Test your Britishness

I passed the “Life in the UK” test on Saturday.

It’s a good job I did because my marriage visa expires this week and I need to apply for permanent residence before it does.

So, appropriately, I started studying on, oh, Tuesday. Nothing like a last minute rush to put the fear of God in you, right? I think I have a problem. I need Procrastinators Anonymous or something. But, darn it, I’m lucky. Or greatly blessed.

To be fair, quite a lot of what I needed to know was covered in the Public Affairs course I’d taken as part of my journalism training. We needed to understand how the education, social, judicial and political systems in the UK work.

I approached the Life in the UK handbook with suspicion, expecting to encounter the ridiculous. I’d heard rumours of how useless and niche its contents were.

In some respects, it lived up to the hype. It explained what a pub was and listed the most popular sports in Britain. Surely my life in the UK would not be too affected by not knowing when the Saint Days are.

However, on the whole, I felt that the ground we were required to cover was surprisingly reasonable. A lot of it was common knowledge you’d acquire simply by living here (how to claim benefits, the ages at which children take key stage exams) but nonetheless worth knowing.

I got annoyed that I spent a disproportionate amount of time studying the history of Britain only to discover that this was not included in the test. A lot of it was familiar anyway, especially the Early Modern stuff.

Weirdly, as I read it, I no longer felt that I was reading a history of mere peripheral importance to me. For the first time, I saw my position in the meta-narrative. Yes, I play the migrant. I’m used to that part.

Now I play the mother. This is my daughter’s history. For me it is the coloniser’s history. It is also the history of the colonised. For her it is both and neither.

I’ve gone from disparaging the settlement process to accepting it. I still struggle to get my head around how extortionately expensive it is but I’m beginning to see some value in it.

I realised that when I was getting ready to go into the exam room and another candidate exclaimed: “Why would I need to know what the role of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is?!”

Well, I’m of the opinion that if you intend to live in a democracy permanently, it is your responsibility to educate yourself about its politics and knowledgeably exercise your right to vote. But hey that’s just me.

So, I’m one step closer to being British. I’m still an ocean away from feeling British.


15 Comments

  1. January 22, 2012 / 11:14 pm

    I really wanna go down this route too but can’t afford it. Luckily, I’m not on a Visa so no pressure there. Congrats! 😀
    Nev

    • January 23, 2012 / 7:03 pm

      It is ridiculously expensive. I’m not sure how it can be justified.

  2. January 23, 2012 / 5:54 pm

    Beautifully written piece! I agree with your latter comments! It’s important to fully embrace the culture & customs for an easier integration!

    • January 23, 2012 / 7:03 pm

      Thanks. It’s taken me a long time to recognise a certain amount of integration as a positive and even necessary thing.

  3. January 23, 2012 / 10:18 pm

    welcome to england!?!

    by the way – there is more to the happy birthday song – have left it in comments for you on my blog x

    • January 24, 2012 / 7:23 pm

      Erm thanks?

      Love the song. I’m rehearsing it for next month.

  4. January 23, 2012 / 10:18 pm

    welcome to england!?!

    by the way – there is more to the happy birthday song – have left it in comments for you on my blog x

  5. Crystal Jigsaw
    January 24, 2012 / 3:34 pm

    I think you could teach us Brits quite a lot! Maybe a course would be a good idea for many people to make them appreciate the country in which they live.

    CJ x

    • January 24, 2012 / 7:22 pm

      I suppose that’s why they’ve brought citizenship into schools. I Would have balked at having to take a course though, if I’m honest!

  6. January 26, 2012 / 5:49 pm

    Congratulations! I had mine done a few years ago. I was so nervous knowing that my future depended on the result. Now onto the rest of your life :0) 

    • January 26, 2012 / 6:24 pm

      Thanks! I’ve put in my application for permanent residence. Just praying there are no issues.

    • January 26, 2012 / 6:25 pm

      Thanks! I’ve put in my application for permanent residence. Just praying there are no issues.

  7. Iota
    February 15, 2012 / 12:33 am

    “Being” and “feeling”. Yes, those can be very different.

  8. Nadeem
    June 4, 2016 / 2:44 am

    This is the best website fir life in the uk test. I passed first time practicing from there
    Life in The UK

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