Monday, 9 March 2009

Homesickness

Homesickness is a funny thing. Most of the time I don’t particularly feel it and although I miss family and friends, I feel reasonably in touch with people to avoid anything too bad. I haven’t found myself particularly craving haggis or Irn Bru or feeling the need to wrap myself in a Saltire or anything like that. And I’m really enjoying lots of things about being here. But I think one of the really hard things about being away from home is that it’s really quite hard to feel at home in a different place. Other times I’ve been away, I’ve been away for shortish periods of time where by the time the initial excitement and ‘wow isn’t this so different and amazing’ phase wears off, it’s almost time to go home again. Here, because we’re here for a few years, it’s inevitable that we’re reaching the ‘settling into life in a new country’ phase and bizarrely instead of feeling more at home here, I feel less so. It’s something to do with not having shared history, shared culture, shared sense of identity, shared values. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’ve definitely noticed over the past couple of months that I’m getting increasingly irritated by the “Aussie way of life” (shallow, superficial, individualistic, arrogant, unconcerned with social justice) What was mildly amusing when we first got here is actually getting me down a bit because I feel like I don’t fit in and I’m having an increasing number of moments where I find myself really missing the way of life in the UK (at which point I try to rub off the rose tint on my glasses!!!). Someone told me once that the average length of time people who’ve emigrated here permanently actually stay for is only 2 years. I was shocked and amazed by that at the time, but now, to be honest, I really understand why. It could be a Sydney thing rather than an Australia thing mind you – as whenever I’m in Melbourne I feel very at home. Maybe we should have moved there after all!!

2 comments:

Paul said...

Hi Em

Hope you're homesickness doesn't persist too long.

I was wondering whether one of the consequences of the 'good life' (i.e., beaches, sunshine etc) is that it leads to a sort of rose-tinted view of the world. This reminds me of our conversation in London regarding happiness and the way that can bias people's views (i.e., happy people pay less attention to suffering and injustice), and how a reasonable or accurate view of the actual state of the world often follows what these days would be classified as mild depression (i.e., so called 'depressive realism').

It's been said many times before but attempting to do good doesn't seem to be coterminous with happiness, which is probably a challenge to those who believe happiness is the most important thing. On the other hand, perhaps it's a challenge to those who believe attempting to do good is the most important thing.

Anyway, I shall stop ruminating!

Speak soon, Paul

CBQ said...

I agree with Paul, Emma. Maybe you're inadvertantly equating happiness with shallowness.

If people are happy, as Paul says, they're less likely to notice unhappy people around them.

That doesn't make them shallow - they're just enjoying being happy.

Happy doesn't mean caring.

But depression also doesn't mean not caring

And vice versa

erm, I'll get my coat...