29 September 2006
Last week the day of our move to New Zealand was 1 year ago and someone asked us if we had gone through the ‘gains’. Of course I first had to look up that word. I thought it were the rugby results or something, but it means benefits or profits. In other words; Did the emigration enriched our lives?
Old immigrants say that you first have to go through all the seasons to know if the emigration is successful. They also say that the homesickness mercilessly will strike after 1 year. The latter I don’t think so … During my life people always have said too that ‘later’ I certainly would have children. Or that I would be sorry when I drop out of school to work in a restaurant (and never went back to the classroom again). well, I still feel nothing. No homesickness, no baby wish and no career-remorse.
But back to the gains; There are a few things that troubles me in New Zealand. After 40 years on birth ground someone exactly knows where to go for any wish or any question that comes to him. Even for things that I had nothing to do with ever in my life, I knew to find special stores or agencies in the Netherlands. Also all within a range of 1 hour driving. That’s a difference over here. In New Zealand I have spent hours to search for the most silly things.
About the language problem I’ve ranted a few times, but before the emigration I knew that would be a stumbling block. Beforehand I was not eager to spend much time learning the language properly and today in daily life I barely speak English, so I don’t make any progress. This implies that when I’m in front of new people, I can not present myself as how I am. I’m not able to make nuances during a conversation. For example I can’t use funny theatrical old-fashioned words like I loved to do in my own language.
During last year I even more realized how much a language is connected to your roots and connected to the history of your birth country. The same old immigrants always say: “Ah dear, don’t worry, it will grow on you.” But I know that’s not going to happen. Maybe still possible if you emigrated as a teenager, but not as a mid-ager.
I miss the essential foundation where the contact with my own Dutch peers is based on. I’m not talking about the foundation in the history books, but the foundation of the people living in the same place as you. A place thoroughly known by everyone else around you.
Another important connection to your own language is everything that has been on television during your life. Every Dutchman knows what I mean by “My Dad the Magician” (it’s a well-known children’s tv show in the seventies). Every Dutchman knows who are the Hennies (two Dutchies unjust locked in a Turkish jail). Everyone knows the difference between ‘the It’ (a nightclub) and It’s (an appliance store). Anyone immediately sings along when they hear the melody of: “Sauerkraut with fatty gravy” (an alternative comedy show). And no Dutchie once will use the phrase ‘the realm of thoughts’ anymore with a serious face (a phrase too much used after the murder of a controversial politician). I could make jokes and wits with these shared knowledge. Here in New Zealand this kind of things are a huge empty spot in my expression.
So … there are thousands of wires in a language, which I never can catch up with. And I’m talking about me, because there are immigrants out there, who perfectly can blend in. But they are a lot more social and perhaps a lot more laid-back than me. Less uptight.
It’s all frustrating, but let’s be honest; I do not want it badly enough. So actually … the language has a large impact on me and is a bit of a negative consequence, but it doesn’t fall under the ‘disgains’. Because I had anticipated.
No … disgains wasn’t a real existing word 🙂
Well, did the immigration enriches our lives, or not ???
I don’t often talk about that. If I write down something positive about New Zealand, it looks like I down thumb the Netherlands. If I find something better here, I’ve obviously seen worse, isn’t it?
It is like I mean that I don’t understand that you guys are still living in that stupid country. Well, of course that isn’t the case … it’s just too dark there. The grey Dutch weather doesn’t particularly made me sad, but the reverse is; nice weather makes me more lighthearted over all. That’s an umbrella gain.