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Somewhere in the flash that was the last two weeks, I bought a plane ticket, packed up three suitcases of things that made the cut for being important enough to cart across 14000+km, and said my farewells. Amazing how it is possible to gloss over 14 days in one run-on sentence. 
28 hours of travel later (4 airports, 3.5 movies, 100mg of gravol, 2 feet so swollen they wouldn’t fit back in my Blundstones) and then I was here. My heart literally skipped a beat when through the clouds upon our descent to Auckland I caught my first glimpse of the ground. Green! So startlingly green I would have thought it was photoshopped, that the set of the Shire was right outside my plane window. After so much heartache and frustration and tears and doubts, I was here. 
As if Auckland wanted to wash off any hint of my journey, it greeted me with a fierce downpour. One extremely friendly, very chatty cab ride later (thanks Tonix for picking up the tab!) I was at my Airbnb. The rain discouraging any real exploring for this evening (and who am I kidding, I was barely capable of forming a comprehensible sentence let alone walk around the city) I managed to stay awake until the lofty hour of 8:30PM and promptly fell asleep- no need to count NZ sheep to fall asleep that nite. 

For a 16 hour time difference, I managed to sleep until 6AM and awoke feeling refreshed and ready to CARPE DIEM in Takapuna! For someone who doesn’t get too stressed about clothing choices, I must have went through at least four outfit choices… It was bright and sunny outside, the temperature 17 degrees! But past travels had left with me doubts as how to dress and fit in with the locals. While in Spain… 5 years ago?!… the 30 degree weather in May had me in shorts and tshirts, the less clothes the better. But this wasn’t hot to the locals, who were all still in pants and long shirts. I stuck out like a sore Canuck thumb… Settling for jeans, a tank, and a light mac (got to use my new lingo!), I ventured out with a nervous pitterpatter in my chest. Five minutes later, I realized that shorts, dresses, and flip flops (are they called thongs here like in the neighbouring Australia?) were still very much in season, and I was definitely going to be sweating today… 

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and though it has only been four days since I first ventured out (trying to be ever so causal and glancing at my Google maps every few blocks to make sure I was on track) I feel like I have walked a thousand miles a thousand times over. The days have flown by and I have barely had a minute to sit down! I moved in with my new flatmate (yes, more new lingo!) on Friday and it already feels like we have been friends for much longer than a mere few days! I am counting my lucky stars that I have ended up with someone so lovely to live with! 
The last few days have been a blur of trying to figure out all the nitty gritties of moving to a new and distant country- learning the lay of the neighbourhood, driving on the opposite side of the road!!!, applying for a tax number, finalizing my bank account, getting a Kiwi (autocorrected to the capital K, my iPhone is catching on quick!) cell number, buying furniture and outfittings for my room… Oh, and most importantly- trying to figure out that sweet spot in the day when everyone back home is awake and I can chat them up, who knew 16 hours time difference would be so tricky? Hahaha    
I had my first day of work today! Managing to miss the bus, I took an Uber out to the hospital and began a long day of orientation, paperwork, a million new faces and names, and too much time spent doing online modules. All of the not so fun stuff of starting a new job. For all my Canadian nurse and hospital friends, I cannot even begin to describe all the differences between NZ PRIVATE healthcare and the healthcare that I was born, raised, and educated on… and I haven’t even worked with patients yet! 

It’s been an exciting and very eventful five days of changes and a continuous onslaught of new learnings and adaptations. There have been many moments when I came face-to-face with the realization that I am definitely not in Kansas (/Canada) anymore. A short list of things that have especially stood out to me-

  1. People causally walk around without shoes- on the busy streets, in the grocery store, at the hospital 
  2.  So many Pita Pits! I always had a good laugh at the “International Training Centre” downtown Kingston thinking ‘where else than maybe the USA are there Pita Pits!?’ (Pita Pit having been born in Kingston) Well apparently NZ!!! 
  3. Very few people J-walk… a real shame cause you end up standing on the street corner for ages waiting for your right away (speaking of which, Kiwi drivers are not the most generous in giving others the right away…) to cross. I know this will make my mom happy, who definitely never loved my causal J- walking everywhere in YGK…
  4. There are PLENTY of words that are totally different from our Canadiana terms. Living with a Brit means getting not only a good laugh at all the new words I am learning from a Kiwi standpoint but also at the posh ways she says things. One of my current faves- grocery cart (Canada) vs. trolley (UK) vs. trundle (Kiwi)  
  5. A switch to turn on power plugs. So when you plug in your device you have to turn the plug on before you can actually use whatever you’ve got plugged in there and then turn it off when you’re not utilizing that plug… 
  6. There are no screens on the windows, since there isn’t anything dangerous to sneak/slither/fly into your house unlike in the nearby AUS… So everyone’s house are full of flies… Which doesn’t seem to phase anyone? 

I have that warm and fuzzy feeling that life here is going to be pretty grand. That is a pretty broad and sweeping guess seeing as it hasn’t even been a week, but if this one week is any indication of things to come, I am pretty damn excited 
Beyond excited to be Liv(ing) life abundantly in NZ ūüíē

Kaleidoscope Heart

As much as I would like to say I find myself 14,219 km away from where I last wrote a blog post, I am still very much in the same locale…

I quit my full-time job at KGH back in the first week of January, and stuck around in Kingston for the next few weeks basking in the glow of my new title of “funemployed”. I headed back to Ottawa at the end of January, leaving my apartment and my adopted title of ¬†a Kingstonian behind. I still feel a tightness in my chest thinking about it… My last night I spent sleeping on my mattress that I had jammed-up in front of the fireplace, my memories literally echoing about in the bareness of my apartment…

Don’t get me wrong funemployment has been mostly¬†great. No commitments to anyone or anything. I am 100% The Boss (a job title that I will likely never ever actually be designated in any other shape or form for the extent of my REAL career). But when you don’t have to work, it gets pretty damn expensive when you fill up your time visiting friends and family- eating, drinking, and being merry.

When I had moved back home, I had full intentions of having all my paperwork in order and being off to New Zealand come mid- to end of February.

It’s almost the middle of March and I am still without any departure date…

The hard lesson I learned here is that nothing involving paperwork goes smoothly or quickly or according to plan… I got my official email on February 16 from the NCNZ (Nursing Council of New Zealand) that I was now¬†approved as nurse in NZ! New Zealand almost seemed on the visible horizon, now I could apply for my visa!

Amid some confusion as to what documents I needed to apply for my visa, I didn’t submit my visa until end of February. Come March 7, Immigration New Zealand was asking for further documents that weren’t on the original list of necessary documents. So scan those, condense them into a single PDF, and send them off…

I have always considered myself a patient person, maybe one of my greatest virtues, but at this point in time I am at wit’s end… At the risk of sounding rude to every kind family member or friend or even curious stranger who has asked me how things are coming along with NZ preparations, I have to restrain myself from having an absolute meltdown every time I have to explain what is happening. I am so thankful to have so many people in my life who are here to help support me, but I don’t think it’s possible to really explain to people how exhausting this has all been for me. I have been working on this for over a year now, and apparently I jumped the gun too soon, making a grand face plant right in front of the finish line…

My first manager offered me a casual position back on the Ortho floor, so I have been going back and forth between Kingston a few times in the past month or so, pulling my fun scrubs out of their early retirement. My amazing friends (two very special angels in particular) have so graciously hosted me on these occasions, and every time I am back in Kingston it feels as if I never left. I love seeing everyone again, resuming back at our old haunts. I probably couldn’t count the number of perplexed faces that have seen me and asked (what has become my trademark tagline)- “You haven’t left yet?!” At this point in time I wish I hadn’t left… I should of kept working for another month, kept my apartment for another month, stayed in Kingston for another month.

Home life has been a special treat, it’s the longest I have spent at home since I graduated from high school in 2009. My parents have probably had to take a loan out to pay for my voracious appetite. Falling back into old home traditions and habits was easy. My family, as always, has been the greatest star in my life and after spending all this time at home it is going to be an especially difficult farewell…

I continue to feel like I am some sort of limbo state, waiting for something that never seems to be coming… Waiting, waiting, waiting. Who knew moving to another country would be such hard work? *said in my finest sarcasm*

PS. 100% aware that this post comes across as very Negative Nancy. Just wanted to give a special thanks to soooo many people (all of you people who keep asking me for updates, who I so very viciously ripped a strip off of above…) for helping me through all of us this. I am nothing without all the amazing people in my life.

 

 

Fly

“You should keep a blog while you’re gone!”

Well… I do have one but I am the most neglectful blog mother ever, leaving my poor blog to its own devices for months at a time. I am sure by this time it is now a feral creature, running amok on the internet with no parental contribution or guidance.

The casual suggestion to write a blog from a coworker reminded me of my rough and emaciated little blog. With some big changes having happened since the last time I posted, it is perhaps time to feed my little monster and give it some direction.

For two weeks in September I was gone off to Portugal with my sister for a little gallivanting and indulging in my favourite hobby of travelling. My wonderful liaison Kate with Tonix Health Recruitment had been busy seeking out job opportunities for me in Auckland. The original plan had fallen through and Kate had therefore sent my CV off to South Cross Hospital in North Harbour. My school of nursing and ONA were filling out the required paperwork and shipping them off to the Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ).

Southern Cross got back to Kate, who got back to me, and an interview was set-up! Normally interviews don’t cause me much anxiety, but the idea of speaking to someone on the other side of the country, with an 18-hour time difference, brought me a terrible case of the butterflies. At the time I didn’t have¬†WIFI so I headed over to a friend’s house. Conveniently Southern Cross was having WIFI issues of their own so we settled for a phone interview, and I was able to grimace and squirm my way through the questions without having to be seen on video. Liisa, the manager who did my interview, was super lovely (a description that I am sure I will be attributing to most Kiwis once I meet them!) and the interview felt casual and not at all intimidating. Without patting myself too much on the back, I felt pretty well about how the interview had¬†gone! Liisa then just had to contact my references and the rest would hopefully be on its merry way!

As all things go, it took a little while to get in touch with both my references but I guess I got the gold star on my chart and Liisa¬†was “very happy to take the next step and ask [me] to fill in their application for employment forms”! *insert happy dance*

The next step was to figure out which visa I should apply for… I was originally planning on a working holiday visa, but since I was being offered a permanent job this option was off the list. Kate, like the amazing angel she has been through all of this, of course pulled through again and figured out I could apply for a work to residency visa under an accredited employer! Time to get the wheels grinding again and get all my requirements sorted out for this visa!

I am required to have-

  1. Police clearance
  2. Proof of registration (papers still being processed by NZNC)
  3. A physical through a NZIS panel doctor

First two are easy peasy. The last one is not difficult, just expensive…

$400 for the medical, $80 for a chest xray, and $50 for bloodwork. Whoever said you can’t buy happiness wasn’t planning on immigrating to New Zealand.

With Christmas holidays rapidly approaching (9 days until Christmas?!) I know everything will be grinding to a halt in terms of paper work and logistics…

I put my required 60 days notice in for my apartment, so I am officially to vacate January 31… And then on Tuesday I made the incredibly difficult decision to put in my notice for work. My last day of employment will be January 8, coming off nites, and then ‘funemployment’ until I leave for NZ!¬†The script for the novel that is my Kingston Life has all of the plot fleshed out, with deadlines and clear punctuation now noted. Kingston has been my home for 7.5 years, it will be an utterly heartbreaking finale…

News travels fast, and many people are coming up to me and asking “I heard you’re leaving?!”. I feel like I should make up cue cards as the questions all run along the same (now) predictable lines- “Why are you leaving?!” “How long are you going for?” “You don’t know anyone over there?!” “What will you do when you get back?” (my least favourite question since I haven’t even left yet, let alone figured out what I will be doing tomorrow…). I get a lot of people telling me I am so brave, making a huge leap to the other side of the world to a place I have never seen, to a place where I know no one. IF only they knew how often I have found myself bursting into tears, or that my usual hit-the-pillow-and-off-to-sleepland bedtime routine is now¬†tortured by anxious and worried thoughts, “What am I doing? Am I making a huge mistake? How can I possibly leave everyone, everything behind?”

I seek reassurance¬†in beautiful pictures of NZ found through social media (who knew Instagram and Pinterest could become comfort blankets?) and hilarious posts from Air New Zealand’s Twitter page. I am bolstered by people’s awe and amazement that I am going to be living in¬†the country that everyone has always dreamed of visiting. The encouraging words are always much appreciated, and people’s interest in my grand adventure is a bittersweet treat as I have never liked being the centre of attention but I¬†am grateful that people are so genuinely interested in my well being and future.

Since my wee, little blog has now been given the TLC it so desperately required I can probably leave it to its devices for another little bit. With 2016’s expiry date also looming in the future, I can happily and confidently say that I pretty much accomplished my “resolution” for this year, though it will just be a bit belated… MAKE THE BIG MOVE!

Merry Christmas, and may your 2017 be the grand adventure you have always been seeking!

Basket Case

“It’s been 5 months since Give In to Me was published”

Oops. It’s been awhile, eh?

I didn’t forget about this little ol’ blog, if one can even call this a blog yet…

I didn’t feel like I was making enough notable progression with my road to NZ so I didn’t bother blogging… And also with so many fun going-ons happening this summer sixteen (anyone catch the Drake reference there?) I haven’t been rushing too much with this process. But now when I think about everything I have done, I feel a little more accomplished these past few months!

  1. Got my IELTS results! Overall Band Score: 8.5 (with 9 being perfect). I guess no one is perfect, not even a native English speaker ūüėČ
  2. Got my application papers notarized by a very grumpy notary…
  3. Got my passport certified
  4. Got two professional references (endless thanks to Paula a personal nursing role model who wrote me the most touching letter), still awaiting my character reference (*cough cough* Meghan)
  5. PAID MY NURSING COUNCIL OF NEW ZEALAND FEE !!!

Not that it was a secret before, but I am now openly telling people that I have full intentions of moving to NZ in the some time immediate future. I have a Pinterest NZ board. Bought myself a “Living and Working in New Zealand” book. It all feels very real, despite the part where nothing is really even close to being real yet hahaha

Just saw “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”, a quirky movie filmed in the rolling hills and forests of NZ, and the whole time my heart was pounding with excitement- I will be seeing that with my own eyes soon! (HIGHLY recommend seeing this movie BTW, it was so funny, I was legitimately crying with laughter on at least three occasions!)

This week I plan on getting in touch with my school of nursing because they need to send some forms in to the NZ Nursing Council, and then I need to clean-up my resume and then I can basically send all my papers over! HOLY MOLY!

Give In to Me

Oh, the nite shift life!

As a full-timer, I work two day shifts (0700-1900) then two nites shifts (1900-0700) and then I get five days off! It’s a pretty sweet get-up so long as you are good sleeper, which I am so excellent at. I sometimes describe sleeping as my personal super power! Superman jumps tall buildings in a single bound? I fall asleep pretty much anytime, anywhere in five minutes or less!

Sorry, I am already getting off-course. That will be a common theme in my writing, you have been forewarned…

Anyways. Tonite I am basically a glorified, over-paid babysitter. Don’t get me wrong, there are shifts where you don’t stop for one-minute and even then you don’t feel like you are getting half of what needs to be done done. But tonite my patient is stable, off-monitor, no lines, ready to be transferred to the floor.

I have therefore taken the opportunity of this q—- (Double Jeopardy Question: A 5-letter word that should never be uttered in a hospital in fear that it will bring about bad juju and utter chaos?) shift and started sending out some emails! I emailed my governing body to get copies of my current practicing certificate. I emailed my University School of Nursing to get course outlines and proof that I do in fact have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. I emailed my workplace HR to get a letter of employment noting the number of hours I have worked the last three years. As a nurse, I don’t send a whole heck of a lot of emails. I receive plenty, most of which I delete without reading (shhh, Don’t tattle on me!), so sending out three or four back-to-back like that made me feel very business-like! I began the process of filing out forms for the application process of becoming a nurse under the Nursing Council of NZ and also tried to tackle a few things on the To-Do List that Tonix sent me.

Last weekend I took my first REAL step in order to move my plans forward in my¬†NZ nursing registration, which feels very accomplishing! One of the requirements is an English language test, I was born and raised an English speaker, so this seemed quite rhetorical but rules are rules I suppose… I completed an Academic IELTS test while I was home in Ottawa, and though I don’t have my results back I feel fairly confident that it went well. The cost was $299 (which is very steep considering I already know that I speak English fluently…) and consisted of a Listening, Reading, Writing, and Speaking component. The first three sections took just over 3 hours, and the Speaking portion was a 10-minute, one-one-on-one ‘meeting’ that was scheduled for individual times later on in that same day.

I didn’t study for the test, rather I just quickly did a few practice questions to familiarize myself with what was the test format. I was probably one of the few (if only) native English speakers at the test, and found that the allotted times for each section were more than enough. I am waiting to receive the results from the test, and should hopefully get them in the mail shortly after March 4. I am so excited to find out how I scored, I almost feel like I am expecting an Owl from Hogwarts! Sitting the test made this all feel very REAL. This is no longer some wishy-washy dream, one way or another I am going to find myself in NZ!

Where is this (/she) going?

IN West-Ottawa born and raised, in Kingston is where I spent most of my days…

So why the blog? (Other than to rid my brain of a constant onslaught of thoughts…)

I have decided that 2016 is going to be¬†my¬†year. Taking the plunge and making the jump into the (very) deep end. It’s the year that I finally move abroad.

Moving abroad has been a not-so-secret thought in the back of my head for years now. I very casually said to my parents one day at lunch this past Fall, “Just so you guys know, I don’t plan on being here come next Fall.” Mom, “Here-here, or here as in Canada?” My reply was just a sheepish smile.

I came to a crossroads Spring 2015 when I was trying to decide what my plans were for the future. I was in a living situation that dictated an immediate change (life tip: always, always have agreements in writing…). As I could see it at that time I had four options-

  1. Stay in Kingston. Find a new apartment and apply for critical care positions- time to challenge myself professionally!
  2. Move back to Ottawa and live with my parents. Look into Canada-wide travel nursing using Ottawa as my literal home base.
  3. Move to Toronto. Get a place with my sister, be closer to my uni friends, experience ‘life in the big city’. But this meant competing in a much tougher job market with only a relatively small resume to boast about.
  4. Look for jobs up North.¬†My long-term ‘nursing life goals’ include working in a rural community and/or working with Native populations, and/or working for Doctors Without Borders so this idea is never really off the table.

I was having a really tough time with all these decisions since they were all quite viable and realistic. How fortunate I am to complain that I had too many choices!

I invested in all four options, praying for some sort of divine intervention to show me a clear path. Enlightenment came in the form of a call offering me a full-time position in the Intensive Care Combined Nursing at KGH. I gladly accepted, signed a new lease, and hunkered down for another year in Kingston knowing that my heart was bleeding to get out of Dodge.

As all summers do, it was Fall before I was even able to blink an eye. September flew by as I spent most of that month in the Balkans. October slipped past.  November trickled in, my heart was happy but the back burner of my mind was starting to stew the ideas of working/ living abroad. England, Australia, and New Zealand boiled to the top of desirable countries, and knowing people who had experience working in each of those countries, I started to put out some feelers. December brought me a bittersweet (though it tasted mostly disgustingly bitter at the time) encouragement to kick my butt into gear and start seriously looking for work options abroad.

After a great deal of contemplation my heart has been captured by New Zealand. I was recommended a travel agency called Tonix by a co-worker whose husband had formerly been partnered with them. I sent out that initial email expressing interest and got a lovely response back laying out the groundwork of what I needed to do in order to get on the road to living and working in New Zealand!!

So the goal is Fall 2016. I have a lot to do before then, endless amounts of paperworks and logistics needed to be done, but every journey starts with one step, right?

Here’s to the beginning of a (hopefully) grand adventure, follow along if you care to!