We’re a couple days away from moving to Dunedin and the last few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. How do two people prepare to move (almost) halfway across the world? There’s no manual or checklist that I’ve seen, but here’s a brief overview of how we’ve done it.
March 2012 – we accepted my (Luke) offered position to study at the University of Otago in New Zealand instead of a couple other offers in Scotland and England (perhaps more on that another time). Adulation and relief follow, having finally figured out where we’ll be moving and knowing we have nearly 11 months before the move.
June 2012 – we update our passports and decide to remain in Denver for another four months. Life is breezy. We still have a sold seven months before the move.
July ’12 – we get fingerprinted at the police station and send off our applications to the FBI for our official background checks which we’ll submit with our applications for our long-term visas. We also move from one town home in Denver to another, putting most of our stuff in storage in Denver, giving a large amount of furniture and other goods away, taking our clothes and other necessities to our new home, and bringing the majority of my library back to Nebraska to store with my parents. Let’s be honest, moving is about as enjoyable as a hernia anyways, but moving one’s possessions to three different locations is especially nightmarish.
November ’12 – our time in Denver is up. We move the rest of our stuff and our persons back to Nebraska where we’ll live until the departure. Two days after we get back, the real “fun” begins. It’s medical exam time. In order to apply for a long-term visa to New Zealand, one is required to go through an extend medical exam. These exams include the usual physical checkup, blood work, urine samples, etc. The bonus feature is that New Zealand requires chest x-rays to provide evidence one does not have TB. The kicker is that the health forms are complicated, like immigration reform complicated. But, after the help and careful work of 2 doctors, at least 4 nurses, 2 x-ray technicians and a radiologist, all 38 pages of the forms are filled out, signed, dated, and initialed correctly.
The final piece to our visa puzzle is the ‘proof of relationship’ section of the application. Let’s just say we were required to prove not just that we were married, which would have been easy enough, but that we’ve actually done life together for as long as we were saying we had. In addition to copies of the marriage license we had to provide proof of living together via copies of tenancy contracts, evidence of paying bills together, joint bank accounts, insurance policies, proof of correspondence over the length of our relationship, pictures of us together at different times in different places, proof of vacationing together, etc, etc, etc.
Once we completed this final stage, we were able to mail off all three sections of the application to the New Zealand Embassy in Washington DC and pray we were approved for the long-term 3 year visas. I (Luke) would receive the student visa while Steph would receive a 3 year work visa that would allow her to receive health care in New Zealand. God was gracious: after 2 weeks we received our visas!! It was a stressful process and I’m thankful nearly everyday that it is done and we have our visas in hand for the duration of our time in NZ.
Since this post has become rather lengthy already, it will suffice to say we had many other details to attend to. Including, preparing Stephanie’s work files for transition to her working remotely from New Zealand, selling one car and putting the other in long-term storage, and on and on. It’s been a ride!!!