Post New Zealand 6 Months Later

Yes Yes, I know this blog is WAY overdue! I’ve been busy trying to integrate back into my old life and forget that this whole escapade ever happened, it’s taken awhile to get over it all. Well in saying that, we will never get over it I guess. But you know what I mean….

It’s been 6 months since our return (2 months longer than we actually lived there ha ha!) and we are almost back to normal, but not quite – normal will never be the same again. New Zealand changed our lives and the before that we knew, is no longer sadly.

What we went through last year in a matter of months, some people will never experience in their lifetimes. We moved across the world, then across islands and back home again in 4 short months. We exchanged our lives in our birth land for a life in a new foreign land that we thought we knew about, that we thought we could survive in, that we thought we could handle. When I got the job offer all we could think about was the opportunity, the excitement,  the new life in a safer and ‘better’ country. We never for a second really stopped to think about everything we were leaving behind and what it would mean for us. The heady anticipation of an adventure cancelled out all reasoning and foresight. We could do this! So many have done it so why can’t we?! Well, we found out pretty quickly that we couldn’t or wouldn’t, and there was no shame in it either, despite the petty comments from the peanut galleries trying to demean us. In that instant we learnt who was on our team and who wasn’t. Most importantly we learnt so much about ourselves, we were at our limit, we had given up everything, we had nothing left but each other and the drive to make a fresh start back home. We realised that as long as we had each other we could conquer any challenges, as long as we worked together we could make anything happen. Not many people get to experience such a life changing journey together and we count ourselves blessed despite the outcome. If you are not challenged then how will you ever grow?

We grew. We grew so much that we thought we were invincible when we returned. We thought we had it all figured out. Life would go back to normal, just wait and see.

And so slowly the bubble burst as the novelty of coming home wore off and life returned to it’s usual less frenetic pace. The previous few months adrenaline rush of anticipation, excitement and new adventures eventually wore off. The bills started coming in, the debt started mounting up and we realised that it was never going to be as easy as we thought it would be. I was very blessed to get my job back at my old company and keep the job I had gone over for in NZ, but Ashley my husband has not been able to return back to his passion despite applying. The fire fighter who isn’t a fire fighter any longer is a sad sight to behold. . He has to wait for vacancies to apply to and until then I share my house with a man who is unsettled, a little lost and in dire need of his routine that he knows and loves. It’s been hard and we put on a strong face because we have to, that’s how you survive. That’s how you get through, fake it ’til you make it! But, it’s okay – we have each other and we know what life would have been if we stayed, he was never going to get into the fire department there anyway, so wait he will, because the right time will come. This experience has taught him just how much his calling means to him and how much he relishes the work he did. As for Lilli, she is the child we knew before New Zealand, she delights in every minute with her friends and family, she’s thriving back at school and settled in like she had never left. She is happy and for us that means everything. All of this has been for her, every step.

We’ve moved back to our same home but it’s different. Same home, new furniture, new things. It’s like living in a parallel universe lol. I keep looking for things that I know I have but then realise I had to give up or sell in NZ when we came home, it’s very weird. But it’s good, life is still good. We have our home, we have our friends and family who visit and spend time with us, we entertain, we have family time and we appreciate it so much more than before, we enjoy our life here and we make the most of every day. Every occasion is special and every moment makes us realise that we could be there and not here with the people we love and in the country we call home. It helps us to get through this bump in the road where everything is the same but not. I stand outside on my deck and feel the warm African sun on my skin, I listen to my daughter playing in our huge garden and I look at the beautiful treetop view and in that moment I know that everything is as it should be and everything will be fine. Because we are home and that’s really all that matters.

One of the hardest parts of our return has been the distressing state of our country and government and seeing so many people leaving SA. It’s not been easy and it has been worrying but for now and in this moment, we know that where we are is right for us and our daughter. Our decision was personal to ourselves and it still is, every reason why we came back still stands and we are happy to be home surrounded by family, friends and familiarity despite the difficulties.

I get contacted frequently by people wanting to make the move to New Zealand which is not easy for me. They know why we came home and they know our story yet the urgency to leave is so great that they don’t really take time to think about how their requests for assistance can be difficult for me. It churns up memories, memories of us in the same space a year ago – the dreams and ambitions we had, the determination we had to make it work. It forces me to remember the effort and work involved in getting to New Zealand, it opens a door to things I would rather have to not think about right now. The heartache of leaving everything behind, the money we lost, the friends and family we hurt in the process and and and…. Don’t they understand what that journey took out of us? That we need time to recover, to lick wounds, to bounce back. It’s like asking an Olympic Sprinter how to win the 100m when he has just tripped and fell and come stone last! It’s disturbing for some reason, it’s like a personal affront. Yes we didn’t make it and we have no regrets but we also have experience in the journey, we’ve been there, done that and yet people brush it off as if it’s nothing and that ‘they’ won’t possibly make the same ‘mistake’ and they will make it because they are better, stronger or more determined – so were we! And look JUST look.  I look back now and see myself last year and I also know that if someone had told me the things I tell people who ask about our journey, I wouldn’t have listened either. You so desperately want out that you bulldoze any thought of it not working or how much you are giving up in the process. You don’t want to hear the raw truth about emigrating and you don’t care to know how much it will hurt because you are going to deal with it when the time comes. I know, I’ve been there. The time comes sooner than you think AND it hits ALOT harder than you expect.

For those who ask me how to get to NZ, I don’t have all the answers and I’m not even allowed to help you anyway – it’s illegal. I had to figure it out myself,  it’s not easy, it’s time consuming, difficult, involved and intense! And no I can’t just tell you how to do it. It’s a big deal, it’s a lot of work and I certainly don’t have the time nor inclination to help you, I’m sorry – I’ve done my time. It’s not something I want to revisit. Please understand. Join a FB group, go onto New Zealand Now’s website or use an Immigration Advisor. I will tell you about my experience, I will let you know what it was like for us and I will tell you what to expect but I can’t help you get there.

All I want to leave with anyone who is thinking of leaving is this: Please do yourself this favour and make REALLY sure that this is what you want. Weigh it up, be logical be practical, be emotional, be realistic, be everything, feel everything – don’t ignore anything. Speak to people who have gone and come back and REALLY LISTEN to their stories. Speak to people who live there and ask them for an HONEST account of their journey. Investigate everything thoroughly and know what you are getting yourself in for. Make sure you know what’s coming and be prepared for it. I am not saying that everyone who emigrates to New Zealand will battle or not make it, there are many people who have managed to make it home and who are thriving and KUDOS to them because they have succeeded in doing something that we would not, I say would not because ultimately we could have IF we were prepared to sacrifice for it, which we weren’t. I take my hat off off to those who have gone through the sacrifices, suffering and angst of missing home and family and friends and stuck it out – your bravery and determination is admirable. But not everyone can do it and so you must understand this before you embark on the journey, be prepared for it. Plan for it. That’s all.

Anyway, everyone’s reasons and decisions are personal and THEIR story not ours so do what makes sense to you, follow your heart but just be prepared and aware ❤

 

Live your own life 

So as you all know our story went viral (quite unintentionally) which tells me that it resonates with people for some reason. We’ve had many mixed responses both good and bad, happy and sad. We’ve been applauded and attacked. People who don’t know us at all have judged us and called us stupid or naive, said we haven’t given it a proper go and had other immigrants get defensive and challenge our decision. We’ve also had people admire our bravery and courage to admit defeat and ask us questions about our decision to help them make their own decisions (which is not our place either).  The most important thing that I really want people to understand is: this is OUR journey, it’s not anyone else’s. No one else has walked in our shoes and lived our exact journey so in all fairness it’s not possible for anyone to judge or to think it’s okay to berate or belittle us.  Granted it was and is all self inflicted but it still doesn’t give anyone the right to judge. We had an opportunity, we took a chance and it wasn’t for us. Quite simply the gist of it. 

It took great courage to up and leave and it took even greater courage to come back. We aren’t saying that everyone must do what we’ve done, we aren’t discouraging people from emigrating or doing what they feel is best for their families, we aren’t saying that NZ isn’t right for South Africans NOR are we saying that those who are there are all miserable. But, what we are sharing is our journey and our story in the hopes that those who are thinking about going will think carefully about it, perhaps do a ‘Look, See and Decide’ trip first to see if it’s for them, maybe hold off on sending your animals and container until you are sure it’s for you. Be cautious instead of just forging ahead because it’s very hard to just come back once you’ve moved your whole life. Some people can’t come home as much as they want to because they’ve sacrificed too much or financially they are unable to. Some people are genuinely happy there and have made a good life and are settled, which is great for them! Everyone’s experience will be different and we don’t for one minute discourage anyone from going on their own adventures. It’s just nice to know the truth about some things because it prepares you better. This our truth and we don’t have regrets. NZ was the best lesson we ever learnt and we are grateful for it. 

Follow your hearts as I’ve said. Your journey is yours and yours alone, don’t worry about people’s opinions and don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. The only people you have to answer to are yourselves 💛

Coming Home to SA

Phew it’s been a whirlwind few weeks and we’ve been home just over a week already. Had much to do here getting things organized and back in place, no easy task I assure you but getting things done bit by bit. 

The sheer exuberant joy of landing on African soil after a 32 hour journey was not lost on me – I knew that this is where we must be. The incredible feeling of ‘being home’ of ‘belonging’ and just the familiarity was so comforting and consoling. I felt some peace in my heart for the first time in awhile. 

It’s all been quite strange as it feels like we never left yet everything’s changed. Our perspective, our attitudes, our expectations and our vision for the future. It’s almost like returning to a parallel universe lol! There have been no regrets, there’s no remorse and we are still happy with our decision to return home. It was right for us, as has the entire journey been right for us despite the challenges. We’ve grown, we’ve lived and we’ve learnt so much!

To realise how precious your homeland is to you and how much you want to make a difference in creating a better future for her and us, is probably the biggest lesson I’ve personally learnt. We cannot act as indivuals and expect the world to change, we need to act together as one and Be the change we wish to see. 

I’m getting all philosophical lol but that’s how I feel right now. 

If you want to know what we’ve enjoyed the most since being home it’s quite a few things! Familiarity – knowing your way and being comfortable in your surroundings, kinship – being with your own people, family and having their close support and love – being able to hug and kiss them, seeing our animals, friends – having drinks around a braai and talking about everything under the sun, African sunshine and thunderstorms, breakfasts at Spur while the kids play, DSTV lol and catching up on all our Tv and Ash can watch sport again yay! Seeing the little group of vervet monkeys with their babies, watching the hornbills eat fruit in our garden, picking ripe avos off of our tree, the smell of the earth after the rain, catching a lekker tan on our deck! Mostly it’s been the most amazing thing seeing my daughter happy and fulfilled being back in her environment and with her family who love her more than anything.  Just too many awesome things that we used to take for granted. We are grateful to be home and to have a second chance to live a great life in our motherland 💛 it’s not all going to be roses we know but damn we can try our best and make the most of it!





Time to say Goodbye New Zealand and why we have shared our story for others

The time is almost near to end our journey here. Just one sleep until we leave for HOME. Emotions have been running high in the last week and it’s been a hectic time trying to sell up everything, tie up loose ends and create a new life back home. So much has happened in the last 4 months and we have gone through a lot as a family, it feels a little surreal to be going home.

I am still in shock at how my blog post about leaving NZ to go home has gone viral, it’s currently on over 10 000 views and over 1000 shares on FaceBook! My intention was only to explain to our family and friends why we have decided to come home, it seemed much easier to write a blog post than to have to answer everyone individually and so I decided to write the post not knowing it would have such a profound effect on people and resonate with so many. I was inundated with calls, inbox messages, texts and emails from people all over the world, sending us well wishes, messages of support and understanding and most surprising of all quite a few people have said that our story has helped them in their own lives to make a decision to stay or leave. One family read our story and said that it has helped motivate them leave the country they are in and go home where they know they are happy. Another family said that our story has helped them decide to stay in South Africa and make the most of it even though they had a job lined up in another country. Initially the purpose for my post was just to inform everyone of our plans and why, so that we wouldn’t have to keep repeating the story over and over, but since it has gone viral I want to use our story to make a difference. The many people who have shared their stories with me, have touched me and made me see that maybe our story can help so many like us.

I know that telling our story won’t come without consequences, I have realised just how touchy this subject is and how fervent people can be about staying or going and I am not naive or narrow minded enough to think our way is the only way. I understand that everyone is different, I understand that circumstances are different and so everyone’s journeys will be different. There are so many factors involved that influence decisions. If you have money or family when you emigrate that obviously makes it much easier to settle, some people have no family and that helps alot in justifying not coming home or leaving, likewise if you have older kids, it’s not so easy to uproot them and disrupt their lives,  some people spend their life savings to emigrate and for them they cannot afford to go back or justify going back, then you have those who battle to find good jobs back home but in their new countries they have managed to make a life for themselves and so leaving would be going backwards – there are many many reasons for people having to or wanting to make it work. I understand this and I am definitely not implying that everyone who is overseas wants to come home but is too proud or afraid to admit it (which has been implied). What I would like to share is that nothing is impossible and sometimes the things you think are insurmountable are actually quite possible to achieve, if you only believe in yourselves and your abilities. You will never know until you try! The only thing that is important in this life is your happiness and well being and you should never settle for less. Don’t worry about what other people think because it’s not their life and their opinion is just a reflection of their own life not yours. Having tried something new is never a failure, admitting defeat is also not failing, for how will we ever grow and learn if we do not take chances and challenge ourselves. People ask how we can go back to the crime and corruption, how can we put our child in danger and do we have any idea what we are doing and on and on it goes – the damn guilt trips people can lay on you are never ending. Thankfully, we have a huge support system of amazing people who are supportive, encouraging and motivating and they more than make up for the nay-sayers. We are not blind, stupid or naive – we did not just do all of this because we got lucky – we worked hard for it, we made it happen, we used our brains. We know what we are going back to and we know what it means to go back. But for us the pros outweigh the cons and we have plans in place to ensure that our daughter has a safe and secure future as much as we can provide for her. She will always be our first priority. What this journey has taught us is that nothing is for sure and things can change instantly – always be READY! The world is no longer scary, we can try it again somewhere else if we are FORCED to but hopefully it will not come to that, we WANT to be home, we want to be with family, friends and live in our homeland. For now, it’s the right thing to do and hopefully it will not change 🙂 I hope every day that South Africa will one day grow to her full potential but sitting from afar not helping won’t get her there any faster.

I have been accused of generalising that all ex pats are secretly miserable and want to come home, I’ve been accused of doing a disservice to my child and ourselves and I understand that there are very many opinions on the topic of emigrating, staying and returning home, but this is our story, no one else’s and it works for us, but it may not work for others. Hearing our story may help you realise that emigrating is not easy or for everyone but that shouldn’t deter you from trying yourself, if that’s what you really want. Your story is your own and your journey will be different. This has been the greatest lesson for us and we have absolutely no regrets. New Zealand has taught us so much about ourselves and about life, it’s been invaluable. I would suggest that perhaps instead of giving everything up and coming over blind, that people do come over for a holiday and check it out first and have a ‘look see’ for perhaps 3 weeks, it will give you an idea of what it’s like and you can better make the decision. Losing your life savings and having to sell all your belongings TWICE is not fun I assure you! lol My stress levels are atmospheric!

We have also been told that we should have stuck it out and that 4 months is too soon to know that New Zealand isn’t for us. How people who don’t know us presume to know what is right for us is beyond me, but I understand that people who have been in New Zealand for a few years or many years do know how we feel and that they have been through this. The difference is is that they chose to weather the misery and they felt in their hearts that it was worth it in the end, which is of course their prerogative and kudos to them because it takes great character, strength and determination to do so. It’s easier for some than others though. For us, we tried the south and we tried the north, 2 months each, and yes it’s not a lot of time, of course it isn’t but how else can we explain other than to say that New Zealand is JUST NOT FOR US. She is beautiful, she is amazing and she has treated us incredibly and we are grateful but it’s time to be thankful and leave with gratitude in our hearts before resentment sets in. We know in our souls that we will not be happy here, we know that our hearts will never belong, we know that we will ALWAYS belong to our motherland and we don’t see the point in denying it if we don’t have to. Why force ourselves to stay somewhere that doesn’t feel right, why go through misery for years until it becomes ‘familiar’ and we have no choice but to adopt our new home. We don’t have to, there is no rule book that says we should. To stay and push through until familiarity sets in will mean sacrificing things that are important to us. Family, friends, work that makes us happy, lifestyle and happiness! It’s our choice and whilst so many don’t understand why we are doing this, it’s not for them to understand, it’s only for them to respect our choices just as we respect theirs.

And yes it seems we are justifying ourselves YET AGAIN lol, but it’s not about that, it’s about helping those who don’t understand or agree to try to see our point of view and for them to really understand our reasons for leaving because that will go a long way in being supportive of anyone else going through the same thing – I want to help change this perception that going home is WRONG. It’s not wrong, it’s a personal choice and people have different reasons for wanting to go home – don’t take it upon yourself to make them feel guilty, it’s not your place. Be supportive and be understanding 🙂 Also for those at home who have never done what we have done, don’t be so quick to say “You see the grass isn’t greener on the other side!” – how will you know if YOU haven’t tried? Being smug is quite unsupportive as well you know.

We want our story to help those who are unsure, those who are scared, those who are homesick and those who are afraid of what others will say. Follow your heart and always know that the biggest challenges give us the biggest lessons. Do what you must but stay true to yourselves ❤

See you soon SA people! Tell the world we are coming home xoxo

 

Our NZ adventure is coming to an end

All our boxes are packed to be collected tomorrow! Just 15 this time not 70 like when we arrived 😂 Jirre this hoarder just sold her soul 😁 almost all the household stuff sold except the bloody fridges and then we clean up the house for inspection so we can get our bond back. Wednesday we are off on the blerry long haul flight from Auckland to Dubai and then to Durbs. 17 hour flight  just to Dubai with a 5 hour stop over. eeeek…. And we arrive Thursday late afternoon.

My darling Mommy will fetch us and we will be staying at the folks in Ballito for a week or so while we get over our jet lag. WE CANNOT WAIT!! Beach, family, fun and food – just the way we like it.

Mama Afrika is calling her children home and we are hearing her call. Her whispers of “There’s no place like home” are echoing in our ears. To say we are excited is an understatement! We have so much to look forward to 💛 I’m going to kiss the ground when we land, just thinking about it makes me get teary!

Ashley reckons we are hitting the Spur for a brekkie, KFC for a lunch and John Dorys for Supper all in one day 😂 I won’t argue with that.

Just to get through the next few days of absolute stress and fatigue and we will be home free LITERALLY 💛

What our journey to New Zealand has taught us

Phew, so I dropped the bomb 2 days ago that we are going home to South Africa. After just 4 months (feels like 4 years!), we decided to call it quits, pack up AGAIN and head to our motherland that we clearly cannot let go. I was expecting some judgement because we all know the state of South Africa and all the shit that’s happening there, but the response has been truly overwhelming – in a great way. The entire reason why we moved here anyway was because we thought New Zealand was the answer to a brighter and better future for our daughter Lilliana; so coming back gives the impression that we aren’t taking her future into consideration. But that of course isn’t true and I have explained that in my previous blog. We know exactly what we are coming back to, we know what we are up against and we know what we need to do to ensure our precious child has the best future she can in South Africa. We are coming back prepared and ready to make the most of the very many opportunities home has. You don’t realise how much SA has to offer until you leave and those opportunities suddenly become completely apparent! We are choosing to see the good, to embrace the things that our country has to offer and to make the absolute best of it. There are no alternatives for us right now.

This journey has been a real eye-opener in more ways than one. We have learnt that as a family we can do anything. We are survivors and we are a great team and as long as we are together we can withstand the storms of life. We have had to be brave, resilient, strong, adaptable and most of all humble. In the tough times we leant on one another, we shared the pain, the heartache and yes some amazing achievements and accomplishments. We realised that there are no hard and fast rules to life and that following your heart is the only way to be happy. What’s here today can change tomorrow and you know what? That’s okay! We’ve managed 3 moves in 6 months across countries and islands. We’ve survived.

Something that we have come to realise throughout this journey is that you don’t have to accept where you are in life, you are free to make your own path however that looks to the outside world. It’s not their journey, it’s ours and we will never be ashamed, embarrassed or have regrets for any decisions we make based on our little family’s happiness. We are living, we are taking chances and we are making the most out of every situation we are in.

Over the last few days we have received an incredible response to our decision to return home. So many people that we hardly even know have welcomed us back with open arms and wished us well. The encouragement has been so comforting and knowing that we have such an amazing support system back home is making the decision easier to accept. It wasn’t an easy decision to make I can assure you. It’s not easy to admit that you’ve spent a crapload of cash just to have a 4 month holiday  lol. It’s definitely not a walk in the park to have to sell up and return home with nothing! It’s also really hard to hear the voices of reason try to dissuade you from making a “mistake we will regret”, because you start to question your decision when the guilt trips start. But then we take a step back and we remember our new WHY, just like we did when we felt miserable here – we tried to remember WHY we moved. Sadly eventually the WHY just didn’t make sense to us anymore and the WHY didn’t become as important as being home with family, friends, our animals and the lifestyle we love so much. For some the WHY is all important and all consuming and they do not want to even contemplate a life without the WHY in it and that’s okay because right now the WHY is important to us too BUT if there is one thing I have realised is that the world is small, opportunities are many if you look for them and things can change. So once we get home, our WHY is going to disappear. We don’t need a WHY and we don’t need to justify to ourselves why we are going home. We just are. Next year we could be in a different space and decide to create another new future, who knows what the future holds. There are no expectations, we are living in the NOW.

I encourage anyone wanting to make a brave step into an unknown future that it’s okay to do so! It’s courageous to forge new paths and conquer your demons. There really are no rules and only your happiness and your best interests for yourselves and your family are what is important. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone by leaving or by staying. Emigrating to New Zealand was the absolute best thing we could have ever done for ourselves. The lessons we have learnt have been invaluable, we have no regrets and we would never encourage anyone not to try it. Each person and each family is unique and will experience the journey differently, do not take our account as your truth, because it is ours alone. Do not fear the unknown because the unknown is what teaches us to be courageous. Never be afraid to take a risk to make your life better!

All I ask is that you never settle for less than what makes you happy. Our MOST valuable lesson of all 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye New Zealand. Hello Home.

Well, let’s get to it and just drop this bomb while it’s hot. WE ARE COMING HOME. (and no not with our tails between our legs either) Surprised? Shocked? In horror? I’m sure many of you will feel or think many different things depending on your relationship with us or your feelings about emigration and your own experience (if you have one). So let me remind you that none of you have walked in our specific shoes and none of you can confidently say you completely understand our position. And yes I am sounding defensive straight out of the starting gates as I have a good idea of the backlash from our decision and before anyone can think it’s okay to judge I want them to understand first.

Let’s get some perspective on this entire journey.

For 4 years Ashley and I have been umming and aahing about emigrating because of the state of South Africa. He was hijacked in his fire station a few years back and had guns to his face so that kind of pushed us into the flee mode. We were planning on Australia and twice we tried to submit paperwork but it just never transpired, we couldn’t seem to do it. We decided on Australia as Ashley could easily get a job as a fire fighter there which is what he has always done. Anyway, things calmed down for awhile and we kind of just carried on with life. Then Ashley’s best friend got a job in New Zealand and with all the universities burning down and the crime escalating again, we made an impulsive decision to try and follow to New Zealand, not realising how quickly things would work out for us and not even having a moment to think about it truthfully. I literally sent out my CV on the Sunday (which is the day we decided to just have a go at seeing if we could get jobs) and got a reply on Monday and by Thursday I was offered a job! LITERALLY no time at all to even think about it for 2 seconds and me being the way I am I said to Ashley well it’s clearly meant to be or it wouldn’t have happened, let’s go with it and see where it takes us! An opportunity like this doesn’t come around that often or ever if you hear other people’s desperate stories to get out of SA. We weren’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The next few weeks were a frantic blur of getting birth certificates done, police clearance, submitting documents and doing medicals etc etc. SO frantic and so rushed that again we didn’t really have a chance to second guess or question, we just went with it. But to be honest, I think we would have only perhaps changed our minds if we had had a few months to think about it. We had been talking about it for so long that it seemed a blessing and we jumped at the chance.

Anyway most of you know the rest of the story and if you don’t then go back into my blog to read it. We gave up our jobs, our lives, our friends, family and animals and jumped on a plane to Christchurch, New Zealand. For the first few weeks, it was exciting and amazing to be in this new country that we felt so privileged to be in because you read so many stories of people desperate to come here and to get the opportunity that we had, that we couldn’t have felt anything other than sheer fortune at our luck. After all of our stuff arrived and the honeymoon period started wearing off, we looked around us with open eyes for the first time and realised that Christchurch wasn’t for us. Ashley got a job working in a joinery place and he found it extremely difficult to integrate with the local people and being treated like a lackey as well as the difficult hours he had to work. Our home and family life suffered terribly and when he was retrenched we actually breathed a sigh of relief. While we were there we made the most of it, we tried to make it home, we made friends, we explored and we did what we could to make it feel like we belonged.But inside we weren’t happy and we knew that it wasn’t the place for us as it was so vastly different from home. Some familiarity in your environment can go a long way to make you feel more comfortable. Our friends who inspired us to move to NZ in the first place were also living in another area and we figured maybe it would be better to move near them to have people around who are like family and also the area they lived in was much more similar to our home in Waterfall. Green, lush and warmer! Christchurch’s cold was never going to be something we could get used to unfortunately, coming from Durban.

So with much anxiety, trepidation (we hadn’t even seen the place! another blind move) and gusto we made the cross island trek to a new area to try to start again (second time in 2 months). To say we were stressed, anxious and afraid yet excited was an understatement. We also got judged for leaving Christchurch and not giving it a proper go, but we took it in our stride and moved on. You can’t say the Diedericks family aren’t risk takers or scared of a challenge!

And so we arrived in the gorgeous hilly, green and much warmer Tauranga in the north island. Once again things happened very smoothly and we found a lovely house in a sought after beautiful area in just a few days. We got Lilli into a private school less than 1km away and Ashley even got work again with a joinery place and with better hours. But history repeated itself and Ashley again was treated like a lackey and battled to integrate and yet again we had a miserable husband and Dad and then he was retrenched due to them having not enough work for him to do. Luckily I earned enough to cover all our expenses and we decided that he needs to start his own business and be home based so that we can have some sense of normality in our home environment. Bearing in mind that I have always worked from home and Ashley has been a firefighter working 2 day shifts, 2 night shifts and 4 days off, so we have been used to him being at home with us for most of the day and Lill has had her Daddy with her since she was born, this was a huge adjustment when he went to work 8 hours a day every day. Both Lill and I battled not having him with us and so when he was retrenched again, everything went back to ‘normal’ and we were happy again. But then came the extreme challenge of what business to start. We both researched and discussed, priced things and researched more only to find that the things that Ashley knew were not feasible here. It’s too long to go into but pretty soon it became hopeless that he would be able to start a successful business. I also forgot to mention that getting into the Fire Dept is next to impossible and whilst he made it through the various rigorous rounds to get in and is in fact in the talent pool for a job and extremely lucky to even be in it, the chances of getting a job are virtually impossible. Basically, someone has to die or retire first for a spot to open. How do you tell a man that his qualifications, experience and achievements mean absolutely nothing in this country when he has worked so damn hard for them? How do you tell a man that he isn’t a failure for not wanting to do work that doesn’t make him happy? My beautiful strong and amazing husband’s whole life was wiped out and to him, it was as if his years in South Africa were meaningless and irrelevant. Not something that we felt is worth the sacrifice either.

So through all of this, we have been feeling very homesick, very lonely without our network of many friends and family from home and very anxious about our future here. Yes, we have been trying to make the most of it, trying to stay positive, trying to show a good and happy front because that’s what we have needed to do and believe just to survive here. There was no way that we could even entertain the idea of going home or that we weren’t happy. We couldn’t admit it to ourselves for we expended so much energy and spent so much money and took such a huge risk coming here that it wasn’t an option. We thought that we had to make it work or else we have failed. We felt like there was a point to prove that we could do this because we said we were going to and because we had to justify leaving in the first place. We shared posts about South Africa’s turmoils in a bid to convince ourselves that the reasons why we left were good enough reasons to stay. And yes most of them are very good reasons to stay and stick it out and suck it up. But when you see your child starting to lose her accent and refusing to speak to family because it hurts her too much and you realise that she will grow up without any family whatsoever and that she will have no support system here and that she will become a Kiwi and never know what it is to be South African, she will never understand what it is to be South African and she will never relate to our heritage and history – you wonder if it is all going to be worth it down the line. Ultimately we will never belong together because she will not share what we have. She will belong in a place that we never will. And that was the intention but when we realised that for us to belong too, it meant giving up and letting go of everything that made us who we are, we just couldn’t face that ultimate sacrifice. Losing your home is one thing but losing your identity to fit in is not something we are prepared to do and to fit in here, that’s what needs to be done.  And maybe we are wrong but I don’t want to risk finding out. We have seen many South Africans flourish and settle in New Zealand and we are happy for them that have been able to make the adjustment to living here and that they have made a life for themselves. Kudos – because it takes immense sacrifice, dedication and strength. But we are not them and we have a different path to walk. Those people who emigrate with their families or who have a lot of money will always settle easier and will have a different experience to those who go over alone or who have to watch their pennies.

New Zealand is also very far and very expensive to get to. Visits home would be few and far between and visits from relatives and friends almost non-existent. Christmas would be spent alone and birthdays would have no family to share them with. A few of our family members we may never have seen again.

When we finally decided to put it out on the table how we both truly felt and we actually stopped being afraid to ADMIT to each other and to ourselves how we felt, we were able to see that this whole time we have been trying to hide how we feel and have been making the best of it because we both wouldn’t dare think that going home was possible after all it took to get here and how short we’ve been here. We also thought that admitting it was admitting failure. Failure to ourselves and failure to give our daughter the future that we thought she needed.

But upon actually discussing the pros and cons and admitting our true feelings about how we felt about living here, we realised that there was only one solution, one solution to us all being happy. We opened up to the possibility of going home and we sat down and really spoke about it. We called family and friends and asked what they thought, we weighed up everything. Have we given it enough time? Do we want to stay just to prove a point? What would that help? If we know in our hearts that we won’t be happy here and we aren’t happy for the sacrifices we have to make to be here, is it fair to us or Lilli to stay? How will we feel when people judge us for leaving? How will we handle the judgement along with this anxiety of what needs to be done to go home? Will we regret our decision when we are home? How will we ensure our daughter’s future is safe and bright (the whole reason we brought her here!) Some questions we don’t have answers to and some questions we do.

What we do know is that we took a huge risk in coming here. The unknown. We took a scary chance on a new life and we expected it to be everything we needed. It took coming to New Zealand for us to finally realise and appreciate what we have in South Africa. We can see opportunities now that we never did before. We are freed from the burden of “What if”, we have come, we have seen, we have tried as hard as WE can and we have the guts to admit that we cannot do it. We are not failures, we are not quitters. We are explorers, we are adventurers and we are writing our own future for ourselves come what may. We do not need the approval of anyone for OUR lives and we will continue to do what we can to ensure our daughter has a great future, wherever we may be. But for her to have a truly great future and be happy, her family unit needs to be strong and happy too and she needs her family around her, and that’s what we are giving her and us. The freedom to be ourselves and to live not just survive.

We feel that instead of pushing it out any longer, we should just count our blessings, cut our losses and come home. If you know, you know. There is no point prolonging the agony, getting our child into a happy routine with family and friends is our most important goal now. And so it begins! The THIRD time we have to do this in 6 months. Our souls are tired and our hearts are anxious but at least we know what is in store and we have done this before. We ask for support, not condemnation because this has been the most difficult decision we have ever made. We need understanding that our journey is not yours or anyone else’s and that our path is taking us where we are meant to go. We trust our decision and we ask our family and friends to as well.

We have tried always to do what’s best for our family and for us and we will continue to do so. Going home is our new adventure and we are excited to use our newfound wisdom to create a better life for ourselves in a land that we love despite her problems. We will endure, we will strive to help make our country great again and we will stick it out because our hearts belong in South Africa with our tribe. It took coming this far to realise this and we won’t waste the lessons we have learnt. We look forward to starting over with a better perspective, an open attitude and a clear conscience.

Get the braai’s fired up, the drinks cold, the biltong out and warn the Spur and John Dory’s that we are on our way lol

See you soon xoxo

Please feel free to read my follow on from this – https://diedericksadventure.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/time-to-say-goodbye-new-zealand/

 

 

 

And we’re off again…wait? what?!

Yes it’s true we have JUST immigrated from the other side of the world and we have decided to uproot  all over again a mere 5 weeks later! What I have heard so far…. “You must be mad!”, “Are you nuts?”, “Why are you leaving Christchurch, it’s so nice here!”,  “Ah you haven’t given it enough time”, “Wait til Summer comes”

My reply: “Pffffffffft we are moving because I just LOVE packing boxes and moving 900 odd kms to another place I have never seen, and I’m sure Lilli will enjoy settling into a new school AGAIN and saying goodbye to her friends again and yes of course I LOVE having to find another new house to call home and especially finding one that is pet friendly for two dogs and one cat. Oh and because I really cannot wait to do the 14 hour drive with a dog and cat and a 4 year old. LOL.  Wow I really think I will miss scraping ice off of my face every time I go outside in what has been called one of Canterbury’s ‘mildest’ winters, I also reckon that work mustn’t take priority and of course my family’s happiness isn’t relevant plus I really enjoy the stress y’know.”

Many strangers have even asked me WHY WHY WHY as if I am some kind of traitor because I am leaving to go up North… phew… this all seems familiar? Hmmm I am sure we just went through this when we left SA? Seems like when you decide to leave a place, people feel resentful as your leaving appears to be some kind of insult or desertion to them? We came, we saw and we are now off to greener pastures for us as a family. It has nothing to do with the town or the people. We have appreciated every experience we have had here and we have learnt so much. What I have heard from many other ex pats, is that you will move and move and move until you find YOUR spot. I’m okay with that.

So be it. We didn’t leave everything and everyone we love just to travel to the end of the earth to be only half happy. We came here to forge a new exciting and amazing life for us as a family. I am of course hoping that Tauranga in the North island is ‘our’ spot but heck if it’s not then who knows where this journey will take us. For us the biggest draws for moving there is the fact that our close friends from home live there and they are 3/4 of the reason why we moved here anyway (1/4 was us planning to emigrate SOMETIME!) and of course the subtropical climate!!! Straight from a tourism website: “Tauranga is New Zealand’s fifth largest city and home to an estimated 125,000 people. Our city sits right on the water’s edge and is well-known for its blue skies, warm climate, sparkling harbour and relaxed lifestyle.” 

tauranga-187957

UM YES PLEASE and THANK YOU and how similar (of course not quite the same and certainly cooler) does that sound (and look even better than) to good ol’ Durbs? What anyone who ISN’T from KZN will fail to realise is that us Durbanites are blessed with the most gorgeous climate and warm temperatures all year round and so it’s in our blood, it’s what we are used to, if we don’t get some of that we might just frizzle up and die – seriaas, it’s that important to this outdoor nature loving, sun seeking family. We spend our lives in the pool, jacuzzi and on the beach – we cannot comprehend snow skiing and snow boarding as alternate activities. We aren’t used to below ZERO (only happened a few times thankfully!) or even zero actually and definitely not frost or making fires inside every night or sleeping with electric blankets and thermal socks – for that we usually go to the Berg to get our little cold fix and come home. We also aren’t used to such dry air that it makes your nose bleed (had another nose bleed today) and your face crack from lack of moisture (clearly I maybe need to moisturise more!) ha ha! It’s just not for us but hey it’s been a journey and we have still enjoyed it. But we need to find somewhere that sort of kind of reminds us of home even if it’s not as warm.

We are a slops and t-shirts family, we will never survive here long term. And not because it isn’t beautiful, or welcoming or that the people aren’t awesome – we’ve met amazing people who we will be sad to leave. We will also miss the incredible snow capped mountains that we see every day from our windows and the gorgeous endless green fields with cows, sheep and horses. But it’s just not the right place for us. It doesn’t feel like a place we can settle and call home forever.

We have an opportunity to move to a place that better suits us as a family, where ultimately we can settle and REALLY make New Zealand our home and so it would be silly not to jump at the chance. And that is just what we are doing! Excitement abounds in the Diedericks house, the re packing has started much to Ashley’s chagrin lol – he is SO over it ha ha ha! Lill is thrilled to be moving close to some family (Beachball, Sam and Danny are family to us like only good friends can be); Ash cannot wait to be with his bestie and enjoy a braai with shorts on! Me: I just can’t wait to see my little family happy, at ease and comfy and settling into a new life in a beautiful place. Tauranga we cannot wait to meet you and we hope that you make all of our dreams come true 🙂 But we must say thank you Christchurch for all you have given us so far that has helped us to find our new exciting future ❤

 

 

This is NZ…. So far

Ok since I haven’t written in like two weeks I have a lot to say – all of a sudden! Having never been to New Zealand before – this was our first time here; the day we arrived as residents. The culture shock is not sudden, it’s more of a slow awakening of differences. The shops have much of the same kind of stuff and many have SA favourites such as Creme Soda, Aromat, Mrs Balls, fish paste, Ouma’s rusks, rooibos tea, pronutro and and and… For a price 😏 Plus there are always SA shops who import a lot more goodies from home! When I found a huge bag of Niknaks with 50 packets inside for $10 I bought it even though I wasn’t yet LUS for them – I think just the comfort of having stuff from home in my pantry was the deciding factor lol. I also have Mrs Balls (haven’t used chutney in years 😂), Aromat, mielie meal (I CANNOT make pap so Ja who knows what that’s about) and fish paste (which I can’t live without). 

Needless to say I feel quite at home in my pantry with some of the SA staples. But some things you just cannot compare! This is my observation so far – I may be wrong but I have been to three local stores – Pak n Save, Countdown and New World. Meat tastes different, milk tastes less creamy (maybe I need to try them all😂), Veges are ginormous, there are aisles and aisles of chips and sweets – called lollies here (not good for my expanding backside!), the chocolate comes in dream slabs of gigantic proportions and tastes like heaven! Cadbury, Beacon and Nestle can suck it back home – they’re amateurs. The ice cream is OUT OF THIS WORLD and cheap as! There are fifty five million types of bread (ok I exaggerate – at least 20!), the spice range is kak – you just don’t get ranges like Robertsons or Ina Parmann. There is no mayonnaise like Crosse and Blackwell! Ugh. The wine range is incredible but don’t be trying to find a variety of sweet wine because your sweet reds, roses and whites are like finding a needle in a haystack! Wine is cheapish and really good as are the beers! Wide variety to choose from and all from your local supermarket 😁 Going to the shops is an experience – the variety on some things is just mind blowing! 

Aside from that my best is getting to the till at the local Mitre 10 (like Mica) and the sweet blonde oke greets me with an Afrikaans accent! Then I go to the pet shop and the lady at the counter is from Pretoria lol. (All in one day I tell you!) These little events really help to create some sort of familiarity. Awesome little surprises to pep you up when you miss home. 

But one of the best parts of this journey is all the amazing people you meet! Your new colleagues that love your accent and are so sweet and kind, your new Aussie neighbours who have the cutest dog and are coming to your braai on Saturday, your across the across the way neighbours who you’ve had coffee with and who are also coming to your braai, your incredible friends who helped you find a home and helped you settle in when you arrived, the lady at the till who asks where you are from and has a lovely convo with you about all things weird and wonderful, the man from Sky Tv who installed your satellite who was so fast and efficient and the list goes on! Kiwis are kind, cheerful and always happy to help. Welcoming in every way, this helps a lot when coming to a strange place to start a new life!

There is much much more to say but I have an awesome job to get to in the morning and so I must say goodnight (most of my family and friends are busy with lunch at the moment!) this ceases to be confusing and weird after a few weeks lol 

Adieu! Until I write again☺️

Phew where have I been…

So it’s been a month since we’ve arrived in New Zealand. A month of changes, adapting, fitting in and being resourceful. A month of settling in, growing accustomed to a new area, new people, new food, new weather and new experiences. In short it’s been exhausting! Setting up house, starting new jobs and schools and meeting new friends has been all very exciting but soon normal life must resume and the novelty must wear off. It’s once this novelty starts wearing off that the first tiny pangs of homesickness start. Nothing major, nothing specific and nothing you can pinpoint. For me it’s familiarity. Your furniture and belongings may be here, your family may be with you, you may have some awesome SA friends but everything else is different. People speak differently, people work differently, people socialise differently. There is much to get used to and while you are busy acclimitising to your new life you have no time to miss home or family and friends. But once things start calming down, the little twinges appear. I reckon FaceBook has a lot to do with that! Seeing posts of home and of family and friends can be a double edged sword….even if you are completely confident and happy in your decision to emigrate and you KNOW why you had to and you know in your heart it was the absolute best decision for your family – the doubts, the “what ifs” and the FOMO start appearing once you start settling in. It’s only natural and understanding that goes a long way to dealing with it. 

South Africa is my mother land. She is in my blood and she has made me who I am and many may think I have abandoned her and they can think whatever makes them happy, but I know why I had to leave, I know why I had to make the sacrifice of leaving my family, friends, history and culture behind and as long as my reasons remain faithfully firm in my heart and as long as I continue to be grateful for my very many blessings; then I can only remain in a happy space. 

I know it will get hard, I know it will get heart wrenchingly difficult to think about my homeland and not shed a tear. I know there will be days when I will pine and my heart will be so heavy that I feel it may never be light again. I am not naive and nor am I so detached that I wouldn’t feel the enormity of the loss of my home of birth. But choices have been made, futures have been sown and so our path has been destined. We will through good times and through bad, remain grateful for the opportunities we have been given. For the blessings we have been bestowed and for the chance at securing a better future for our daughter. SHE is the reason we are here and for her we will ensure that we make the most of every single moment in our new homeland. 

New Zealand is a new paradise to explore, a new adventure to go on, a beauty to behold and a new friend to make. She may not ever be our mother land but she will be a mighty fine step mother 😉 I will always be grateful to her for taking us into her bosom and giving us a chance 💛

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