As you know (because I have no filter and you read my blog) I passed my Life in the UK test a few weeks ago and then cried in a Disney movie. I have raged about the content of the test to every person I have met recently so I decided to create my own and see how many of you would be able to pass. Check out the video below to take the test (all questions that could actually be asked in the real Life in the UK quiz) and then click the link at the bottom for the answers. No cheating please and don’t forget to comment below or tweet me with your scores!
Remember, there are 24 questions and if you don’t get at least 18 right you will be deported…no pressure!
Well, this has been an interesting few days hasn’t it? In New Zealand when we do referendums it is about fun things like flags and only the graphic designers get angry, in the UK referendums apparently cause the apocalypse. Those that voted stay feel like they are surrounded by idiot racists, and those that voted leave feel like they were lied to by people they thought they could trust. No matter how you voted, within the space of a day the UK went from a stable institution full of jokes about rain and tea, to a country in political and economic freefall with seemingly no end in sight. Mixed up in all the political decisions are people; me, you and the people we love and hate.
Quite literally no one knows what will happen next, and more than likely this uncertainty over the future will continue until the new Prime Minister is appointed in October. Until then there will be no pushing the big red button that is Article 50, and a whole lot of wishes and confusion raining down upon us all. Because in the UK apparently it rains all through summer.
In the meantime my expat friends are worrying about being attacked on the street because a country they love has seemingly turned against them.
That is the clincher here; the politics for this issue is not staying in the rarefied air of Westminster, it is trickling down through the media to those social networks we look at 52 times a day. Our emotions are so tied up in this referendum that no matter which way you voted it currently feels like heartbreak and chaos.
Those two emotions are not sustainable, you can’t keep feeling this sad until October when a new wave of referendum fun will happen. Which leads me to this, a few simple messages to grasp onto like a life preserver.
We are still the country of 2012. 2012 was the year of a beautiful summer, where the country joined together to put on a kick ass Olympics. People on public transport were polite and helpful, there were joyful parties in the street and most importantly the United Kingdom was full of pride. This is the same country, the same people and even the same leaders that we have today. I choose to believe that 2012 UK is the true UK, what we are experiencing at the moment is basically a monumental bad hair day – we will soon get a blow wave and return to who we know we are. I mean, the only real difference between 2016 and 2012 a whole lot of now 4 year olds were born. I know kids are annoying but we can only really blame them for making the table sticky, not for a three trillion dip in the economy.
You can choose to be ok with the chaos. At the moment I bet you feel buffeted by uncertainty each time you open Twitter or talk about Brexit in the lunch room. Jobs, travel, visas, housing and savings are all at risk and it is terrifying, but you can choose not to focus on them. Instead focus on the things you can control, for example if you are worried about your job being at risk this might be the week to write out a budget and stop spending all your money at Pret. I know that seems like spurious advice, but it will give you one thing in your life right now that you are in control over. And if everything all blows over then at least you will have some spare money to spend on champagne.
Don’t let how someone voted change your relationship. Every single person voted for their own reasons, not everyone who voted stay actually likes the EU and its bollocks that everyone who voted leave was a racist. No matter which way you and them voted, you were friends for other reasons before the referendum. We have to move forward together, and the longer we let this divide us the weaker we are.
Hold your friends tight and don’t fucking talk about the Brexit. Put your head in the sand and let yourself enjoy life, if someone mentions the Brexit take a shot, if they talk about the economy or Labour leadership take a shot – essentially any time you mention anything apart from kittens and cake take a damn shot. There are many good things in life and if you don’t have some balance between them and the clusterfuck we are in now, you will spiral.
Trust me when I say it will all be ok, it will just be a different form of OK than we are used to. We are in such a time of uncertainty that the worst is brought out in everyone, we can only combat this by being kind, understanding and holding each other close. No matter what, the fact that you are feeling so bad just means you care one hell of a lot about the future of the United Kingdom; and a fuck is a good thing to give.
All the best my loves, don’t let the bastards get you down.
I have now been in the UK for over four years, FOUR YEARS. That is long enough for me to figure out how to change at Bank Station but not quite long enough for me to remember to take an umbrella with me on sunny days. My visa is only for five years so it’s about time I started thinking about what to do next, and since I intend to stay in London that can only mean one thing, citizenship test. So last weekend, with a little bit of fear and a bottle of gin, I embarked on part 1 of the UK Citizenship test: Understanding the Eurovision Song Contest*.
The song contest was apparently*** created to promote peace in Europe after all those pesky World Wars. It is pretty much the equivalent of terrorism ending as soon as we get ISIS to agree to enter Bake Off. Oh and for some reason Australia is in it. Because reasons.
The rules for Eurovision are remarkably similar to the UN Security Council. All counties in Europe (and don’t forget Australia) go through a qualification round and semi-finals in order to win a place in the final televised spectacle… except for the five countries that give the most money (to keep this nightmare happening every year) who automatically get in the final. The UK having a permanent seat on the UN Security Council AND automatically getting into the final of Eurovision; Coincidence? I think not.
I know you are sitting there wondering where the citizen test comes in, it’s just people singing on TV right? WRONG. This is an endurance event, there are 26 acts performing throughout the night and you have to pay attention to every single one, your ability to intellectually critique each act is stopping World War Three. If you fall asleep, if you take a bathroom break, if you fail to take this seriously; politics will happen. Or even worse, Australia might win and dingo’s will steal all our babies.
If you haven’t read the full rules about attending a Eurovision party I will give you a quick rundown. You will be allocated a country(s) to support (which I think has to give you a visa if you fail the UK test?) and a special effect which if it occurs in any act you must drink. I ended up with Spain, and my special effect was ‘costume change’ – it was time to get serious. Because I didn’t want to risk not getting my UK visa I was drinking a combination of gin and tea – you can’t get more British.
One thing that I didn’t catch onto, and something I hope I am not penalised for, is tactical voting. After each act I was genuinely awarding points based on how good they were. I should have known this was not the way to do it when my friend who was allocated Poland gave the act 10 points – the act which looked like a moustache wearing Lorde who was moonlighting as a lion tamer. Turns out you should give your own country 10 points, and the best acts that might be a real contender for Miss Eurovision 2016 no points. Seriously if Eurovision is this complicated I don’t have a hope in hell of understanding the Brexit.
Then it came to the actual voting (i.e. the one on TV, not me drunkenly awarding points to countries based on if I would go for a drink at the pub with the singer) we sat through an hour of live TV links to representatives of each country who had the ability to shatter dreams by awarding 12 points to their favourite. I was getting rather panicky because for some unknown reason everyone was voting for Australia to win… THEY DON’T EVEN GO HERE. By the time Australia had a convincing lead and was sitting cockily at the top of the table I was a nervous wreck mainlining Party Rings in the corner.
But I should have known that Eurovision voting was never going to be straight forward. After the pain staking live votes, we all of a sudden had another magic pot of votes that were applied – maybe these ones had come direct from the UN. Within five minutes Australia’s Eurovision dreams came crashing down as Ukraine rose from the ashes to become the victor. Ukraine who sang a cheery song about the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars in the Soviet Union under the rule of Joseph Stalin aka a big ‘fuck you’ to Russia. Wait, how was this meant to promote peace in Europe?
*Ok this is not actually part of the test and won’t get you a visa. I just said this for laughs. Apologies for your confusion**.
** to be fair of you read this and thought that the Eurovision Song Contest was part of becoming a UK citizen then you are a total muppet and have bigger problems to deal with.
*** I say apparently a lot in this, because although that is what I was told and Google agrees, it all sounds like total bullshit.
After four years in London I have finally done it, I have registered with a doctor. In part I took the step because every rational human adult should be registered with a doctor, you know in case of the plague (dude this is London, it could happen). But mostly I took care of this little bit of life admin because I was sick of getting the side eye from friends, which after four years had actually graduated from the side eye to actual physical beatings as they screamed “register with a damn doctor” in my face. I love my friends, they only have my best interest at heart.
As to why I hadn’t registered until now (especially for all my London newbies) is because it is a massive pain in the arse (not literally unless you are a male over 50…a pain in the vagina for any girls over 25). Every time I actually needed a doctor I looked into the steps that I needed to go through and decided that dying in bed with tea, painkillers and Gilmore Girls was a better option. Just to check that I wasn’t actually incubating the plague when I was home in New Zealand at Christmas I went to my regular GP for a check-up – the badass rebel side of travel blogging right there.
So how do you actually register with a GP in the UK? First start with a stiff drink because finding a doctor that a) is accepting new patients b) you are in the correct enrolment zone for and c) has a good rating is harder than precious Tarquin getting into the elite private school where they dip their privates into piglets every Wednesday morning.
Seriously, every time I looked into registering I went to the NHS website (http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/GP/LocationSearch/4) popped in my postcode and looked at the available choices. Like anyone born into the Trip Advisor generation I read the reviews and automatically discounted any with an angry red rating. Opening a billion tabs to delve deeper into my chosen GPs I then looked at their enrolment zones. Yeah fuck that the only ones I was ever eligible for (and that were accepting new patients) were always the ‘0/10 might get typhoid in the waiting room’ ones. When I say some of the enrolment zones were small, there was one that the zone was one street either side i.e. you had to live within a three minute walk of the surgery to be eligible to enrol.
Anyway I finally found a GP that I was in the zone for, and that had an approval rating of 65% (which I translated as probably not likely to kill you) so I decided to go ahead. The first thing that you need to do is go to the GP and fill out a registration form along with your passport and a proof of address. Totally easy to do when you have a full time job and the surgery is only open from 9-6 *insert expletive of choice here*.
Then once you handed in your form you have to make an appointment with the nurse to go over the details you have written in the form (they also take your blood pressure, height and weight). After going to the surgery in person to hand in my form (very few will let you do this online) I then made an appointment with the nurse (earliest appointment was the following week) and went back to seal the deal. Oh that sounded way dodgier than intended.
This post sounds negative, but let me be crystal clear that the staff I dealt with were lovely and that totally free healthcare is a friggin miracle and not to be sneezed at. But I guess what I am trying to get across is that if you live in central London and have a full time job it can be next to impossible to register with a GP over here. Although the biggest win from seeing the nurse is that I have apparently grown 1cm, this officially graduates me from super short arse to slightly smaller than life-sized.
Oh and that pain in the vagina comment I made earlier? Well apparently any cervical smears you had outside the UK don’t count. If you are over 25 there is a requirement that when you register with a GP in the UK the first thing you have to do is get your cervix scraped…because you know FUN.
If all that was a bit too much and you actually have something wrong with you then I highly recommend the NHS walk in clinics. Downside is the wait time in a festering pit of disease (read: waiting room), but if you go super early and take a book to read its fine. You will get to see a doctor eventually, they will make you better and then because of the amazing NHS you won’t have to pay for it.
It will all be ok.
Fingers crossed that after all that life admin I don’t actually need the GP; that I can keep going with my Gilmore Girls and tea solution. But I guess this whole adult thing means I’ve done the right thing by registering, and at least now my friends will stop beating me up.