We’ve covered the process of getting ready to go to New Zealand as it involves the visa application process. Here we’ll cover the final steps in getting ready to board the plane and what we’ll need to do when we arrive in order to get settled for this new chapter in life.
First things first: pack, pack, pack. What do you bring with you when you’re moving halfway across the world for 3 years and can only take 2 suitcases and a carry-on each? Well, not much. Air New Zealand limits a traveler’s bags to 50 pounds (or up to 70 if you’re willing to spend some coin). The crazier stipulation is that carry-on suitcases can only weigh 15 pounds(!), which is remarkable since most carry-on suitcases weigh 7-8 pounds on their own.
So what do you bring? Clothes, computers, books (important ones I’ll need constant access to for research), personal items that make a place feel like home, and toiletries.
Most importantly is the clothes. Dunedin is a coastal town similar in climate to Seattle or Vancouver, BC. It doesn’t get very hot, think upper 60’s in the summer, nor does it get very cold (I think 40’s in the winter). But, it’s a damp kind of cold in the winter and, since most housing is poorly insulated if insulated at all, clothing to keep one warm warm warm is key. For us, this means wool. Lot’s of it.
The packing process has been spilled out over a couple of weeks and even now, a day before departure, we haven’t finalized the last few items we’re taking or leaving so that our suitcases are below the weight limit. For me (Luke) the difficult part is choosing which books to take and which books to leave.
Still, there’s something very freeing about taking minimal amounts of ‘stuff’. And, as we’ve found, there’s something very freeing about giving stuff away; about having less stuff overall. We’ve only been married now 20 months, but it’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ you can accrue over time.
Okay, what will we need to do when we get there? Lot’s of things!!! Thanks to some good friends also living in Dunedin that we know from our time in Denver, we have a friendly face to welcome us at the airport and a couple places to stay for around two weeks while we try to sort the following out.
First, we need to set up a bank account in Dunedin so that we have purchasing power for everything below. Also, there’s a bit of paper work I’ll need to attend to at the university so that I’m officially a PhD student at Otago and can begin receiving our stipend monies.
Second, we need to find housing. Since Dunedin is a university town, this shouldn’t be an overly onerous process, but we want to find a ‘home’ while we’re there and not just a place to sleep, eat and study. Environment is very important to the human psyche. The first 10 days or so will include a fair amount of house-visiting, and hopefully, the signing of a lease.
Next, we’ll need to buy a car to get around in for 3 years. For us the car will serve a very utilitarian purpose, point a to point b and back, so it need not be anything particularly nice. It will, however, be a bit of a change to drive on the left side of the road and right side of the car.
Finally, we’ll likely need to furnish our new homestead. This will probably take time, but a few things are key. One can only sleep on the floor using a pile of books for a pillow for so long, so a bed, some pots and pans, plates and utensils, a table, and some chairs will be our first targets.
After this, I think settling in to a new environment will involve driving around the town a bit to get a feel for the area, learn how to best get to the university, and a few long walks on the beach to help us unwind from a whirlwind couple of months.
Your prayers are appreciated as we fly out tomorrow at 3:35 from Denver and will be traveling for a total of 18 hours before arriving in Dunedin on Tues, Feb 5, 9:10am local time.