I had loved Scotland since I was a teenager in the early 90’s – the landscape, history and music – so when the time came to go to university I decided to apply straight to a Scottish university and do my whole degree there. I packed all my belongings in my 1988 Fiat Panda and set off for Inverness to study at the newly established University of the Highlands & Islands and finished my degree at Napier in Edinburgh.
After graduating in 2003 I briefly thought about finding a job in Germany, but I just didn’t feel at home there anymore and stayed in Inverness where I rented my first flat and found a full time job in tourism. It was certainly not a case of moving to the UK “for a better life” – wages in tourim are poor and my first flat had no heating (yes, no heating in the north of Scotland!), but Inverness was my home now.
Then followed the usual milestones in most adults’ lives – getting promoted, getting your first mortgage and buying a flat with central heating, buying my first ever new car, meeting someone and getting married…plus all the other little things that make up your life and connect you to the place you call home.
Living in Scotland meant living in a bit of a bubble in the run up to the referendum. We didn’t even talk much about it at home or at work because Farage, Boris etc were just some English cranks that surely no-one would ever take seriously? Switching on the news on 24th June 2016 I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Sitting at work that day I felt sick and teary and although my colleagues were all shocked and angry it wasn’t the same for them – they were worried about their pension and investments and about prices going up while I was worried about being able to continue to live my normal life.
In a panic I applied for PR and eventually citizenship in a long and expensive process. At my citizenship ceremony I didn’t feel like celebrating – I felt like I had been bullied into it and been forced to buy my freedom. I will never feel British after all that has happened – I’m German and Scottish!