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.