I was recently asked whether or not I thought time passed more quickly in New Zealand than anywhere else.
The question threw me. No one has ever asked me that before. My answer was no, but also yes, and then “it depends”.
When we moved here initially, I thought that time crawled by. Looking back, I can see that I wasn’t the willing expat that so many others seem to be. I was supportive, but not thrilled at the thought of leaving home and family. I was excited and intrigued by the possibility of having this once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I was still operating under this idea of “after 2 years, if we don’t like it, we’ll move back to the States”. I did monthly evaluations of what life here was like. Was I liking it? Was I not? I knew that I needed to give myself at least a year to settle in, but I didn’t really step back and allow myself to just live for a year without constantly analysing.I became pregnant in the midst of all of that. Pregnancy is a great one for slowing down the passage of time. You grow more and more uncomfortable and you want so badly for the baby to be born, but it always seems such a ways off. At first it seems close: “only” 40 weeks. Just 40 weeks. Somehow terming the duration in weeks makes it seem shorter than it is.
Once our son was born, time sped up again. He grew so fast and changed so quickly, but life had its slow moments, too. Our long-haul flight from New Zealand to Indiana had to be more than 24 hours of travelling, right? Surely it was – it certainly felt that way! Our 6 weeks in the States visiting family and seeing old friends only lasted for a blink of an eye, didn’t it?
And then back to New Zealand. That time, our first time back in New Zealand after visiting the States, it felt like time had reached a normal rate. It was also the first time that I had a sense of relief and homecoming upon flying over the Auckland harbour. I wonder if the two are related. I’m guessing that they are.
Time still passes much as it has since our return. There are momentary speed-ups and slow-downs. Time sped-up when we knew we’d be travelling to the UK for 2 months. I can’t believe that our departure for that trip is almost upon us. It’s slowed down when my husband goes on long business-related trips and my son and I are at home, awaiting his return. But that’s how time passes in pretty much every country, I’d reckon.
Now that were smack dab in the middle of packing up our apartment, cleaning it, handing over car keys to friends, and trying to figure out things like transport to and from the airport, time seems to be zooming by. I keep saying things to my husband like, “It’s what day? Thursday? What happened to Wednesday?! We still have so much to do!” But I know that this phase will also pass, time will slow to a crawl right about the moment we step onto the airplane (though I hope, hope, hope that it goes quickly without any travelling issues and no major child upsets!) and that we’ll eventually find a rhythm of sorts once we’re in England.
I’m guessing that our time in the UK will speed by, rhythm or not. With so many visits from family (after all, England is so close to the USA when compared to New Zealand) how can it not go by quickly? Add in our own travels around the UK and I’m sure that time will fly.
And then time, once again, will slow down again when we get back to Aoteoroa, at least for awhile. I’m looking forward to summer here, but not rushing into it. We have a few big events on the horizon when we get back, and they’re the kinds of things that make time go both quickly and slowly. How on earth does it do that? I’m not sure that I’ll ever know, but for now, I’m just enjoying it and enjoying our time as expats.
Jenny is an American from Indiana living abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. An ER nurse, she spends her spare time with her husband and infant son and enjoys photography, travel, and writing about her experiences as an expat. You can read more of her thoughts and opinions at www.practicallyperfectblog.com