Postcard Home to Belfast
New emigrant to New Zealand, Leanne Ross’ first visitor from Belfast, her father, since she arrived in Dunedin last year was “a cause for joy and reflection.”
“I’m not just grateful for seeing him physically, for being able to hug my Dad; a thing you become numb to missing when you live on the other side of the world. I’m grateful for the gift he left behind – perspective,” Ross writes in a story for Belfast Live.
“My dad’s visit was the first time I could take time off work and show off my new city. Dunedin is a stunning place of rolling green hills leading down to the sea, very reminiscent of home but with way more blue sky days.
“Before Dad left we talked about life here and how it was absolutely the best move for my son, 8, who is thriving in school. New Zealand school is much more laid back than Belfast.
“The children here scooter to school. There’s no electronic doors to buzz you in and out like a high security prison. And there’s no peer pressure. You’re celebrated for how well you manage your money, not how much of it you lavishly spend. There are no brand names, no excessive Santa lists and hand-me-downs/second-hand clothing is popular.
“I could list a million reasons like that which make New Zealand a great place to move to for people who grew up in the hustle and bustle of Belfast city life.
“They all ultimately mean that I already know before my first year is up that I don’t want to go back to live in Belfast. And that’s really why you get so stressed as a recent emigrant, because the pressure is on to make a new life work.
“Being away from family is now a very permanent thing. I will never again have the daily family life that existed before, and until we all die we will live as virtual FaceTime conversations broken up by long-haul annual visits.
“But if those visits are as packed full of quality time, fun and love as the past two weeks were, then in my opinion it is an exchange that is worth making.”
Original article by Leanne Ross, Belfast Live, May 5, 2017.