Deciding to skydive is one thing, but then actually doing it… is not much different. To me my move to New Zealand feels a bit like the skydive I did near Lake Taupo 10 years ago (actually on my first trip to New Zealand that I consciously remember). You expect fear and/or frantic excitement to kick in any moment: when reserving a spot on the plane, or when fitting the parachute harness, or when waiting for . On the plane you think: I must get nervous the moment we reach altitude and the doors open? Or when I put my feet our of the plane? In the end the fear never came (what could have helped is that is was a tandem jump and I was in the air before I could even realise what was happening), but I did intensely enjoy the whole experience.
Now, by not only moving to the end of the world but doing so without job security and giving away most of possessions beforehand, I did expect to feel some fear (of the unknown) or apprehension: Maybe when I quit my job? Nope. When I cancel my house rental contract? Nope. Then surely when 75% of my possessions, some of which I had since childhood, are taken away to a second hand store? You can guess by now: not really. Saying goodbye to people had a bit more impact but was mostly a really positive experience. Not because I will not miss them (believe me I will!), but the main thing that struck me during my 3 weeks goodbye tour was what an amazing friends and family I have!
Having arrived now in Wellington, NZ, I still feel no apprehension (that is a of course a good thing, but I expected a bit more excitement ;-)), to be honest it doesn’t feel special at all yet. But then again, to stretch the skydive analogy, I have not yet fully landed..
My last weeks in the Netherlands made a lasting impression. It is amazing how the fact that you are saying goodbye ensures you are fully present in everything you do in those days and that you are making strong memories. I worked my last day in the Eindhoven office (which will always feel as my home office) on 18 January, and the last day at Allseas on the 19th This was actually still quite a busy day with meetings and handovers, of course I handed in my laptop 2 minutes before 6PM ;-). The same day there was a very convenient Allseas Innovations party where I said my final goodbye to my colleagues. The next morning we were driving to Austria with Fleur, Anne and Ron for a skiing trip. I was extra keen to plan that in, because even though I am moving to mountainous country, it has very few ski lifts so I will have to miss that type of wintersport for a while I’m afraid. In the last two weeks I was mainly meeting friends as a full time occupation :-). Lunch, afternoon, dinner, evening, often with different people. Intensive, but really amazing. It made me really realise how many great friends I have and how much energy I get from meeting/working with them. I even managed to fit in a whole day that week to join the Engineers Without Borders Design Challenge, also really worth it! In between all of this I was sorting out my stuff. A lot of nostalgic memories but in general just adding to my feeling of overall happiness and gratefulness.
I managed to reduce my belongings to approximately 120 kg: books, clothes, sports gear, (childhood) memories. Everything else I either sold (very few items really, I preferred spending my time with friends and family), gave away to people I know (for instance in a clothes trading party with friends), or gave away to the second hand store. That was a good move: they came to pick up everything left in the house except for the carpet. This allowed me to live in my apartment with furniture until almost the last day: they picked up everything on Wednesday, that afternoon I removed the carpet, on Thursday I did the final cleaning and on Friday I handed in the keys. It is funny to notice to which stuff you feel connection and to which not at all. In general I do not care too much about material things (it was not only because of different priorities I didn’t attempt to sell all my furniture… most of it was already second hand or free when I got it), but I was surprised that I did attach value to unexpected things. For instance: I didn’t feel anything when they took my couch (in the family for 33 years) and chopped it up on the spot for firewood, but I did feel quite attached to a plant I got when I just arrived in Eindhoven. Unfortunately the plant decided it did not not want to move anywhere and fell on the floor in many pieces… Books were the hardest to make a selection of, and I think half of the weight above is books. Other funny stuff I did keep in the end are my egg-frying pan (not the most practical, but will make me feel at home when I ship it to my home to be) and my horse-brush (that I have used since my first horse riding lesson 27 years ago!). BTW – for the Dutch readers – apparently a “roskam” is a currycomb in English. You learn something new every day..
I spent the last weekend in the Netherlands with my family. After a last sorting out of my things (basically putting everything out on the living room in order of priority of me wanting it in New Zealand) and some last minute paperwork stress (who would have thought they advise you to authenticate your diplomas? Lucky for me there was an emigration fair on Sunday) it was time for a traditional Dutch buffet, a photo shoot and some proper quality time with my parents, brothers, sisters-in-law, and my newborn nephew.
From the start I had the idea to plan an in-between-week to have some time from leaving the Netherlands and the busyness of the last week and the arrival in New Zealand were I would probably want to get directly started arranging things. Also in hindsight I think that was a good move. California was high on my wish-list, and I managed to find a cheap ticket (albeit with a bit of a creative itinerary). I think I got the best February weather to visit San Francisco and Yosemite (stunning! I will definitely be back to hike the John Muir trail), I got to see a big part of the iconic Pacific Highway 1 (not all, because of serious damage due to mudslides), and I got to see Erin again in San Diego. It was great to see him again, and funny to meet in a different context (not with the same clothes we had for 5 months on the TA trail, for instance). From San Diego I drove back to LA (my last dose of serious traffic jam in a while?) and flew to Hawaii for a short and intensive visit: 16 hours, some night-life some sleep, sunrise on a volcano fresh fruit breakfast, swimming on the beach, and then back on the plane.
Next stop… New Zealand 🙂 More stories about my arrival and my observations in the first weeks in my next post.
Spoiler alert: I like it a lot!