We have been getting a lot of questions lately about how we’ve have settled into our “expat lives” in New Zealand, the things we miss about home, the differences and the struggles we have faced. A year into the move we were fortunate enough to tell the readers of Expat Arrival’s about our story. And one thing we mentioned back in December was how much we missed our family and friends.
Being away for such a long time you tend to shut down those feelings as a coping mechanism, and that had been the way until the Christmas just gone! My parents are now here and arrived just before Christmas as did my sister who surprised me with her presence for the holidays! I am sure anyone who has lived away from their home country for long periods of time will agree – having family and friends from home visit you in your new life causes whole a mix bag of emotions!
But it isn’t just your emotions it’s their emotions too that need to be consider so I have asked for my sister’s help to clarify our thoughts of our time together – Give me a holla if you can relate to this!
“Christmas 2015 was pretty epic not only was it our first official Christmas in NZ (finally settled!) on the 22nd December my Christmas changed when my sister turned up in my doorstep and surprised me for the holidays. I already had my parents staying for three months, (they have just retired and are taking a gap year!) and this simply was the icing on the cake.
Upon her arrival I was a mix bag of emotions, at first I felt shock (I thought I was dreaming, literally) and then I felt anger (ooo the secret had been kept from me for months) then I felt frustrated, (where is she to sleep, I don’t have a bed for her!) and then finally I felt excitement of the next two weeks of fun we were about to have.
Having someone surprise you like that makes you feel really special and that is a fantastic feeling.
I spent the first few days feeling that this must all be a dream and in a weird way you’re almost waiting for something to go wrong! Then one morning I snapped myself out of it and thought these are the type of days you are going to talk about forever (even when we are 80 in our rocking chairs) so I started to enjoy every moment with the family I hadn’t seen for a year and half.
And then two days later when you have to share a bathroom with five people and your sister borrows your hair straightener’s and doesn’t put them back and your house is turning into a slice of chaos you have flash backs of being fourteen again and in your new found teenage angst you get angry at the situation you are in and you lash out! Ring any bells? Thank fully for me that was only one day then it was back to enjoying this amazing time together!
I found myself wanting them to have the best time ever I felt like to them NZ was never on their ‘Bucket List’ and it never would of been if it wasn’t for me, I wanted them to fall in love with this beautiful country too I wanted them to understand why I now live here!
And because of that I wanted to get them out of the apartment as much as possible to ensure they get to see as much as New Zealand as humanly possible in the time that have! Then I found myself getting frustrated when I found them sat on the sofa too tired to go and watch a sunset!
But then I realised time unfortunately is not on any ones side and you just have to go with the flow and enjoy every moment you have with them. So that is what I did, life is about family, good times and creating memories I blocked those bag of emotions away and enjoyed every second! Until next time sis! “
“As I walked through the Auckland Airport arrival doors I was taken aback by the array of expecting faces staring back at me, all waiting for their loved ones to walk through the door next. This made me realise how far I had actually travelled and how important it is to visit family who have moved to another country. Panic started to set in as I scanned the faces with my tired eyes, ‘Where are my parents?!’ Luckily for me my parents were right at the front and waving frantically at me!
My parents were in on the ‘MI5 Top Secret Plan’ to surprise my sister Dawn with a surprise visit to Auckland for Christmas and New Year’s, we had kept it from her since August! We experienced some close shavings of exposing our plans but she never cottoned on…I actually think she never thought I would be able to come so far in the near future to visit her and if I ever did it would be a meet half way scenario in say…Bali.
So as we approached the apartment block where she lives, it felt surreal and had to ask my Mum to pinch me as what I had been planning and thinking about for months had finally arrived. I knew Dawn would be ecstatic that I came over to see her but I was also worried of her initial reaction.
Now I have NEVER seen my sister speechless before, and boy I was not expecting that initial reaction…then a more familiar reaction of excitement and jumping up and down played its self out.
So I was now here in Dawns territory and she and her partner were very accommodating to my unexpected arrival…luckily my parents thought sleeping arrangements through and brought me a blow up bed which they hid in their suitcases as we expected this would be Dawns first worry!
After a year or so of seeing my sister through my iPad screen as she was eating her breakfast and me eating my dinner, I felt like I had literally jumped into my iPad screen and was now in her apartment looking out of her balcony and in their time zone…although my body wasn’t!
Excitedly Dawn started reeling off the things we can do together, swimming with Dolphins in Bay Of Islands, cocktails in the city….but the reality is you have a schedule to keep and although we didn’t do them all we were still able to cram so many amazing sites and experiences in! Bethells Beach, the boat trip around Whangaroa Harbour were my highlights….but now I am back in the freezing UK (depressing) I soon realise that being able to see my sister settled in her new home, with a job she loves, with these beautiful places literally on her doorstep that that was the highlight of my trip. I can now relate to her in a way I couldn’t before, I sometimes could not understand why and how she could move so far away from the UK – But all I see now in her is drive, courage and a sense of adventure which I find is rubbing off on me….here’s to the next trip sis!”