Being an expat during a pandemic

It is an incredibly bizarre time to be an expat. We can’t leave Australia now.  All  international flights and most flights within Australia have been canceled.  There was a headline a few days ago that said “Australia cut off from the rest of the world as it bans international flights”.  It was a terrifying headline to read for an expat  but after giving it a moments thought we realized it is absolutely necessary.  This is exactly what should be happening right now.  It is hard.  It is scary and it is necessary.  While there is always criticism of how a government might have handled things, from our perspective the Australian government has at least taken this pretty seriously from the beginning.  Since January there have been measures in place to try to protect the public here  Down Under.  Where the government most likely dropped the ball was not being aggressive enough  in monitoring those coming in on flights and cruises from the US and Europe.  Most of the new cases can be traced to that.  Sobering right?  The  truth of the matter is we are all, no matter one’s country, to some degree cut off from the rest of the world for a period of time even if you are not living on an island continent like Australia.

How long that is seems to depend on how seriously we take this.  Life is surreal for everyone at the moment, but even more so for those of us experiencing this in another country whilst also watching our homeland grapple with this extremely frightening situation.  We have no family here.  We are on our own yet in many ways we feel safer here than we would in Florida as per capita there are far fewer cases here in the state of Queensland than in the state of Florida.  As with all things going on back home we are observing from a distance  and trying to make sense as best we can while not being exactly sure what is true.  We do have access to all the same news as every other American and we are watching and reading them all….everything from the New York Times  and NPR to CNN and even  Fox News  to hear what they are reporting and then there are our social media news feeds which are sometimes more frightening than the news frankly.  And it’s not those that are posting the seriousness of the situation that are scaring us.  It is the ones not taking it seriously enough.  This has somehow become political when , in our opinion, we should be listening to the scientists..  Dr Fauci and Dr Birx are extraordinary human beings and doctors.  They most likely have 401k’s too.  They are no doubt  worried about the economy.  Again, in our opinion, we really should listen to them first, not the politicians. The same here for us in Australia.  Schools have remained open but we pulled our youngest daughter out because she was our biggest contact point and why risk it.  We listened to the scientists not the Prime Minister.  We live in the third largest city in Australia.  We also live in an old Wool Store building that has been converted to apartments.  We were informed that someone in our building was self isolating due to contact with someone known to have the virus and someone in the next Wool Store over has contracted the virus.  We all shop at the same grocery stores most likely.  We touch multiple shared surfaces from doorknobs to the elevator to trash shoots.  Our proximity to others  living in the city makes us vigilant.  We are probably at higher risk than if we lived in a country town but the concept of social distancing and staying home applies to us all.  We are doing all we can to protect ourselves and in protecting ourselves we protect others.  We truly are all in this together!
Last night I dreamed about our home in Florida.  I awoke disoriented and anxious with a visceral longing.  I am nesting as best I can in this temporary place we live in but I really miss having my own home.   This longing for the familiar, for home is something expats know comes and goes, waxes and wanes.. We are oh so grateful to be given this opportunity to live in Australia but this pandemic and the uncertainty for what the future holds has certainly made the longing for our own home intensify.  We are grateful to be able to hunker down in our home here in Brisbane.  We are grateful we can FaceTime our oldest daughter who is also hunkered down in her own apartment.  We are grateful to be healthy.  We are grateful for friends and family and our ability to stay connected through technology.  Thank you for that connection because currently we feel a bit cut off from “home”

Love and hugs and wishes for good health to you all!  Stay safe friends!


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