17 Dec 2014

Ten tips for easier goodbyes part 1

"The truth is that goodbyes never get easier, no matter how many times you rehearse them.  And expat life guarantees an assault course of farewells, demanding a strong constitution, nerves of steel and significant emotional muscle." Says Victoria Scott. 

This is the first of a series of posts on goodbyes. there will be stories and tips on lessening the fear  of goodbyes. Emigration can give you possibly your hardest goodbye. Unfortunately, it is not your last.

Once you have emigrated, there will be more goodbyes; the times you visit your loved ones and they visit you. Sometimes the fear of the goodbye starts before you have said hello. One of the immigrants interviewed in the book, The Emotional Challenges of Immigration, noted that as her mother was only visiting for two weeks, she felt there was always a feeling that there would have to be a goodbye soon. She said it left a cloud over whole the visit. I too have felt the dread of goodbyes before I start the visit. I now try to focus on hellos and making memories to carry me beyond the goodbye.

Goodbyes are sad because of the love you feel for the person you are leaving. By acknowledging feeling sad at saying goodbye is part of the loving, you take the first step to feeling less negative about the goodbye.

My worst goodbye as an immigrant was the most fumbled too.
2001 we all went to visit my family for Christmas. Mid-January four children under nine and I were at Heathrow Airport checking in to fly back to New Zealand. My husband had left a week before. A dozen extended family members were also there to see us off. Five check-in bags were bulging with Christmas presents. I had been worried about the weight of the bags until I was asked whether there were any batteries inside them. I had no idea where Buzzlightyear or other possible battery toys were. I wasn't even sure which toys made it into the bags. My nephew came to the rescue as he organised family members to help search for the offending toys. I watched my children begin to melt as the cases and their toys were pulled apart. Perhaps I could cancel the departure? Apparently not. An airport escort with an empty wheelchair stood at our counter and called my name.

18 Nov 2014

9 Strategies For A Happier Immigrant Christmas

Newsletter 8
  • Find help in the crazy holiday season. 
  • Why is Christmas hard for immigrants, what can you do to help? 
  • Find out what other people in the world do for the season, from an Ethiopian who took the emigrated to America to fellow-migrant to Pope Francis. 
  • A link to a website offering more help for people living abroad. 
All this and more in my latest newsletter. Follow the link. 
Newsletter 8 - November 2014

Do you have any suggestions to add to help immigrants or the people they love during this time? What has made this season easier or harder for you? I would love to hear your comments.

8 Oct 2014

Is this the best place to live?

As an immigrant and particularly since launching my book, I have been asked, "Which is the best country to live in?"

This question still stalls me. However as it has been over 27 years since I moved countries, I have had time to think about the question and my possible answers.

Why are they asking? Often the person asking the question would like to hear that their country is the best country in the world. And why not? There are regular media articles listing, "The best country for happiness, education, health, wealth etc." An immigrant's opinion gives the questioner an opportunity to hear that the questioner's homeland is better than the immigrant's homeland.  The questioner gets to hear that they are living in the world's best country. If I was to answer, "Yes! This is the best place," I may make the questioner happy, but I would be doing both myself a disservice and the other people I have witnessed in other countries having a great life.

There are features that suit me. My answer is usually that there are many aspects of New Zealand I enjoy. I would list some of them: the low population density, beautiful scenery, indigenous culture, resourceful attitude. But I have seen people in other countries who are also having a great life, living among the features of the country that country suit them.

There are stages too. A country may be the best country for some people at some stage in their life. Young travellers or migrants may come to New Zealand for an appreciation of outdoor living, national parks and adventure tourism. Many return to their homeland for familiarity and the economic advantages of a larger population. Similarly many New Zealanders spend a couple of years overseas to enjoy the life a major city and larger population has to offer. They often earn higher wages than they could in New Zealand. However, when they have children, they may be inclined to return to the familiarity of their homeland to give their children the same childhood experiences they had.

Loving your own garden
Happiness in village life in Northern India 
It is what you know best. Someone who has been through emigration knows more than one place really well. They will often have two places they refer to as home. A non-immigrant is in the country they have lived in all their life, so perceives it to be the best place for them. My mother loves the rich culture of London, her friends and family, her beautiful garden. It is the place she knows best. Similarly, a family in India have happiness in their familiar surroundings, so they are likely to perceive it to be the best place for them.

What do you like best? Which is the best place to live in is like asking what is your favorite colour or season, song, sport or idea of a holiday. It depends on your preferences. It depends on what gives you happiness.
If you want to test whether you are in the best place for you below are links to some fun quizzes to try. I tried three of them and was told I should live in NZ, the Virgin Islands and Sweden. On another day and in a different frame of mind I may come up with different ones again. Have fun with them.

For a person who has a transnational perspective, answering whether they are in the best country is not straight forward. Feeling the country you are in is a great place to live will help you feel happier to be there, and that may be enough. If you have migrated, or moved to another country, even temporarily then I suggest you focus on what you can do to make the place you are living in, the best country for you at this stage. You may love some or all of the features of the country you are living in. Unfamiliar features may irritate you, especially at first. If you can acknowledge the differences and then learn ways to appreciate them, it will be a  better place to live. You can read more about this in my book, The Emotional Challenges of Immigration. An excerpt from the chapter The Settling Process, starts here:

Acknowledge the differences
If you can identify and acknowledge differences between your adopted country and your homeland, it can be easier to see these objectively – neither better nor worse, just different.

12 Sept 2014

Book launch was great

 The launch was great. Have a look at the latest Newsletter for more highlights and thoughts on the launch, as well as information on double wedding ceremonies, and what does it cost to go to your homeland over 20+ years?

If you want to see the whole launch speech  click here.

18 Aug 2014

Books have arrived

The finally waited for book is in my hot hands and yes it feels good.
I'm getting things sorted for the book launch, 8 days away as I write. I hope it will be as fun as gawking at and stroking the book has been.
This migrant is a happy one right now. I wouldn't have written this book if I hadn't been one. Its funny how life pans out.

The book is available on Amazon for Non-New Zealanders. New Zealand can buy it from Fishpond once the launch has happened or contact me through my email.More information go the the Book for Sale tab.

20 Jun 2014


Everyone has an accent. The area we come from will have its own way of pronouncing vowels and consonants as well as pacing the syllables of a word. As an immigrant, your accent identifies you as coming from a different country.
On the positive side your accent can be perceived as exotic or romantic.

On the negative side:

  1. This can be isolating, as you are reminded you don't belong as much as the person you are talking to.
  2. You may have to repeat yourself often.
  3. You may be perceived as a new immigrant even though you have been in your adopted country for many years.
  4. You may be subjected to assumptions about your homeland.
What can you do about it?
Accents are discussed in my book, The Emotional Challenges of Immigration which will be launched in two months time. Here are some pre-launch excerpts:
As a young university student, Anne didn’t want to be judged as American before she was judged as a person, so she spent a long time studying the accent of her adopted country. ‘Accent is a funny thing, because it is very changeable, but at the end of university, you couldn’t tell that I was from the States on the first meeting.’
However when she visited her Grandmother in America, the changed accent worked against her. Her grandmother said to Anne, 
"America is my home, you shouldn't have an accent."

An immigrant from Malaysia said he felt there was a limit to how much he was willing to adjust. He became tired of people correcting his English pronunciation. ‘I have learnt a second language. I speak it well, even though it is very different to my original language. Can’t you accept I’ve made huge moves to get where I am? I am not bothered if sometimes it is a bit incorrect. As long as you can understand me, I do not need to speak in the same accent as you.’

Although the language was the same, another immigrant found that, "My parents say they don’t understand the children."  This can be upsetting for the immigrant as this creates a feeling of disconnection from your homeland and loved ones.

Some people find trying to identify which country they belong to difficult, and may end up feeling disconnected from both. Anne points out, ‘Over there I have an accent; over here I have an accent. It’s very weird. It’s being in between … I feel I will never fully be one or the other any more. I am neither completely from here nor American.’

Strategies to help:

22 May 2014

How Migrants Help Each Other Online

Migration is a huge process. Find out how immigrants help each other online before and after migration and where you can find help and support.

Are you virtually living by living virtually?Read more in Newsletter 5.

If sign up for the newsletter you get a free ten tips for becoming a settled immigrant as well as a special offer on my new book.

17 Apr 2014

Fear of Flying

The fear of flying has risen its ugly head again.  The mystery of the disappearance of MH370 on 9th March 2014 has still not been solved. An event such as this may cause worry for prospective fliers, especially passengers who don't like flying anyway (see below). If you had a ticket booked on that airline to visit your family and friends, you may consider changing it. The decision to change it or not has to be one that gives you the least worry and so you arrive in the best form so you can have a rewarding time with your loved ones. 

21 Mar 2014

Dual Citizenship. Is it Worth It?

A dual citizen is able to be a legal citizen of two countries. Not all countries allow dual citizenship, but if your homeland and your adopted country does it could be worth considering.There are advantages and disadvantages of dual citizenship. Read more

Alison shares her experiences of losing her passport. Read more

Most important: Know your citizenship status.  Look at a list of countries that allow dual citizenship and if you are a dual citizen, find out what your obligations may be.

Have a look at Newsletter 4 and if you would like to sign up for a free copy, click here.

21 Feb 2014

Missing Settlement Sites

Where is the help for new immigrants? As a prospective migrant, you can usually look at an immigration department's web site to see how you match up to the migration requirements. Once in your adopted country, there is often limited or no information available to help you integrate and settle there.
I have been searching the web for government or not-for-profit sites which will offer help to new migrants

21 Jan 2014

The Zen Of Feeling an Outsider

Do you ever feel like an outsider? January Newsletter is out.
Read ways of avoiding feelings of feeling left out or isolation.
If there are a group of outtsiders, are they still outsiders?