When I left Canada for a 12-month working holiday in 2001, I had no idea I would meet my soul mate. But I did and three years later, we married.
The prospect of living overseas, especially after a lifetime of travel dreams, was so great that I never considered I would be homesick for Canada.
It's easy to say, "go home then" (I actually saw a headline recently that said as much) but when you have bills to pay and a family to care for, going home, when “home” is on the other side of the world, is not easy.
As of June 2016, 28.5 per cent of the Australian population was born outside of the country, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. And five per cent of our residents were born in the United Kingdom (beating New Zealand by 2.5 per cent).
Gina Fink, a former Londoner, is one of the 1.2 million British expats living in Australia.
15 years ago she fell in love with an Australian. Her three month holiday turned into forever when they married and had two children. But she still aches for London.
“I still miss the smell of the tube, the history of the buildings, Oxford Street, even the rain sometimes. I get really homesick and it's expensive to go back. I try to get home every three or four years,” says Gina.
Ever since Lonely Planet named Canada the top country to visit in 2017, my homesickness has increased. In the 16 years since leaving Canada, I've been back three times. It's been five years since my last visit. I spend hours online researching flights and booking tentative hotels while dreaming of another trip home.
Matt Garrett of Relationships Australia says homesickness is a normal reaction to being away from home.
“Homesickness is an age-old phenomenon that has been experienced probably since humans started roaming and discovering the world,” he says.
“I still miss the smell of the tube, the history of the buildings, Oxford Street, even the rain sometimes."
Recognising and acknowledging that homesickness is a normal, and therefore an expected part of spending time away from home - no matter how exciting or fulfilling the away ‘home’ and lifestyle might be - is a good way to begin to manage feelings of homesickness.”
My homesickness includes the heartache of not having friends or family visit me in Australia. I thought I'd have Canadians begging to stay but so far, I've had only two friends and no family visit.
Gina's relatives and friends from the United Kingdom can't get enough of her Sunshine Coast home.
“I'm lucky. We get a visitor every six months or so from the UK, which is nice. My two best friends come out every couple of years. It helps with the homesickness,” she says.
I long to ease my homesickness but don't get me wrong, I love living in Australia. Even after the immigration processes, missing important events at home and growing apart from my Canadian roots, I wouldn't change a thing.
...don't get me wrong, I love living in Australia. Even after the immigration processes, missing important events at home and growing apart from my Canadian roots, I wouldn't change a thing..
5 ways to ease homesickness
“I watch films like Love Actually, Sliding Doors and Bridget Jones, anything filmed in London,” says Gina.
Major supermarkets stock food items from around the world and most cities have a variety of ethnic restaurants and specialty shops.
Shop online and have your favourite items from home shipped to you.
“Maintaining connections is vitally important. Fortunately technology today makes this easier as video allows us to connect visually to our loved ones at home,” says Garrett.