Photo by Sibylla Chipaziwa

Photo by Sibylla Chipaziwa

Meet Dexter Brierley, another Political Science major who makes films in his spare time. He is a dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, born in London and who graduated from a high school in Brooklyn. His mother, who has Welsh roots, used to live in California with her parents who “wanted to experience the American Dream.” After spending about 12 years there, Dexter’s maternal grandparents moved back to England with their three children who were given American passports as they were born on US soil. Hence, Dexter and his siblings were given US passports as well. When his parents got married some years later, Dexter and his siblings became dual citizens – until that time he was a US citizen living in England for the first 13 years of his life.

Since you have the opportunity to pay local resident fees here and elsewhere, why did you still choose to attend Purchase?
While I was looking around [for colleges], I was at a private school in Brooklyn, and their mentality is “Go check out the liberal arts schools in New England, NYS and Vermont, Massachusetts, etc.” I did that, and ultimately realized that for $60,000, they’re all the same, really. Unless they have a program that’s really spectacular and world-renowned, in my point of view they’re all not worth it. For me, it was more about the experience. Before I was a student here, I visited for a swim meet, and they put us up in some of the dorms for the week. So after visiting all those schools in New England, and none of them really clicked with me, I just thought to apply to the state schools and save a lot of money.

Is another reason because of the fees in the UK?
I’ve been in America for eight years. After three years studying outside of the UK, you become a foreign student [even if you are a UK citizen]. It would have cost me £25,000 (almost $42,000) a year – quite expensive.

Do you see any benefits of being a dual citizen?
I definitely have seen the benefits in that it has allowed me to move freely from the UK to the US. A lot of my family has come here without much problem. In the future, I can live and work here freely, and also in the [European Union] without having to fill out much paperwork or having any trouble with visas. That’s gonna be nice.

Do you have a preference of where you’d rather stay?
Yeah, I’d rather be here.
I grew up here, I feel like I’m more connected to America. I think at this point I’m more American than I am English, really. I have certain nuances – I still drink a lot of tea [chuckles] – but at the end of the day, I think something that I find missing from England is a kind of can-do, positive attitude that I feel you find here on an everyday basis. Whatever you wanna do… you tell someone and they’re like, “Wow, that’s great! If you need any help, just let me know.” In England, I feel like it’s more kind of, “Well, how are you gonna do that? You haven’t got all the pieces in place…” That’s just the sense that I’ve gotten, having gone back recently. There’s just this sense that you can do anything here. In the UK, especially right now, they’re not doing very well economically, and people are really feeling that. I suppose because it’s more of a welfare state. People rely on the government more, and there are all these cuts that they’re making, and more people are [growing] unhappy about that.

Note: While Dexter is not considered an international student, his is a unique story that I and certain  foreigners can relate to. While I have a Zimbabwean passport, I don’t “feel” Zimbabwean – I have not spent more than three years of my life there. I feel more at home where I’ve spent most of my life to date – namely Malaysia and Switzerland.


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