So you wanna go back to Egypt…


Some of you must think that I’m always happy as a clam here, never once having thoughts of returning home to Malaysia, FOR GOOD.

But I do. In fact, recently, I had a vivid dream where I cried out (to who, I’m not sure, but maybe to myself): “I want to go back to Malaysia! I want to go back to the job I had before! I want my life again!”

I woke up, both shaken and amazed by the power of the dream. Dream Me was almost desperate to reach me.

I am having what you can call career blues recently. Although I’m ever so grateful that my job gave me the financial security to pursue many of my dreams, there was a part of me that longed to be a white collar worker once more. I missed being Somebody. I missed feeling important. I miss having a title.

Back in Malaysia, people’s eyes would light up when I tell them what I did for a living. People took me seriously when I handed them my name card. They knew I meant business, and they knew my work would impact theirs.

It’s difficult to lose that, eventhough it was a deliberate act on my part. I didn’t want the baggage, so to speak. I wanted to focus on my dream – to be an authorpreneur (author and entrepreneur), I wanted to reforge my career (a nurse? though that seems more and more doubtful as the days pass) and build an entirely new way of living for myself. Yet, after a year or two of having people behave in ways that I’m not used to (mainly walk all over me, disrespect me etc), a part of me longed for that shield of prestige you get if you’re a white collar worker.

It shows that old habits die hard, and it also demonstrates how Malaysians (or perhaps people in general) are so hung up about status, titles and having careers to define their self worth. Because, really, that’s an illusion.

In Australia, I discovered that I’m definitely more than my career or status, the trouble is I needed to convince myself of that fact first. People in Australia don’t really care what you do. As long as you’re a good bloke they give you a thumbs up. So what if you’re a road sweeper (which, to be honest, I’ve not seen. I think they use machines for that)? That’s your business.

It’s not just the career insecurity that is bugging me, but it’s the fact that I have to make choices based on how much I earn (which isn’t fantastically much, but I’m frugal and I have decent savings). And one of the choices that bug the hell out of me right now is I want a place of my own but don’t think I want to do that just yet because of money concerns.

The gist of my long winded post is that I long for what I had before, the comfortable paycheck, the 1000sq-feet apartment, the yuppie-esque lifestyle, the witty colleagues and my name in print.

“You want to return to Egypt,” my friend said to me this morning. She told me to google the Keith Green song “So you wanna go back to Egypt“.

She and her husband faced tough times after moving from Canberra, and they used to sing the song to remind them why they had to perservere:

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it’s warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it’s getting so hard.
Are you sorry you’re out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?

You know the tale of how the Israelites were taken out of Egypt only to long for it once they were in the middle of the dessert? That’s what the song is about, and that’s me right there. I’m like the moaning and griping Israelites, longing for the ‘comforts’ of Egypt. And the only thing comfortable about Egypt was that it was familiar – you knew how things worked and you knew how to get what you wanted.

Life is uncomfortable in Australia now because I have to change. And change means discomfort. Discomfort means you are forced to learn new things, and learning new things are generally good for you. I have to learn these lessons first before I could reach the promised land.

Because of Australia, I learned how to order my time so that I could grow my writing.

Because of Australia, I was forced to be an entrepreneur, have an ABN number and work as my own boss.

Because of Australia, I am forced to live with other people and learn not to be so selfish and self-absorbed and to think about other people’s needs.

Because of Australia, I’m forced to deconstruct how I got my sense of worth. And I discovered that I got them from things outside myself, and therefore, out of my control, when I should learn how to validate and affirm myself. I have to get my sense of worth from inside myself, and from God.

And because of all these lessons I’m choosing to remain in Australia, because I’m not going to turn tail because it’s hard. It’s because it’s difficult that I should stay – how else am I to grow and learn? The years in the desert may not be fun, but one day I will reach the Promised Land.

So, fellow migrants and wannabe-migrants, there will be times when you wanna return to Egypt. You have to ask yourself: Why do you want to be in the Promised Land? Is staying on the desert road worth it?


26 thoughts on “So you wanna go back to Egypt…

  1. Well said Elizabeth! Understand your feeling. Somehow in Australia the environment is conducive for us to look inward for fulfilment, not from outside. If we give up struggling between the two, just surrender and be accepting, we begin to stop creating suffering for ourselves. You know very well that the one in us who keeps looking back is our Ego. Just shine your light on the Ego, it will be over soon.

  2. Hello… I just got my visa approved recently ! Didn’t expect it to be so soon. I have mix feelings and …am kinda worry and afraid to move but it’s not an option to back out now … I hope I will be able to cope as well as you.

    • Congratulations L!! I totally understand how you feel. It’s a struggle between the mind and the heart…wishing you all the best! Where are you planning to go?

      • Hi Belle.. thanks. I am hoping to settle down in Melbourne. but will go anywhere that can give me a job .. Are you migrating there too or have migrated there? Can I have your email ? Would love to keep in touch.

    • Hi L, Melbourne is a lovely place. Im on state sponsor. So I’m obligated to stay in SA for 2 years. Already made the initial entry to Oz in May. Thinking of making the big move end 2015 or early 2016. Contact me at

    • Congrats L! It’s a tough decision, but all I can say is just be prepared for the ups and downs of the journey. If you’re like me who hates the What if? question plaguing you for all your life, you might just make the move. I can say I was in the same position as you. I had so many sleepless nights! But now that I’m here, two years since that decision, I can say it’s worth it, though the journey is definitely challenging.

      • hi Susan, i really admire your courage to just go there and start a new life. I hope i can be on par with all that you have achieve in such a short span of 2 years. I just came back from Aussie for my first entry. I know it’s not easy but i know if i dont go through with it and stay with this career that I have here, i will definitely 100% regret it. You are spot on about having sleepless nights… i have been thinking alot of what ifs. so yeap, it’s about time i decide when to move and hopefully God will take care of me and lady luck will be on my side on the most important journey in my life!

      • I understand your pain L. All I can say is that you can do it!! I know some people who came here eventhough they didn’t have enough time on their TR to qualify for a PR. But they still did and in the end they have their pr. Now that’s courage. Believe in yourself n be very sure why you are doing this. That will tide you through the tough times

  3. I can’t even begin to imagine to internal struggle you are facing. Even when submitting the skill assessment thing, I am feeling anxious beyond what I am used to. Sooner or later I will get to L’s stage, to go or not to go after getting the actual visa. And then hopefully I will get to your stage.

  4. Thank you for your post. How do you discipline yourself to write and grow in that area when you just do not want to?

    • Well, the trick is, you have to want it so bad that you’ll do anything to get there. If you don’t have that drive, or you don’t even want to, you’ve got to ask yourself if writing is the art you want to pursue…

  5. Good post, Susan. It really touched me.

    Those of us who have made the decision to emigrate do face an uphill battle. This is because we come from families who have attained a certain status in Malaysia. A lot of us are third- or fourth-generation Malaysians, and no matter how much we may complain about the declining quality of life, we still know how to wheel and deal our through the system and come up on top.

    You see, we don’t just benefit from a lifetime of contacts and knowledge. In fact, we benefit from three or four lifetimes. Our parents, our grandparents, even our great-grandparents have spoon-fed us and paved the way for us to succeed.

    So, for sure, that’s nothing more frightening than choosing to give all of that up and starting all over again as a first-generation migrant in new land. Without all our traditional crutches and safety nets, it’s no wonder that we experience such anxiety and fear.

    But, having said that, I’m glad you’re still fighting to keep your dream alive and working to forge a path to the Promised Land.

    For sure, it will neither be quick and easy. After all, it took the Hebrews 40 years to do it.

  6. wow. I feel exactly the same. I applied in 2009 for a 475 visa but only got here January 2014. Everything you wrote is spot on! Especially the wanting to go back to Egypt (philippines for me). Thanks for writing this. I really needed to read this today.

  7. Pingback: Longing for home | Malaysia to Adelaide

  8. Encouraging writeup Susan. Thank you. My wife and I had just got our PR visa and are making plans to make our first trip this July,with me staying on to get anything that resembles a paying job. Before we even reach your state of mind when you wrote this article, we are now burdened with much decisions, ie: where to go (SA, QLD, VIC, etc) particularly now with the seemingly impossible job situation in Oz. Nonetheless, we’re praying for the pillar of fire and cloud we could follow one day at a time.
    I’d appreciate if you or anybody in Adelaide could share with us the economic situation in SA, whether it’s reasonably easy to get a job, be it minimum wage or white collar.

    • Dave of all the states SA has one of the bleakest prospects. With Holden going in 2017 there will be a flood of people lookimg for work. Still, when i came the news was the same and i managed to get a job becuse I retrained to be an aged care worker. Have you considered starting a business? A few migrants started a cleaning business to give themselves a job first while exploring other options.

      • Hi Susan, yeah, through your blog’s discussion, I am considering the franchise business, something I’ve not thought about before. But obviously, money is the top concern. Any recommendation?

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