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Speaker: Re-Entry III: The Eagle has Landed

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  • andin,

    All the best

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1239 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Welcome back - and thank you for discussing the richness of reasons for returning. You'll sadly notice that the Listener has changed in your absence into a sanitised rag celebrating "the single-minded pursuit of wealth".

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    This month's Metro magazine would have you believe that Auckland is a thriving cultural nirvana, though perhaps not quite on the scale of London or New York.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Thomas,

    OT: does my gravatar look black to you?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 315 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    "I just think that my work will be more meaningful and fulfilling if done in the context of my own country."

    That is a sentiment I admire and respect.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2977 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    OT: does my gravatar look black to you?

    No, but it makes you look fat.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Thank-you for an all too familiar reading of the 'arriving home / feeling dislocated' genre.

    I suspect that this feeling is common to all those who lived overseas (as opposed to simply doing the OE). I lived in Canada for six years.

    I came home, not for work, but for family reasons; they wanted me back.

    My horizons perceptibly shrunk from a grand 180 degree horizon view to a narrow band of view provided by Unity Books and the lately missed Magazino. The shrinkage in the flow of ideas and concepts was shocking.

    I learnt not to talk about my time overseas; it was another time, place and energy that I inhabited, and no matter how much I tried to communicate this, and more - the wondrous things I saw - I was always left with the feeling that I was a Martian talking incomprehensible gibberish.

    I was terribly depressed for several years after coming back. Such a shock and no-one talked about it.

    I learnt to focus on the things that Aotearoa does so well - good food, wine, beaches, bush, and to encourage where I could the flowering of 'culture'; as I said to a stall holder in the weekend at the AK09 Sing Sing festival event - it's actually rare to see a t-shirt with the word Aotearoa on it without the appending words 'New Zealand'.

    The rhetoric about the brain drain is insulting and reflective of people who can't see beyond their small small world; I've got a brain and I stayed.

    I think the discourse around people leaving/coming back (outside of the traditional OE) needs to be enlarged, celebrated, and marked; there is a rich vein of talent and ideas in people who come back after being overseas for a substantial period of time that needs to be tapped.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Jen Ferguson,

    I'm still depressed and I've been back for more than three years. (I meant to head back after one, but got stuck.) Luckily now the grim state of the UK recession makes it all a little easier to bear...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 22 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    no matter how much I tried to communicate this, and more - the wondrous things I saw - I was always left with the feeling that I was a Martian talking incomprehensible gibberish.

    Maybe they were just bored. ;)

    I speak as someone who did the same thing in two different countries, so I'm not being snarky. I just think most people, wherever they are, aren't that interested in other people's experiences unless they have a reason to be, really.

    Gosh, that sounds cynical.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    even those ambitious expats might be forced to return due to the global recession, as reduced opportunities overseas make them more receptive to lower New Zealand salaries.

    Hmmm, for those of us who have somewhat secure employment overseas, this equation essentially works in reverse. In talking with another expat kiwi here on Friday, we agreed: "Would much rather be there than here, but there's no way you'd quit a half-decent overseas job to go back and face unemployment in New Zealand"

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I didn't have a lot of depression - but i was in contact with my workmates in the US every day, and we kept our US phone number in NZ so we stayed in contact with our US friends. On the other hand after 20 years our NZ friends had changed and moved on (they seem to all be positively respectable in ways I'd never have imagined)

    Our kids (11 and 13) however just dived right in and didn't look back

    Changing the subject slightly - does anyone else find the duty free shop that you have to barge thru in Auckland airport to get to immigration just plain crass? plus you can't avoid the evil perfume counters, I aways arrive with tears streaming down my face

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    i haven't read the Listener article you cite, but the chances of finding intelligent, non-superficual analysis in a Listener article are quite low, imo. that probably goes for all of the Big Media-owned outlets in NZ, unfortunately. superficial, reactionary (faux shock on behalf of "ordinary Kiwis") and hackneyed seem to be the three most important criteria in any mainstream publication these days.

    back on topic:
    the longer one stays away, the more surreal it all seems when one returns. probably a reflection of one having changed in the interim and NZ having changed too. the reconcilation between image and reality becomes more fraught as time goes on. and all your old school friends have got grey hair (if they still have any). what i am saying is that gradual change is easier to cope with. less so if you've just land back and step out of the Tardis. good luck.

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 635 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    I agree, those who equate success with fatness of salary packages forget that there is more to life than money, not all of which can be bought.

    I want to return to New Zealand because it is home, despite that I am living in the country of my birth. I imagine myself growing old(er) and retiring and dying here and I definitely do not want that. I read Russell's points about how the dollar fluctuating makes things like Mac computers expensive, but then one thing about Macs is that they last so there is less need to upgrade just because. Also life shouldn't be too easy which is something I think Bill Connolly misses. I think that in New Zealand people are much closer to the reality of death than here in the UK where anything dying is seen as a major tragedy instead of a natural part of life. In New Zealand people fall of mountains, drown crossing streams or flying microlights which means eating snags and salad off a paper plate with friends is truly valued. Here in the UK you just get canoeists pretending to die and people are forever wanting you sponsor them to cycle along the Great Wall of China for charity. Fund your own adventure holiday.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    So, that Listener article - would someone consider ripping out and mailing me a copy in return for, I dunno, a homemade patisserie treat at such time as we are co-located?

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 457 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Amy, if you can wait until March 28th, it'll be available online at the listener site

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 931 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Wurr,

    Nice article Daniel.

    I found it to be a bit surreal when I returned for a holiday last year - nz seemed to be slightly untouchable and vaguely distant, yet it was so good at the same time. There was also the strange bit where you realise that you and everyone else have moved on in different directions, which is only natural but still strange at the same time.....but I loved listening to the cricket (b waddle et al) while driving around the beautiful countryside......

    London • Since Dec 2006 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    no matter how much I tried to communicate this, and more - the wondrous things I saw - I was always left with the feeling that I was a Martian talking incomprehensible gibberish.

    Maybe they were just bored. ;)

    I speak as someone who did the same thing in two different countries, so I'm not being snarky. I just think most people, wherever they are, aren't that interested in other people's experiences unless they have a reason to be, really.

    Gosh, that sounds cynical.

    Could be that they were bored, but I didn't get the impression that they were. It was more that it was a case of 'he's talking Martian so smile and nod politely' rather than 'oh this is boring'.

    They couldn't locate in their frame of reference anything similar to their experience, so of course anything I said was gibberish.

    Which made me eternally grateful for having learnt French in Canada to a reasonably high level. I distinctly remember one day learning Quebecois proverbs; one was something along the lines of falling flat on your face, but the geographical locators for that saying was different (unfortunately I can't remember), however the net effect of the saying was the same.

    (Digression: an interesting proverb image was the saying tu pedale dans le choucroute - you peddle in the sourkraut - translation - you're digging a hole for yourself)

    In other words I learnt that there are different ways of seeing the world.

    Had I spoken to bilingual speakers, my 'gibberish' would have probably made sense, and they probably would become bored.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Oh and I should agree with you about NZ customs etc officials. Last time I was back in '96 I got to the MaF guy standing there in a lemon squeezer hat who looked at my card and my passport, then on handing them back smiled and said 'welcome home'. The difference from travelling anywhere else, including into the UK on a UK passport is enormous. In that case it is definitely infinitely better to arrive than to travel.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    I love the "welcome home" you get at Auckland too. Perhaps it's just weakened emotional defences after a long flight, but it often threatens to make me tear up.

    Such a marked difference from the "we know your type, you damn dirty overstayer" that you get in the UK and US - all the more horrifying when I ponder that I'm probably in one of the very least threatening demographic clusters and most people are probably getting it even worse.

    (I also love on-arrival duty free, truth be told. I think all countries should have it.)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 457 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    They couldn't locate in their frame of reference anything similar to their experience

    Or... just to be devils-advocatey for a moment, if you met my mum for half an hour, you'd think she was a pleasant NZ lady from Invercargill who had never spent any time overseas - when in fact she's lived in Norway, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Indonesia, Singapore, London, Vancouver, and Louisiana. She just doesn't bother talking about it much to other people, because she's kind of low-key. (Unlike her daughter. Heh. Thread convergence: perhaps she can sue me for using her life as an example in a System post?)

    It may not be that they can't possibly understand your travels, or know how to 'think in another language'. It's not like most New Zealanders have never left the country before. We call it 'an OE' - it's part of the culture - because so many people do it.

    (Of course, I don't know who you were talking to, so maybe they really *did* think you were a Martian and couldn't possibly understand you. But I don't really like jumping to conclusions on this stuff, because I find that people will often surprise you.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3665 posts Report Reply

  • Daniel Kalderimis,

    Thanks all for your thoughts. I agree with Danielle that many Kiwis hide a wealth of life experience behind a fairly modest demeanour. I am intrigued by the discussion about communication. I am rather hoping that part of the answer is for me to drop the ego a little. My life obviously seems of interest to me, but my friends and colleagues here will have lived their own lives and done their own things in the time I was elsewhere, and the communication street runs two ways. I think most lives are fascinating if you listen at the right level.

    On the other hand, it seems important to me to try to hold on to some of the new thoughts, interests and perspectives I have gained; and this probably requires resisting the pull to return to precisely where I left off. No doubt a harder balancing exercise than I presently realise.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    My life obviously seems of interest to me, but my friends and colleagues here will have lived their own lives and done their own things in the time I was elsewhere, and the communication street runs two ways.

    Don't fret too much. Nearly everyone who comes back strikes this. I clearly recall thinking:

    (a) Why aren't people interested in the interesting things I've done and the places I've been?

    (b) Why are they so immersed in their trivial local gossip?

    The trick, I think, is to get stuck in and do something you want to do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 19116 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    We then headed up to Russell, with my old and good friend Mike, for a few days before starting work in a fortnight.

    In my ignorance of New Zealand geography, I thought for a minute that the esteem in which we all hold Mr Brown had made his deserving of a special syntactical construct for when you go visit him. "I'm going to Russell". Scary.

    You'll sadly notice that the Listener has changed in your absence into a sanitised rag celebrating "the single-minded pursuit of wealth".

    And immortality, let's not forget that.

    Thanks for the posts, Daniel.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7412 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Last time I was back in '96 I got to the MaF guy standing there in a lemon squeezer hat who looked at my card and my passport, then on handing them back smiled and said 'welcome home'.

    I believe now their contract says they need to sing a couple of lines from the Dave Dobbyn song.

    Because we care.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6227 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    This month's Metro magazine would have you believe that Auckland is a thriving cultural nirvana, though perhaps not quite on the scale of London or New York.

    Incidentally, who is that on the cover, making free with Peter Jackson/King Kong in perhaps the weirdest mixed visual metaphor ever to stand for Auckland's alleged awesomeness?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1431 posts Report Reply

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