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Appreciating the magic of home from afar

It’s been eight months since Emma Cropper moved across the Tasman to start a new dream job.

A large chunk of her time since arriving as been spent in lockdown.

“It took me months to find out what Sydney was like because I came straight into a lockdown.”

Now in the midst of another outbreak and tougher restrictions, she is holed up in her inner city apartment but thankful she is still able to work.

Emma is Newshub’s Australia correspondent. She moved in December last year and kickstarted her new Aussie life with a lockdown during the Northern Beaches outbreak.

The 30 year-old celebrated Christmas and the New Year alone in her apartment but spent endless hours FaceTiming friends and whānau across the ditch.

She says FaceTime is her lifeline while in lockdown.

“I live on FaceTime. I’m more social than ever. Some days it’s a traffic jam of six hours on FaceTime with all these different people and I have to say ‘sorry guys, I actually have to go because I want to watch Netflix’.”

“I also talk to anyone who will answer. I’ve even FaceTimed into the the Newshub team in Tokyo.”

Reporting on the pandemic means Emma is very familiar with the range of circumstances that might lead Kiwis to travel overseas. It’s for this reason she urges Kiwis back home to go easy on anyone who might be trying to get home.

“Everyone overseas gets a really hard time, especially from people who don’t necessarily understand the circumstances people are in. Especially those Kiwis stuck over here in Sydney – many had come over for funerals and it was really stressful.”

While in lockdown, Emma is able to travel in to the Channel Seven newsroom each day, where there is skeletal staff. The Seven reporters have been paired up with a camera operator each and are based outside of the newsroom.

For Emma, work is a welcome relief from the confines of her apartment.

“Getting fresh air is the hardest because you have to wear facemasks the entire time you’re indoors. I don’t have to wear a mask when exercising but I start work early and finish when it’s dark so I hardly get fresh air. So when I get a day off or have some spare hours in the morning I try to go out and breathe in some fresh air.”

As for the sentiment on the streets of Sydney, Emma says people are growing frustrated at the lack of restrictions.

“I do worry about it, and now that there are more reports of young people getting it here and ending up in ICU it adds to it. I’ve reported in some risky areas and while I do everything I can do to be safe you do find yourself crossing your fingers and hoping you don’t get it.”

For Emma, the reality of not being able to return home has well and truly sunk in. It hit home pretty soon after she touched down in Sydney, when a close friend died unexpectedly in New Zealand on New Year’s Eve.

Not being there with her friends to mourn and be comforted was tough, she says.

“At that point there weren’t any spaces in MIQ and it didn’t look like the bubble would open for some time so it hits home how isolated outside of New Zealand you are.”

“People are still wanting to live their lives and part of that is taking up new opportunties, moving countries or taking on new jobs. But it is cruel when you can’t say goodbye to someone who’s played a big part in your life.”

When the Trans Tasman bubble opened up for the first time in April, Emma was among the first to take up the opportunity to return home to see her friends and loved ones.

“When I moved I was so excited to get out of New Zealand and go on an adventure and leave home whereas now I feel like I took that for granted. Even just being able to freely go home is the one thing I took for granted and while I did a lot of stories on Kiwis stuck overseas when I was reporting in New Zealand, I felt for them but I never truly understood it until I came here.”

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