One

Tempus fugit:

Though I’d anticipated a painful start to the day, in reality 05h00 isn’t so bad when your body is 5 hours ahead. So the night time breakfast was closer to 07h00 as far as my body was concerned. Rather quickly we had touched down, the cork had been popped and I was doing my usual brisk stride towards immigration. The car and driver were waiting; so too were my sister-in-law and nieces. The apartment hotel was nice—and large. We dropped bags, I jumped in the shower and we had a cuppa. The girls were given their wee gifties, then I bade them farewell. In the next 2 hours I would sort out banking, mobile plan and send off my tax file number application. Not a bad start for day one in a new country. The evening would be dinner with good friends as I strove to stay awake as long as possible.

After my “chores” I also did a reconnaissance to my new office. I found the main campus for the med school, grabbed my office keys and swipe card, then waddled down Symonds Street to the city campus to get my staff ID card. It was Friday and Monday would be my first day at work: I wanted to control for as many variables as possible Monday morning, since I would almost certainly be: 1.) stressed, 2.) excited, 3.) jetlagged, and a bit 4.) sad.

I think back about that morning—one year ago today—and it strikes me how much I am like my Dad (“Your father is very task oriented” Ma used to say). And how quickly this first year in New Zealand has flown by.  It’s been a very busy year, with all sorts of noteworthy stuff happening, including:

  • Surviving a 7 month separation from Himself
  • Starting a new role
  • Beginning a new relationship with my kiwi in-laws
  • Trying to restart my research career
  • Forcing myself to be social well beyond my comfort zone
  • Travels to Hawaii, Wellington, Christchurch, Tongariro, White Island (x2), Sydney (x3), Raro, Canada, Portugal, and Romania.

Year one, done and dusted. Year two starts today.  When I arrived a year ago I anticipated that much of the transition part of migrating would be behind me. Overestimated, in fact. The area where we’re still not as settled as I would like is housing. This apartment was OK for a first year, but the combination of not having sold Vancouver yet and not wanting to suffer through two major moves in the next 12 months led us to renew this lease for another 5 months. It’s not a horrible place; it’s just to small for all our shite stuff.  So our post-Christmas project will be looking for a proper home, ideally one to buy.

I’m often asked “how’s like in New Zealand?” The immediate answer is great. Overall I’m very happy here. I have a great, well-paying job, we live in a great area, and are plugging in nicely into the community. The climate is great—never boring and much warmer than Vancouver, without it being an oppressively hot summer. Coffee is something of a miracle here too. The negatives are small and numerous: mostly it relates to the price gouging that kiwis accept as normal. Electricity and some groceries are insanely over-priced, based on a 1970s international commerce model that doesn’t really exist anymore: bringing goods to NZ isn’t that expensive, but retailers are still messaging that it is to consumers. But that’s also improving over time. My biggest complaint is broadband speeds (we get 5mbp/s at home, max), though we are now in the queue to get “ultra-fast” broadband for an extra $20 a month (speeds up to 30 mbp/s!). Can’t wait to be able to stream high definition video again—and to do Skype without dropping video and audio packets!

This year has, on balance, gone exceedingly well. There are so many people to thank: our good mates, our friends and families, and my new work colleagues in particular.