Continuing our series of Migrant Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.
Today’s tale was taken from a closed expat forum.
This story is told by an American emigrant who has lived in New Zealand for 10 years and is finally having to leave to save their sanity
Hi All,Man, I need some validation and support. I’m from the US, came here thinking I’d have a better life, etc, but I’m not joking when I say I cannot physically live here anymore.
After 10 years I have no friends, I have no money. I’ve worked my butt off, but every dime has gone into living.
In regards to friendship, being from the US I was raised with values that say if you offend someone and you know you have hurt them,you go to them apologize, try to make it right and ask for forgiveness. In turn they hopefully see your sincerity and forgive you and you move on with the friendship.
Here, I’ve been deeply hurt and saddened to hear the words, “I have made a decision to dislike you the rest of my life”, and “it’s not my problem”, and “if you don’t leave I’ll get a police order”, or “I hate you more than my parents”, “you are an American, I have the power, keep your mouth shut”. I have heard these things over and over and over. In my experience, they believe this. To them friendships mean, “I like you as long as you do and say everything I tell you to, agree that as an American you are arrogant and must be silenced, agree to drink, do drugs, watch rugby, have no goals and complain about the world”.
I am shocked, I mean deeply shocked. Yesterday I had a “meeting” with my supervisor and boss at work. There was a dispute over pay. At the end I ended the conversation, got up and left and said “Obviously I’m completely wrong and you are always right”. There was no honest discussion at all whatsoever. Zero. It was as if all the leadership and communication skills I learned in the US and have totally taken for granted was completely minimized and discarded.
Also, I can no longer live in damp, moldy, rotted houses. Last night I woke up from a deep sleep having a coughing fit because the room was so cold and damp. I have lived in a new house, but still there was no central heating, so the heat had to come from a oil heater which heated only that room, so I changed to a heat pump, had to move my bed downstairs into the lounge to sleep under it and then got a huge power bill. I never ever had issues with my health before and now I find myself being so careful to try to stay dry, to and to sleep with my face under the covers to try not to breathe the dampness.
At first I felt like it was good for me to experience a new culture, however now I feel like this place is destroying me. I feel like who I am, how I feel, what I think is unwanted, and that I cannot grow. The US has it’s own issues, but at least I’m allowed to grow, make mistakes and learn from them and have people around me who may or may not be my friends, but who at least share a common sense of patriotism, and who would never say to me “I’ve decided to hate you the rest of my life”.
I’m serious, this isn’t funny, this isn’t an exaggeration. My employment ends in September and I’m going home. I’m done trying to change the very fabric of who I am to live somewhere that while gorgeous is draining the very “me” out of me.
Does anyone out there understand?
I know if I stay here every dream, ever goal, every piece of hope will be put in a cage and will stay there the rest of my life. I’ll never become who I was born to be.