I have 3 months left before my current work visa here in New Zealand expires and I should really be applying for a new work visa now, in order to continue working here. So, what’s the next step, you may ask?
As most of my friends and family know, I have been working in Lake Tekapo, New Zealand, since January this year. I started a job as a Receptionist here for Earth and Sky Observatory and have really enjoyed that whole experience. Through Earth and Sky, I have been involved in a project where I built a connection between the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve (I.D.S.R) in Ireland and the Aoraki Mackenzie I.D.S.R. here in New Zealand and established the idea of twinning two dark sky reserves for the first time ever. This project, especially, has been such a wonderful, learning experience for me and I’ve learned so much from it.
Living in Lake Tekapo has certainly been different. The scenery here takes my breath away every time I look at it. Every day the mountains, which are right on my doorstep, are cloaked in different shades of colour, sometimes shrouded in mist and at times are covered in snow. Other days, the cloud partially drapes itself halfway down the peaks, frozen in time, as if waiting for someone to click their fingers to undo a magic spell. Lake Tekapo itself has unveiled its varying shades of blue in all sorts of weather.
For the last 25 years I’ve been living and working in big cities and when this job came up in October last year, I knew that it would be a big change for me, living in a small village. But I wanted to try it out. The population in Lake Tekapo is about 450. It is a great place to come for a short break away from the hustle and bustle of a big city and there are lots of things to do here if you’re an outdoor person. I really need though to live in a bigger town or city where I can meet more people. I love the cultural aspects of a bigger town – going to the cinema, live music concerts, markets, festivals, museums etc and I love the interaction with other people. I miss that here. Even with a car, I would prefer not to have to travel an hour to get to civilisation. For me, living in Tekapo is fine for a certain amount of time, but I couldn’t stay here long term.
I’m nearly 100% sure that if I applied for another work visa with Earth and Sky, that I would be granted one and that would give me the chance to stay another year in the country until I found another job. I have decided though that I’m not going to do that and will leave Tekapo at the end of January 2015 when my current work visa runs out. That may sound crazy but I feel that I’m doing the right thing about leaving Tekapo. I would like to stay in New Zealand for another year to see whether I really want to stay here long term or not. I don’t think that I can judge that from living in Tekapo. I’ve been looking for another job since the middle of July and have had only one interview.
If I don’t get another job offer by the end of November, then I’ll really have to consider moving back to Europe when my work visa expires. It took 2 months for the visa to be processed last year and so, to be able to stay working here I need to have another job offer by the end of November. I also have the option of going to Australia and looking for work there but financially I can’t really afford to do that. If it doesn’t work out in New Zealand, then at least I can say that can be really proud of what I’ve done here so far.
I rarely pat myself on the back but what I’ve achieved in the last year has been brilliant, if I may say so myself. I managed to get a New Zealand/Irish tour manager within a month’s deadline for the Toi Maori Celtic/Maori music project that I worked on in Wellington. The negotiations between the two parties didn’t work out but I managed to find Toi Maori a tour manager to put them in contact with, nevertheless. I got myself a job and a work visa. I came up with the idea of the first time ever twinning of two International Dark Sky Reserves and got four articles published in magazines and international websites and newspapers in Ireland, New Zealand and China and officially opened the Kerry International Dark Sky Reserve office in Ireland.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed and am still applying for jobs here but hope that I find one here within the next few weeks. “Have faith” some people say to me. I do try hard to “keep the faith”, especially at times like this, when it looks things are not going to work out. I believe that anything is possible and you just never know what’s around the corner. Whatever happens, at least I can say that I had the balls to follow my heart and tried it. I can be proud of that.