A 3 Month Retrospective

We’ve been in New Zealand for over 3 months.  A lot has changed since then, and I’m not just talking about the weather.

I’ve realized that I can live and make a home in a foreign country.  That some things will always be the same.  That there are friends who keep in touch with you no matter where you live.  That Skype and scheduled video calls are a blessing.

I’ve been reminded that there are always ways to push your boundaries.  That there is always more growing-up to do.  That calling your grandparents from the opposite side of the globe will make their month and cause them to call up all of their friends and family to tell them that their granddaughter called them from New Zealand.  And then I’ll get phone calls and emails from people telling me about it.  Always take the time to call your grandparents!

I still haven’t traveled a whole lot.  The furthest south I’ve been is Sylvia Park Mall {a mere 7.5 miles from here}, and the furthest north is Takapuna {not much further at 7.6 miles away}.  The furthest east was St. Heliers {again, around 7 miles}, and the furthest west has been Waitakere {about 8 miles}.  All of those places are considered part of Auckland.  It’s kind of pathetic, really.  To think that in the 3 months that we’ve been in New Zealand, I’ve not ventured much beyond a 16 mile radius of our apartment.  Not having a car at your disposal can really limit your travel options, and it makes short distances seem much farther away.

I’ve started carrying an umbrella with me just about everywhere I go.  Or if I don’t have my umbrella, I’m wearing a raincoat.  I’ve grocery shopped online.  Never did I imagine myself sitting at a table, picking out my fruits and veggies with the click of a mouse.  I love it!  I’ve started doing 2 week meal plans, and we’ve done surprisingly well at staying on track.

I’ve realized that iTunes is country specific.  I’ve started a free trial subscription with Fatso.co.nz.  No, it’s not a weight-loss service.  It’s the closest thing that NZ has to Netflix.  I was skeptical, but finally caved after the only remaining video rental store within walking distance moved across the bridge.  We’ll see how it goes.

I’ve worked as an ER {or ED, as they say over here} nurse, and am slowly coming to enjoy it.  It’s different from what I’m used to, but I’m finding my feet.  I’ve been able to work on projects again.  I have a {relatively} clean house.  My work-life balance is much more… balanced.  I love that I’m able to do this.  I can’t imagine working at my last ER, much as I loved it, and still having the free time that I do now.  I’m not taking it for granted.

By the way, not that anyone should read anything into this, but did you know that in New Zealand, women get 3 months paid maternity leave?  That doesn’t include any PTO that you’ve earned and want to use – this is built in for each employee.  And while you’re on ML, you’re still accruing time off at your regular rate.  I don’t know if this is the case with every employer, but I was told that this is the policy at my place of work.  Amazing.

I still miss Bear.  We saw him on Skype the other day, and while he looks fantastic, I miss my little friend.  I’ve had some comments and emails about how it was selfish of us to not bring our dog, how “dogs are a part of the family, and {the commenter} could never give one away just for a career opportunity.”  First off, I say good riddance to bad rubbish and press “delete”.  Then, I remember that Bear is very, very happy where he is right now.  He has another play-puppy to goof around with.  He has owners who are family and absolutely love him {despite the fact that one night he threw up all over their floor}.  He gets to go swimming on a regular basis.  And he didn’t have to fly for 25 hours in cargo and spend a month in a small, quarantine cell.  I don’t judge people who choose to bring their pets.  Some animals are better suited for that kind of thing.  Bear would have been miserable.

I’ve started getting emails from people all over the world, asking questions about our move.  I love it.  I’m excited that some of my experience can be used to help other people, if only to say, “You can do it!  I did it!  You’ll survive – I promise.”  I’ve found other bloggers who gave me the same support and encouragement before our move and during those first few weeks.  It made things much easier 🙂

So there you have it – 3 months.  Some days, it seems like America is much, much farther away than it is.  And sometimes I forget that I’m living in another country.  I’ll be reminded when I find I recipe that I want to try, only to discover that they don’t have graham crackers in New Zealand, or other stuff like that.  It’s strange and can be a little disorienting at times, but I’m learning every day!

I can’t wait to see what the next 3 months will bring 🙂

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16 comments

  1. Courtney says:

    I just got back from a trip to the States for a wedding and while it was great to see everyone, I really felt like I was home as I rode the bus back into Auckland. We’ve been here five months and we enjoy it more and more everyday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, they’re always enjoyed!

  2. Juli Ryan says:

    I have been living in NZ for 8 years, and there is so much that I haven’t seen. So, here’s hoping that during spring and summer we get to go to some amazing places. xx

  3. Priscilla says:

    Can’t believe you’ve been here 3 months either, time’s flown! but i’m so glad you came 🙂 And yes, my thoughts exactly Travis – we need to take you out of Aucks for a bit of sightseeing!

  4. bettyl says:

    Congrats! It’s not easy to move to a different country, but NZ is a great place to live once you get used to ‘the NZ way’ of doing things. We decided to expand to SkyTV when our tiny, local video shop ran out of ‘new releases’ for us to watch!

    I hope you get to see more of the North Island soon. It’s gorgeous!!!! It’s so gorgeous that I started a photoblog just to show the folks back home! Have a look when you have time http://myworldthrumycameralens.blogspot.com/

  5. Travis says:

    Okay that’s it. Next weekend, and if not then definitely the weekend after, we are taking you guys further afield than Auckland. You pick the direction and we’ll make it happen!

  6. Erin says:

    You truly have made such a graceful transition. Your blog was such a ray of hope for me as we prepared to make the move (and I know for so many others), and now I am so happy to have you as a friend (and distant neighbor).

    And yay to online shopping! Love it!

  7. stephanie says:

    Thank you for your comments!!

    I have always wanted to pack up and go…but we haven’t moved…and probably wont ever…but we do dream about it a lot!

    Don’t listen to other people give you advice on your dog Bear. The only thing that matters is that you are at peace with your decision, we would have done the same thing. And if he is happy, it proves you made the right choice! 🙂

  8. Sally Stefanich says:

    HI! My name is Sally and I am dreaming of doing RN work in NZ and I am so excited to read your blog!!
    I live in Seattle and have worked at a trauma hospital in the Burn/Plastics area with some pediatric trauma.
    I would just love to hear all about your adventure and will read your very detailed post about paperwork soon (you really were generous to share all that)
    One question: is the norm in NZ to do 8 or 12 hour shifts at hospitals? I am really not a fan of the 12 hour shift. Options for part-time? Lots of job openings? I am just itching to go on a surveillance trip in NZ to check it out. We have kids ages 9 and 11 so this big idea of mine would impact them too. And my husband who is an engineer – I do not know what kind of work he would find other than selling ice blocks!

    So, thank you for reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you!

    Best regards,
    Sally Stefanich
    sallystefanich@yahoo.com

  9. Perfectly Imperfect says:

    I honestly can’t believe you have been there for three months. Does not seem that long at all! I’m glad you are adjusting well.

    And that maternity leave is unreal. I took two months unpaid. Yes, I’m a bit bitter. That’s almost a good enough reason to have a babe over there 😉

  10. Tami says:

    3 months already?! That seems impossible! It sounds like you are adjusting very well:)

    About that maternity leave…in Canada they get a whole year! For real. I’m not sure if it’s 100% paid, but I do know it’s a year!

  11. K.C. says:

    Good for you! What an insightful little status check. Even if you’ve stayed in a 16 mile radius, you’ve obviously challenged yourself and learned a ton!

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