Gabriella’s Story

In 2008, having broken up a four-year-old relationship and resigned from my job as a professional folk dancer, I arrived in London full of excitement and hope.

I started out as an au-pair, but I was determined to launch my librarian career as I had just gained my Bachelor’s Degree in Hungary. Quite quickly I did manage to secure a Library Assistant job and I was soon promoted, so I became a Team Leader in a different branch. Alongside my library job, I established a Hungarian folk dance group and we represented our country and its tradition on many occasions. I am proud that the ensemble still exist and is doing really well.

Soon after my promotion I completed a CELTA (Certificate in English Teaching to Adults) as I have always loved the English language and I thought, once I retire and move back to Hungary, I’ll have something to fall back on. I went on maternity leave in 2011 and realised I did not really want to leave my baby with anyone else, so I applied for a career break to care for my daughter, and I was granted one.

Meanwhile, me and my partner (who is an English citizen) decided to relocate to Hungary – at least for as long as our daughter is small – so I could enjoy my family’s support. We sold our house in the UK (which was a huge mistake, I think) and relocated, with my partner carrying on doing his contracting work. Sadly, nothing worked out in the way we had thought, except, that our planned second daughter arrived in 2014. My partner’s workload became more and more scarce. Less and less projects, and two years after we had moved he had spent more time in Hungary, jobless, than in the UK working. Since then everything has been going downhill. Well before the referendum we decided to move back. We only wanted to wait until our second daughter is 4 – she is now 3 – so she could start school in London next year.

Unfortunately the referendum has happened in the meantime. I cried on the morning of 24 June after watching the news. I just could not believe it. I still cannot, really.

I have now spent four years away from the UK. During this period I became even more fond of the English language and the British culture. I still have one year to think through what I should do but I’m now scared. I have read many frightening stories about Eastern Europeans being abused after Brexit. I am deeply disappointed…

My daughters are mixed race and have dual citizenship. My younger one’s skin shows more her father’s Jamaican origin. I’m worried about THEM, mainly. They could be targeted in two ways: for being Hungarian and for having a black complexion. I have always thought that England was the place for everyone, a place of refuge (I do not mean it politically) where people can settle and live happily ever after. I am now having second thoughts…

I try not to think about what if I had stayed in the UK, as I would now be eligible for Permanent Residency. As things are, however, my five years in London do not count at all.

I feel I have unexploited opportunities left behind. I still would like to carry on building my career as a librarian, make a start on my chartership to become a CILIP member, but most of all, I would like to provide my children with a prosperous future.

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