That turning point, all sails set for New Zealand… (long post)

November 11, 2012
“How are you with cannulation?” She asked.
 Does she really want to know how proficient I am with placing a nasal cannula? How hard can it be?
“Do you mean a nasal cannula?” I asked.
“No, no. Cannulation.” Well that cleared it up.
“IV cannulation” she said.
“OH! Starting IVs! Haha! Got it. I’m pretty good. I don’t really have trouble starting IVs!” I said. Close one.
“OK. Lovely.”

And that’s how my interview went with Louisa from the Pegasus Health 24-hour surgery clinic. It started off with a plan for her to call me at 9am NZ time on Tuesday (my Monday). All weekend I planned to talk to her at 1pm, the standard 4 hours time difference I’d gotten used to over the last several months. Thank goodness Scott reminded me of daylight savings time. The interview was now at noon. 12’oclock noon while I was on vacation with my husband. I wanted to be somewhere quiet, with good cell reception.

Unfortunately, my parent’s house in Benicia has the worst cell reception of all time. Like, worse than in a deep-sea submarine off the coast of Iceland. So their place was out for an interview spot. Coffee shop? Too loud. Library? Not supposed to talk. So oddly, we settled on inside the car, on the top level of a 6-story parking garage in Emeryville. At $2/hr no less. It wasn’t until after the decision was made and the interview was underway that I realized the bay area has about 15 flying vehicles in the air at any given time (noisy), you’re never less than 5 miles from a freeway of some kind (noisy), and everyone honks at each other (noisy). And if you’ve ever been part of an overseas phone interview, on a cell phone no less, you know that the reception just isn’t the same. And I was on speakerphone with a panel. And they have Kiwi accents. And they’re asking me about cannulation. Oh man.

Other highlights of my interview with Louisa, who was truly delightful:
– My fumbling through scenarios at a snail’s pace, sweating in the hot car on the HOT November day that it was, sweat dripping from heat stroke and my actual pending stress-induced stroke
– Forgetting the name for Nitroglycerin (“That sub-lingual med. You know the one! N…. Nii… uhh… Nitro! That’s it!”) Pressure at it’s finest…
– Asking the other interviewer to repeat every single question she asked because I couldn’t understand her beautiful whispering accent
– Rambling about the benefits of computerized order entry when they don’t have it
– Louisa and my other interviewer laughing (at me, I think) quite a bit and saying “lovely” a lot

An hour and a half later ($3) with a nearly dead cell phone and a nearly starved husband, my call ended and I felt good. Confused, but good. And 30 minutes after that… I felt great!

Louisa called my recruiter, Kristin, and confirmed that she would be offering me a position at Pegasus Health’s 24-Hour Surgery in Christchurch. Kristin called me immediately, and started gushing about her love for the city and the area (she lives in Christchurch herself) and encouraging me in regards to the state of the city after the earthquake. I also learned that I would be cross-trained in a few different specialties, all which are super interesting to me, AND I would be working four 8-hour shifts per week. And that’s considered full time! Talk about a place that understands the work-life balance. I love New Zealand! I told her that Scott and I would take the evening to consider the offer while the official paperwork was being drawn up, but I already knew the answer.

Christchurch – The Garden City
Christchurch was our favorite city we visited while in New Zealand. Queenstown was of course, amazing, but very touristy, and also prone to major snow during the winter. We also loved a town named Alexandra, but both agreed it would be too small for our settling. Christchurch is on the coast, about 1/3 down the eastern edge of the south island. It is the largest city on the south island, and was the location of the famous 2011 earthquake. The city center suffered the most damage, but as a result, neighborhoods close to the city center have popped up with new restaurants, bars, and shopping. There are huge botanical gardens and parks everywhere, as well as phenomenal mountain biking, most of which we have barely even had a taste of.

Enjoying Christchurch Cathedral, days before it fell. Pegasus is in the square, almost right behind us to the right
Botanical gardens in the city center

Yes, this is a small fraction of our city park

Another small sample from Hagley Park in Christchurch

Tourists punting down the Avon River, in Christchurch city center!!

This is just a suburban green-way, a common “park” across the street from regular neighborhood houses.
What happened to Nelson and Wellington, you may ask? Nelson was always our first choice. It unarguably has the most fantastic mountain biking, and Abel Tasman Park is obviously beautiful. There aren’t really drawbacks to Nelson other than it is so attractive to native New Zealanders that they really don’t need to hire from outside the country (aka: me). Simple as that. And after our permanent residency is secured (8+ months from now), we could still move there. We will see.

As for Wellington, the more time we spent researching it, the more confounded we became. It is beautiful, on the water, with great mountain biking. But it is on the north island, and we just want to be on the south island- where we fell in love with the country. Of course Welly is a short plane/ferry ride from the south island, but that makes spur of the moment trips almost impossible, and pricey. It’s also pretty secluded down there on the southern tip of the north island, so even if we did want to travel out of the region, there’s not really anything but countryside for miles. Don’t get me wrong, I have no evidence that Wellington isn’t one of the greatest places to live, and I still can’t wait to check it out. But as for fulfilling our dream of living on New Zealand’s south island, we just felt it was important to keep things how we imagined them: Southern.

Some how Dunedin got cut off the bottom of the list, it’s the southern most east (right side) heart
Christchurch is on the beach, just over an hour from the south island’s premier ski-field (Mount Hutt), an hour from the rainforest, under 2 hours from the hot springs, 5 hours from Nelson, and 6 hours from Queenstown (both destined to be favorite long-weekend getaway destinations). It has a college, plenty of culture, and a median age of 34. The weather is actually quite a bit milder than Wellington- with there being less wind and rain. Christchurch is quite a bit cooler than our hometown of Chico though, with average summer highs in the 70s, and winter days in the 30s and 40s. There’s far less rain in Christchurch than in most places in New Zealand (making bike riding particularly attractive) and there is an above average amount of sunshine per year compared to the rest of the country. Lastly, it has the major airport of the south island – so we expect lots of visitors!!!

Enjoying the beaches of Christchurch before flying away (and spending the next 2 years thinking about this place)

Hamner Springs : 1.75 hours north of the city
Mt Hutt (not me- I don’t ski!): less than 90 minutes away
Scott riding in Christchurch- see the local spectator on the right?

The bike wife… biking. (aka: yours truly)

A little waterfall in the rainforest, est: 50 minute drive west out of Christchurch

Lake Tekapo: 3 hours (max) south of Christchurch

Mount Cook: 4 hours south of Christchurch

Somewhere on Hwy 73, about 2 hours west of Christchurch… after the rain!
Castle Hill, outside of Cragieburn Natn’l Forest – also about 2 hours west. That’s me up there!

One of the many beautiful glacial rivers – this one in southwest NZ
We are super excited, but we have SO much to do. On tap for tomorrow: gathering as much information as possible together for our visas, including several letters verifying that my relationship with my husband is real and true (seriously). If anyone finds themselves with extra time on their hands… feel free to pen us an endorsement!! More on the extensive visa application process next time!

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