Leaving the Country

Last Thursday, the UK voted to leave the EU by a perilously narrow margin. The economy utterly tanked, the prime minister resigned, throwing the country into chaos, and now the country is split down the middle with hate and bitterness.

I am not confident of being able to do good research in a country whose government has consistently voted to cut science funding, without EU funding and with a lot of barriers to international co-operation. Science is international and so I'm seriously considering doing my PhD and research abroad. Even if I don't do a PhD, I can probably find better jobs out of the UK than I can in it. A tanked economy will do that for you.

There has been a lot of crying over the past couple of days about how leaving the country is somehow "weak". I'm not entirely sure I understand this argument.

The world is far smaller than it was a century ago. Planes, trains, ships and cars will take you from country to country - and they will do this at reasonably affordable prices for the middle class. (Don't get me wrong, I still think it's horrendous that it's not affordable to all, but for many people it's not an insurmountable barrier.) People can and do move for a multitude of reasons - persecution, economic opportunity or even just spending their retirement tanning themselves. Migration is normal. Deal with it.

We have never lived in a time where people stayed peacefully in the countries they were "supposed" to stay in. It has never been politically tenable; now it is not economically tenable either. Countries are simply not able to educate or employ all of their natural-born citizens.

I was discussing this with my boyfriend a couple of days ago, since he knows I want to leave the UK, and he brought up a couple of interesting points. The two of us grew up on the internet - not to the same extent that today's generation have, so we maintain a healthy disrespect of social media - and I think that's changed our views a lot. Both of us have flown out to see friends we met online and the two of us actually met and fell in love over twitter, completely by accident.

For people like us, linguistic barriers are more important than national boundaries. There's reasonably little point in taking your national identity seriously when you're united by common languages, interests and a decent internet connection. It's actually a bit shocking when you remember that you're separated by real, physical distance and international bank transfers are as annoying as shit, or you want to pop over and see your friend but then you remember that the flights cost more than two months' rent.

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is this: the world is shrinking. Because of mass transit, the internet, and dedicated systems for living and working in different countries, there is absolutely no need to stay put in the country of your birth. It's still significant - for example, my British degree is worth a lot even if I no longer have EU citizenship - but national pride seems to be quietly becoming a thing of the past. There are many things more important.

Leaving a country is not weak - it's positively normal. Move for whatever reason you feel like.