Last week I sat my "Life in the UK” test to gain citizenship in the United Kingdom. (Yes, you really do have to sit a test) apparently you need to prove that you are serious about knowing and loving this country you want to be your home. Fair enough, I said, and ordered my Life in the UK study book.
After a couple of weeks of study, having had to learn how many Polish people immigrated to the UK in 1998 and how many children live in single parent homes and which people came to the UK as immigrants in the 16th and 17th century and the role of Parliament, The House of Lords, Commoners etc, I felt I might almost be ready.
It felt like I had to know, a wealth of useless information. So I downloaded the app, (Yes, there is an app) and practiced my test. You must score over 75% to pass. I sent a link of the practice test to all my Scottish co-workers and none of them passed.
I managed to find the testing center nestled in amongst a huge industrial estate. There were around 20 of us, consisting from Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Indians, Egyptians and some I just didn’t recognize.
It was like a naughty child's classroom. Face your computer. No turning your chair or head. Bags under the table. All phones off. ABSOLUTELY no talking or you will leave immediately.
Once finished, we had to raise our hand and stay facing forward. I was first finished, all done in a matter of 5 minutes, on a test they give you 45 minutes to do. This worried me and I sat facing forward dreading further weeks of study and another £50.00 to resit the test. After a couple of minutes I was finally allowed to turn around and approach the counter.
"Congratulations” said the assessor. "You’ve passed”
A small "woop” escaped my beaming mouth. The rest of the class were still glaring at their computers, concentrating on their exam, so I had to wait until I got into my car, to bang on the steering wheel, punch the air and yell for joy. I had done it and I had a huge smile for the next 20 minute drive home. I must have looked ridiculous.
So now I can send off my forms, along with a cheque for nearly £1000.00 to gain my citizenship and a British passport. I will get a wee citizenship ceremony and a certificate. I can go home to NZ for up to two years instead of only 3 months on my current ancestry visa) and a British passport gains me easier access to a lot more countries like the U.S.A. I am a very happy kiwi and so are all my Scottish friends.
But while I was learning all of this, I realised, how many people move around the globe, searching for a better life. It’s no secret ... the world is in a mess ... and it's making life tough for everyone right now. But the really, REALLY good news is ... "tough time’s never last, but tough people do."