How I ended up in New Zealand
I thought I’d share my thought process from the time I graduated college until I got on a flight to Auckland in timeline format.
May 22, 2011
I received my bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University (of Virginia) in Charlottesville. I loved college. I always thought I would be one of those people who actually said college was the best four years of my life. (Luckily, I already know that’s not true.) At the time though, I was devastated to be graduating. Charlottesville had been my home for four years, and in many ways it still feels more like home to me than any other place on Earth.
June – August 2011
I decided to stay in Charlottesville for the summer, because I was not ready to leave. A few of my friends were sticking around too, and we had a great summer of parties, hikes, and BBQs. I found work in the tasting rooms of two different vineyards and loved it. I worked in beautiful places, with awesome people, and got some free wine. I also put together my architecture portfolio and sent out a few resumes every now and then. For the most part though, I was just enjoying the life of a recent graduate.
September – December 2011
My lease ended in Charlottesville, and I moved back home with my parents in Northern Virginia. It was finally time to focus on my job search and join the real world. Or so I thought. Over the course of a few months, I sent out well over a hundred resumes and went on a handful of interviews. I never heard back from a single one, and it was discouraging to say the least. Sure, it was a horrible time for the building industry, but I think my heart just wasn’t in it. They say you can do whatever you put your mind to, and I did not have enough determination at the time to find myself an architecture job. I was just fed up.
I came to the realization that if I was going to have to work in a coffee shop, I’d rather do it somewhere much cooler than Northern Virginia. That’s when I started looking into work abroad programs and first heard of a working holiday visa. New Zealand appealed to me for a few reasons:
1. It’s an English speaking country, which would certainly help with finding a job.
2. There are beaches, rain forests, snowy mountains, lakes, glaciers, volcanoes, islands – it’s the whole world packed into one country, and I was certain it could easily entertain me for a whole year.
3. It seemed to be a small enough country that I could travel around easily and cheaply.
4. Why not?
January – March 2012
I am very grateful to my extra supportive parents. When I first proposed the idea to them, I think they were a bit skeptical. But as I did more research, and became increasingly grouchy at home, I slowly got them on board. I applied for my visa, bought my plane ticket, and browsed a few job boards. I was definitely excited, but nervous. Very nervous. Leaving home for a country I’d never been to, didn’t know anyone in, and without a job lined up scared me. But I had faith that as soon as I landed, I would figure it out. (And looking back, I can definitely say it’s a whole lot easier than you’d ever think.) I said goodbye to my friends and family, packed my bags, and cried the night before my flight.
March 6, 2012
My parents dropped me off at the airport, I said my last goodbye, boarded the plane, and the rest (after a five hour flight to San Francisco, three hour layover, and twelve hour flight to Auckland) is history!