Stephanie Burgis
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This afternoon I took my "Life in the UK" test (newly-required for permanent residency applicants, as of this month) and passed. Thank God. I can now stop panicking and desperately cramming trivia-factoids into my head, and I can go back to my previous state of being blissfully certain that I'm now done with multiple-choice, standardized tests forever!

(Until the law changes again, of course...even after I finish the rest of the permanent residency application process, I'll still have to apply for dual citizenship, and the immigration laws in the UK, like the US, are constantly getting harsher. Two years ago, when I got temporary residency, they told me all I'd have to do for permanent residency was prove that Patrick & I were still married & living together. Who knows what the citizenship rules will be by the time I get to that point?)

Of course, I panicked about the test beforehand, and of course, I found the whole process unpleasant and stressful...but I was one of the really lucky ones. I was one of the very few people in my testing room today who spoke English as my first language. I am ridiculously over-educated, I have spent most of my life learning how to take this kind of test, and even at the height of my panic, I knew in the back of my mind that it wouldn't really be a problem. I felt massively, massively guilty and over-privileged as I talked to some of the other people who were re-taking this test with money they couldn't afford to spend, desperately struggling to manage the English and computer skills required for it. And of course, this is the kind of test that many of my own immigrant ancestors couldn't have passed, including some of the ones who lived in the US very happily and comfortably for 50+ years. (As every English person who saw my study handbook pointed out: most English natives don't know the answers to those questions!)

So I feel very relieved for my own sake, to be over this hurdle, and very depressed about the increasing hysteria over immigration on both sides of the Atlantic (and in many other parts of the world). Patrick is planning a letter to his MP about it; I only have this journal entry, in which (I know) I'm just preaching to the converted. But still:

Immigrants, no matter what language they speak or religion they follow, are not the enemy. They really aren't. I really wish politicians would develop the moral courage to stop giving in to anti-immigrant hysteria.

Meanwhile, to celebrate my having passed and thus not having to re-take the test for another £34 or else be kicked out of the country, Patrick took me out for a hot chocolate. It was lovely.

And I am very happy to have the chance to stay.

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