I can’t quite believe it has been a year since we moved to New Zealand. Time seems to have flown by while being stretched out into eternity. I’ve been quiet on the blogging front for obvious reasons but I would be amiss to let this milestone slip by.
We have had our fair share of ups and downs but we are still living the Kiwi dream. Nothing has brought that home with more force than Covid-19. I am ‘so over it’ as they say here but, of course, I have that luxury.
Surviving a pandemic in New Zealand
Most people want to know how we’re doing. One friend said ‘we must be relieved’. And certainly, from their point of view, it must seem as if we have landed on our feet. They have heard of New Zealand’s stringent lockdown and subsequent success at controlling Covid-19, a feat few other countries can claim without crossing their fingers behind their back.
Kiwis just gritted their teeth and got on with it. Most New Zealanders I saw whilst out and about obeyed the rules of social distancing and obsessive hand sanitising. Now New Zealand is at level one, life seems to be back to normal. People are still maintaining a respectful distance and coughing very quietly into their arm lest they get scowled at. The local news is optimistic about the future although the national press seems a bit less positive. Certainly, in contrast to the UK, I can see why it must look like we have it made.
However, there’s nothing like a two-month lockdown separated from your friends and family by an entire planet to heighten the sense of homesickness and helplessness. As I have blogged before, I very much wanted to be close to our loved ones but know had we been back in the UK, we wouldn’t have been able to help them anyway.
The funny thing is, the decision on whether to ultimately stay or return has very much been taken out of our hands. However, hypothetically speaking, if we were to say ‘so long and thanks for all the shoes’, (so many shoes but that’s a story for another day) what exactly would we be returning to? I doubt my old job as a travel content writer exists and it would mean Mr Right being away for weeks at a time again. It is a less than ideal scenario.
Today I was reminded how fortunate we are. I was picking up Child A from school and all the kids came running back from assembly. They were laughing and just living in the moment. It was something I have missed seeing and which some other countries are still waiting to see again.
So, whilst not exactly ‘relieved’ to be here, I will wholeheartedly agree that we are in the right place at the right time. If anything, Covid-19 has strengthened our resolve to see this adventure through, even though it has amplified normal feelings of insecurity most immigrants face from time to time.
Job hunting in New Zealand
In other news, as soon as we hit level 2, the job hunt was back on. I sent out countless CVs, each with a carefully written covering letter. Nada. Zip. Nothing. If I did hear anything back, it was a kind thank you, but firm no.
I did get an interview courtesy of my local recruitment agent but was turned down again as ‘overqualified’. I have decided this is another gentle way of letting you down – the ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ copout of the employment world which may be courteous but is thoroughly unhelpful when trying to refine your job hunting approach.
I have discovered that my ‘fancy pants’ CV is probably a little much for a provincial town like Timaru. Terms like copywriter and digital marketing probably meet with a quizzical glance or roll of the eyes before meeting with the bin.
After pairing the CV back several times and highlighting my new skills acquired during the lockdown, I finally scored an interview and subsequent job offer, albeit temporary. That’s not to be sniffed at though as it will gain me crucial Kiwi experience for my resume.
It’s important to note in New Zealand that Kiwis take work references very seriously and normally like to speak to previous employers about prospective employees. It’s that personal touch that is special to this part of the world. Now quite a few of my previous employers have passed on (nothing to do with working with me) and the ones that are still alive and kicking are in a whole different time zone which makes correspondence tricky.
Another major difference in the job market here is that workers are expected to be multiskilled as employers are small and need good all-rounders. A CV needs to note a broad variety of skills, not focus on a hopeful employee’s in-depth experience.
So, despite lockdown, lack of opportunity for my skillset and a temporary visa, in two weeks I will return to an actual, physical workplace at long last. I am super excited to finally contribute to the local community and get to experience a different side to Timaru. I just hope I can do the job and pass for compos mentis! I’ve picked up some quirky habits during all this time on my own. Like talking back to the radio, wearing a dressing gown 24/7 and eating far too many biscuits!
Now that we are free to explore again, stay tuned for more posts about life in New Zealand!