A Feeling Of Comfort

Canada - Vancouver

When you hear of someone you know moving abroad you automatically picture this life of sun, sea, mountains, adventure and wealth. You think of how much fun and excitement they must feel getting prepared for this life changing adventure, hopping on that plane with a one-way ticket out of their hometown. “They’re better off out of this place” some say, “Sure there’s nothing at home for them anymore” others say. “We will talk every single day” friends say. Then they hop on that plane and their gone.

Then that person becomes you. You wake up one morning deciding you want to escape your hometown and hop on that one-way ticket to somewhere far away. For us we chose Vancouver, Canada.

We applied for visas, purchased our one-way tickets, packed our bags, got engaged (big surprise) and one week later were saying our goodbyes at Dublin Airport departures. This is a feeling I will never forget or never get used to. Sitting in the car for the 45 minutes it takes to get to the airport knowing you have this short window of time to get the last of the hugs and I’ll-miss-yous is heartbreaking. You walk through those gates and don’t dare to look back because you’ll catch your mother’s eyes and fall apart all over again. Strangers in the line at security give you that look of concern knowing too well how you feel. You go through security and it’s all so real.

Landing in a new country, proving you are legal to be there and work there. The 2 years begins. You grab your bags and the excitement and anxiety comes rushing in. You stay with friends, gratefully, while they help you get set up with bank accounts, identifications, somewhere to live, finding your local grocery shop and pharmacy, figuring out price differences and furnishing an apartment from scratch. Very soon everything becomes normal but two weeks of being in this new place you realise the pandemic is very real. The search for jobs becomes difficult which leads to taking jobs you hadn’t pictured yourself in. You start to adapt to this new world taking it step by step with all the restrictions of Covid. You find your bubble and maintain it until they lift restrictions a little just in time for summer.

Trips are planned all summer consisting of camping trips, road trips, hikes, BBQs, late night drinks on the beach, all within our bubble, of course. Summer flies by and before you know it you hit the Christmas rush, realising you are not flying home because borders have been kept closed.

Christmas for us Ex-pats usually consists of gathering as many Irish friends together to recreate our mammies’ best bits from the Christmas dinner and bringing it to one house to gather as a family and do our best to beat the blues of not being with our families on that day.

Homesickness is something not a lot of people talk about; it’s assumed we just live a lavish life abroad 24/7 and don’t get down days. We keep ourselves occupied with work and activities to keep our minds busy and not think of the homesickness. Cooking up something Irish or making a cup of Lyons or Barrys, or even sticking on an Irish tv show to just get that homely feeling for a few minutes. The Facetimes help but also can make it worse some days; hearing of your family all gathering together without you can be upsetting but we carry on.

For now, we just sit and wait and count the days until we hop on that flight at Christmas.

Another Spring, Summer & Autumn pass and now you are on countdown to finally being able to go home for Christmas, you tell your family over Facetime, they cry with joy as the wait has been far too long and the distance even longer. You begin to imagine the feeling of the plane landing on the Dublin Airport runway, but you know it will be a different feeling to when you were leaving.

It’s a feeling of comfort that you cannot wait to feel. You can see the long walk through the airport to arrivals and the excitement of looking for your family in the crowd, the embrace of your family and the sheer relief of knowing you are together again.

With all this also comes a fear, a fear of knowing you are only home for a short time, a fear of seeing how life has progressed at home without you. You see how much older your relations have gotten; you realise certain faces won’t be there at Christmas because they’re now looking down on you from above. The fear of not knowing what the next year will hold and when you will get home again, but with this comes hope. Hoping that family and friends will finally be able to travel and visit you and see the life you have so proudly set up for yourself in this whole other place and making the next time you fly home not feel so long. Hoping that the world we have learned to adapt to can feel somewhat normal again.

For now, we just sit and wait and count the days until we hop on that flight at Christmas.

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