally walked away from the airline counter, I nearly forgot my carry-on on the trolley, and when I finally had the chance to sit down, my hands were actually shaking. For all the times I've solo travelled around the world in the past year and a half, this has never happened to me before. That morning, I finally understood why airports need therapy dogs.⁣
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(Continued below...)
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