Emigration used to be forever. When my mother left the Netherlands in the late fifties, she was not expected to move back. When we did move back in the early seventies, it was not my choice.
But I got on with it. I did always dream of going to live in New Zealand again and I did for a year of ‘research’ when I was at uni in 1986. I stayed with my auntie Marie and uncle David. Travelled around the country, penniless but full of happy memories. I cried at the airport heading back to The Hague.
After my studies, I tried to get my cats and me into New Zealand. Taking cats was an ordeal at that stage, late 80s. I would have had to put them in quarantine for 3 months in the UK, live with them for another 6 months, then in NZ put them in quarantine for yet another. The guy at the embassy on the phone answered my query with: You must be single lady!
I was, but I wasn’t when I moved back with Wim and our two cats Sailor and Wilma in 2007. Importing cats had become a lot easier by then. They only needed to be in quarantine for 1 month. Getting them there was a thorough procedure.
Would we have done it if we knew we would be back in the Netherlands 10 years later. I would like to think we definitely would have because those 10 years taught us flexibility, self-confidence and looking at things in a slightly different way.
It also gave us the chance to know two different t countries very well. And our cats loved it there, and live it here. Cats are cats wherever they are, a wise friend of mine said.
So… No, I think emigration should be as long as you want it to be. I feel incredibly lucky with our chances and incredibly proud of our braveness – it was not easy, coming back to the Netherlands was even harder, but it was totally worth it.
What about you? Have you ever moved to a different country, did you think it would be forever? Did you ever move back? Did you take your cats with you?