Officially a Brit!

Happy Fourth of July! But as of last week, I am officially a Brit!

It’s been a long and expensive process and I am so happy to be free of UKBA/Home Office/whatever they’re calling themselves these days. I sent my application in though the Nationality Checking Service on May 10 and received my letter of invitation to the citizenship ceremony on June 12. My ILR took four months, so this was such a relief.

The morning after receiving my invitation I phoned up Glasgow City Council to book my ceremony. The June 18th date was all booked, but I was able to get in for June 25th with strict instructions to be on time and bring my invitation letter.

Leading up to the ceremony people I had no idea what to expect, how many people would be there, how long it would be, where it would be. I finally received all the location details in the mail and the rest I found out on the day.

My ceremony was at 11:30 but they asked us to arrive at 11. We were allowed to bring two guests, but I only brought Danny along as I don’t know that many people who’d be free at 11:30 on a Tuesday morning. Even I had to take a long lunch as I currently I can’t take any holidays at work.

We arrived at Glasgow City Chambers at 11 and waited around in reception for them to call us in and get checked in. There were 20 other new citizens that day and most people had brought one or two guests. I overheard another American, and other people seems to be from Eastern Europe/Russia, China and Pakistan/India. Very vague guesses as I’m obviously not 100% sure where everyone was from! There were a couple of other young couples, a father and son, a whole family and one girl who was there all by herself. Quite a mix.

On the way in the handed us a card with the oath on it and we sat and waited for the ceremony to begin.

citizenshipoath

The ceremony started promptly at 11 and was led by the superintendent registrar. After a quick word about what it means to be a British citizen, we were invited to stand up and repeat the oath/pledge of allegiance. There was another American in the room and you could hear him above all the others. I made sure to use my quiet British voice!

We were then called up one by one to get our certificate and the ceremony ended with the national anthem, God Save the Queen. I had read somewhere that Scottish ceremonies also play Flower of Scotland (considered by many to be Scotland’s unofficial anthem) but perhaps they were asked to stop, as we’re not independent yet!

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After a quick tea and coffee reception filled with huge chunks of millionaire’s shortbread, Bakewell tarts and coconut cake, Danny and I went across the road to have lunch at Pinto’s. A very un-British choice but I couldn’t exactly go back to work stuffed with fish and chips and a pint (I should probably lay off the stereotypes now that I am one).

Interesting fact – the UK only started doing ceremonies in 2004. Before that they just posted your citizenship certificate in the mail. I’d always assumed I’d be doing a ceremony and even though it was a hassle to leave work in the middle of the day, I’m glad they do it this way now. It does make it more meaningful and I was especially struck when I remembered that it’s been exactly 10 years since I set foot on British soil. I’d have to check my trip dates again, but I went to the UK for the first time in June 2003 and I’m pretty sure my trip into Scotland was around June 25th.

britishcitizenship

When I was 17 it was fair to assume that I would be a college graduate, in a relationship, working in a job, etc by 27. But in a completely different country? In which I can now vote, hold that little red passport and feel as if I know so intricately even after only four years here? I never would have imagined.

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