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!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The roller coaster ride

So ... The Ponies are back from the honeymoon and start looking into moving to New Zealand!

At the end of March 2008, we found the New Zealand Immigration website and started looking at the different visa's that they offered. We saw that we would be able to apply for Permanent Residency(PR) under the Skilled Migrant Category, because of Brandon's education in sound/audio. That would allow us to live and work in New Zealand but not have to give up our USA citizenship.

We did the Quick Test and came out with 115 points which was enough to get the ball rolling. We then submitted the Expression of Interest (EOI), it would be in the pool for up to 6 months. Then we just had to wait for Immigration to select our EOI to get to the next step. After 3-4 months and still no selection we noticed that Brandon could add another year of work experience! That gave us 120 points on our EOI... and low and behold... we got selected!!! YEAH!!!

So we've been selected!! Now we have to hear from a Case Officer (CO) to see what to do now. We heard from our CO who told us that we will lose our points for Brandon's Education because his school isn't on the "list" of approved accreditation companies. UGH!!!! That meant that we wouldn't have enough points to get our Invitation To Apply (ITA), which is the last step! However, if we were to get his education assessed through New Zealand Qualifications Authority
and it came back at a level 5 we would be able to keep the points that we needed.

We quickly gathered all the info for Brandon's education and sent that out. Our CO waited very patiently while NZQA worked their magic. We finally got the paperwork back from NZQA with a level 4... Which was less than what we needed! We're DOOMED! We needed a level 5! We emailed our CO and told her what we got back and surprisingly it was ok!! Because of the job he can do, we got all the points we needed! Our ITA was on the way!!!! Picture us doing a little jig here!

...on a side note... NZQA made a mistake and we had them look at everything again and we DID get a level 5 now for Brandon's education!

Now we had to gather all the info to send in with the ITA. We had to get our medicals and police records done. We got all of the paperwork together and sent it all back to NZIS. Our paperwork was officially lodged on December 19, 2008 with the London branch of NZIS. And we're still waiting for a new CO to look over our paperwork and we will get one of the 3 results...
  1. Permanent Residency
  2. Work to Residency (like a 2 year probation/trial period... prove that we can survive there)
  3. Denied

Since we couldn't stand being in Orlando much longer we decided to try to get to New Zealand before we've heard anything from NZIS. Brandon already used his Working Holiday Visa (WHV) so we used BUNAC for his 1 year work visa, and I used my WHV. Those were approved very quickly and we're on the way!!

The London Branch of NZIS is currently working on ITA's that were lodged upto December 16th... so we should be hearing from someone rather soon!

Our time line:
EOI Submitted: 120 points no job: 03/23/08
EOI Selected: 06/18/08
EOI Rejected: 08/14/08
NZQA Results: 09/06/08
EOI Successful: 11/13/08
ITA Received: 11/22/08
ITA Lodged: 12/19/08
PR approved: ????

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How it all began...

So this is the story of how the Ponies got together and how they ended up living in New Zealand.

Long, long ago in a far away land called Orlando, Florida two people started working in the same store. Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl like each other... Boy and Girl have bad timing and they go off on their own ways... About a year or so later, Boy decides he needs a change and moves to New Zealand in March 2006 and spends a year there. A few months before Boy comes back from New Zealand, Boy and Girl start random email conversations through a little known site called Myspace. The emails progress to chatting on another little known application called AIM. From there it snowballed! Boy comes back from New Zealand March 2007. Meets up with Girl again. Boy and Girl start dating. A year later they are married on March 8, 2008! (apparently there is something with the month of March...)

Boy secretly plots to have the honeymoon in New Zealand. Boy's plot works. Boy and Girl spend 2 weeks in New Zealand. Girl gets to meet all of Boy's great friends that he constantly talked about while back in Orlando. Girl falls in love with New Zealand! With the help of the fantastic owners of a little B&B in Queenstown, the idea of moving to New Zealand gets planted in Boy and Girl's mind.

As soon as Boy and Girl get back from the New Zealand honeymoon trip, they start looking into how they can get back over again. And so the roller coaster began!