Yes, it finally happened last Friday, 3rd of June, 2016!!! I officially became a British citizen! The citizenship ceremony took place in a local registry office and we had a chance to meet and chat with a High Sheriff of Bedfordshire for the first time.
I did not expect the ceremony to be anything special, but it was quite touching – after the affirmation and being presented with the citizenship certificate I felt this sense of completion and joy. A dot was put over the ‘i’ – an expat of 10 years has been accepted by the land as her citizen. Queen Elizabeth II has gained a few more subjects on that day, myself included. A certain shift in the spirit has happened and it feels good. On top of that, one of my life long dreams has come true. It took 25 years of germination before that dream finally was got materialized.
When I visited the UK for the first time in 1991 I fell in love with the country whose language I had already loved passionately before. I remember, before going back to Poland, I scribbled on one wall ‘my allegiance is to England’ – it was a silly, teenage thing to do, but I meant it and I knew one day I would live in the UK and become its citizen. In my heart I was the UK citizen already at that point. As they say, your home is where your heart is.
10 years ago we moved to England and settled down here. The question of becoming citizens was not a priority because of multiple other issues requiring our attention.Well, there’s a perfect time for everything and this year has proved to be the right time to focus on applying for the citizenship. I had a chance to go back in time, to the university days when I was studying the history, geography and culture of the British Isles – I had to revise all that I learnt in those days in order to pass the Life in the UK Test, required as one of the steps in applying for citizenship. The knowledge required in order to be naturalized here is at times ridiculous, I must say, as not many born UK citizens know or care how many wives king Henry VIII had and which one was faithful to him, etc. Luckily, I love these subjects so for me it was fun to go through that material again and in February I passed the exam.
The most painful part of the naturalization process was the price! £ 2000 for me and two of my children! Ouch! Everything comes with a price though, eh?!
Many pages of forms, hundreds of pounds and weeks of waiting later, the invitation to the citizenship ceremony arrived and last week the ceremony itself took place. It is done and it feels good.
Now, it is not just my bulldog Nala that is British – it’s my whole family! Yay!