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Max, United Kingdom

A few years ago, I asked at least five friends to marry me, men and women from different Schengen countries. On January 1, 2020, a lot changed for me. When I landed at Schiphol again, I suddenly got a stamp in my passport and I had to prove that I had a good reason to be here. Brexit was a thing now!

It suddenly became a lot more complicated for us Brits to move around freely in the European Union. For some, studying became more expensive and working more difficult. I thought: how do I fix this? I feel much more at home here than in the UK. But it turns out that getting married is just as complicated as applying for a permanent residence permit. So the latter is now plan B.

I first studied archaeology and did anthropology after my bachelor's degree, both here in Leiden. Currently I'm doing my master's degree in visual ethnography. For my research I went to Portugal between January and March to work with people who practice a sport called 'parkour'. That is a mix of running, jumping and acrobatics in the city.

This sport also brought me to the Netherlands for the first time. When I was 17 years old, I won an entrance ticket for an event in The Hague. I had to pay for my flight myself, so I still had to work hard for that. This trip with those people made me become more and more involved in it myself.

Parkour used to be considered a martial art. It has now become a street sport that is different for every practitioner. Some run and jump from A to B as quickly as possible, while others do a lot of acrobatics around architecture on the street. There are no rules and there is no dress code. People often stop to take pictures or film us. I then feel like some kind of circus monkey. Strangers quickly get their cameras ready and yell things like: do that again! Or: can you also do a backflip?

There are competitions, but because there are no regulations, it is always difficult to judge people. There was a time when I participated in them and traveled quite a bit for it. Since it is a relatively small community, we all know each other. Through this sport, I have friends all over Europe. But not one I'm married to now, haha!


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