How things change

24 03 2011

Three years ago this week, my husband and I left the UK for a three-year stint in Connecticut, USA. I had been working for my company for three years and they were sending me on a three-year overseas assignment at a joint-venture company.

I remember the emotions. First I had to take our cats on the 1.5 hour drive to my mum’s to leave them there. I must have cried for about 1 hour and 25 minutes of that journey as the stressed purry furries howled and yowled, puked, pee’d and pooed. Stressing me out.

Then we said goodbye to our belongings as they were packed into a container, only to be seen on the other side of the Atlantic.

Next it was goodbye to our lovely house. We’d already found some tenants to rent it out to but we’d owned it since new and enjoyed living there.

And finally it was goodbye to our family and friends. We’d managed to hold off moving until we could go to my sister’s birthday party and a farewell lunch, but it was hard.

Despite having lived all over the UK, and away from home since I was 18, I’d never moved abroad. I just didn’t know what to expect and how I would cope. My husband had moved to Germany with the Air Force and to Cyprus when his dad was in the Air Force, so to him, it was nothing.

As it happened, the move was a good one from a lifestyle point of view. It enabled us to do a lot of things we wouldn’t have otherwise done.

One of those things was a trip to NZ. We booked it purely as a holiday of a lifetime as we’d talked several times about it being our number one dream holiday destination.

Just before we went on holiday, someone planted the seed of an idea about moving there, and a potential job opportunity. So, with this thought at the back of our minds we used the holiday as an opportunity to learn more about the country and decide whether we could see ourselves living there.

Short answer was – damn right we could. Now, how could we make it happen.

Well, it was nearly a year between our two landings in NZ. It took me about 7 months to get the required job offer to have enough points on the NZ Immigration Skilled Migrant points system. From then it was a whirlwind of paper gather and waiting while Immigration made their minds up. And from submitting our Expression of Interest to NZIS to landing in NZ was 3.5 months.

But with our three-year anniversary of leaving the UK now here, it has given me a chance to reflect on what might have been. We might have been going back to the UK this week at the end of a hard three-year stint at a company in disarray. Back to a company that doesn’t value the profession I work in.

We might have been moving somewhere else in the world with the company, or have stayed in the US. But we chose not to. We chose a new life. A new start. A new country.

Just prior to moving here, we had cause to go back to the UK – sad circumstances but fortunate timing. It was the last time we were to see our families until, well, who knew?

During our stint in the States, we’d managed to go “home” several times. The company allowed us two flights a year and my work often took me through the UK, so we made the most of it. Often “dropping in” for a night as we transitted through. That was to be no longer.

This time “leaving home” was for real. Proper. And an awfully long way.

But it was somehow less emotional.

And six-months into our new life in NZ, there are no regrets. We are really enjoying our new life here. We’re making new friends and work is going well for the both of us. New opportunities beckon. It truly is a new life.

I remember some advice I gave a young guy who used to work for me, just before I left for NZ. He’d been making lots of hints about wanting to move to another US town. He had friends there, the cost of living was lower and it was a lively party town.

My advice? If you really want something, you have to go out and make it happen. It won’t come and seek you out. You only have one life. Don’t reach an age where your dreams are no longer possible and look back and wonder “what if?”

What would you do?

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