Sure, we chose the expat life. However, we did not chose or foresee a global pandemic as part of this plan. Like many of you the world over, the past year has been incredibly difficult for so many reasons. But, as the light at the end of the tunnel is finally and seemingly coming into view, I wanted to reflect on expat life during the pandemic.
More than anything, this is probably just a whinge and a moan. Stuff I want to get off of my chest. But as some of you might be in the same position, or are interested to understand a little bit of what it has been like in the UK, here are my thoughts on living through a global pandemic as an expat.
Stranded From Family & Friends
I get it. Most people have been isolated from their family and friends during this pandemic. But for some there have been small windows of opportunity to catch up for a walk, form a support bubble, make doorstep deliveries to each other etc. For us, we are totally stranded here with no guidance of when we might be able to return home.
My sister had a little girl in March 2020 and I am still yet to hold her in my arms. In the grand scheme of things, this will not greatly affect her as she is too young to remember. But I will know, and my sister will know that I haven’t been there to support her. And whilst technology is a wonderful thing, FaceTime is simply not the same thing as being there in person.
It’s Not Our Country … So We Can’t Complain
Because it is not our country and we chose to be here, I feel like we can’t complain about the government and their dealing with the situation. We haven’t grown up in this country and we didn’t vote for this government, so are we entitled to have a voice? Having said that, I am a British citizen by family birth right.
I’m not saying that I could have made better decisions than old BoJo, but I do think that they f*cked up several of their decisions last year. On the other hand, I do think they have done a good job with the rollout of the vaccine, because in reality, they had to! And I am very pleased to say I have now had my first jab!
People Back Home Don’t Quite Understand
In our home state of Western Australia, the government dealt with the outbreak of Covid-19 incredibly well. And with the exception of a few minor lockdowns, they have been living life mostly as normal for the past 15 months. Good on them for acting swiftly and looking after everyone. Unfortunately in Victoria it has not been such smooth sailing and they are currently in Lockdown No. 4.
But when it comes to understanding what is happening in the rest of the world, I would say that the general view in the UK is that many Australians have no idea what is going on or just how hard it has been for everyone. When I read comments on social media, I feel that many are ignorant to the situation and not very sympathetic. They have been in their own safety bubble and the pandemic has largely not affected them.
Furthermore, I’m now seeing lots of commentary that Australians are not willing to get the vaccine for various different reasons. Covid is not going to disappear overnight, and the only way the world can return to some form of normality is for the majority of the world population to be vaccinated. However whilst there might be some resistance right now, I can guarantee the moment they need their vaccines to get on a flight to Bali, there will be a que for days.
Missed Opportunities During Our Valuable Time Here
We chose to move to the UK for my husband’s work and the chance to travel Europe as much as possible. Whilst our stay is not a defined timeframe, it has always been our intention to head home to Australia at some point. So with an entire year of tough restrictions, I feel we have been wasting away our valuable time here. We had such an epic year of adventures scheduled for 2020, all of which had to be cancelled just like the rest of the worlds plans. And believe it or not, we didn’t move here for the weather.
We Can’t ‘Just Go Home’
There is no easy way to get home right now, even if we wanted to. For starters, we have our 2 dogs with us and to transport them to Australia is at least a 7+ month process. We knew that when we moved here.
There are long waiting lists for flights for Australians stranded in the UK waiting to get home. So it can be months before you can secure a flight. And then you will be lucky if you aren’t bumped off that flight, or several. Not to mention that the one way tickets are significantly more expensive than normal times, and you have the privilege of 2 weeks quarantine in a prison like hotel on arrival. Oh yeah, you get to pay for that privilege too.
Its Been A Tough Year
There is no sugar coating it. For me, it has been one of my toughest years. The mental struggle to keep going every day is real. Everyone is tired, bored and fed up. I like to think that in general I am a realistic and positive person. I can find ways to pick myself up and push through difficult times. But with no end in sight, so much uncertainty and the inability to control any of it, its been very hard.
Sure, you might see me post pictures on Instagram of a yummy meal, a nice walk or Mackenzie and I smiling on our days off together. But that is purely just me trying to make the most of small moments during a shitty situation. You don’t see the shouting, the frustration and the anxiety.
So, there you have it – my truths on life as an expat during a global pandemic! Recently lockdown restrictions have been lifted to some extent here in the UK and with nicer weather gracing us, everything seems a little rosier. However, its not over just yet and we still need to remain vigilant and remember to expect the unexpected.
I would love you to share your experiences, good and bad, from the global pandemic. Or if you have any specific questions of me, be sure to comment below! Take care wherever you are in the world. Shell x