Have you ever been so caught up in the tedium and details of doing something that the full magnitude of what you are doing does not sink in until hours later? Yeah, that’s me today. I took (and fortunately PASSED!) the UK citizenship test this afternoon. Now I am not actually applying to be a subject of the Queen at this point (I can’t yet) but I did have to pass the test for my application for permanent residency in the UK, which has to be submitted soon. This is just sinking in.
Now I know I have made many long blog posts about my 5-year work visa expiring and the fact that I have to do this, so it’s not like it is a big surprise that I am applying for permanent residency in the UK. My job was made permanent a few months ago, and that was important too. But at the moment, a few hours after the test and now that the details are not as important as they were all week, the magnitude of this is just starting to settle in.
I always go back to the fact that I had not been outside North America (and I’ve still not been to Mexico so that’s just the US and Canada) until I was nearly 25, and I’m now relatively established in England, having lived here nearly 5 years, at the ripe old age of 35. I’m on my third flat in the UK, I basically know how to get around and function in daily life (and let’s not dwell on all of the things that I did not anticipate about trying to navigate daily life in England after having lived 30 years in the US, it’s mostly here on this blog in the archives!) and I know that I would have a difficult time if I moved back to the US now, as I’m quite accustomed to (and quite like) my life in the UK.
Which brings us back to today. It was a long day. After a long week. I booked the “Life in the UK” test for today nearly 3 weeks ago. Last Saturday, not quite a week ago, I spent the entire day learning UK trivia, and I then spent parts of Sunday, a few hours each night that I could this week, and then two hours last night and an hour on the train this morning studying. Now I hate to sound smug about this, but it was a lot of hours to spend memorizing UK demographic statistics for someone with a PhD in Physics and who is a native speaker of the English language. I was, thus, quite glad that I passed, because it would have been rather humiliating to have had the opposite result. It would have also been careless. Because no matter how seemingly silly it was that I had to memorize facts like “there are 5.1 million UK citizens in Scotland” and “1% of UK citizens are Hindu” and “45% of ethnic minorities in the UK live in London” (NB this is not giving away any information about the test itself, this is merely a recounting of the facts in the book that you have to study in order to take the test) I had to put a lot of hours into it. This was a serious test, and it required preparation. And taking the test today was a full-day effort, since I had to travel nearly an hour by train to take it, and the fact that the test is formally only 45 minutes long (or much less) does not prevent the process from taking far longer than that. From the time I left my home this morning to the time I was back in my office this afternoon was 6.5 hours. Yes I had time to do some reading for work during the process, but when a friend told me to devote the entire day, she was giving me really good advice. Losing a work day is not something to take un-seriously, so perhaps that was a good lesson.
I’m glad it’s over, because I have a day job to get back to, not to mention some massive forms to fill out to finish this process of residency application now that I have the “pass” certificate. And I’m sure when that’s over I’ll feel another wave of strangeness over the fact that I’ve actually applied to live in the UK permanently, that I have a job here that is permanent and that I have no plans for any other alternative.