Don’t get excited family members reading this. This isn’t a question for me. I’m not coming home……… just yet.
I’ve spent a long time living in the UK with little to no face to face contact with others from down under. Well very little in the flesh, I’ve obviously spent a lot of time face timing friends and family. The last 2 years however my antipodean circle has widened. I hired 3 southern hemispherians (pure coincidence I promise!) and another girl from NZ joined another team within our department.
It’s been great they know what milo is, say words funny like me, help share the pain when Australia plays England in the cricket/rugby, share funny videos that our British colleagues just wouldn’t get, spend too much time in walkabout and they just sound like home. They were all there about the age I was when I first came over and whilst they all have completely different situations, plans, lives and loves they have started to have to make some big decisions about what happens next like I did many years ago.
Last week we were sitting in the sun drinking 1 too many proseccos discussing living abroad and the decisions that come with this at each stage of creating a life on the other side of the world. I’ve lived away for 10.5 years (or 11.5 of you count my gap year) both times I had an ancestry visa due to my grandmother being born in England (hilariously she’s from Birmingham and her name is Sheila) and that allows me to have 5 years to live and work in Great Britain. I was lucky most Aussies don’t get that opportunity and the best they get is 2 years.
My 2 friends are in this situation and both of their visas are up before the end of this year. Talking to them about what they are planning to do was so different yet so similar to what I thought, felt, spoke to my friends about when my own visa was coming to an end.
For me, I never ever considered not applying for residency when my ancestry visa was due to expire. I don’t remember calling my parents to discuss it or ask their opinion I knew in myself that I wasn’t ready to go yet. I wasn’t ready to leave my friends, my boyfriend, my career or the life I had here. Because I had a 5-year visa I had been home most years and when I didn’t make it home my family had all been out to visit or stop in to see me on their travels through Europe.
Talking to both of my friends who are sadly a bit younger than me and they are so much more conflicted. They both have friends, boyfriends, jobs and more countries to tick off their lists but also long to be home with their families and not ready to commit to a life in the UK. They’ve spoken to their parents at length and luckily one of them is able to apply for her own ancestry visa but the cost of this is much higher than when I got mine all those years ago so it puts extra pressure to fund that and support two lives whilst being out of the country as the application is processed. One thing that stuck with me was one of their parents could tell they weren’t ready to go back to a land down under and even said ‘your adventure isn’t up yet’.
It’s hard being away from your parents and family but as I’ve learnt and experienced no matter how far away you are from them they just want to you to be happy.
My other friend has to leave the country when her visa expires. She doesn’t have the option of another one. The decisions for her are different as well as her and her partner need to work out what it means for them in the long term. If they continue togethere but long distance or if he makes the journey over with her. Falling in love abroad is really tough!
My one piece of advice was so not to stay here for a boy (or girl). I love my fiance dearly but I’m here for me and not him. This is the independent women in me coming out -Beyoncé would be proud. Falling in love is really hard when you are away. The problem is if you stay for them to run the risk of it all going tits up and then you are here for the wrong reasons or worse could end up resenting them that you only stayed for them. It puts a weird balance on the relationship. The relationship should, of course, be considered when making a decision to stay but in my opinion, it shouldn’t be the sole reason. See normal couples who are both from the same country don’t have to worry about this sort of thing.
For both of my friends, I don’t know what they’ll do. If they’ll stay or if they’ll go. I don’t think they even know for certain yet. But one thing we all agreed on is that living and working abroad is one of the best things you could ever do. You grow so much as a person, you see the world through different eyes, you meet amazing people, you learn more about yourself, you develop a deeper love for your homeland (and weirdly the junk food of home) and most importantly you realise just how much crap you can accumulate over the years when all you arrived with was a suitcase!
20 thoughts on “Should I stay or should I go? ”
Great post, although from a parent’s perspective, it’s hard having your child away from you, although you know they have to do what makes them happy. I don’t envy your friends having to make these decisions but ultimately you do what’s right for you and make the best of it. Xx
This is extremely relatable. I have been out of the USA for six years now, and while I won’t be seeking residency in my current country (India), I have no plans to go back and instead make plans to continue on my journey. But, it’s always nice to meet fellow Americans and share our idiosyncrasies together over a pint when we can.
Yeah, I relate so much here. I lived in Hong Kong for over five years and returned to the UK last Christmas. The decision to leave HK was the right one as I was ready to move on and do something new, but the decision to return to the UK has not had the best outcome. I’ve struggled to find work, I’m back living with my parents and the reverse culture shock is overwhelming. Also, I would say I see/speak to my friends and family just as much as I did when I was living the other side of the world. It’s a frustrating situation to be in and a tough decision to make – the only thing you can do is go with your heart. And remember – you can always change your mind!
I agree that it’s great for people to work abroad and outside of their own community. However, as a parent myself, I’m not sure I would be completely thrilled if my son were to ever travel and work abroad. Although, I could just follow him! lol
Ha that’s what my parents do they use it as an excuse to travel more and come see me.
I was born in the US, but I moved to Ecuador in 2012 by myself to pursue book writing. It was scary at first and I felt along A LOT of the time! But I did it! Then I met my future husband and together we decided to come back to the US (first time for him since he’d never been here!). Now I get to see him experience a new life in the US! He says he doesn’t care where we are as long as we are together. Five years later we’re still here in the US and we’re going to have baby #3!
I’m too much of a homebody to pack up and move somewhere else, even though I used to think about it all the time. Good for you for taking that plunge! Sounds like you’ve had great adventures!
Haha weirdly I’m a huge homebody just lucky to have two homes now.
Being away from home is not easy that’s for sure. It took me ten years to come back and I don’t regret it
It’s really not easy is it but it does have lots of positives. X
Really interesting post. I’m actually working on moving abroad and reading about other people’s experience always helps put things in perspective. I admire your courage 🙂
How exciting about moving abroad. It will be the best thing you do.
I moved away from home at 18 for the military and honestly so glad I did… it’s hard for parents cause we are still babies in their eyes. But exploring and wandering around the world is amazing!!
Yep parents always see us as their little babies. I know my parents don’t always find it easy but they know I’m happy. Fair shout moving away at 18 and to the military! Must have been hard being so young.
Moving around and living different places has its perks. But the one thing it did was eventually draw a wedge between myself and my family. Mainly because so much space and distance was created, that we grew apart. I think that traveling does help one to grow and learn. Especially, if you grow up under a particular culture, but travel to learn new experiences. 🙂
That’s such a shame you grew apart. I sometime feel like I’m missing out on stuff at home but speak to my family daily through texts and phone calls and I see them each year. Thanks for stopping by!! X
So interesting! I’ve moved to Romania with my wife. The transition from busy surgeon to househusband (with plenty of free time to learn how to speak a foreign language) was dramatic. But you are absolutely correct. Becoming an “ex pat” should never be about another person. Were it not for the sense of adventure and possibility that this transition enabled, I don;t think it would be half as rewarding. (And my wife would have her hands full trying to keep me entertained;) ) It’s gonna be great to follow your blog. And congrats on the nomination to this years blogger bash!
You have lived a life most could only dream of so far! Way to go!
And FYI, I know what Milo is! In Kenya they had it too, so we used to love it when I went to visit! Infact when I see it in the international food sections of the shops I get strangely nostalgic! And a branch of my Kenyan family have also moved to Perth so they love it too!
What an adventure! And a long one at that. I have been more of a home body throughout my life (so far) but have travelled to England and long to go to Australia for a visit. I’m off to google ‘milo’ now. 🙂
I can relate a lot as I’m Polish living in the UK, but you know what, all those struggles you’ve got (or your friends) right now are going to be beneficent in the future! So no matter what your friends are going to decide – they will be definitely a lesson learnt from it!