“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Before I share with you a story about a serendipitous meeting that took place earlier this week, I would like to ask for your opinion. I have been rethinking the publication frequency of this blog. Please leave a comment below to let me know whether you would like to continue reading Mindful Daydreamer once per week, or if you would prefer twice weekly updates.
After leading a Tuesday evening yoga class at one of the two fitness clubs where I teach, two women who had come to practise with me stopped me to ask for a recommendation regarding yoga apparel. If, dear reader, you think that I felt flattered about this indirect compliment regarding my style, you might be correct. Unfortunately, I had to disappoint them by letting them know that the shipping cost might be steep, given that the company is in Canada.
“Ah, I knew you are Canadian,” one of the women smiled at me. She then introduced herself as L
“Yes, but you weren’t born in Canada, were you?” her friend M looked at me with a curious twinkle in her eye. “I detect a hint of another accent.”
“You would be right again,” I admitted. “I’m Russian-Canadian.”
My friends and family know how much I dislike the question Where are you from? Yet, lately, I find that my reaction to similar questions hasn’t been as strong as it has been previously. I don’t mind sharing with the locals a few stories about the places where I have been fortunate to live.
We continued our exchange and my clients were pleasantly surprised to learn that I have only been in NZ for just over a month. We briefly discussed urban planning in Vancouver vs. Auckland and the steep prices of condo apartments in both cities, then the conversation drifted to the challenges and triumphs of relocation overseas.
“So, are you in the homesickness phase, or do you still feel like a tourist?” L could not have guessed how deeply this question sank its claws into the thoughts that had been troubling me for the past few days. Suddenly, the thoughts had a term: homesickness. Although I feel comfortable travelling, and while we love living in Tauranga, a sadness has been nagging me. Do I miss Canada or Toronto? Not especially. Do I miss family and closer friends? Of course, though we are doing our best to keep contact via email and Skype. Is homesickness the correct term? Perhaps so, since our family members and loved ones are our home.
L proceeded to tell me that she has moved several times and that on average, every time, it took approximately six months for her to start to feel comfortable in her new home.
“Until then,” she continued, “there is always a vague sense of something being not quite right.”
Serendipity has played its magic yet again, bringing forth a conversation that reminded me that although I might sometimes feel lonely, I am never alone. There are others who have gone through similar experiences after relocating. Mr. Wanderlust and I have read stories about the lives of expats, and we were aware of the various psychological stages through which emigrants progress as they settle into their new homes. Mr. Wanderlust and I also each went through two emigrations as children and teenagers, and we remember the challenges that our parents had faced. We had done our research and were armed with facts. We were prepared for what was to come. Is it naive to admit that I had hoped that the typical transitional stages would somehow allow us to pass by unnoticed, to integrate seamlessly into life in NZ? Okay, perhaps it was a bit over-idealistic of me to hold such hope.
The first wave of expat sadness has passed, and it just might have allowed me to emerge on the other side feeling more resilient than before. Although I am still very much the idealist, I continue to practise staying present with what is taking place, accepting the fluctuations.
If you have gone through a big move, perhaps you might have a few tips to share with me to help me deal with periods of expat sadness. Please leave a comment below. Please also share this blog with a friend for whom the topic might resonate.
Favourites from around the web:
If you are planning a trip soon, here is some interesting advice: 5 Ways Total Strangers Can Make Your Trip Better Of course, this advice is also transferable to anyone who has recently relocated to a new place (ahem).
A great prompt for self-introspection and journaling: 3 Purposeful Questions I Ask Myself Each Night
Here’s to a beautiful weekend!