Migrant Tales – Homesickness v. a Lack of Belonging. Nine Years in, I Don’t Want to Die Here

belonging in NZ can be hard

Pleasant surroundings aren’t enough to cure the heart ache of not belonging.

Continuing in our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand.

Today’s tale was taken from a commercial, sponsored site popular with British expatriates. It’s not normally associated with allowing talk about the downsides of migration, which is what makes this tale extra-ordinary. This is also a reminder that these boards are over populated by people who never really settled in their adopted countries. Essentially, they remain engaged with on-line expatriate communities because of their sense of not belonging, and are usually encouraged to only talk about the positives. This is something to bear in mind if you use one to gather information about migration to another country.

Here a British migrant (ex-midwife) talks about homesickness versus a lack of belonging, still very much a problem for her even after nine years of living in New Zealand. It’s  a good example of how time doesn’t make the heart grow fonder, the scenery is not enough to repair heartache, and how some people feel trapped in New Zealand because of circumstances beyond their control. Maybe this is one of the reasons why the country has such a high degree of mental illness.

Finally, after nine years, she has decided to seize control of her life. We wish her every success with taking it back.

Here’s the story…

I have experienced both having lived here for 9+ years now and neither is pleasant. I’ve had waves of homesickness which are very distressing at the time but do tend to pass. But this lack of belonging feeling is far more detrimental to my health than the homesickness bouts.

There are days when I feel really lucky to live here with the beautiful scenery which surrounds me BUT it isn’t enough for me. There’s just something missing. It’s like my life is on hold. I try to focus on the positives that living here have brought me and again, it isn’t enough.

For me, England will always be home. I just fit in there, people ‘get’ me and I feel comfortable and safe. OH prefers to live here, which is why I’m still here.

I have been on anti-depressants for a long time now but they make little difference as the under-lying cause is being unhappy about living in New Zealand. I have had so many health problems since living here and I think many of them can be linked to stress, that or I’m just allergic to New Zealand! So it’s time to start making changes.

I have decided to give it another year here and if I still feel the same then, then it’s time to head back to Blighty. Firstly, I am going to have to get my career restarted, so it’s back to the text books and see if the NZ midwifery council will accept me doing a RTP programme after 7 years out. The thought of working in midwifery here again fills me with dread but if it leads to me being able to renew my registration with the NMC then it will be worth it.

So thank you for all your replies, they have been most interesting to read and to gain some other views. Most helpful.
Firstly I should point out that I have been on and off anti-depressants for a long time now. I suffer with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which was generally worse in the UK winter than the NZ equivalent. However I could come off my anti-depressants in April in the UK and know when I needed them again. Here I’m on them year round. I have also suffered from depression following treatment for infertility and a miscarriage. being childless is an underlying sadness that we will both carry with us forever. So it’s not exactly NZ’s fault that I’m on them, just that they rarely seem to help here and I’ve been on different drugs in an effort to get some respite.

Not all my 9 years here have been unhappy, I’ve had periods of feeling settled and positive about living here but they always pass…I don’t want to die here.

I did finally pluck up the courage to tell my DH how I felt the other week, initially he didn’t take it too well but I know he loves me and doesn’t want me to be unhappy. He knows I’ve given it a damn good go this time around – we first came out separately in 2005, him first then me. I hated it, lasted 11 weeks and then we went home! That was more a homesickness thing I think. We returned 20 months later with me having a more realistic idea of what I was coming to. We said we’d give it 2 years and the go home if I still wasn’t happy. Those first 2 years with the odd blip were okay. DH was very unhappy back in the UK on that first occasion and I hated putting him through that. I suppose that impacts on how I feel about doing that to him again.

Anyway he’s coming around slowly I think. I know he would rather be with me in the UK than without me here but I don’t want to force him into anything. It has to be his decision. I’m also slightly worried that I might not be making the right decision for myself. I’ve lost a huge amount of self-confidence in the past 7 years and it was never high to start with

…I have been back to the UK 3 times now, The last trip was on my own for a month 2 years ago. I had a fabulous time visiting my friends, going to proper shops and pubs it was heavenly. I did miss DH though, but it was great that he couldn’t curtail my spending habits whilst away !

We are going to Europe in a few weeks time and will spend 12 nights in the UK, 4 in London doing the touristy stuff and the head to St.Helens for 8 nights of torture with my parents!!! They are both in their 80’s and not in the best of health, so need to see how the land lies there. So I won’t have as much chance to catch up with my mates in Derby/Burton sadly. I have very few friends left in St.Helens, they all buggered off as soon as they could.

I’d never go back to St.Helens to live and probably wouldn’t want to return to live in Staffs again though I loved it there and our house that we sold 11 years ago….sob!

I’m happy with giving it another year here as we need to spend some time doing up some areas of the house and garden. OH is helping with throwing stuff out which shows me that he may be coming round to the idea of going. I might as well try to do an RTP here in the meantime…it will help with moving costs etc. Plus I’d like to go to Aitutaki one more time and we can’t afford to do that this year.

OH knows that I’m open to living in another country for a few years if the plan is to head home eventually, so I would consider Dubai, Singapore and Australia. Dubai being my favourite choice. Closer to home and lots of places within easy reach to travel to…OH is used to moving around. His parents moved a fair bit Manchester-Sydney-Huddersfield-Chch- Guildford whereas my parents have lived in the same house since 1960!

…Not having worked for 7 years and giving up the career I loved due to being frustrated etc. has certainly taken it’s toll on me. I have had a gastric ulcer and I’m quite sure that I’m brewing another one. I definitely put that down to stress, it certainly wasn’t H.pylori unfortunately. I have put on a lot of weight here which I didn’t expect to do, I always lose weight when I go home or on holiday despite eating the foods I miss and love. I get loads of headaches and I’ve never had so many cold sores. I also get hayfever which I never had in the UK. My attempts to retrain in other fields has come to nothing despite being well qualified. It just saps my energy and self-esteem.

…It has helped me enormously to write down how I feel and to get other viewpoints.

Here’s a response from someone who made it home to Yorkshire after six years in New Zealand

I stayed in NZ for 6 years. It was a great adventure at the start, having no job, feeling retired and just the general realisation that if we didnt go back soon we would never afford to made me unhappy.

I stopped taking the kids to the doctors, and getting their eyes tested as two of them wore glasses and yet we were earning an ok wage.
We decided there was so much more of the world to visit and we would never manage that from there.

Three years in we told the children. Our daughter had just met her first boyfriend, she was just 16, she asked me to wait incase he was the one. So we waited for three more years. The boyfriend is a permanant fixture now, we left her as she started uni, shes just graduating today.
We had to leave, but part of my heart remains….but i dont regret it, im so happy to be back.
Follow your heart.

36 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Homesickness v. a Lack of Belonging. Nine Years in, I Don’t Want to Die Here

  1. I agree with your comments. I am happy with my life here in NZ and don’t feel the need to move elsewhere. What really bugs me is people continually putting down the country I am from. As a consequence I have become more vocal on reasons why NZ isn’t that perfect either. I started to find that any criticism of NZ is taboo and revelations that the Government employs “Attack Dogs” to suppress debate on social media and also rubbish people in the print media is particularly concerning to me. What really got to me was to read abusive attacks on a guy called Bernie Monk who was a spokesman for the Pike River families.

  2. hi
    I’m a Nurse and can relate to you about the work situation. Who would want to work in NZ as a Nurse? I’m really angry how the country has slowly wasted away until it is just a soulless wasteland. John Keys’ has a lot to answer for. When I left there in 1985 it was for a few reasons, but lets just say it was mainly for NZers’
    narrow mindedness, the absolute boring weekends where nothing exciting ever happened . I worked hard, harder than most Kiwis, had my first house at 22 years of age in 1983. When I got my first house, I felt that this still did not make me happy. Everyone around us was struggling. I grew up in South Auckland in the 70’s, very Once were Warriors, Jake “the Muss” Heke. Our neighbours were all in Housing NZ homes, strugglers, battlers, but all helped one another. We could ask any of our neighbours for anything, then.

    I remember going to the neighbours to ask for sugar or milk or anthing we needed. We played our Led Zeppelin music, David Bowie songs as loud as our Dads’ speakers could handle.
    None of our neighbours complained. It was a great life. Small court where everyone looked out for us. Played in the streets till we couldn’t play anymore, either we were too hungry or too tired.
    Black Power ruled the streets of South Auckland or The Mongrel Mob something that sticks in my mind as a young teenager. Going to the Friday night Social and seeing these two gangs going at it, burning the shops of to the ground and using knuckle busters or whatever weapon they could, to smash each other up. I think it changed the face of my suburb forever. I then knew it was not where I would bring my kids into this world.
    So, off we headed to OZ. So this is why I know what it is like to be an expatriate. Nothing can prepare you for living in another country. No matter how much research you do, no matter how much money you have or training in education or religion or contacts you have. Eventually it will all come down to YOU!

    YOU will have to, each day live that life. How you live it, what you do with it, is up to YOU. Many of the friends we met when we came here are no longer our friends (that is talk to them occasionaly) but that doesn’t matter because we feel at peace here. Australia really is a great country and I am so lucky to call it my home. I miss my little tiny coastal town where my Mum bought us up (way up North) but Hey, life goes on and I am thankful every day for everything.
    I hope that you can find peace wherever you go

  3. So crossbow sniper. Can I tell the NZ High Commission in London that yours is the official position of Pakeha New Zealand? They must cease marketing NZ, effective immediately. All potential emigrants should forget it because they will never be accepted as New Zealanders. And if you are not white and not of ‘anglo-saxon-celt’ ancestry don’t even think about coming to New Zealand.

    No problem mate, I’m off and I’m going make damn sure the whole world knows the deal with New Zealand. I consider myself told.

    E2NZ, that one needs to go viral!

  4. All you cuckoos! Trying to lay your foreign eggs in Kiwi nests and getting yourselves shunted. Laying your different eggs and getting them scrambled. In a Kiwi nest there are Kiwis looking after their Kiwi eggs. To enter as unwelcomed guests and expect inclusion from the start is extraordinarily naïve, if not stupid.
    ** Kiwis have no say in who or what in-fill-trates NZ. Mass immigration is a part of Govt. Agenda 21.
    As for ‘homesickness’, this is, probably, more a female dis-ease. Perfectly understandable, as women are prone to all manner of womanly problems, such as headaches: Or just being a headache for poor, longsuffering men! Migraine or migrate? You decide!
    As for fitting in, well, you never will. Accept this; for the rest of your life in NZ you will always be a cuckoo.
    You have been ‘brain-washed ‘ by the society in which you were braised and cooked to perfection. Kiwis are BBQed with secret herbs and spices of which you know ‘0’. Accept this, ’cause it won’t change for you.
    Getting a New Zealand Passport will never make you into a Kiwi, either. This is just a piece of paper which allows for multiple re entries, a kind of extended visa for foreign egg layers. Or, can a Dutch passport make a Nigerian into a Hollander? Perhaps, to a cucked leftist.
    Kiwi = White European Race DNA, born in NZ, preferably Anglo-Saxon-Celt. Maori are Maori. All other thingies are foreigners with NZ Passports. Chinese with NZ Passports are just Chinese with NZ Passports, no matter how much they complain that they are not accepted as kiwi by KIWI. They can go back.
    Kiwi live in their Kiwi Nest

    • LOL!!! Consider leaving that up, E2… it’s a priceless example of the sort of brainless, insular kiwi thought process. Hilarious – and some reasons why:
      1. This guy must be a Bogan that fancies himself knowledgeable and capable of a clever analogy which actually stinks of rotten eggs (but doesn’t know squat about the world outside his small town, except for the koolaid he sees daily on tv), proud of his misogynistic attitudes, who doesn’t realize that his country actually leans FAR Left.
      2. He is actually correct in a weird, twisted way. Agenda 21, greed, etc is behind a lot of it.. BUT we are not “unwelcomed” migrants – in fact we are welcomed via all the ads, lied to, misled, then screwed over by his people/government. It would indeed be far better for the rest of the world to see the TRUE attitude here and just not come at all – let this place fall into full-blown third world status, which is what it’s people seem to want anyway.
      3. Correct in that we won’t fit in – and hope Never to fit in with a crowd this idiotic, jealous yet afraid of the outside world, and self-congratulatory.
      4. “Kiwis are BBQed with secret herbs and spices of which you know ‘0’” … You forgot Marinated in cheap Booze, secret herbs (Marijuana) spices like P and other really creepy and disgusting concoctions only a complete moron would subject his body to.

      I’ll be extremely happy to get off this Isle of Morons, the second I can. Merely waiting for (ironically) my Kiwi spouse’s American Visa to come through. After all, some Kiwis actually still have a brain – they’re just not hanging around this hole – and people like this guy can have it! Only village idiots argue over who gets to keep the Slum. Thanks for the laugh.

      • Interestingly, about 25% of NZ university graduates immediately leave the country, this is the HIGHEST RATE in the developed world. Most of them never come back, or if they do, they tend to return overseas to where they aren’t treated like scum for having experience outside their country of origin.

        • seems like I’ve missed out here BIG TIME ! wahahah keep it coming guy’s got some new “kiwi scum crap”coming up…

    • Thanks for providing me with a good laugh. You make it sound as if winning Kiwis’ approbation is some cherished accomplishment. Admittedly, a number of exceptions exist. However, I tend to view Kiwis as some type of lower life form and I avoid them like the plague. If Kiwis were half as good as they profess to be, then New Zealand would be some idyllic paradise. In reality, Kiwis overestimate their desirability and capability. The Kiwis are a nation of BSers. Perhaps this is why the better ones leave and never return.

      I suspect New Zealand’s degeneration would accelerate without it swindling credulous migrants. We are happy to leave Retardicon 6 to the Kiwis.

    • pff talking about narrow minded…. but you’ve got a point there hahahaha

    • I would never want to become an kiwi…not for an million bucks. i only got here because i was pushed into it. And i couldn’t be more happy to leave ! That will be the most happiest moment of my life ! i have come to the conclusion new zealand is an 4th world country..why because all the shitty stuf here costs an fortune while in 3rd world countries everything is incredible cheap. Nobody thought that was possible but hey you did it new Zealand yaye !

    • Thanks ,I was born in TeKuiti and grew up on sheep and cattle farms throughout the central North Island ,Im pretty sure you are a typical kiwi asshole ,you seem to overvalue the kiwi passport ,basically a little book which tells the world you are possibaly a narrow minded vindictive idiot.

    • ‘Kiwi = White European Race DNA, born in NZ, preferably Anglo-Saxon-Celt. Maori are Maori. All other thingies are foreigners with NZ Passports. Chinese with NZ Passports are just Chinese with NZ Passports, no matter how much they complain that they are not accepted as kiwi by KIWI. They can go back.
      Kiwi live in their Kiwi Nest’….
      Yo Crossbow sniper that nickname must have taken you a long time to come up with. It reminds me of a Novel I read back in 2005. Your metaforical way of expressing yourself makes me laugh. So you’re writing you actually came out of an egg! Wow and then this long letter. I must applause. I think you’re brainwashed or thinking in a loop just like your National Icon. Really man, you should consider to visit Australia just once in your life. Broaden you horizon a bit. How do you feel about the way most Aussies look at new Zealanders? Well that’s why they don’t like them.

      • Bitter sweet symphony,

        “How do you feel about the way most Aussies look at new Zealanders?”

        I’d agree. For most of the last 150 years, Australians didn’t have any strong opinions about NZ or New Zealanders. My guess is that the resentment has developed in the past generation or so when Australians (like me) have experienced Kiwis’ Australia-bashing, particularly in their MSM, and a sense of entitlement.

  5. I think an article should be posted regarding rape and molestation in this country ,it appears to be very normal yet off the radar for the most part,I think that the lack of community and normal social mediums contribute to this ,for every one weirdo N.Zer caught doing weird shit to his wife ,girlfriend ,daughter,son or random stranger I can assume that there are at least 500 unreported incidents .

    • Another one that would be good to see is an article about the experiences of men in New Zealand. With 98% of workplace deaths being men, 80% or suicides being men, at least 1 in 3 men having being raped (which is actually WORSE than the female statistics, and in New Zealand law, a woman can’t even be CHARGED with rape), unfair treatment in family courts, zero family shelters for men, at least 50% of domestic abuse victims being men (women are just as prevalent as perpetrators as men are), and zero quotas in jobs where men are not evenly represented (e.g. teaching), New Zealand is NOT a pleasant place for men at all. Men are also routinely separated from their children on false domestic violence charges (at least 60% of cases, when properly investigated, are proven false) and are treated with a “guilty until proven innocent” approach by the laws. Until recently, only 15% of men got custody of their children during divorce, resulting in 40% of men loosing ALL meaningful contact with their children during marriage breakup.

      Men are systematically lied about and mistreated every step of the way in New Zealand.

      • My ex wife commented that this would be a good place for mtf transsexuals as the women are so dominating and masculine ,then she shot through back to L.A where people are weird in a nice way.!

        • Good for her ! The lucky girl. LA is one of my favorite places in the world ! Went there last year and loved it. It’s actually possible to make friends there…

      • An article written on male experience in New Zealand is NOT going to be well liked. It will need to directly confront the “woman is always the victim, man is always the perpetrator” that is widely presented all over the internet; it will also have to look directly at feminism, how it does not promote equality at all, how most of what it teaches is based on lies, and how it has turned men into second class citizens by denying them basic human rights; it would also have to look at a very ugly underbelly of systematic male abuse by women and the state, laws that are designed to protect women only, unequal punishments for equivalent crimes, and areas such as biased funding. It is really impossible to present the experiences of men in New Zealand, while avoiding these issues. These days ANYTHING that places any form of blame onto women, holds them responsible for their actions, or shows them in a bad light is considered highly controversial.

        For anyone who is looking to get a picture of what male experience is like in New Zealand, the site menz.org.nz is a good place to start; this is a men’s rights site for New Zealand men.

  6. They should put anti depressants in the water supply here instead of fluoride,you are not alone ,taking antidepressants would have been a repugnant idea for me but now seems like a good solution to the depression and social isolation here ,it’s just not how humans are meant to live or interact ,the society here will not change in our lifetimes and we all only have one life to live so get on with getting back to a place where you are accepted and receive the social contact that all humans require,or die alone and unfulfilled here.

    • What they really DO need to put in the water are selenium and zinc. These are very important trace minerals that are missing from New Zealand soils.

      Selenium deficiency symptoms include: hair loss, fingernail discolouration, low immunity, constant tiredness, fatigue, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, reproductive problems, mood swings and hypothyroidism.

      Zinc deficiency symptoms include: dandruff, slow healing, diarrhoea, skin disorders, growth retardation, hair loss, allergies, loss of appetite, poor nail growth, behavioural disorders and mental lethargy.

      Not that I’m excusing the behaviour of the Kiwis, but these dietary deficiencies alone could explain some of the traits they display so clearly. Both of these are connected to normal mental function, and a loss of either one can have drastic effects on a person’s mental wellbeing. Most Kiwis are probably deficient in both.

      • We used to put selenium and zinc blocks in the fields for the cows to lick ,I was young at the time and never asked about this ,interesting that these minerals are missing in this environment.

      • For years I have known that there is something deficient in New Zealand – I have lived in many places but I never have the same feeling that I have here of listlessness, lethargy, never feeling like I have energy to do anything and having to push myself every time I have to do something. I discovered this when I went to live in other countries. I would not have known if I had stayed here… ….as for people who emigrate and never feel part of the new environment – you know that is the same all over the world. I have been an immigrant and that feeling never goes away. I think people have to think very carefully as to why they want to emigrate – for their children? For themselves? Weather? Lifestyle? The grass is rarely greener on the other side for the first generation. After that, people don’t know any different. Its only today that we can compare and go backwards and forwards to countries. My family came here from Denmark,. They didnt speak English and they knew there was no going back when they left, so they had to make it work.
        We are not the worst country in the world but we are not the best either. If you are always comparing life here to what you had, you will never be happy. I love the UK – I could live there, but could I live there forever? No, because I always feel like an outsider, and English people dont let you forget that you are not English, so thats the other side of the same coin.
        I have lived for long periods of time in 3 other countries and each of them had their good and bad points. The countries I enjoyed the most were the ones that were completely different from New Zealand – not Western countries.
        Not having family nearby is probably the hardest issue that immigrants have to face here, because we are just so far away, and it is not possible to even visit regularly.

        • There’s truth in what you say ,I lived in Hawaii for five years and it was similiar to N.Z in that it was a closed community unless a person was somewhat brown,I read a Craigslist rant by an expat kiwi there,he was complaining about not being accepted into the community despite having resided in Hawaii for a number of years,the derogatory term for foreigners in Hawaii is ,”Haole”. This guy was upset that he was constantly called a Haole,The response from a local guy was ,you will always be a Haole in Hawaii and since you’ve been away from your home country for a number of years my guess is that you’ll be a Haole if you go back to N.Z.
          I was away from N.Z for 25 years ,I didn’t expect the people to embrace me on my return however I sure didn’t expect people to go out of their way to make things difficult for me ,that’s the difference between N.Z and another country ,malicious deeds inspired by jealousy are done here against not only immigrants but also returning N.Zers.

          • expect people to go out of their way to make things difficult for me

            For some reason, this ^ seems to be the case more often than not.

          • Malicious deeds are also done against people who were BORN in New Zealand, but don’t aspire to the Kiwi way of life. If you are capable, intelligent, hard working, intellectually driven, don’t care about rugby, and are an all round nice person, you can expect TERRIBLE treatment from the locals.

    • Taking anti-depressants to create a synthetic state of mind because of this hell hole, is, to me, like putting a plaster over a gun shot wound.

      I’ve been encouraged many times here (in NZ not E2NZ) by random people to just take some anti depressants because it will ‘help’ with my ‘whinging’ and despair and everything will be magical afterwards. I said bullshit. What I need is a job so i can raise money to flee and people who are compassionate. Both of these things are impossible to attain it seems.

      People are kidding themselves and setting themselves up for false hope if they think the answer to their misery here is by taking anti depressants. People need to LEAVE. Its NZ not them. Why should you be popping pills just to endure this shit hole and kid yourselves that one day eventually you will appease this place and just accept it for what it is? Fuck that.

      Then theres the old chest nut of “oh but its better than back in ol’ blighty” or ‘oh but we’d never go back, NZ is so much nicer and chilled out” while they scribble HELP ME on their bedroom walls in their own blood from yet another failed suicide attempt.

      It pisses me off so much when I see expats in Christchurch who look as miserable as everyone else here and just lie to my face that its great, better than back home, and that ‘we’d never go back’. What they really mean is ‘Im trapped here with investments and can’t afford to leave, please save me”.

      Then there are the Brits I meet who are completely kiwi-ised. They actually love it here and how dare I mention that I don’t like it here and they cut the conversation short…

      • Yes and trapped here because they sold the house back home and paid major money to ship the container of household goods here.It also gets harder to relocate as time goes by,friends and family have moved on in your previous location and it can easily go in the “to difficult” basket ,better to hold out here in the hope that things will improve or to delude oneself into thinking it’s actually better in N..Z .

    • Hahahaha !! You are the first kiwi I see with great humor. “Anti depressants in the water” fantastic !

      • You got me thinking about humour. I have met quite a few Kiwis who are into Monty Python. Even though I am from the UK I have never got that style of humour. Then there is that “7 days” programme style of humour which seems to revolve around saying the “F” word really loudly. I think I must have more of an American enjoyment of humour as enjoy C K Louis, Jerry Seinfeld and that observational style of humour. The English comedian Harry Enfield is good. You don’t hear much about him in NZ but he would get some good characters from here. The Kiwi comedian Billy T James was good at taking the mick out his countrymen from what I have seen, but I don’t see a lot of other comedians like that here which is a shame.

        • I enjoy British and American humor but I just haven’t figured out what the kiwi humor is ?! I have seen some Kiwi’s on television giving it a go but I just don’t get it.. Yes have seen quite a few kiwi’s being really into British shows . I have tried to make kiwi’s laugh but many of them don’t seem to laugh a lot at all anyway.. I have given up by now though..

    • They used to add Iodine to the salt, then they came up with the “salt is bad” campaign.

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