Saturday, March 27, 2010

1 Year in!

Brandon and I have been in NZ for 1 year... yesterday!

We flew out of Atlanta on March 25th and arrived in Wellington on March 27th... one hell of a time change!

The road here was just as bumpy as the flight into Wellington! It took about 1.5 years of denials then approvals for us to get our pretty blue stickers in our passports. We actually left the US before our residency had gone through and thank God it did! We pretty much sold everything we had in the US just to save up and be able to afford to move over here.

We took about 2 weeks off before we flew out to say our goodbyes to the family & friends. We went to Sarasota, FL to see my family, then to TN and ATL to see Brandon's family. The only time I actually cried was when I got in the car and our dog jumped in with us. Then trying to get her our of the car and her staring at us cause she didn't understand why she wasn't going with us... I just lost it! (getting misty eyed just thinking about it now)

Again, we sadly had to leave our dog in the US and we miss her everyday! She is living with my parents now and is spoiled as so we don't feel (too) bad for leaving her behind. She has constant ear infections (cocker spaniel) and we didn't think that she would have be able to handle the 30+ hours of flying and then the 30 days of quarantine, since she wouldn't leave our side at a puppy park or anywhere for that matter!

I've Skyped a few times with some family and friends which is great! I got to see my dad blow out the candles on his birthday cake which made it feel little like I was there. We've also been able to see our dog which has been good and bad!

When we first arrived we stayed with friends in Khandalla for about a month before we found our own flat to rent out in Kelburn. We moved in around Easter 2009 and haven't moved out yet. We're in a great spot in Kelburn and can walk to the Cable Car, bus or Village in 5 minutes

Finding jobs wasn't as easy though. After about a month I was VERY lucky and got a fixed term gig for someone that was taking maternity leave. The job ended at the end of 2009. Another job opened up in another dept which started in the new year which was perfect timing! I applied and interviewed and started in Jan of this year. It's much more stressful at the moment, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Brandon on the other hand didn't have as much luck with work. He had 1 interview with a company that sets up av stuff but the hours/pay didn't work so he had to pass that up. Finally around 5-6 months after we got here he found an easy IT help desk job, that he hates... He's finally got his butt in gear and will be going back to school in May (after talking about it for years) for Animation and Digital Video (already has post production degree). He needs a job that will let him be creative so hopefully once he has this diploma he can get something with Weta (his dream) or a company that does similar projects.

We have been walking machines since we moved here! We don't have a car but might see about getting one soon. wow... I haven't driven a car in a year! Could be interesting when I give it a go!

We haven't really traveled too much since we've been here. We took off one weekend and went to Otaki Beach, which was great! The weather was a bit shit, but we had enough time to get some shells before it started raining. We then just sat in the house all weekend watching tv, drinking and playing Scrabble. Which got us hooked to the game and we had to go out and buy it for ourselves! We just had a wedding to go to this weekend so we drove out to Masterton for the day. Ugh... I'm so not used to being in cars anymore and the curvy roads! The views over the Rimutaka's were fantastic though!...when I wasn't thinking of the nausea! We're spending our Easter weekend in Napier, which might be our last get-a-way since Brandon's starting school soon.

So how do we like Wellington... I HATE the weather! I'm really dreading this winter that's almost here again and I think I blinked at the wrong time and missed Summer completely! I'm always cold here and it gets me rather depressed at times. I know! I know! You don't move to Wellington for the weather! So when the weather is nice, and I'm not suck inside working I like to walk around town and sit by the water. I got a lovely sunburn on my arms one day while reading by the water... I'm still a bit tanner in that one spot! I think we've convinced our landlord to get us some heaters for the living room. We have a panel heater in the bedroom that we bought which helps a bit on those cold nights. Hopefully our landlord will get us some of those so the electric bill doesn't go insane. They live in the house above us and seem genuinely concerned about our happiness living here. He always makes sure I'm ok and still happy with the flat (I think he knows that if the wife isn't happy that's all that matters! good man! haha) Electricity is just as expensive as everything else here which we found out quite fast. I'm sure you all remember that fiasco! Clothing and shoes are soo expensive here! I just can't get myself to spend the $$. Walking around during the 7's was great! However, I can't see how Halloween isn't big here... I mean it would give another excuse to wear your costumes! We survived the holidays away from our family's. It was the first EVER Thanksgiving and Christmas away from my family so I wasn't sure how I would handle it. We both worked on Thanksgiving but we just had a nice fancy meal for dinner. We stayed here for Christmas and just made a turkey for 2 and spent some time with friends the other days off. I think it really helped to make our own traditions now that we're married and have this new life here. I don't feel totally settled here yet, I just feel like there is something missing but I have no clue what it is. We have all that we need (big flat screen was the first thing we bought) and a nice place to live. Maybe it's the fact that we don't have a car or any pets... Trying to find a place to rent that allows pets and isn't a million dollars a week is another issue. I really want to get a dog but haven't found a nice place yet... Our landlord has a dog so I get my fill by petting him from time to time but it's just not the same.

All in all life has been good here in Wellington. I miss my family and friends but haven't been depressed about it or home sick. Brandon's going back to school soon and here's a scary thought... we're not too horrified by the idea of having kids! Eek! Maybe in another year or two we might actually try... ugh... I'm still freaked out about it... maybe 3 years from now...

So that's been our year in Wellington... More to come... in another year!

Friday, July 10, 2009

So it's been awhile...

Not much has been going on lately... My trainer at work has left and had her baby (a boy). Things have been going ok at work... Besides someone stealing my lunch... yes, someone took my lunch! Who does that?! They took my sandwich, which had my name on it, and left the yogurt, which also had my name on it! I left a note on the fridge saying that someone owes me lunch! So now I no longer put my lunch in the break room fridge and i put it in a small fridge on the 3rd floor. So far my lunch has been safe there!

Our Residency still hasn't gone though... I guess what my US Dr wrote wasn't good enough... I'm not sure what he wrote because I didn't open the envelope... maybe I should have! So I'll be seeing a Dr here on Monday the 13th (it's going to hurt to pay them) and hopefully everything will be good! My whole medical issue is the only thing that is hold us up. I don't think that we will get denied because of it... but man this is taking soooo long! I mean it's been over a year since we stared this whole immigration process and it's STILL not done! We have hit every speed bump there! It's getting really frustrating! Hopefully in another month or 2 we will know what our fate is!

Brandon is still looking for work, and in the mean time has written a screenplay! It's really good! I'm so proud of him! But, for some reason he's not having any luck getting work though... which is silly! I think it's the fact that we don't have Residency and the economy slowing here is the reason. With it slowing down here people are looking to hire native Kiwi's or people with residency. Hopefully he gets something soon so he doesn't go insane!

We went to a church the other week and it's was pretty cool. The music pastor came up to us before hand and introduced himself... and he's an American!! The service was really nice and there are people from all over the world there! Another couple intoduced themselves a little later and the guy is a Kiwi and the girl is from the US as well! We didn't go last week because we didn't feel good but I think that we will go again tomorrow... Hopefully it doesn't rain!

And on to the weather... It SUCKS! It's sooo cold here! Even in the house! I've learned to layer! luckily i work 10 minutes away so I don't get too drenched in the rain!

Anywho... that's all that I can think of at the moment... I'm starving so I must eat breakfast!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Some good news, a little bad, and some more issues!

~ Welp... I've got myself a job! After applying to over 50 jobs on Seek and having only 3 interviews (two with temp agencies). I'll be working for Victoria Uni (They don't say University here) as an accounts coordinator! Basically I'll be making sure that money comes in and out. It's also only a 5 minute walk from the apartment...literally! For the interview I left the house at noon, an hour early just in case... and I arrived at 12:05... :-/So that will be my home away from home for the next 7 months. I'll be filling in for a lady that will be taking her maternity leave. She will be training me for a month and then she will be off! Yes... she really will have 6 months off! Not something you would see in the US! I start working on May 18th and will finish December 23rd. We should have our residency by then and hopefully something else will open up and I can keep working there.

~ Brandon is still looking for work, but I have a feeling that he will be getting something soon though! I think it's been hard for us since we don't have our Residency just yet. Employers want to give jobs to Kiwi's and not someone just here in a work visa like us.

~ We're ALMOST there with our Residency! Our Case Officer has asked for more proof of our relationship and a marriage license isn't enough. We sent him PDF's of our bank statements (which is the same thing you would get in the mail), and they can't accept them... So we got on the phone and started with the lovely international phone calls... dreading that bill! So after about 30 minutes of trying to get them to send us the statments here in NZ, we got nowhere! Because the NZ address isn't what they have on file they can't send them to us here. So we tried to change the address... welp because it's an over seas address we have to go into a branch...
HELLO???!?!!??!
So our US bank told us that they will send them out to the address on file and since we've had our mail forwarded to my parents it should arrive there.... Once my parents get them, they will send it to us and the we will send them to London along with some other things we found... I just tried to change the address online and ordered some statements so hopefully that will work because my parents should have already received the ones they said they would send...

~ We had a leaky window problem that seems to be fixed now... again... SOO glad we have a great landlord!

~ Oh! We got our shipment!! WOO!! Everything that we packed up in the US arived safe and sound! Nothing broke! We had about 22 boxes that we shipped over... once we opened everything up and got it all put away... we wondered 'what did we bring?!' , 'that's all we brought?' and 'we should have brought more things!'. The one thing we wish we brought other than furniture was our kitchen stuff! Having to buy new dishes, pots and pans...ugh! It's a pain! but we have what we need now and we love our place!

Welp it's time to feed!

~Renee~

Saturday, April 25, 2009

One month in...

So we have been here about a month now! We're still looking for work. :( But Brandon and I both have job interviews next week and keeping our fingers crossed that we will have jobs by the end of next week... before we kill each other! WE NEED JOBS! Not only to pay the bills but I need something to do! I'm bored!!

I'm getting somewhat used to the cold weather (meaning I make sure I have enough layers on!). The weather hasn't been too bad mostly nice sunny days. Just a few yucky rainy days. Over all it's been nice.

For some reason, trying to get cable in this apartment is impossible! We had one company come out and couldn't hook up the cable tv because the wires in the walls weren't right.... So we call another to see about having satellite tv (which most people here have) and they tell us it's going to be about 10 days before they could get someone out here... super... So we wait and finally the day came! For them to do nothing... It seems that someone cut the wires (I'll get to this) to the dish and they will have to come back to put up a new dish and rerun all the wires. Get the 'ok' from the landlord as well. Awesome...

Back to the cut wires... the electrician went a little cut happy and cut our internet wire! So they had to call our provider up and see if they could come to fix it. When they came to set it up they didn't even want to install the internet because they had to go under the house to run the wire. Thank God Mark (landlord) was here to get them to do it... otherwise we wouldn't have cable OR internet!

So we have a phone line and internet... but still no TV! Being a TV junky... I'm dying! We did get a TV and a blue-ray player so we've been watching those over and over again... (yeah! Harry Potter!) There is also a little movie rental place about a 5 minutes walk away here in Kelburn so we've rented a few other movies to keep Brandon sane.

We should have our shipment by now. It's sitting around waiting to be delivered... but it won't come yet because the US company hasn't paid the NZ company. We gave them (US) a check which bounced (forgot to move the money ... DOH!) and then we sent another which they haven't deposited yet. We want our stuff!

Trying to put money into our NZ bank from our US bank has been a pain in the arse! Xe.com is a pain but, I think we finally got all the paperwork completed and I think we might owe them our first born...

I walked into the bathroom this morning to brush my teeth and I heard a squishing noise but didn't see any water... So I yelled for Brandon and I said "Do you hear that?" and walked over the spot again... Awesome... there is water under the floor! It was just in one spot, maybe a 3 foot square. So, Brandon and I argue over who is going to call the landlord... I won and he called. (He's not scary, he's just like a parent that you don't want to disappoint and it felt like we were calling to ask for money. Like you really don't want to but you just got to suck it up and do it...haha...) There was someone at the house within the hour. Come to find out a screw in the wall behind the dish washer had gone through a pipe! Everything was fixed within a few hours.

On a good note... We meet up with some fellow Americans who I meet on the Immigration Forum we're on. Good times, Good Food! Chicken to be exact! Speaking of food, it's going to take some time to get used to the food here! It's not just hamburgers, hot dogs and steaks! This being picky thing is getting annoying! I still can't help it but I'm working on it... slowly... I've had a few different pizza's and they were good... but not like good ole American pizza!

Here are some of my new favorite food items here in NZ...


Bluebird Chips, 1.5 liter of Coke, TimTam cookies and Skittles fruits


The flavors are different! Blackberry, Strawberry, Orange, Green Apple & Lemon


They don't have grape jelly here (that i've found at least) so... I have to eat this!


Even the Harry Potter books look different!



Oh yea! and we think our neighbor is a famous opera singer! We can hear him sometimes singing from somewhere... his voice isn't bad either!

That's all for today...

~Renee~




Thursday, April 9, 2009

We're moved in.... almost...

So we've moved into our new place in Keburn! We have a washer, mattress and a bed frame to put it on! We just need to put the frame together...

Our shipment is here but in customs so we will have to wait. We still need to get living room stuff and dining room stuff...we're getting there!

We were going to buy somethings today... like a screwdriver and some pillows! So when we rode the cable car down... we remembered that it's Good Friday. Which means everything is closed! EVERYTHING! If a place is open today they can/will get a fine! So the few places that are open will charge you even more... so they can pay the fine! ha! Most businesses are closed from Friday to Monday and open back up on Tuesday for Easter.

So it's 5pm on Good Friday... and we're bored! no tv... just the internet... super... and I'm getting tired of looking at this screen!

So to sign off today... I'm going to attempt to add a video Brandon took from the balcony of Gill and Big Steves place in Khandallah. That's where we were staying before we moved here to Kelburn!

video

Sunday, April 5, 2009

One week in...

So it's Monday, April 6th... and we've been here just over a week now.

We've been able to find a place to rent (yeah!). It's in Kelburn and is about a 30 second walk to the Cable Car! (That's the picture on the top of the page) That way we will be able to take the cable car down into the city and walk to work from there.... For my fellow American's... it's a great location, just outside the downtown area! We're renting an apartment that is under the main house which is being completly redone inside. The apartment has also been completely redone so everything is brand new!! I'll post some pictures soon... we move in on Thursday!

We've desided on a bedroom set! We're only getting the bed frame, mattress and 2 side tables. We don't need any tall dressers or low dressers (they call tallboys and lowboys). The closet is pretty big and has some drawers so we probably won't need anything else.

Today we bought a new washer that will be put in on Thursday. We're not going to get a dryer because we can just hang our clothes to dry. Most places here don't have dryers because electricity is soo expensive. If we ever change our minds there is room to add a dryer...

We're still looking for jobs and have applied to many places and registered with a temp agency. Hopefully we should have a job soon....hopefully!

We've been walking around the city like crazy and our legs are killing us!

More to come!...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leaving the USA & arriving in NZ!

We had a bit of a road trip before we flew out. The month of March has all about travelling!!

From Orlando we traveled 2 hours south to Sarasota to see my family. Then we drove 8 hours north to Atlanta to see Trenton (Brandon's twin). Then we drove 2 hours north to TN to see Brandon's Mom, where Megan (sister) and Red came to visit as well. From there we drove BACK to Atlanta for a few more days before we flew out...

The goodbyes went well... no one really cried... well a few teary eyes but no major breakdowns. I did cry when we had to leave our dog Bailey in Sarasota with my parents though. The day before we left her she was playing out side and we were about to go somewhere so I got into the car and Brandon went to get Bailey back into the house.... She kept turning back to look at me because she knew I was in the car! I nearly started crying then!

Brandon got sick the last 2 days in Atlanta which made the flights horrible for him. He still can't hear out of his right ear... We flew from Atlanta to Los Angeles... Los Angeles to Auckland... Auckland to Wellington... The wait to get through customs in Auckland wasn't too bad and we made it through with no problems. Our bags went through ok, however, since we had 3 guitars the man inspecting the baggage told us that because we had so many we had to pay a special fee... play a song!... ahhh the Kiwi humour!

Once in Wellington we got all of our baggage really quickly and met up with Big Steve and took a cab up to his place. We showered and napped the day away!