An American in France–During Brexit

Like so many other Americans, Brexit wasn’t really on my radar. In fact, if I didn’t intern in an international office with United Kingdom citizens, I probably wouldn’t have known what it was at all. If I didn’t know before, I certainly do now.

I arrived in France only a week ago to start my study abroad classes in the beautiful city of Nantes at Audencia. My first topic of choice? The EU: History, Institutions, and International Relations. How fitting that I would have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the European Union the week in which history would be made and the Union changed forever.

Did we cover the Brexit? Absolutely. We discussed possible scenarios either way the vote turned, the reasons it was happening, and anything and everything in between. However, I don’t think anyone actually believed they would vote to leave. While our esteemed professor admitted he wasn’t sure what would happen or the exact consequences should it occur, he liked to quote statistics in which staying in the union seemed favorable. Then, the day actually came.

Everyone woke up Friday morning, and by the time my homestay-mates and I made it to breakfast it was confirmed–the United Kingdom had voted to leave the European Union. We were shocked! None of us believed that would be the outcome of the vote. Naturally, when we got to school it was all anyone could talk about. Our European Union class was focused on the new EU crisis of the day, the official Brexit. Our professor from Strasbourg allowed us to have our phones out so we could update one another on the news as it became available, such as David Cameron resigning and different countries or party leaders stating they would lead a referendum. All of a sudden, it seemed like the only thing we knew about the situation was that we knew nothing at all. It seems this is all we will know for a while as the United Kingdom has to negotiate with the European Union, but perhaps the longer we don’t know the better as it will allow the excitement that has erupted within the union to settle.

All in all, so many people are wondering the impact Brexit will have on the future of the European Union, the global economy, and shaping modern history as we know it…and Americans didn’t seem to know anything about it until it was too late.

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