When my oldest daughter was only 2 weeks old we stumbled onto Air New Zealand and flew to Brisbane to find a house to live in. There’s no doubting this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and sadly it didn’t end well for us – my first husband and I. It was just too hard.
I remember sitting on the couch with Dark Princess, the dog, and Son (who was only 2) and crying for what seemed like weeks on end. All I could see from my citadel was the mountain of moving boxes all taunting me – “Open me, unpack me, put me away, make a home….”
My breasts ached, my Csection stitches ached, my head was scrambled egg, and yet somehow in the midst of all of this chaos I was supposed to unpack the boxes, settle the children, set up routines, and relationships with a new doctor’s surgery and other new support services. What I really wanted to do most of all was to take the cabbage leaves out of my leaking breasts, crawl under the duvet and sleep.
Of course, we all survived this dark time in our life. Dark Princess is now a beautiful young woman who looked absolutely stunning in her Prom dress on Friday night. (Shall I blog some pics and indulge myself in the ‘proud Mum thing?) We all settled and made a life for ourselves in Brisbane and then when it all turned to custard, back in Auckland again. Life moved on.
But I will never forget that deep sense of vulnerability I felt moving with two very small children so soon after giving birth, and when I see other pregnant mums preparing to move away from their comfort zone to their new expat life a world away, I honestly shudder for them, and say a prayer.
What will be will be….
But today’s Moving Story, comes from a wonderful bloggy mate Emma, who moved when her first child was only six months old from the UK to Cyprus. Her story made me smile, as it reminded me that in the right circumstances, and with a great deal of love, it is possible to move to a new life with a babe in arms (or baby in womb), and make a go of it!
Emma blogs at A Matter of Choice and I love the quote her blog is based around:
“Destiny is not a matter of chance,
1) Why did you move from the UK originally?
It was a bit of a whim to be honest and the idea seemed to come from nowhere! Aaron (my husband) and my father had been talking about how they would both love to move abroad and Aaron said ‘why not!’. The only thing stopping both of them was my Mum and I not wanting to leave each other. So we decided for us all to move came about and it snowballed from there!
2) Can you recall the time before you left the UK, and what your concerns about moving were? What did you think your biggest challenges would be?
I was very worried about missing my friends and losing contact with them and I was worried the language barrier would be a big problem. My biggest concern was Aaron being able to find work.
3) What did you think you would miss most about the UK, apart from family?
I really didn’t think I’d miss much about the UK at all except family and friends; I couldn’t wait to leave the unpredictable weather, rubbish TV and many other things behind.
4) Have you been surprised by what you really have missed about UK?
Yes! I’ve been surprised about the amount of things I miss too. There are actually lots of things – doctors where you can actually make an appointment instead of waiting all morning to be seen. Shopping and reasonably priced clothes and toys etc; Organised activities for children and places to go like parks, woodland, castles and libraries. Even the weather to a degree, the winters are surprisingly cold due to the design of the houses and the summers can be unbearably hot.
5) Do you see your old age in this country or in the UK, and was moving a ‘for life’ decision or ‘for a while’ decision?
I really don’t know, I can’t really picture either. I guess it will be here in Cyprus as Aaron never wants to leave but I’d never say ‘never’. Only a few years ago we had no intention of ever moving to Cyprus or having more than one child (now expecting our second!) so who knows what might happen. But moving to Cyprus was never a temporary decision; we pretty much burnt our bridges on the way out!
6) What positives about life in Cyprus can you tell us about and were the challenges the same as you envisaged or not?
I love the weather, and that you can spend so much time outdoors. I love friends we have made here and the fact that it seems easier to get together as people often have fewer commitments to work around. I like the fact that it is a family friendly place and you can go out in the evenings as a family much easier than you can in the UK. The challenges have been the kind of things that did worry me - Aaron has spent a long time looking for work, and money has been tighter than I thought possible. I’ve found it hard trying to work out the healthcare and school system, and above all I do miss the contact with my friends in the UK, just as I imagined I would.
7) What surprises have you had – good and bad – setting up your new home?
I’ve not found many surprises but I think that’s because I never expected moving to be easy and I didn’t expect living in Cyprus to be the same as England but with better weather! Many other expats are surprised that things can be hard and very different and that means they struggle to settle down here. I was surprised that keeping in contact with friends from the UK would be as difficult as I assumed that with the internet it would be very easy.
8) If you experienced conflict between you and your spouse about moving, or aspects of resettling, how easy did you find it to resolve them?
We haven’t really had any conflict even though our views have differed on the subject. Aaron felt 100% at home from the moment he stepped off the plane and not experienced a moments doubt or homesickness whereas I’ve wanted to go back and at least visit the UK ,many times. I don’t want to move back though, so there is no point of conflict about it, I would just dearly love to have the option to visit every now and again.
9) When you think of home, which country comes to mind now?
Cyprus, as we made an effort to stop referring to the UK as home from the moment we landed even though it didn’t feel like it then. I felt that unless I did that I’d never feel settled here. Even when I went back for a holiday I didn’t say ‘I was going home’ and the whole time I was in the UK I felt like a visitor and was happy to come home to Cyprus at the end.
10) In what ways do you think your family life, and your relationship/marriage, has become stronger after undertaking this adventure?
I think it was strong already as we’ve been together so long and through many things already. It’s difficult to tell as we moved so close to having our first child which has made our relationship different anyway. I wouldn’t say it has had much of an effect on our relationship either positively or negatively.
11) Would you recommend your expat life to a close friend of yours? If so, why? If not,why not?
I would like to as I’d love nothing more to have an old friend here but if I’m honest I wouldn’t do it. It’s not an easy life really, work is very hard to come by, wages are low and prices are high. Knowing what they are like I can’t imagine any of my friends from the UK enjoying living here, unlike us they have too many ties in the UK and are probably a bit too sensible to suddenly move halfway across the world!
Emma and her husband Aaron are now expecting their second child, so I think it’s fair to point out that for this couple, moving and starting a new life whilst they were birthing a new life, has worked out well. Have you ever experienced moving when the children were babies? Or giving birth in your new host country, and ‘how was it for you?’