Dreams of Blighty – Why would you return?

Dreams of Blighty – Why would you return?

When you place something or a thought in your vision, suddenly that item or thought becomes more noticeable all around you. Try it. Think of red cars and you will suddenly keep seeing red cars in your vision radar. Once you place a thought into your mind it becomes more noticeable. When I thought about returning to the UK, I would often come across stories of Britons returning back to the UK after emigrating to Australia and New Zealand. I heard stories of migrants who had searched for a better way of life but deciding that the lifestyle down under was not for them and
returning home to the UK. Suddenly, I was not alone in the way I was feeling. I would not be the first and would not be the last to experience these feelings.

At the start of this adventure, it was a dream come true. Like many others I was drawn by the dream lifestyle, the outdoor lifestyle and sense of space and slower pace of life. Instead of settling down it was not to be the one way journey I had planned after all and this was something I did not foresee when I was in the early throws of applying for visas, making shipping arrangements and focusing upon making this dream a reality. I never envisaged ever arriving at a point where this journey would not be right and being faced with even more difficult decisions to make.

Professor, Roger Burrows, a sociologist from the University of York, has studied this phenomenon and found that one of the key reasons why many migrants return to Britain is linked to the emotions and include missing family and friends and having a sense of not belonging despite their best efforts. Although his research IS based upon those returning from Australia, I think that the pattern for those returning from New Zealand hold a similar vein and why migrants eventually decide to return.

People migrate for economic reasons, career, and lifestyle and find themselves returning for the very same reasons. They migrate to find the dream life and they think that it will replace their everyday cares, tedious routines and the reality results in a disappointment. The reasons new migrants give for emigrating are intrinsically linked to their reasons for deciding to return to their country of origin.

Here are some of the reasons people stated for deciding to move abroad

  • A better quality of life
  • In search of a better climate
  • To achieve a greater work life balance
  • A safer environment to bring up their children
  • It has always been a dream
  • To get away from overcrowded living
  • Chance to buy a larger house and experience a lifestyle beyond their reach in the UK
  • Family connections
  • For the new experience

Here are some of the reasons people state for deciding to return to the UK

  • Family and Friends
  • Homesickness
  • Preferring the British lifestyle and finding life in New Zealand is boring and isolated
  • Their children’s education
  • Economic factors
  • Weather
  • Poor housing
  • Lack of belonging
  • Long commute
  • Lower salaries
  • No decent pubs

Whilst most migrant research tends to focus on Australia, I believe that the reasons given by one returner who came back to the UK after 24 years of living in Australia, essentially sums one of the key factors many migrants give for returning to the UK.

He said, “Australia has been good to me. Certainly I’ve had some good times here but there is something fundamental and soulful missing here for me. Here I feel like I’m on the outside looking in and don’t really understand why. ”

Migrants who have returned talk of a sense of displacement and lack of belonging as being one of the common features for deciding to return. This feeling is deeper than the feelings of homesickness. Homesickness is the missing of your home country. Displacement is more the sense of emptiness and lack of feeling part of the new culture and society. Despite the dream, that their new life holds, there is a sense of disappointment and of their new country failing to live up to that dream.

Many returners say that they did not fall out of love with New Zealand and this is a sentiment that I can echo. What hey found was that they had a new sense of what the country offered it was a different life and not necessarily a better life. Many returning migrants talk of a sense of disappointment, they simply did not like it and felt isolated. You can only compare what you have experienced. By having this new experience they began to compare it to their previous life in the UK and this began to raise a sense of dissatisfaction With their new life abroad. Many Ping Pong Pomers know that it is economically unwise to complete the return journey, but don’t care because they feel that home fills them with elation and they talk about coming ahve again when they return. But for some, when they return to the UK the old feelings that spurred the move back resurface and they have a sense of not belonging in either country. A sense of despair can emerge. And so starts the Ping Pong Pom process.

Our first year in New Zealand, had its ups and its downs, the good times and not so great and there were many times when I thought about packing up and returning to what was familiar. After almost two years in New Zealand, we just couldn’t settle into the way of life and found ourselves at a crossroad — should we stay or should we return? In some ways I just
wanted to slip back into those comfortable shoes once again.

I came across these words from the well-known author, Jodie Picoult which really resonate, “Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.”

In the end we have made the decision to stay in New Zealand and as they say – the rest is history.

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