It is two and a half years since we left behind all of our friends and family in the UK and it now seems right to start reflecting on what it is that this experience has taught me. The three main lessons that I think this experience has taught me so far are:
1. You take yourself with you.
I think I expected to morph into a different person when we moved to the other side of the world but of course my hopes, fears, phobias and stresses remained. I didn’t suddenly become the super confident, poised individual that I saw in my imagination. If anything, I became less confident and felt more awkward. It’s hard to feel composed when everything is unfamiliar and new and even paying for your groceries in the supermarket is a challenge.
2. Family really is the most important thing in life.
I have learned that all of the excitement, adventure and sunshine cannot compensate for the joy that comes from being with the people you love. There have been many times since we have been living here that I would have happily swapped long deliciously hot afternoons at the beach for mornings spent sitting with my grandparents, simply watching the television and drinking cups of tea.
3. Stuff isn’t very important.
When I became a parent, I wanted to make sure that my children were well provided for, that they had nice clothes, toys and ‘stuff’. When we had to pack up all of our things to move here, I was embarrassed to see how much they had, how much we had bought for them that they had simply never played with. It made me think about what they really need and it was the catalyst for me to start thinking about making some changes in our life and in my parenting in particular. I realised that it was my time that my children needed rather than more ‘stuff’- We are still working on ways to spend more ‘time’ with our girls but at the moment the goal is just to try and be more present during the time we do have together.
So two and a half years after we made our big move, my little family can reflect that our life is richer as a result of our immigration. Ironically though, for the most part, this richness has come from our reflections on the lessons we have learned and new insights we have gained into how great our lives already were (although we didn’t recognise it at the time) and are.
We have learned that family, people and experiences are the most valuable part of our lives.
We have become more resilient, stronger, braver and closer as a result of our adventures.
Finally, we have realised how awesome the world is and how diverse the opportunities are that it offers. Our daughter has already decided that she wants to move to Italy one day and we talk about moving to Australia or living in Paris or Spain in the future.
Personally, I wanted to run away from the UK and start anew. What I have found is that I can’t run away from myself and that newness can only come from a change in attitude and perspective. I didn’t need to move to beautiful New Zealand to discover that, but I am glad that I did!