My dramatic departure from New Zealand

People always ask me why I didn’t stay in NZ if I like it so much. 

Indeed, I had a perfect life over there and I was planning to make my life in this beautiful country. New Zealand has it all. It’s the most beautiful country to visit or to live in. It’s safe, people leave there house, their car opened ans nothing happens, people are the nicest I’ve ever met, the maori culture is still strong and allow everyone to feel the connection to ancient spirits and Nature. New Zealand has beautiful landscapes. People care about their land. Everywhere is cleaned!!! protected, just incredible. Both islands are different, snowy mountains in the south, volcanos and flat lands in the north. 

When I first arrived in NZ, I entered with the working holiday visa for 1 year. I was flying from Australia where I spent 2 amazing years with the same type of visa. My sister was coming to NZ for 2 weeks holidays and I decided to go to NZ as my second year in Australia was about to end. I arrived in Auckland, bought a car and when my sister arrived with her boyfriend, we started our trip down to the South Island. We had an awesome trip, intense but amazing. We arrived in Queenstown (my future home for the next following years) after 10 days trip. My sister left and, as I was exhausted from the trip I decided to settle down and to look for a job. I quicky applied for a few jobs and the manager of Amisfield called me for an interview. I didn’t realized but it was for a cellar door position and I had zero experience with wine so I was not expecting a call back. Amisfield is the 2nd top rated winery in New Zealand. It has it cellar door and restaurant on the outsides of Queenstown overlooking on lake Hayes and the Coronet peak ski field. A beautiful building with lots of history and character, delicious food and setting, great wine, of course!!!! 

So after a few days, the manager called me back saying that they were in need of a waitress urgently and ask me to come for a trial. With no hesitation, I went there on my trial, got the job. I didn’t know anything about working in a restaurant but I learnt everything about waitressing, wine and food. I learnt fast and I was good. They were giving us a good training to keep their reputation up. In this amazing unique setting, we had to giving to the customer an experience. We had to know about the wine and the food, wine pairing, history and so on. Every time there was a new released wine, we had a tasting to be able to talk about it. We had all type of customers, from backpackers to Kate and William from England, players from the All Blacks rugby team or movie stars. I was having an incredible experience surrounded by amazing people from all over the world. Kiwis, Americans, lot of French, Coréens, Japoneses, Argentiniens of course, Mexicans, Germans, English and many more. And in top of that, I was staying in a beautiful place, Queenstown, surrounded by mountains and lakes, many options for hiking and exploring. Paradise!!!

The only thing I was not so keen of was winter. I arrived in summer and it was beautiful. Autumn came and I could feel the different. My friends were telling me that winter was really cold and I freaked out. The low season was also starting and at work, we were all struggling to have enough hours. So I made a deal with my manager, asking him for a couple of months of time off over winter, giving my colleagues my hours but he had to take my back when I will come back. He said yes. 

So, off I went, packed and I went to south east Asia. My first trip alone in Asia, avoiding the New Zealand winter. When I came back to NZ,  I started to work again and applied for a work visa as my manager was happy to sponsor me to keep me working. Queenstown is the kind of place where many people come. For business owners, it is hard to keep people working for them, there is a lot of turnover and when someone wants to stay longer, it’s a relief for the company and makes it quiet easy to get a sponsorship. So, I got a year work visa and I repeated the same scenario, warms days in NZ, winter in Asia, for 4 years, each year reapplying for the same visa. I had the best life ever. I had the best flatmates ever, friends and the entire mountains to entertain myself during my days off. 

Lots of hiking, running, places to explore, salsa dancing. I was picturing myself living there forever. Thing is, when you hold a work visa, you can’t apply for it more than 3 times, the forth time you had to go for the residency. Things are more complicated when you apply for residence through work reason as you are eligible for the residency only for very specific type of work, like surgeon, dentist, lawyer, duty manager, … I was just a waitress so I started to not feel very confidente about my dream. Anyway, I gave it a go. It was in the middle of my 3rd year. I setd the application and waited. They denied it. I was feeling devastated but still had half of the year to figure something out. Many of my friends were telling to get married with a Kiwi. God, I should have listened to them. 

Well, winter was coming, once again I was preparing my trip to Asia. I moved my stuff to a new house, and left again the country. This year, I spent time in Asia and went back to France to see my family. On my was back to NZ after a couple of months, I booked a  flight with a layover in China. When I went through immigration in Paris, now that I think about it, they couldn’t find the registration of my visa in the system but as I had it in my passport, it didn’t end as a big deal. I flew to China and had a few hours to wait before the next flight to Auckland. When I got off the plane, I turned my phone on and saw I had a call from my manager. In China, there no Google, no FB, I couldn’t figure how to get in contact with her. I finally got her on the phone through an app, and she told me that she got a call from the immigration asking things about me. Their didn’t say much she said, just asking questions. I felt weird but well, everything was in order on this side, it was what I thought. Not long after I had talked to her, a lady from the airline company came to me, called me by my name and asked me to follow her because an agent from the NZ immigration was asking for me on the phone. I started to enter in panic. What the f*** was going on? I followed her and the guy introduced himself and asked me to tell him more about my return to Auckland. I told him that my flight was in 2 hours and I’ll be going back to work in a few days, blablabla. Anyway, the matter was that, when you hold a work visa you are not supposed to go out of the country more than a month unless you ask permission. A condition that I absolutely wasn’t aware off as every previous year, no one told me anything when I was coming back after 4 months. So, this was my mistake. I tried to justify, to explain, to apologize. No way. He told me that my visa was cancelled and I won’t be able to enter the country. Go back to your country, he said. My heart stopped. Everything was collapsing and spinning around me. The airline lady was asking me, should I send you back to Paris? No away. Where do you want to go? She was about to chance the flight to Auckland I lost to another destination. And I had seconds to choose where. I was looking at the departure board with all the destinations available. I could go anyway. When I thing about it now, it could be a such a great feeling. Just pick a country and go. My brain was thinking fast, I wanted to fix this and I chose to go to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Why? I knew it was the most reliable country for internet and I was going to need it and 3 months visa, time to fix the issue. So, Kuala Lumpur it was. 

I had to wait overnight. I was in chock, still not realizing what just happened. I was wandering in the airport, feeling completely empty. I knew I will have to call my mum at one point, my manager, my friends and find out what to do with all my belongings and my car. I found a spot in the airport and called her. Her first question : ” well arrived???” It broke me but I don’t wanted her to panic so I hold everything in and explained to her the situation. At the end, it was ok, I had somewhere to go and was going my best to fix it and go back to NZ. 

Well, after a long sleepless night, I boarded the plane and arrived in Kuala Lumpur, headed to the hostel I booked and spent the day thinking of the best way to manage the situation. Everything was still blurry in my mind. I called the NZ immigration to see what was my options. It was bad. They couldn’t allow me to come back as a tourist in case I will work illegally or try to get a sponsorship while there. They told me that i could send a request for a tourist visa with a payment, or come back with sponsorship. My manager had already replace me and refused to renew the visa. I was fucked. But I wanted to try to send a request. I asked all my friends and people at work to send me reference letters saying that I was a good person. 

Meanwhile, I looked for a couchsurfing place where I could have a good wifi to work on the request, to have access to email, etc. So I stayed with this guy who owned a co-working place. It was great, I could do what I needed to do. 

When I sent my request, they told me it could take a couple of months to receive an answer so I started to plan a trip to India to do the Yoga Teacher Training that I booked for a couple of weeks ahead. Meanwhile I way staying with this same guy, an old lonely Chinese guy, very nice but lost in his own world. A few days after I arrived, he was going to receive a girl as workaway. We went to pick her up, Gratianne, that girl that was about to take me on the best 2 years adventure of my life. 

Gratianne was starting a world tour with her friend Lydia. They were having a break in Kuala Lumpur and also using it as a hub to travel around Asia. Lydia was with her local lover and Gratianne was giving them space. We hooked up well and she invited me to go with her and Lydia to a salsa social. As I was into dancing, i was pleased to go. And OMG, i finally new what was a real social dancing night. Great atmosphere, great people, lots of fun. At this time, I was not very confident on the dance floor, they were both pushing myself to dance and I’ll always be glad they did. I went out of my confort zone, dance with people I didn’t know. I felt wonderful, even if I knew I was not very good. On this night, I met Rez, a Chinese guy who invited me to stay with him while I was going to sort my things out. 

After this night, we stayed a couples more day at the co-working place as Gratianne and I couldn’t stand the Chinese guy anymore. She was about to go to Taiwan, i was going to go to India. She left with Lydia, I left a few of my luggage at Rez’ and when for a month to Rishikesh, the yoga world capital. This trip was a revelation, a time for acceptance, many feelings came up and I’ll go through this experience later on. While I was in India, i received the negative answer from NZ, a news that destroyed me even more. I felt as if the world was smashing me, I could breath, could think, my mind was blurry. This little hope I had left had vanish and I was sucked in an emotional swirl of desperation. The world was spinning endlessly with my emotions, my entire dream had just collapsed. I was hard to stand up and look forward. I had to. I struggled. I was wondering why the universe was putting on a such difficult and painful path. And I had to accept it. Move forward and heal. 

My last days in India made me look into myself even more, helped me to find a bit of peace inside me. I went back to Kuala Lumpur with Rez, making new plans everyday, managing things in NZ, selling my car, getting my friend to move my stuff to a place she can keep them until I come back or decide what to do with them. I couldn’t make any decision regarding what to do with my life. Rez was adorable and told me I could stay as long as I wanted. So I stayed, starting to go out dancing with him every single day. Making myself busy I guess. A few days later, Gratianne, back from Taiwan, sent me a message to catch up. Lydia had an emergency and had to go back to France so she was waiting for her to return. We started to catch up and go dancing. I told her about my situation, it felt very good to have someone to talk to actually. When Lydia came back, they were planning to go a month to the Philippines and asked me if I wanted to join them. As I had nothing better to do, I went with them. We really had an amazing trip. It made us start a long and true friendship. We flew back to Kuala Lumpur, they stayed a few days and offered me to follow them on there world tour. Their next destination was New Caledonia then Argentina. They had a world tour ticket and buying tickets to New Caledonia was a bit expensive. 

So, I decided to meet then in Buenos Aires. They left, I stayed in Kuala Lumpur for a month while they were in New Caledonia. I danced every single day, improving my moves and falling in love with dancing. It became my therapy, to heal. After a month, I was ready to move forward, looking forward to new horizons. I flew to Buenos Aires early January and meet up with Lydia and Gratianne to start an amazing adventure that changed my life, myself, my identity
I am not sure if I’m totally healed from this heart break, New Zealand was my dream. But the universe had other plans for me. A challenging plan, giving up to the best thing you have. I doubted many time about if I was or not at the right place, doing the right thing, but there is not mistake, we are always where we’re supposed to be. 
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