Worlds apart, drawn together by romance

"If we lived in Australia, I'd be finished high school by now!"

"Sweden doesn't have school uniforms, and we'd get free hot lunches every day if we lived there!"

"I miss our other family."

"They don't sell barbecue shapes here."

These are the kinds of complaints my husband and I expect to hear from our future children.

And what are we going to name them?

I like Siri, for a girl. It's beautiful and relatively common in Sweden, but wouldn't her Australian peers think she was named after an iPhone personality?

I think it will be a few years yet before we have kids (I’m 24), but I'm married to a Swede (he’s 25), and I've got an overactive imagination.

When I first met Felix, I was swept away by his long, blonde, wavy locks and easy smile. He laughed at all my jokes and took my advice on which Australian tap beer is best (Tooheys Old).

It was the balmy evening of January 31, 2014, and we were drinking beers in the (hugely romantic) beer garden of the Lass O'Gowrie Hotel in Wickham.

He was travelling Australia for a year on a working holiday visa, and was only in Newcastle by happy accident, couchsurfing with a friend-of-a-friend.

I was on a break between finishing university and starting a short but full-time stint at the Newcastle Herald, and we got to know one another quickly during the next couple of weeks, bumming around at the beach, visiting Newcastle tourist hotspots and kissing in parked cars.

It's a funny thing, being with someone from the other side of the world; you really have to go hard or go home.

There was no conversation about "moving in together". It just happened because he had no Australian address.

When Felix ran out of money, he was doing his three months of unpaid labour on a rural property to secure his second working holiday visa.

Of course we were going to share money, and it was another discussion that happened more briefly and far earlier than it might otherwise have.

That year, we flew to New Zealand to renew Felix's visa.

Getting married started out as a whimsical fantasy, but it wasn't long before we'd talked about it so much that my parents asked the big question for us.

"Are you getting married or not? What does 'maybe we're getting married' even mean?"

In December that year, we were tying the knot in their backyard, surrounded by loved ones and a laptop showing a pixellated, Swedish family.

It was eight in the morning in Sweden, where they sat, gathered around a computer, sipping obligatory champagne in Felix's dad's, loungeroom.

They hadn't met me.

In early 2015 we did an Australian road trip followed by a month backpacking Eastern Europe for our honeymoon. At the end of the trip, we moved to Gothenburg, Sweden, and I finally met my in-laws.

Having skyped for hours during the past year-and-a-bit, it was a strange and unreal feeling, meeting this second family I already felt I knew.

Felix began working full-time at his old job (IT support at a translation agency) and I navigated the bureaucracy involved in getting a personnummer (a social security number, which is essential to life in Sweden).

I had planned on writing for Sweden's considerable English-language media but it wasn't to be.

"We've got so many contributors we can't take your work even if you give it to us for our blog," wasn't the response I was expecting.

Instead, I studied Swedish for Immigrants full-time, a language course provided by the government.

In July, my parents, brothers, cousins and even a couple of friends visited for our wedding: part two of a series.

The weather was eerily perfect, the company joyful, and the sun set at ten o'clock over happy, noisy, tipsy guests.

It was a glowing day in a year of amazing experiences.

Somehow, that was what made it so hard to deal with the inevitable stress of moving to a new country.

I didn't have a job, I wasn't fluent in Swedish, and my familiar community of friends and family were asleep when I was awake.

I felt depressed and anxious for the first time, but refused for months to acknowledge it.

The guilt I felt at not being constantly happy, unsurprisingly, made it worse.

I moved to Sweden with my soulmate, I belted myself over the head, I'm meant to be happy all the time.

I knew it was unreasonable, but that didn't fix the problem.

Felix's grandmother taught me to knit, and I found incredible solace in this new meditation. It didn't make the bad thoughts disappear, but it was - and remains - a beautiful and productive coping mechanism.

During the winter, Felix left for work and came home in the dark.

My lessons were over and I was still jobless.

I experienced my first public panic attack during the Gothenburg Film Festival and felt like I was falling apart.

Most of the time I felt wonderful or terrible without much of a middle ground.

Felix was as understanding and actively helpful as anybody could hope to be. So were his family and friends.

I continued to write my blog and photograph everything around me, making it seem as beautiful and enjoyable as I could.

I don't regret that for a moment.

The magical times, getting to know a new home, were just as real as the difficult moments, getting to know myself.

Christmas was just the coziest thing I've ever experienced, with a live Christmas tree, cardamomeverything and extended family for a week.

"Christmas is the light in a long, dark winter, and the first few months of the year are spent, hermit-like and waiting for the spring. People light candles and drink coffee, mumbling about the weather trying to stay sane in the seemingly never ending darkness. In March, my working holiday visa had run out, and it was time to move back to Australia, for the second year of Felix's Australian Working Holiday Visa. He had worked, unpaid in the bush for three months to qualify for it."

Since March last year, we've been living partly at my parents' place in Newcastle and partly in Gloucester, where we're building a tiny house on wheels.

The house is almost finished and we're going back to Sweden in June, with plans to live there for the foreseeable future.

We've been waiting for my partner visa for Sweden for about 11 months now. The average wait is 13.5 months, and some unlucky sods have to wait up to 26.

As an Australian, I can visit Sweden for 90 days in any 180 without a visa.

Although the visa is unlikely to take longer than that, and will almost definitely be granted, it's an uncertain time for us.

It's tedious, but price-wise Sweden's a winner. It cost roughly $180 for my application, while the Australian equivalent is closer to $7500.

Sweden will pay us both to study at university, but Australia will charge Felix as a foreign student and we'd have to pay upfront.

We recently spent time in Cambodia renewing Felix's visa (again). It almost wasn't granted in time.

It's hard to explain the strange and unusual punishment that is immigration bureaucracy.

"Poor you, having to travel," is high on the things-I'm-sick-of-hearing list, and living on half an income is getting old.

But I've gotten to know myself better, married the greatest Swede in the world, learned Swedish and much more besides.

But now I've got two lives. Two families to miss. Two sides of the world to keep track of.

Home is no longer a place I can name.

Homesickness is there regardless of where I am.

Sometimes a niggle; sometimes a pang.

When we have children, will one of our families always feel like they're missing out?

Will both countries feel like home to them?

Will we ever be happy settling in one country, and will it be the right one?

I've come full circle in my incredible capacity to worry myself into the future.

It's something I'm learning to cope with, and I have to believe it will get better with time.

Moving to Sweden this time is going to be as permanent as moves in our life can be, and a little routine and security is an exciting thought.

But despite the less-than-perfect parts of life between two continents, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

It's a funny thing, being with someone from the other side of the world; you really have to go hard or go home.