I asked some of my early interviews to give me a bit of an update as to how life had changed since we  talked.

This series started with Abby in London. She landed a job in her field of advertising but feels like she’s  been in lockdown forever in London, apparently there have been plenty of games of 500 and then she said what a few people have said to me lately; “life has been particularly hard ever since New Zealand have come out of lockdown, as it feels like we are a million miles behind home”.

Meanwhile not that far from Abby, Jesse is “Still staring out the window at birds and playing songs in the bathtub!”

Hugo who was out of work last time we talked is back working at his old company, he says the London parks are heaving and that day he’d marched with the Black Lives Matter movement

On the same island but across the border, Mike in Dundee, started a new job last week, his wife Sophie is a teacher and will see out the end of the school year teaching from home. More importantly though they are expecting their first child on July 17th – good luck Mike and Sophie!

Across in Italy Sam said it was “pretty nice moment once we were allowed to go for walks and runs again after months locked in”. He can now travel freely within Italy and if you follow him on Instagram – you’ll see he is! He’s still working from home though and will be for the foreseeable.

Deane just up the road at Lake Garda tells me the worst appears to be over. He’s back at work but says people are very cautious, masks are still compulsory. But he adds “summer is not far away”.

Nathan in Albania says “I’m still exactly where you left me. Summer has arrived in Saranda and everyone is acting as if the virus has left. Bars, restaurants etc all open and buzzing”. He and his girlfriend are still stuck though.

Simon in Stockholm says “ Day to day life has not really changed much since the interview. My family is just chugging along. Kids still at school and my wife and I continue to work mostly from home. We do miss going to church and we see less friends and family (parents in law are in risk group). The idea of visiting NZ is now out of the question due to the 14 day quarantine – that is a real shame. We are advised to only travel within Sweden if we are healthy. Universities are set to re-open again, so it seems like a gradual return to normal. Now that it’s summer here It’s easier to be more social outside, which a lot of Swedes appreciate”.

Jack is still in Berlin and says things are nearly back to normal and that he’s back at work. He says “people are out of the streets, restaurants are open, the only thing that needs to open to make it be the way it was,  are bars are clubs.

Further south in Munich Bridget says life is slowly getting back to normal, but it’s  “a new normal”. Importantly for that city perhaps, beer gardens are open again. She says “It will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next while.”

Sinead was in Morocco but by the time you read this will be in France, she said “since we talked many things have changed, especially group dynamics and challenges regarding trying to make a sense of purpose as time went on!” We might need to read between the lines on that one. But she’s with her friend Ben and is planning to work on her French having “reached a better level while living at the campsite full of Frenchies!” She’ll also keep looking for music opportunities.

Over in New York Caleb says “a lot has changed. Covid has largely been forgotten as everyone has begun to prioritise a different kind of danger that should’ve always been in our control. Is that too cryptic?” No Caleb, I don’t think it  is.

Up in Toronto Rob and Michelle have just celebrated 12-weeks in lockdown. They say they’ve “adjusted to the new (ab)normal lifestyle of working full time and caring for a toddler full-time under social isolation. It’s been hard, but it has been good to spend this extra time with Marcus and watching him develop – we would have missed a lot while he was at daycare.”

Steph who was in Austin  did a big roadtrip with her boyfriend Freddie to Portland, Oregon traveling through six states Some were very strict and others weren’t so much. After  wwoofing in Oregon they’ll be heading to Colorado next month. Steph says she’s homesick not for NZ but for Texas. She had  been into Portland for the day where “everything is closed. There is graffiti everywhere and I saw a few smashed windows – it was quite sad”.

Kate in Jamaica has been impressed by the Governments response to Covid-19 and feels happy to be there compared with the US.  The beaches are still closed but it apparently seems under control.  She says “we are however getting a bit desperate to leave the Island for a holiday and have made plans to visit Oregon next month”.

Down in Columbia Tom is still running his restaurant, though they are still restricted to delivery only, but he’s feeling more positive. He told me “it looks like we’ll pull through and finish up with a completely different business model!”.

Kate was in the Galapagos, they made  the call to return to NZ so she’s home “I’m extremely lucky and have my old job back (in the Children’s Haematology Oncology Centre) in Christchurch. We would like to finish off our trip one day but sadly think it’ll likely be awhile until those countries recover”.

Lily also came home from Lima and says that her life is “…right back to the way it was before except I’m thinking of new goals and what I want to achieve with this one precious life we all have! I’m working back at my old job at Lone Star Petone and I’m quite happy to see my friends again. I think I wonder about what my life would’ve been like in Peru had I stayed longer”.

Nikkie is still in Oman where she says they have “…..been quarantining and teaching e-learning for 3 months now”. They’ve all got “cabin fever and cant wait for life to get moving and borders to the UAE to open again”.

Stu and Michelle are in Shanghai “We can now walk the streets without wearing a mask. They are required on public transport and in shops. With the easing of travel restrictions we are planning a trip out of Shanghai as soon as Michelle finishes teaching for the term. Of course, we are also looking forward to a trip home but are at the mercy of airlines at the moment.”

Louise is in Tokyo and says “After several weeks of a modified shutdown, Japan is tentatively easing back into regular life and looking at opening up again to international visitors. Japan banned entry to all foreign nationals, even those who are permanent residents like me, and this has been criticized by the international community. So if left Japan at this stage, I wouldn’t get back in again.”

Mike in Bali says “Haha! What a blessing to be trapped in Bali with no income source. This time has activated my creative spirit and I feel so much hope for the future”.

Brent in Rarotonga says “things are just ticking along here with only one flight a week carrying freight and a few returning Cook Island residents. There is a lot of promise that quarantine free travel will be happening between Rarotonga and New Zealand within the next month. I hope it is really cold there and people are hanging out for some sun and surf!” Well you got the last bit right Brent.

Meanwhile across the ditch; Myles in Brisbane says “Work has stayed the same as management have decided that working remotely is great and we may not go back to the office. Otherwise things are pretty much back to normal, enjoying going out for meals with friends again, taking day trips on the weekends, playing doubles tennis (not just singles) and getting back on the squash court.

Jack just dowen the road in Byron Bay – poor Jack – says things feel like they’re returning back to some sort of normal for the most part. He’s  “back in the office which I’m grateful for and going camping this weekend now the restrictions having eased up”.

Kate in Melbourne says “We are moving home at the end of this month and we are so excited to get back to our family, friends, country and just being in a familiar place. We both thankfully have jobs to return to that we are excited to sink our teeth into and we are looking forward to finally get our own puppy and doing up the house. We have had a few hiccups with cancelled flights etc so hopefully it all goes smoothly from here on out”.

Carrie in Sydney says “we still can’t travel to Queensland, WA, Tasmania or SA as those borders are closed. I am hoping the Trans-Tasman bubble will get up and running soon as we are itching to get to NZ to see my mother in Auckland and my sister in Queenstown. If the borders open the Aussies will flood in and that must be good for NZ.

But I’ll leave the last word for Josh in Sydney: “Life has gotten better for sure here in Sydney🤙. Beaches, restaurants and pubs are open woohoo. Loving it “

Pete Carter is the author of This is Us. Due out in June 2020 it will be published by Exisle and tells the story of more than 200 New Zealanders in words and pictures. The book is really a portrait of the nation and how it is made up. Pete wrote Our Dog Benji a children’s book illustrated by his nephew, published by EK in 2017. He is also the author of two books of poetry. He has had magazine articles published and poetry in anthologies. As a photographer he has had two solo exhibitions and work included in group exhibitions in NZ and overseas and has sold work to and been commissioned by corporate clients.

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