Moving Home. A piece I wrote for The Irish Times about my experience leaving Australia

Leaving Australia for good has been like a relationship breakdown. There is a sense of loss thats hard to explain. A relationship breakdown where it hasn’t ended on bad terms. In fact it was an amazing relationship. Which involved sunset walks around Sydney Opera House after work. Saturday swims at Bondi, amazing job opportunities, excellent salary, good friends and endless sunshine.

Therefore the decision to leave this life was difficult. In recent times I’ve been waking up feeling not quite myself. Then the reoccuring dream I’ve been having comes back to me. A dream where I fly back to Sydney without telling anyone. Where I’m waking down to the beach for sunset and greeting the friends I’ve left behind. Ive been having it at least once a week since returning home in April. It took me weeks to even say it out loud or tell people that yes I have moved home for good. I still getting emotional when people raise the conversation. When I moved to Australia and started to study psychology to enable me to work as a Counsellor I really started to self develop and truly learn how to be happy in life. I realised that my life before this was filled with a lot of self doubt and anxiety. So leaving a place that has added so much to my life is naturally emotional.

Despite all of this and how amazing my life was there was something missing for the last year. Perhaps its my age, I’m not sure but the longing for family and friends started to mean more to me than anything else. I wanted to be around people who have known me for a long time. As many of my friends have moved home already the constant changing social network was getting tiring. Constantly missing family weddings and funerals was becoming too much. As a counsellor I always ask clients what support networks they have in their life. I then I began to ask myself that question and realised my network was’nt where it needed to be. When I finally made the decision to move home a few months ago, I did it because I knew I had to listen to my intuition. I was homesick and no amount of sunsets walks was going to fix that. Thankfully a lot of my friends that I had in Australia have now moved home and had very positive experiences which has helped. I have consciously tried to surround myself with these people rather than constantly listening to the negative experiences. I think its very important to be aware of the difficulties one will face but for me constantly obsessing about these issues is not helpful for me. Australia is sadly in the past so now its time to look to the future, make new goals, create new adventures and follow my passions and persue them wildly. I believe that the best times are still to come.

From talking to my friends that have moved home and my own experiences here are 8 best things about being back home.

1. When the sun is shinning there is no place I would rather be.

I recently spent a few days down in Kerry and Cork when the weather was good. Ive travelled a lot and Kerry is still one of my favourite places in the world, because of the food, the music, the mountains and some of the best beaches I’ve ever seen. Living away from Ireland has given me a new appreciation for Ireland. What I once took for granted I now see with new eyes. While driving around Slea Head Drive in Dingle and the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the longest coastal drives in the world, I realised I’ve travelled to the other side of the world to see sights like this and here they are right here in my home country. Even when the sun wasn’t out I found the landscape breath taking. Other road trips I’ve done since moving home include cycling the Greenway in Waterford with my mother which is a scenic cycle route along an old railway line with gorgeous coastal, river and forrest views. That night we watched one of the nicest sunsets I’ve ever seen at Dungarvan harbour. I am so excited to keep discovering this wonderful country. There is an endless amount of adventures and experiences to be had and I cant wait to see more, rain, hail or sunshine.

2. Being able to escape to a sunny destination in Europe when the rain becomes too much. After living in Australia its a real novelty to be able to hop on a cheap flight to any where in Europe and be emerged in a different culture, food and sunny weather. Last Sunday I was in Monaco, France and a small mountain village called Eze and a few hours later I was back home in my bed in Ireland. I plan to do weekend vacations in Europe as often as I can.

3. Being surrounded by family. My family are right beside me when I’ve difficult decisions to make and the happiness I can see in them since I moved home is priceless. Last month I got to spend my birthday with my family for the first time in 4 years. This month I will throw a party for my fathers 60th Birthday. I am so lucky and happy that I get to do these things now instead of missing out. For me life is too short to spend it away from the people you love the most. Yesterday I spent a rainy day with my grandmother baking Irish soda bread and listening to her talk about how glad she is that Ive moved home. Bliss.

4. Being around old friends . Luckily most of my friends are now back in Ireland or never left. I love being back around friends who Ive known for years and who know me really well. As much as I enjoy meeting new people the warm fuzzy feeling I get around old friends is hard to beat. Last week I got a wedding invitation from a friend and it feels great to know I can accept the invite without having to fly half way across the world.

‘5. Irish people, ‘the craic’, the Irish sense of humour. I have travelled to over 30 countries and have friends from many different cultures but for me nothing beats the Irish people. Perhaps I had to travel the world to realise this. One of the most important things in life I’ve realised is to be able to laugh and have fun and who better at that than the Irish. A friend who I lived with in Perth now living in Clare expressed her appreciation for the sense of caring from Irish people, the sense of community and the easy going nature of people.

6. I also have a new profound love for the Irish culture. The food, the music, the history and being from Kilkenny, GAA. This weekend I will go to the semi final of the Leinster senior championship with my Dad and brother and I cannot wait for the excitement of supporting Kilkenny. The electric atmosphere at a hurling match is something I have missed. While down in Kerry recently we went to O’ Conners Pub in Killarney where there were 6 musicians playing some of the best traditional Irish music I have ever heard. Anytime I listened to Irish music in Australia I felt sick to my stomach with home sicknesses and on this night I just felt pure happiness.

7. Some of my happiest experiences in the last few weeks has been the food and eating out. Eating seafood chowder over looking the ocean at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore Waterford, Fish and Chips at the pier in Dingle and eating at the Mary Barry’s Bar in Kilmore in Wexford. I am now back in my own culture that is familiar which me and all my friends that have moved home from Australia agree is one of the best things about being home.

I do understand that moving back can be very daunting for people. The decision to leave your life and career and to have to start all over again can be too much for people. However for me my priority is to be closer to my family so with that comes different challenges but once I keep reminding myself why Im doing it these fade away.

As I have said to people do whats right for you. For me it was going home. Now that I am currently travelling, waiting for the right job to present itself I am sure that when I finally start to put some roots down the adjustment of moving home will have more ups and downs which I will endeavour to write about.

Elaine xx


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