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After Brexit, Romanians still see UK as possible home

Brexit

AGERPRES special correspondent to London, the UK, Oana Ghita, reports:

There are Romanians who have come to the United Kingdom because they found the prospects for a decent life there. Others have chosen British citizenship for cultural reasons - the love of Shakespeare. Some admit that if things do not go according to plan, they can always return home to Romania, and others know very clearly that the United Kingdom is their home for now.

Beyond Brexit, the relationship of the Romanian community with the United Kingdom seems to have remained the same, at least during the transitional period, when no radical change was announced.

On February 1, the first day that the UK was officially no longer a member of the EU, four young Romanians were walking through the park before of the British Parliament, which had hosted the farewell party last night.

Valentin Lixeanu, 27, came to the UK in September 2018, called by a friend to work in construction. Six months after, his wife, Florentina Lixeanu, 24, followed suit. The woman says that the day described as "historic" to them is simply "very beautiful", because, for the sake of friends who visit them, they came to London for the first time from their residence in Cambridge.

The young man admits that he came to the UK for "opportunities and a better life," and his wife confesses that it seems that the British are much more open, and in this country, if you are a hard worker, you reap all the benefits. No changes that could occur after Brexit scare them. "If there is a problem, we solve it and come home," says the young woman with confidence.

The two have not yet applied for pre-resident status, but they say they will.

To other Romanians, the relationship with the United Kingdom began before Romania became a member country of the EU.

Actress Elena Popovici Harding went to the UK initially for a master's degree in arts history, at Sotheby's Institute. At that time, the tuition fee was "three to four times" higher for her than for a British citizen. She confesses that she has chosen to be a British citizen for "purely cultural" reasons, out of love for Shakespeare's texts she stages. "Shakespeare made me become a British citizen," she laughs. He was awarded citizenship in March 2015 and says that after Brexit, she is worried "as a Romanian."

"My parents are in Romania. So far I have had a feeling that we are in the same country. (...) I think their relocation to London will no longer be as easy," says the artist.

To Andreea Helen David, the United Kingdom is the place where she learned acting. "Sometimes it's good to move away from the source, to see what's going on around you. From the point of view of my artistic career, I felt like I found my place here," she admits.

The Brexit gave her a boost to file for resident, a status she received, but that is not tangible. "It's in the ether, somewhere online," she adds, smiling.

Even outside the EU, the UK is still attractive to young EU students quality education.

Sebastian Serban is a student at the London School of Economics (LSE) and president of the LSRS branch in the UK, and the vote of citizens of the kingdom to leave the European Union came before his enrollment with the LSE.

"I was very shocked by the vote. I was somewhat disappointed at first, but my plans were to return to the country from the beginning and then I took this visit here more as a learning trip than as a definitive move," says Serban.

He points out that the thing he needed time to adapt to was British humor. " To understand it, you have to come and live here for a while. I'm still not sure if I fully understand it. British society is very different from the Romanian society. When you come on vacation it may seem nice but coming here for living is something else entirely."

Young people integrate well with the British society, he argues, and sometimes, upon return, they sometimes fell strange in Romania. "There is the feeling of living between two worlds," the young man points out.

On average, university studies in the UK cost around 9,250 British pounds per year - tuition fees and housing. Loans for EU students who have enrolled at UK universities for this fall are guaranteed. However, those who are going to apply next fall "have no guarantee of financing," points out Serban.

Even LSE is planning on reviewing all funding opportunities. "I have already been informed personally that many of the scholarships that are given here will disappear," says the young man.

In the absence of European funding, universities will probably increase tuition fees. "They will probably be forced to hike fees and reduce the number of scholarships they give. There is nothing they can do, because they have to somehow compensate for the funds they no longer receive from Brussels," says Serban.

He is one of about 10,000 Romanian students studying in the UK, a number that he estimates will decrease in the future.

There are also Romanians with dual citizenship who worry about Brexit, from a British perspective.

Liliana Onica, 44, left for the United Kingdom in 1999 because she did not have a job in Iasi. After her, other family members came

"I left first, then came my mother, sister, brother-in-law. We have pulled up each other. For six months, I worked, I paid the visa, and I left," the woman tells us.

She says her life in the UK is where she has two children; she is working as a medical dispenser in a London pharmacy. No employee in the pharmacy is native British, and foreign customers are dealt with by the employee who speaks the language closest to them. Thus, the Polish employee has clients who speak Slavic languages, and she takes care of Romance-language speakers.

Onica confesses that in the United Kingdom she started up from scratch and succeeded also because of her two children. She does not worry about how Brexit could affect the entry of foreigners into the local labour market.

"Good people will always have a job," she says. But, from the perspective of her profession, she says the consequences of Brexit have already been felt. "It affects us all. I do not know what is going to happen from a pharmaceutical point of view. It is already a problem. We have many patients who cannot get medicines because they we have ran out of them and not restocked. They are manufactured in Italy or Spain," she says.

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