‘I’m going to quarantine for two weeks, in the spare room, away from my family’

The Antrim woman arriving from Canada this Saturday

Canadian club: Chloe Murphy and her husband Joe

Canadian club: Chloe Murphy and her husband Joe

 

Chloe Murphy will be in the air on her way home on Saturday, December 5th. She was determined to see her family in Co Antrim, especially her brother and his new fiancée, so she decided to fly back to Ireland from Canada for Christmas

My flights have changed a couple of times, which has been stressful, but it is official: I am flying on Saturday, December 5th, from Saint John to Montreal to New York to Dublin. When I arrive I’m going to quarantine for two weeks in my parents’ house in Antrim town. I will be staying in the spare bedroom and keeping away from my family. I plan to stay in Antrim town, my home place, for the entire time.

I am planning to spend most of the time with my immediate family as it looks like things are still quite locked down there. I’m hoping to go out on walks to catch up with friends and to see the rest of my family. It has been too long since I have seen them, so spending time with my family, especially my brother, who just got engaged is a must. I’m looking forward to celebrating with him and his fiancée so much.

I don’t want to put anyone at risk. I am just looking forward to getting home

Fingers crossed I will be able to come back next summer, this time with my husband Joe, as my brother and his fiancée are planning to get married in July and Joe is the best man.

I am from Antrim, but I’m currently living in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, and have been living there since August 2019. I met my husband Joe in France eight years ago. He is originally from Saint John. Before moving to Canada, we had been living in Kent in England for five years, but Brexit really changed our thoughts about living in England. We considered moving home to Ireland, but after thinking about the lack of job opportunities for my husband, who is a teacher, we decided that moving to his hometown in Canada was the better choice.

It has been nice living close to my husband’s family and spending time with his friends, but living in Canada has been a big change. Before moving, I knew it was far away and I knew that I might feel the distance, but nothing prepared me for the homesickness I felt knowing I was so far away from home. I always felt homesick, even in England when I could pop home for the odd weekend, but nothing compares to this. Watching the coronavirus pandemic play out from a distance has been painful and I was constantly worrying about my family and friends in Ireland.

Luckily, my husband moved to Canada with a job. It took me a while to find work there, but I started working as a communications specialist for a local electricity provider last December. I was in the office for three months and then the pandemic hit, so I have been working from home ever since.

I knew it was far away, but nothing prepared me for the homesickness

Living here St John during the pandemic has been interesting, as it is one of the least affected areas in Canada. New Brunswick is roughly the same size as Ireland and has around 750,000 inhabitants. Our total of coronavirus cases to date is around 250, so a small amount. I have so much respect for the government and people in New Brunswick as the government has made decisions quickly and people are very respectful of the rules. Clearly, it is paying off. The low population density and distance between towns there definitely helps. Travel is also very restricted. Until recently we could only travel to neighbouring provinces in the “Atlantic Bubble” - Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. But now as cases are increasing in New Brunswick, the borders are closed to all other provinces and you have to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival if you travel.

My husband and I had planned a trip home over the summer, but were really worried about catching Covid during the journey and giving it to my family. Our flights were cancelled, so we couldn’t go anyway.

Fast forward a few more months and I’m desperate to get home, but still feeling worried about putting my family at risk. They have been reassuring me though, so I have decided to travel home for Christmas. My work has been very supportive and since we are working from home anyway, they are happy for me to work from in Ireland during my quarantine and do the same when I get back to Canada. Unfortunately, my husband won’t be able to come with me this time, as he cannot get the time off.

My flights are now booked. I am flying home this weekend and returning to Canada a month later. I had questions of course about staying safe while travelling and whether I should I take an at-home Covid test a few days after arriving. The list goes on. I don’t want to put anyone at risk, I know that. I am just looking forward to getting home.

If you live overseas and would like to share your experience with Irish Times Abroad, email abroad@irishtimes.com with a little information about you and what you do

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