On Mother’s Day, we got the best news: I was granted my hella goddamn PERMANENT RESIDENT VISA. Continue reading “5 years and a permanent resident”
After 2ish years of avoiding the Australian equivalent of the DMV, I finally got my Australian Driver’s license.
I’m not sure why I put it off for so long – maybe I was equal parts scared of waiting in line forever at the Service Centre, taking a right handed drive driver’s test, and maybe it was all just WHAT IF A HUNTSMAN GETS IN MY CAR?! (this happened to me with spiders in the States a few times, it’ll sure as shit happen here. Just much bigger.) Also we have public transport and I’ve really been enjoying not having a car payment or related wallet-crushing expenses.
But the wheels went in motion the other night as Joel and I were having our 500th conversation about when we should get a dog. And he might have said “We can get a dog when you get your license, because we’ll need a car to take him places.” And I might have had my application filled out and ready to go the next day.
And today, we got an unexpected early release from work, so I found the Service Centre that’s about 6 minutes away from our place and walked on over. I waited about 5 minutes, showed a few documents and my application, took a 10 second eye test, took yet another ID photo where I look like a meth-faced criminal who can’t decide which gender he identifies with (seriously, I look like a man in all but 2 of my ID photos. Thanks for the strong genes, Dad.), and $56 and 10 minutes later I was out the door, with my unrestricted license (albeit temporary) in hand.
That’s it? That’s it. No road test, no knowledge test – nothing. I have never driven in the right side driver’s seat and I haven’t even sat behind the wheel of a car in over 2 years. Don’t they know I’m American? And that I learned to drive in Maryland, home of nationally renowned terrible drivers? So this will surely be exciting. And now that I have my license, Joel can finish is permit (#citykids). So, double exciting.
I can’t wait for more road trip adventures and not waiting for the bust to take us to the beach and most importantly – GETTING A DOG PAL! Well, one day.
Summer goals: 1 down, 100 to go!
Yesterday, we got the big news we’ve been waiting for since… basically the moment in 2013 that we decided to live together.
I GOT MY VISA!
All the stress, all the worry, all the paperwork, all the days off from work to stand in line at various government agencies and all the thousands of dollars spent, and it all came through. And in possibly a year (not the 2 years I originally thought) I’ll be granted a Permanent Residency – and we’ll never have to worry about my visa status EVER. AGAIN. The fact that we don’t have to worry about it anymore has brought so much relief – but the idea that now we have more security, it makes planning for the future so much easier.
Like, it’s not insane to think about buying a car, now. And I can arrange for my books to be shipped here. And maybe we can get a pet. You know – the important things in life.
I thought that there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance when I found out – with all the effort that went into getting the visa, I was at least hoping for a kangaroo holding to deliver the visa in the form of a bronzed plaque and a hand full of balloons saying WELCOME!! Instead, it arrived in an innocuous email that I at first thought was asking me for more information. Ah well, however it happened, I’m glad that it did. We thought we were going to have to wait until July at least – if not December, before we found out. And that we found out Monday when our third anniversary was on Saturday – that’s just sweet timing.
Also it gave us another excuse to celebrate with cake. And that’s basically why I do everything in life – for the possibility of cake.
So happy days – happy visa-ing, and happy anniversaring. Joel, there’s no one I could ever imagine doing this with… every day, you show me that I made the right decision. Thank you for always going above and beyond, for listening, for counselling, for making the best punch drunk chicken this side of the meridian, for always knowing. I love you more than I love sweatpants. Even if you do love Suspect Zero more than you love me.
If you had asked me when I was 20, where I thought I’d be at 30, I’d never respond “Filling out an application to live in another country.” And yet, here I am, staring down check lists and paperwork.
I’m on a Work and Holiday visa at the moment, which is only good for 1 year, and you can only have 1, ever. So we knew going into this that I’d need a second visa, and that visa is a Partnership Visa. This visa will allow me work for any employer for up to 5 years, and allow me to be eligible for Medicare and other social benefits. We knew it would be a lengthy, expensive process to get this visa, and it’s been looming over us since we started talking about me moving to Sydney. And every month since I moved here, we’ve taken a step that will help show we are an established, committed couple. Linking our bank accounts took no time. Getting my name on the utilities took a little more time. Applying for the De Facto certificate took a lot more time. Getting me on the lease took a really long time. All in all, this whole process has taken a long time.
I look at this application and I think, “wow, this–this–determines the course my life will take in the next year.” And that’s heavy. If my application isn’t accepted, I’ll have to be sponsored by an Australian employer in order to stay in the country. Which is possible, but not guaranteed, or even likely. So, if I don’t get this visa, I’m headed back to the States, where we will face a whole other ball of shit-wax trying to bring Joel over. /yay
So there’s a lot riding on this. It’s not that I don’t want to move back to the States, it’s just that I don’t want to move back so soon. And I really don’t want to move back without Joel. And all this is making our anxiety go a little into hyper drive. As in, I have 3 checklists and a time line to make sure everything is completed. I’ve placed at least 4 calls to the Immigration Agency. I’ve had to re-print pages of the applications many times because I keep making spelling errors. Everyday I nag Joel about something visa related. There have been a few times where the hugeness of everything has kept us awake at night. Like I said, there’s a lot riding on this.
But, this process hasn’t been all bad! Not that I needed the reassurance, but Joel’s worry over this has reminded me just how invested he is in our future, and how much he wants us to be together. I’ve written 4 essay style answers to the nitty gritty and day-to-day functionalities of our relationship in order to prove we are a legitimate couple, and I got to see just how well we work together. After all, it’s one thing to just know you work as a couple, and it’s another to prove it. I also think of how fortunate I am that I get to be in this situation. There are a lot of people who can’t travel outside of the States, let alone move to another country. This process has definitely made me more thankful and aware of how lucky I am. And there’s nothing wrong with gratitude, right?
So I’ll accept the stress, the anxiety, the dragged out process, and the expense. It’s all working toward something bigger and better. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to gather photos and important documents and maybe re-work my checklist one more time. Because I figure, if there’s anytime to be anal retentive, it’s when I’m submitting a $5,000 visa applicaton. Amirite?
It’s been an ordeal of packing, good byes, visiting, more packing and more good byes, but I’ve finally made it to my new home. And so far, it’s wonderful.
After a week in Los Angeles, I checked my bags with Virgin Australia and boarded my flight.
It’s a 16 hour flight from Sydney to Los Angles. The last time I visited Sydney, my flight back was perfect. I had the entire row to myself, a good dinner, and I stretched out and slept for 12 hours with a pile of pillows and blankets. But my flight back was atrocious. I was in the middle seat in the very last row of a completely sold out flight, and I only had one Xanax. Xanax? Yes. I used to be a nervous flyer–one of those people who would sit absolutely still lest I knock the plane out of balance–but now I’m asleep before the plane takes off. I’m fine with planes. What I’m not fine with is being bored and awake on a flight. It seems that long flights bring out the ADD in me, and no amount of movies, books, over priced mini-bottles, or tabloid crash can keep me occupied for more than a couple of hours. And while I have no problem falling asleep before take off, I always wake up when the attendants come by. Or when there’s slight turbulence. Or when the person beside me is snoring. So I take Xanax before flights to sleep through the entire experience and just be done with it.
Anyway… after I evaluated the conditions of the flight (delayed, cramped, stuffy, smelly seat mates), I decided to take my one and only Xanax immediately. I put my head phones in, pulled my hoodie down over my eyes, put my pillow up to my chin and made the “I’m sleeping, please don’t bother me” pose. But, the flight attendants woke me up for everything. Drink? Snack? Post-drink snack? Dinner? Drink? Are you sleeping? It was awful. And for 14 of the 16 hour flight, I was like a caged cat stuck between two sleeping giants.
So I wasn’t really looking forward to this flight. I pulled a packing ninja move, and crammed 3 large carry-on’s into 2 (packing my life for the win), with one bag dedicated to in-flight entertainment (including a stack of gossip trash–my last taste of America), pajamas, and a refill of Xanax. I was in luck, though, as I once again had the entire row to myself, a semi-good dinner, and a good round of sleep. I watched a beautiful sunrise around 5 AM, and sat glued to the window as we made our descent. I filled out my customs card, and felt a little spark as I got to the duration of visit section and checked the “12 months or more” box. 🙂
After waiting in the customs line for about 40 minutes, I grabbed my suitcases from the carousel. I juggled the two suitcases and my two giant carry-ons as awkwardly as possible, as everyone else stacked their luggage on smart carts. Being American, I had the “I’m not paying $7.50 for a damn luggage cart when my suitcases have wheels.” and it wasn’t until I was waiting in line for the second round of customs and my suitcases flipped or my carry-ons fell off that I realized the luggage carts were free. I felt like an idiot abroad until a Japanese woman trying to wrangle 4 rolling suitcases and a handful of stuffed animals got in line behind me. /solidarity
I got through the dog sniffing line (the dog got really excited when he smelled my suitcases, and the security guard asked me if I had cats at home. ha), and was finally released into the airport. I don’t know what possessed my luggage, but I couldn’t keep them rolling straight behind me. Since I couldn’t get wifi in the customs area, I had no way of contacting Joel to find out where he was. I was wide eyed and bushy haired and struggling with my luggage when the crowds literally parted and I saw him standing there, with the biggest grin on his face. My heart about burst out of my chest. We ran to each other, my bags flying everywhere. He grabbed me in a bear hug and I started crying. I swear, I’ve never felt so lit in my life.
We waited in line for a taxi, and we were finally on our way home. Joel handed me my keys, and when I opened the door, he had Welcome Home! streamers hung over the door ways. As soon as I dropped my bags, the place felt like home. Like there was no place else I’d rather be. It was good to be home.
After I settled in for a bit, Joel gave me my birthday presents: a Fuji X-M1 camera with a 16 – 50 mm zoom lens, an Italian leather journal with my name hand embossed on the cover, a real fountain pen, and some damn awesome socks. I can’t tell which gift I’m more excited over. I love stationary. And I love fun socks. And I really love using a real camera. So, basically, I’m really looking forward to adding quality pictures here. While I wear my pizza socks. And doodle animal creatures and scribble my name 800x with my fancy pen in my fancy journal. So good!
Joel’s mom sent over a welcome gift of wine, chocolate frogs, and notebooks, and a sweet card. It was such good welcome to my new home. Our new home 🙂
We went out for breakfast and coffee, and sight seeing.
Our suburb, Balmain, is about 15 minutes from downtown Sydney, and is filled with shops and restaurants. And if you walk in any direction, you hit water. It’s so nice.
Even when it’s freezing. Because spring just happened here, but the winter temps haven’t left. And I knew the temps leading up to my arrival had been between 50-60*, so I wasn’t too worried. I just didn’t take into account how close we are to the water. And how breezy it is here. A normal 57* here feels like 40* back home. For the last 6 days, I’ve regretted leaving my jackets and scarves at home to be shipped here later. And being in fall like temperatures without boots and a coat makes me feel naked and vulnerable in the most yuppy-can’t-even-deal way.
We ordered fancy pizzas for dinner, and had a Nicholas Cage movie marathon until I fell asleep at like, 9 PM.
The next day, we went to see an exhibition of Tabaimo’s illustrations at the Museum of Contemporary Art, which were surreal and a bit unsettling, and I made the agonizing decision to get an iPhone.
We got a really good deal on adding an extra line to Joel’s existing contract, and I got the 5s phone for a really good price (and an even better price since the USD is currently stronger than the AUD). I’ve been Team Droid since they came out, but I have to admit, life with a new phone is a hell of a lot easier. I mean, beside the 4+ hours it took to set everything up because I couldn’t remember my iTunes password and I kept having issues with my Gmail security. But now, I can make calls, and my apps load within mili-seconds, and my phone doesn’t turn off randomly or give me massive delays when typing. And it has a fancy gold case. Like a mix between RuPaul and C3-PO. I’m pretty happy. Even if my bank account is a little lighter.
We had lunch at the top of the Museum, and we watched a storm roll in over the harbor, and I had a Waygu beef sandwich that was life changing.
We got home and had taco night and I watched my first rugby game. Sports bore the shit out of me, but I kinda admit here, that rugby is pretty sweet.
The next day, we had an adventure to Ikea that started off amazing and ended almost terribly. But that’s another post unto itself.
My first few days in Sydney have been a blast. I’m slowly getting unpacked, our apartment is coming together, and Joel and I have awesomely over-indulged in sweat pants hang times. I’ve been able to chat with friends from home a few times, and I’ve even worked in a Skype with my family. I’ve had a few Idiot Abroad moments, and I’m learning the in’s and out’s of public transportation and Australian pronunciation (the names here are drowning in vowels). I miss everyone back home, but I’m really happy to be there. After all the waiting, all the time apart, and all the planning, I’m finally here. And it’s like I’ve never left.
Til next time!