Longing for home

Apologies for not having posted for almost two months. The truth was I was not in a good place and I didn’t want to discourage anyone with my sob story. In the last post I hinted that I was desperately unhappy. And in the post before that, I said that I was longing for what I left behind in Malaysia.

Well, October came and I crashed, big time. I couldn’t sleep.  I was hit by bouts of anxiety and depression and I found myself crying – sometimes to sleep. I was also achingly lonely. At first I blamed it on my work. Yeah, I’m misreable because I’m not doing the job of my heart. So questions whirled in my head: Should I study this or that Masters to get ahead in Australia? Should I restart my writing business?

Perhaps it was triggered with me working seven days a week, but I think these symptoms were building up long before. I believe it began on the day my parents left for Malaysia after spending a fortnight with me in Adelaide.


Me & mum admiring the setting sun at Glenelg

I brought them to Hahndorf, Glenelg- the usual touristy things. Taking those long walks with them down the beach at Glenelg and around the hills in Hahndorf reminded me of our morning ritual of walking to the nearby flats near my home in Subang Jaya for breakfast. I knew I missed that, but I didn’t realise just how much until that fortnight.

When I saw their backs going into the airport gates on their last day in Adelaide, something just broke inside me. And when I drove home, tears slid down my cheeks. I felt bereft and alone. I wanted to join them so badly.

After months of the symptoms: Anxiety, depression, loneliness,deep aching longing for home … I finally understood what I was suffering from.

I was homesick.

Which surprised me, because I didn’t think I was the type to suffer from it. I spent a year in Perth as a student without once longing for home. I travelled the world, and always enjoyed myself when I was there. I am mostly amazed by how incredibly intense the symptoms are.

Being homesick is a common affliction for the migrant, according to this New York Times article. I read the blog of this French lady who suffered symptoms very much like mine and find myself reassured.

Honestly, if not for the fact that I’m now on a bridging visa (I could lose my PR if I return home, and yes you can apply for special permission to return but I probably wouldn’t bother), I would’ve booked a one way ticket home too. I even spoke to my former colleagues back home, hinting that I’m coming home. The symptoms were that intense.

Now that I’ve realised what I’m suffering from, my symptoms have lessened somewhat. I’ve reconnected with my friends and family back home through phone calls and Skype calls, which helps immensely. I admit that I had gone on months without calling them, so absorbed am I on the act of survival in Australia.

I’m also connecting with people in Adelaide instead of just burying myself in work. I realised how much I’ve isolated myself (again!) socially. I’m also trying to reconnect with my personal legend eventhough on some days I just don’t effing feel like it.

But you know what? I’m also leaving the door open to return to Malaysia.

I know some of you are horrified. This is not what you came here to read. This is a blog called Malaysia to Adelaide, not Malaysia to Adelaide to Malaysia, isn’t it?

But honestly, I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, especially on the thought that I will probably have my parents for another 10 years. More, if I’m very lucky.

The thought of it all fills me with a kind of anguish I can’t really put words to.

Here’s the haunting question I’m dealing with right now: Shouldn’t I be with them in their twilight years?


9 thoughts on “Longing for home

  1. Honestly, after having read your homesickness, I do know that’s what my children are exactly feeling, sometime or another. Bouts of Anxiety and homesickness hits them from time to time.

    Are your parents having plans to join you in Adelaide? As for us, me and my husband have thought about it but, there are so many buts…what are we going to do when we are there? We have no friends nor relatives to have a connecting relationship and most importantly, no job either…pray, do blog about aunties and uncles who have migrated there and how they are getting on.


    • Hello Jackie,I do know some who joined their families, but it’s not been easy for them as they can’t find a job. But in the end, one of them decided to spend three months in Malaysia, three months in Australia. It gives them a kind of peace. No my parents do not want to be in Australia, and I think it’s wise and prudent of them. Their social connections are in Malaysia and they’d be absolutely miserable if they came here.

      • Hi, thanks for your reply..sorry, I was too self absorbed in myself…contemplating of whether to migrate or not. Heard some good and not so good stories of parents like me who have migrated there.

        Yes, don’t feel so bad of whether you have made the right choice or not…it’s your future that matters. Just like my kids who are there, they are carving a place for themselves in a better land and equal opportunities!

        I love Adelaide…my daughter is there as well. The city has grown and will continue to grow. I see great opportunities there. Besides, all the big names are coming or are already there ie Jaime Oliver restaurant and Tiffany!

        Do make the most of what you have..I’m sure you’ll be contented and happy of what you dream of..all the best!

  2. Hi,

    Just found you because you linked to me 🙂

    I just wanted to give you a (virtual) hug. Being homesick is normal, and yes, it sucks. It does get better, but in the meantime, be kind to yourself. Connect with home through food, media and people. I know Adelaide isn’t as diverse as Sydney (well, it may have changed, last time I visited was ten years ago!) but there has to be something!

    Malaysia is a great country. I visited in 2010 and I loved it, especially the people. I can see why you’re homesick.

    People change, places change. Whatever you decide, your time in Australia wasn’t a waste of time or a mistake.


  3. Zhu, I really love your blog and I’m going to link your blog to mine 🙂 Yes, I tell myself that nothing is lost – I have grown in character and experiences, both painful and joyful. Australia doesn’t have to be the only country I can experience 🙂

  4. Hi Susan

    I’m so very sorry to hear about the emotional distress you’ve been experiencing. The scene at the airport must have been awful and heartbreaking. Rest assured, though — what you’re feeling is normal, and it’s certainly something that afflicts all Malaysian migrants.

    For us, family is the centre of our universe, and we will never be well-settled in a new land unless we resolve this separation anxiety.

    Interestingly, my father was very cognisant of this fact.

    After sending my brother and I to study in New Zealand, he then made the decision to end his career, sell off his assets, then move down permanently to New Zealand as well.

    It was the hardest and most drastic decision he had ever made. Most Malaysian friends thought it was a foolhardy move, especially at his age.

    However, he was very clear about why he did it — he didn’t want my brother and I to be tempted to return to Malaysia. After all, this is what has happened to many other families — the children are inevitably compelled to return to Malaysia for the sake of their parents.

    This is what my father did not want for us, and unilaterally removing that option, he ensured that we would settle well in New Zealand and give the country a good go. We wouldn’t be hampered by separation anxiety.

    Personally, what I think you should do is have a heart-to-heart talk with your parents. Air out your dreams and aspirations, as well as your fears and setbacks. Then, together, figure out the pros and cons of Malaysia versus Australia.

    Your parents, ultimately, are the best people to talk to about this issue. Their perspective matters.

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