I thought I’d get the ball rolling by answering a few of the most common questions I’ve been asked about this trip. I find that whenever I’m asked some of these, I respond in robot mode (“So how long are you going to be there?” “Sixmonthstoayear!”). There’s a lot of exciting stuff that probably gets lost when this happens, so hopefully I’ll do the experience justice with a blog post:
What are you doing down there, anyway?
While living in Chicago, I worked for a content marketing company (this essentially means that we help our clients create SEO-optimized content for their websites). I had worked my way up from writing to editing, and was managing a team of about eight people before I left.
The company I worked for in Chicago has a sister company in New Zealand, which it how I got this amazing opportunity. While they are different companies, they essentially follow the same business model/do the same thing, and have a long-term relationship. I applied for a writing position here in New Zealand – and here I am! I am lucky enough to be able to live and work abroad with the security of knowing I can return to my company in Chicago once I’ve finished my contract here.
How long are you going to be in New Zealand?
As you probably gleaned from the example of robot-Maggie, the length of my stay in New Zealand is undefined. My employment contract is for six months, and it’s my understanding that if I want to stay longer (and continue doing a decent job at work), I can do so.
Now that we have the formal response out of the way, I’ll tell you how I really feel about staying longer than six months. I’m trying to be really open to my own feelings about the whole issue, and I’m forcing myself not to decide one way or the other quite yet. If things go well and I feel called to stay for the entire year, I will – but if I find that I really miss my life at home and want to go back, I need to let myself be open to that too. I have a tendency to do what I would consider “the right thing” even if it doesn’t make me happy, and I know that it’s within the realm of my personality to force myself to stay the whole year because it sounds cool to say I did. I want to let things play out and see how it goes – so, we’ll see!
Is Nick coming with you?
This is honestly the most awkward question to answer, because as most of you probably know by now, no, Nick is staying in Chicago while I have this little adventure in New Zealand. Every time we give someone that response, we get looks of pity or confusion, which – not gonna lie – makes me feel uncomfortable. Nick and I both have our own separate dreams that we want to accomplish, because – gasp! – married people still remain independent entities with their own goals and aspirations. Nick LOVES his job in Chicago, and was recently promoted (yay!) into a role that he’s been working toward for years. I love to travel and have always wanted to try living abroad. So rather than prevent each other from fulfilling our goals as individuals, we decided that we’d mutually support each other from afar. Yeah, it’s probably going to be tough to be in a long-distance marriage for a while, but neither of us felt comfortable holding the other back.
Where are you going to live?
Short answer: somewhere in Auckland.
Long answer: The company I work for is paying for my accommodations for a few weeks. Within this time frame, I need to find a long-term place to call home. I’ve been apartment hunting like crazy since I’ve been here, and so far nothing has been the right fit. This isn’t because I’m picky about apartments, either – it’s because I have to interview with groups of flatmates (roommates) and then must be selected to move in. It’s like a thing here – apparently lots of people in their 20s and early 30s (even couples) get flatmates and move into single-family homes together. The city of Auckland, apart from the Central Business District (CBD), isn’t quite as urban as a place like Chicago. It’s all pretty compact and walkable from what I can tell, but the tendency seems to be toward detached homes. Fine by me! So hopefully while I’m here I’ll have a couple of flatmates (whom I would hope would eventually be friends) and a room in a cute little house (because they are, in fact, often really cute – if a typical American Victorian home and a tiny little cottage had a baby, it’d be a flat in Auckland).
Are you going to travel around a bit while you’re out there?
YES. Well, I hope so at least. There’s lots of great hiking and fantastic scenery in New Zealand, so the goal is to spend as many weekends as possible exploring the country. Another goal is to spend a month or so backpacking around Australia in between living here and returning to the States. I’m one of those people who always has about 1 million trip ideas circulating in the back of her head, though, so I’m sure there will be lots of goals that don’t come to fruition. But I’m going to try! After all, New Zealand is home to this and this and this and even this! Gotta try to see it all.