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Lake Tekapo , New Zealand A lot has happened since I left New Zealand over two months ago and it’s high time that I filled everyone in on what I’ve been doing. I’ll just quickly say that I’ve moved to Edinburgh and am trying to get myself sorted out here with finding a job, opening bank accounts, registering with doctors, dentists, finding longer-term accommodation and generally settling in.

I finished work at Earth and Sky in Lake Tekapo on 11th May and had ten days holidays in New Zealand, visiting friends in Christchurch, Nelson and Wellington.  I really enjoyed the break and forgot all about applying for jobs and the next step in my journey. I was a bit lonely leaving New Zealand but not as bad as I thought I would be. I had lived my dream, saw an aurora and left with the feeling that I’ll be back there sometime in the next few years.

Amsterdam was my next port of call. I wanted to catch up with a few friends there and sort of say goodbye to the city. After living there for seventeen years, it was sad to leave but I’m sure I’ll be back there fairly regularly to visit. It always will be my favourite European city. If you’re registered in the Dutch system, it’s compulsory to have health insurance. I knew I wouldn’t be going back to Amsterdam to work or live there in the near future, so I finished my health insurance in November last year. While I was in Amsterdam I decided to officially deregister from the system.  I just needed to bring in my passport to the local council offices and give them a forwarding address. I can always go back to Amsterdam and work there again if I want to.

I spent four days in Amsterdam and the next leg of my journey was a flight backNear Marlbank Viewpoint, Cavan home to Ireland. One of my main reasons for leaving New Zealand was to be closer to home for family reasons. I had no real plan when I got back to Ireland as to where I would base myself. I didn’t know whether to stay in Ireland or go to England or Scotland but it was a process of elimination that helped me make a decision as to where I should go next.

I had three options that I wanted to try out job-wise. My first choice was to try and get work in another Dark Sky Reserve. Earth and Sky Ltd, where I worked in New Zealand, is a gold tier status reserve, meaning it’s one of the best places in New Zealand to see the stars. I enjoyed the work at Earth and Sky and because of my involvement with the twinning of the Kerry Dark Sky Reserve and the New Zealand one, I thought I’d try to get work in another Dark Sky Reserve if I could.

There are a few Dark Sky Parks and Reserves in the UK, Scotland and one in Ireland. Some of them are located in remote areas, of course and there are other observatories that have booking offices in city centres. I contacted all of them before I left New Zealand and generally the reaction was that they weren’t looking for staff at the moment or if they were, it was in more remote areas. Having lived in Tekapo for a year and a half, I learned that I’d rather live in a bigger town/city.

Rosslyn Chapel, ScotlandIn the meantime, my passport needed to be renewed as it was due to expire in August this year. I applied to renew the passport and sent off the application via Passport Express, an express delivery system via An Post, the Irish national Postal Service. This is the quickest method for applying for an Irish passport. Through this method, the Passport Service aims to have passports back within ten working days from the day they receive it. With it being the height of the summer it was going to take longer to process. The Passport Service already had a backlog from last year and it was taking about three weeks for passports to be processed. I didn’t have any other form of photo ID on me so I couldn’t leave the country. During those three weeks then, I decided to try out the options for my second choice of job and that was working for a tour operator in Ireland.

Read more in the following blog: The Next Steps In The Decision Making Process.