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DigitalBlue's avatar

Has anyone very close to you moved to another country?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6684 points ) September 19th, 2012

I’m extremely close (and protective) of my siblings. There is no relationship in the world more important to me than the one I share with my sisters. My sister has decided to move to Australia, from the US, in the spring, and I am crushed. I was devastated when my youngest sister moved an hour away.
I’m not (and really don’t ever expect to be) in a position to travel much, certainly not on the other side of the globe. The reality is that once she moves, we will probably never see each other.
This was a really sudden decision, so I think the surprise factor has made it especially hard to swallow, but I know that I would struggle either way.

Has a loved one moved very far away? Were you affected? Happy for them? Was it difficult to cope with their absence?

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18 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s understandable how you feel. It’s difficult to deal with the thought of losing someone close to you because of distance. What I have found from living far away from family members is that we are still quite capable of staying in touch due to the internet.

When I am in England with my SO for months at a time, I web-cam with my sister every week. It’s better than a phone call since we can see each other, and it’s free. I used to web-cam with Mom as well, but due to health reasons, she can no longer do it. A cousin lives in Australia, and I stay in touch with her through Facebook. She posts pictures and updates daily. She also makes it back to the US once a year. Another cousin just got married in the UK this summer, and our 96 year old aunt traveled there on her own from the US to attend the ceremony.

While the physical absence can be tough at first, it’s a matter of realizing that your loved ones are living out their dreams. It may take some time to adjust, but it isn’t as hard as you may be expecting. Try to look at it this way: Not only will your sister be experiencing a new life, but you can live vicariously and learn about a new culture through her.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband moved to America from Mexico. So, that was not away from me, but it was away from his extended family. He did live for 9 months in Bogata, Colombia during our marriage. I saw him about once a month for a long weekend.

My husband’s sister move to the Dominican Republic for a few years right after we got married. She had been living just a few houses down from us. We saw her about twice a year. I would not say we were extremely close, but we did have her very close by, and my husband had been accustomed to going to her for some things. When his car was stolen when we were engaged he called her first, before me. She had been the go to family member for him. She is 7 years older, so she had always kind of watched over him. He seemed to handle it fine though. He never said anything about being stressed out about her moving.

My sister moved to NYC when she was 14 and I was 16. I lived in MD? I only saw her twice a year. When she moved back to MD I moved to MI for college. We talked about once a week, I saw her maybe twice a year, hard to remember. My sister and I were very close growing up and for many years.

Then I moved to FL after college. Moving away was never a very big deal. But, your sister is moving very far away, and basically only one way to get there, flying (or a very long cruise) and so I can see why you will feel the distance more.

The up side is Australia is a fantastic place to visit. She probably will fly home now and then, almost everyone I know who moves countries does. I have a friend right now visiting her family in Russia, she moved to America 7–8 years ago. You both can also meet up in places in between for vacations. Now with skype you will be able to communicate in a way people couldn’t years ago.

Do you both spend a lot of time together now? Face to face in real life? If most of your communication is done online and phone, it won’t be that much different. If you saw each other all the time, then it will be a change for sure.

FutureMemory's avatar

It’s very possible that she’ll end up moving back home because the culture shock will be too much, and/or she’ll miss her family just as much they (you) will miss her. I mean, damn, Australia is freakin FAR away…does she even realize that coming home to visit will be something like a 14–16 hour flight? (or more.. Bella help me out). Her being relatively young should make it even more difficult to handle such a drastic change.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@FutureMemory I plan to enlist Bella to keep an eye on her for me, she just doesn’t know it, yet. ;)

@JLeslie yes, we are very close. She doesn’t get online much. I hope that changes when she does move. I don’t anticipate either of us having the means to visit often, and I don’t really anticipate being able to go to Aus more than once in my life (probably not even once.)
It is smart to get away from here, as I’ve said so many times, we live in a really hard hit area. There is nothing here for anyone, moving away is a good choice. I just didn’t expect her to move, you know, to the other side of the planet.

JLeslie's avatar

@DigitalBlue Are you in America? I assumed you were, but now I realize that might be a bad assumption, possibly you are in the UK, or some other commonwealth? You say again you are close, does that mean live close and see each other often? I realize you are emotionally close to her.

Quite often people move back by the way. Don’t feel like she definitely is moving forever, things change. When my husband married me I think his parents were upset that it probably meant he would never move back to Mexico in their minds. Then they moved to America a couple years later when things became really bad in MX. They are still here.

zenvelo's avatar

My brother works for the same international construction company that my father worked for forty years. When I was in college, my parents were in Indonesia while my brother was in Algeria. My sister was in law school about 400 miles away.

We didn’t see each other very much. But my family was never all that close, and because we’d grown up with a lot of foreign travel, it was not unexpected. Even when we are all within 100 miles of each other, we don’t spend a lot of time together.

My brother is in Saudi Arabia right now. We expect the whole family will be together at Thanksgiving.

tedd's avatar

I dated a German exchange student a while back. When she returned it was rather heart wrenching, we were a pretty good couple.

Taciturnu's avatar

My brother moved to Brazil. As @FutureMemory said, I wouldn’t give up hope she’d be home before too long. (Though my brother is still in Brazil 6 years later…) :-)

Phone cards and skype were wonderful inventions. It does get easier the more accustomed to a ldr between the two of you are.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I have one sister living in Switzerland and has for 20 years and another brother worked off and on in Europe ( Italy, Belgium and Germany ) his kids spent more time in Europe while growing up than in the USA. The kids had 10 years of schooling at “American School” in Europe before they graduated from high school.

janbb's avatar

My son and his family moved to Paris last year. I can afford to go there some times but it is definitely difficult not being able to see them or my grandson frequently.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

My daughter and her husband spent two years on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. It made my heart ache. She missed her brother’s wedding, they weren’t there for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had to try not to think about it, or I would go crazy. After a year and a half, they flew me out to see it, and it was amazing. I would have had a really hard time going back home, except that I knew they were coming back in just a few months. It is really hard. I would not suggest that anyone move far away from their family. When all is said and done, the time you lose with your family and friends is too precious to give up, and can’t ever be replaced.

Shippy's avatar

It does get easier, over time. Is all I can say. My whole family split up. I often wonder how strange we would have seemed, at a dinner table together, my brother with his cockney accent, my father with his Geordie accent, my mother with no dialect or accent at all and finally me with a South African accent. Most of my best friend have left South Africa, in fact they kind of left in droves. A few visit now and then to see their families. Or their families fly over. It is possible. Perhaps change your view a little and see it as a possible adventure to look forward to.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Shippy I understand your position. I lived in South Africa from 1971–77, and have in-laws there. Your position is different from people in most other countries, though. The people didn’t leave South Africa in droves just to experience other countries or have an adventure. It was a safety issue, and in that circumstance I would be happy for my relatives that found a safer place to live. I don’t want to get into any deep political debate about it – I know that you know what I mean.

wundayatta's avatar

My sister has lived in Japan and China for 30 years or more. She comes back once or twice a year and we often have a vacation with her. In between, we started emailing when that tech developed. We did that a lot. Then when videochat became possible, we started doing that. Now it’s all kind of done on an ad hoc basis. We communicate more when we are working on something and less otherwise.

So anyway, I communicate with my sister more and she lives halfway around the world, compared to my brother who only lives 100 miles away.

Distance in terms of miles—doesn’t mean much any more. Distance in terms of affection means much more. If you love your sister, you will stay in touch. If not, living next door wouldn’t matter.

YARNLADY's avatar

My son was estranged from the family for many years and he emigrated to Sweden. We eventually reconciled, by e-mail. He and his wife had a daughter, They got divorced so I’ll probably never get to meet her.

Sonny had a severe stroke 4 years ago and lost custody of the daughter he had raised since she was a toddler. He nearly died, but I still couldn’t afford to fly out there. Then I got a message from him that he fell and was in the hospital and he really missed me.

I decided I would go no matter what. I flew out for his birthday, and stayed a week. I’m really glad I did. He’s somewhat better now, but his physical recovery from the stroke is very, very slow. He will never recover the lost memories. Part of his brain is dead. His sense of humor is still there. He joked about wishing his dead zone worked like the one in the Stephen King book.

rooeytoo's avatar

I moved to Australia from USA almost 15 years ago and I love it. I have been back once to say goodbye to a nephew dying of cancer. But I have no desire to go back again regardless of what happens. It is approximately a 24 hour journey from Sydney to east coast USA. You are not on the plane that long but the journey is that long. When I left, my parents were long gone and I only had one brother so the move was not that big a deal for me. I think everyone has the right to go where their heart leads them. But I don’t know if I would have been able to make the move if I had elderly parents or children to worry about.

Bellatrix's avatar

Happy to keep an eye on your sister @DigitalBlue. It would be my pleasure. I see @rooeytoo has given the answer about distance.

My sister moved to Australia when I was about 9. I missed her terribly. She was seven years older than me and had looked after me when my mum died. It was a huge loss to me. She wrote to me pretty often. This was when there was no internet. On birthdays she would send me a telegram and I always got thoughtful, perfect gifts. When I was 13, she came back to visit with her baby daughter. I was at school when they called me out of class to tell me to go home and see my sister. It was a good 30 minute walk and I think I ran the whole way. So I get how you are feeling.

It is a long way but it’s a small world these days. I didn’t get to go back home (to the UK) after I moved here for over 27 years. I had children, I had a mortgage and I just couldn’t justify spending the thousands of dollars it would have cost. My ex was also British with family at home so I couldn’t go on my own. I am a pretty crap letter writer. A huge bonus was when telephone call costs dropped. At times we could make a call for as long as we wanted for a small fee. We had phone calls to relatives that lasted 24 plus hours! You can use Skype, the phone, FB and email and it does make a difference. You can send photos and share minor details of your life. I know it isn’t the same but you will be able to keep in touch.

You know, you say you won’t be able to visit but the cost of airfares is dropping all the time. I know right now it must feel like you will never manage to save up to see her, but I feel equally sure you will be able to in time. All you need is the airfare and a bit of spending money. You will have somewhere to stay. If you can’t afford for you and your husband to come here, he seems like a really nice guy and I feel sure he will let you come on your own. Don’t dismiss that idea. I know lots of people who travel back and forth on their own rather than as a couple.

Also, your sister will be able to visit you. I am sure she will want to and in fact I would advise it. I felt so homesick when I first came here. I didn’t have the opportunity to go home because we bought a house within six months and then I was pregnant but I wish I had been able to go back then for a holiday. It is quite likely she will be able to afford a plane fare and who knows, she may decide rather than her going there, she will pay for you to come here. I have done that for relatives. I couldn’t go there but I could put in for them to come here. It meant I got to see them and I wanted that as much as they did.

You will find ways to remain close. I promise you.

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