Leaving home for Greener Pastures

greener pastures
I know I said I’d keep my blog “light, fun and superficial’ but just for today, you’ll have to excuse me for straying from my initial statement. I’d really like to touch on the topic of homesickness and the decision to leave your home country in the pursuit of greener pastures.

I can only speak for myself and my own experience so this is by no means a generalisation. I have left home- Mauritius, six years ago to move to Sydney. Thousands of people across the world, make that decision to move to Australia and I can absolutely understand why– Australia is a great country, Sydney is an amazingly beautiful city and above all, Australia is the land of opportunities for many.

However, the journey to become an ‘Aussie’ isn’t a smooth one. In fact, to say the journey is bloody hard would be an understatement.

What hits you first, is the homesickness. I moved to Sydney 6 years ago. SIX. And my homesickness has still not gone away. They are less frequent, I’ll give you that and I have learned throughout the years how to deal with homesickness so I don’t necessarily cry myself to sleep at night. But it’s still a tough one especially on occasions like Christmas, NYE, your birthday, Easter etc. I thought the longer I’d be in Australia, the more I’d get used to it and stop missing my family so much. But that’s a lie I’ve been telling myself in the hope of training my own brain to accept the fact that we’re so far apart now.

There is this widespread misconception from a lot of Mauritians that life in Australia is all rosy. I’m not saying it’s not, all I’m saying is that Mauritians tend to have a skewed view of what life is really like when you’re living and working overseas. There is this assumption that moving overseas means reaching some level of success you wouldn’t have been able to reach if you had chosen to stay in your home country. Now define success? Is it earning more money? Is it accumulating material possessions? Is it just the status of being a ‘little’ Mauritian now living in a big country? How do you define success?

My interpretation of the word ‘success’ has changed dramatically in the last six years. To me success means living your life to its full potential, surrounding yourself with people you love and who love you and be happy. Period. So by my standards, many Mauritians who are still in Mauritius, close to their loved ones, who have a good life with a good job and have an enriching social life with real friends are far more successful than me for example. When I talk/chat to many Mauritians who have left for ‘greener pastures’ they often talk about success relating to how much money they’re making, how they can afford to buy a car now and amass material possessions that they wouldn’t have been able to afford back home. And I fully respect what ‘success’ looks like for them and if they feel they have achieved that in another country, good on them. But they are the only ones to know what’s the price they are paying to get all of that.

With the uptake of social media networks like Facebook, there is a culture of over-sharing; we share where we are, what we’re eating, what we’re doing, our ‘silent’ thoughts etc. But don’t forget that people also choose what to disclose and what NOT to disclose. On Facebook you’ll see all the partying, the beautiful scenery, the brand new car, the house, the shopping, the events, the fancy restaurants, the travel, etc but that’s only one side of the coin.

The other side that you don’t get to see include all the tears as a result of feeling so lonely without your family and closest friends, all the sweat from slaving yourself off at work to make ends meet, when weekends aren’t weekends anymore because you have to work, all the emotional and financial stress of going through the Permanent Residency applications, the struggle to find a job as an international student or as an immigrant, the long commuting hours, the constant tiredness and yet the omnipresent pressure of having to make the move ‘worthwhile’ and be ‘successful’.

I am in a good place right now with a full time job I’m passionate about and I guess I’m all settled as far as my residency in Australia goes, but it hasn’t always been the case. As I mentioned before, I’m only speaking for myself, I know many others have had it a lot harder than me and there are others who were lucky enough to have it much easier. But as far as I’m concerned, there was a time where I had to work 7 days a week for 6 months straight. Monday to Friday I was a full time unpaid intern working for free and during the weekends I had my retail job that helped me pay my rent and get some money for food and transport. It wasn’t easy but I knew I had to give it my all and sacrifice to get into the PR industry. I would have earned a lot more money working full time in my retail job but to me it wasn’t about the money. I was determined to work in the field I’m passionate about whether it was in Sydney or back home. But it was also out of respect for my parents who have sacrificed so much paying all my uni fees for both my undergrad and my postgrad degrees. I had to honour that. If I had chosen to stay in retail after everything they’ve done for me, it meant all their sacrifices would have been for nothing and I would never have been able to live with that.

For a good year, I was working 6 days a week just to get enough money to pay my immigration agent and pay for my visas to be able to legally stay here. I was basically just working and saving most of my pay. It was a massive deal for me because it meant I couldn’t reward myself for working so hard – no splurges, no retail therapy, no pampering, no travel, NOTHING. Altogether to get all my visas sorted, I easily spent over $8,000! I was adamant to pay for it myself and not take more money from my parents as I felt they’d done more than enough for me.

The reason I’ve decided to share my experience is to give Mauritians and others who want to come out here an overall picture of what it’s really like. It’s tough. You need to be patient, be prepared to work the hardest you’ve probably ever worked in your entire life, put aside your ego and have realistic expectations.

“The grass is greener where you water it”. Here you’ll be watering your grass with tears and sweat. But in the end, it’ll be worth it…in a way. Even when you get to that good place, the homesickness will never truly leave you and that’s something you need to consider in your decision process whether to move here or not.

Mauritius is getting worse and worse with the corruption, the bad economy etc but I strongly believe you can still love your country without liking your government. Don’t let the government be the only reason why you want to leave your country because there’s no place like home. While the travel, the experience of living and working overseas, the experience of a new culture etc are all exciting and truly amazing, there’s still no place like home…

~C

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8 Comments

  1. Marie-Anne Lane

     /  June 18, 2013

    I truly understand where you are coming from Caroline. I was born in mauritius and came to sydney in 1968 with my parents and siblings. now us kids were very young, my sister was 10, brother 8 and me 7yrs old. We quickly settled living in campsie close to my aunt and uncle who helped us fit in. Let me tell you , i remember seeing my mother cry from homesickness everyday and it use to uspet me seeing her like that.I still see mum crying for her mother and family. it was hard and yes she felt going back home lots and lots of times.But she stayed for the sake of us kids. we started school and they found work and to this day though they are not with us anymore RIP mum and dad, and have even gone back to mauritius many times to visit all our family, iam still connected to my homeland in someway, but a true blue aussie all the way. i love australia and i think of mauritus everyday because that is the beautiful island where i was born 51 yrs ago:-)))

    Reply
    • Hi Marie-Anne thank you so much for your comment. It’s very refreshing to see how settled you are now. Many Mauritian parents have done so many sacrifices to move here so their children can have a better future; just like your parents did for you and your siblings. Xx

      Reply
  2. Dancin' Agni

     /  June 22, 2013

    Merci pour ce partage ! Je n’avais jamais entendu ça “The grass is greener where you water it.” Je crois que c’est ça la réalité et c’est bien dit. At the end of the day, you are the one making it greener. The place in itself doen’t hold any greenpower 😉
    C’est une question qu’on m’a souvent posé : pourquoi tu es rentrée ? La réponse toute simple “J’aime mon pays” ne semble pas suffisante pour certains. Il y a quelques semaines, au fond du gouffre, je me suis moi-même reposée la question “Mais p.tain, pourquoi t’es rentrée???” et après réflexion, la réponse est toujours “parce que j’aime mon pays!”. Le prix est lourd, très lourd en ce moment, mais pour l’instant, je garde la foi en une île meilleure. Aussi, parce que moi aussi pendant de longues années j’ai été loin d’ici, et pour l’instant …I still believe my grass can become green again here.

    Dancin’ Agni 😉

    Reply
  3. Mimie

     /  July 3, 2013

    Franchement hats off pr ton post! I have to explain 20 times a week to all mauritians I meet here why I would like to go back one day…they really do not get the ““The grass is greener where you water it”. J’aime mon pays et je n’ai rien de plus a dire mais personne ne semble comprendre…je n’ai qu’une chose en tete, terminer mes etudes, economizer des sous et rentrer au paradis ❤

    Reply
    • Hi Mimie, merci pour ton comment. I love Australia but it’s the homesickness and the fact that it’s not home that makes it hard at times. I don’t regret coming here but eventually I will go back as well. Good luck with everything doll xx

      Reply
  4. lee yelynkha

     /  August 10, 2013

    Hi Caroline, Thanks for sharing ur own story and experience with us. Through your case which it reminds me of my own journey to Sydney. I left New Zealand and came here since early 2000 and time flies really quick. I have been watering my own piece of grass land with sweat and tears in every single day. Even there is no visa requirement for us kiwis to be at Australia however we could still sense the homesickness everyday. I work hard and smart, til few yrs ago i’ve purchased my first property at Sydney. Gotta say it is not easy thing after all. And my wife is from France, clearly i could see her homesickness as well day after day.

    Undoubtedly we are the survivors, so stay strong and resilient. 😉

    Lee

    Reply
    • Hi Lee,

      Thank you so much for your comment. It is hard indeed but worth it in the end I suppose, that’s why we’re still here right? Do you go back home often? NZ is so close to Australia. Could be a little harder for your wife I guess.

      As you say, we are survivors! Yay to us! And congrats on your new property, it’s an awesome achievement.

      ~C

      Reply
  5. lee yelynkha

     /  August 20, 2013

    Survivors are the final victors 😉 We make our own achievement and history after all 😉 i fly back to NZ once a yr just to have a taste of sweetness of hometown 😉 and i work in the building industry and my few colleagues are from overseas too. Everyone has got their own purpose and agenda to be here.and like i mentioned before my wife has got some home sick for a while so we decided to move to France in the near future 😉 what about yourself, do u go home often since u have been here for a quite some time. 😉

    Lee

    Reply

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  • About me

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    My name is Caroline and I’m a Mauritian girl living in Sydney since 2007. I’m a lover of all things loyal, honest, positive and happy. Don't forget to subscribe ;) xx
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