In the V4 Brexit project, we at Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica follow the life strategies of Slovaks in Britain. In this article, we focus on how a young Slovak family evaluates the everyday life in Britain. They come from a small town in the East of Slovakia, where there were not many job opportunities. Therefore, the husband left for Britain first, and later his family came to see him in England (Luton). That was, a wife and a daughter in this time.
Upon arrival, they experienced a minor culture shock. They were surprised by two faucets in the sink – one with hot water and the other with ice water. It was the first thing they changed when they moved in. They also could not get used to having rules for everything. For instance, you cannot take children on holiday or to Slovakia during school year unless it is something very serious. After five days, you get a fine of £ 60 per child.
However, they were pleasantly surprised by help from neighbours. When their car broke down and the husband had no way to get to work, a neighbour lent them his old car. They did not expect it because they did not know anyone.
In their opinion, the United Kingdom is a very tolerant country, thanks to which they did not have to give up anything, nor do they find our Slovak customs bizarre. Children do not feel unequal. They have English at the level of classmates, sometimes even better. If they did not have the suffix -ová after the surname, probably no one would find out that they do not come from England.
Maybe it is just that almost all European children are a little more polite. As our Slovak parents have guided us, we lead our children, e.g., to always greet each other. Young Englishmen miss it a bit. However, the English are very nice people. Even if they think badly of you, they will not say it and will behave properly. They have no negative experience with them. Rather, they try to help and advise them.
English seem to love their country as it is. They would not exchange the architecture of traditional houses for any modern bungalow. It has its charm, literally every house preserves a piece of history. People enjoy it more and complain and criticize less. They try to keep up with the trends, even the older ones.
According to the respondents, Slovakia is a beautiful country, they like to spend summer here. They definitely want to return to Slovakia one day, but they are not really thinking about it now. Brexit and its effects are not directly felt, and they do not feel any uncertainty.
Living abroad taught them independence. Thanks to this, the children learned fluent English. And they evaluate their lives in England as being satisfied with the quality of life. Their story and life strategy show that you can live elsewhere than in Slovakia. It is up to us which direction we choose.