Countdown to Australia Archives

January 7, 2007

Pull the other one, it has bells...

One of my Resolutions this year was to update this blog more often. This isn't going as well as planned at the moment because "finding ten minutes to type that I'm not being paid for" is almost, but not entirely, impossible.

This is because I'm packing like a Mad Packing Fiend. I leave in only a couple of weeks, and getting everything sorted and down to two suitcases is... problematic. Difficult. Stressful.

Driving me insane.

But, I'm almost done, which is good because I'm not sure how much more of this my poor heart could have taken. Do other people get this stressed, or is this just an Anna-Only sort of thing?

It would be much easier if I didn't read. Singapore Airlines says you can bring a "reasonable amount of books" for the flight. I'm not entirely certain their definition of reasonable will mesh with mine. {I'm reminded of a scene in Chasing Amy, where Banky is explaining why he's packing around as much... "adult material" as he is. Sometimes he wants this, sometimes he wants that, and sometimes, but just sometimes, he likes this other thing. Is it reasonable to say I want to bring three trashy novels, two different biographies of famous women, and three cook books?}

I'm alive. I'm covered with guidebooks to four different countries. My tickets arrived yesterday.

Everything will be okay.

Everything will be okay...

really. really really.

I'm so scared...

December 31, 2006

Destinations, or my 2007 is better than yours...

There are a lot of adventures ahead of me right now, and I have to admit - I'm a little scared.

It's not *just* that I'm going to move to Australia (Perth, did I tell you? Picked entirely by asking a bunch of people and then completely ignoring their advice), but there are so many other things happening in 2007 that I'm looking at the year as a whole and wondering if I'm going to pull it off. There's a lot going on.

Let's see... I'm hitting Singapore for four days in January {During which I'm going to start at one end of Chinatown, then eat my way to the other end of Chinatown. God, I miss *real* Chinese food), then hopping and skipping to Perth. I haven't quite sorted out what I'll do when I'm there, but I'm pretty sure there'll be lots of exploring of Western Australia to do. It's a big place - there'll be lots. I have to find kangaroos.

In late June I have a ticket to London, where I'll change planes and head off to exciting Halifax - the one in Canada, not the one in the UK. From there, I'm going back to Edmonton again, because Mark is having his 30th birthday party on 07/07/07, and I'm not missing it for the world. I'm going to be in various parts of Canada for something approaching two weeks, then I'm heading back to London to change planes for a week in Spain. My plans involve Sangria and beaches, and probably a bunch of exciting things in ruins. I can't wait - sincerely, I've been planning this trip off and on for the better part of a year now, since I got Don the "100 Places To See Before You Die" book and there was a castle.

There's always a castle, isn't there?

After a week in Spain, it's off to much-less-sunny (I hope! I burn!) Poland for a week of exploring. I have no idea what I'm going to do in Poland, not even as firm an idea as I have for Spain, but I have a guidebook, and friends who have been there. And blogs I can read about it. I'll muddle through and find out what I want to do.

And then I go back to Aus, but this time it's the other side of the country - I'm heading to Brisbane for the second half of my year, and I have GREAT BARRIER REEF highlighted and circled and starred in my guidebook. I get giddy just thinking about it, about seeing the surf and the sand and the bright colours. I have this image of Aus in my head that is probably nothing like reality (since I moved to Scotland for the boys in kilts, and they are sadly few and far between - lots of sheep, though), but I'm picturing part of it as a rugged country where men are men and women sigh a lot, and dust gets into everything, and other parts of it in bright colours and splashes of animals and bird songs I don't recognize and sheep! sheep! (or is that new zealand?) and looking up at the stars and wondering why they're so strange.

Yeah... Aus is going to be the big adventure, isn't it? I really hope there are sheep.

But in September I'm hooking up with Tom in new zealand for a bit, and that will be strange - the first person from my "old" life that I'll see in someplace different. There, I know there will be sheep. And mountains. And kiwi birds. It'll be great!

And after that it's exploring Brisbane and the eastern parts of Australia and counting down until another country (one I'll probably love just as much as I love the UK) disappears behind another plane.

I have so many destinations. I'm afraid of what I'll find. I break my heart over every country I leave.

Stupid countries, being so exciting.

{Sunday Scribblings}

December 12, 2006

Watch Anna Run. Run, Anna, Run.

I... uh... got my plane tickets today.


I'm very panicked.

December 10, 2006

I should check my email more often...

Transaction Reference Number: XXXXXX
Passport Number: XXXXX
Family Name: PEARCE
Date of Birth: 20/07/1976


RE: Application for Subclass 417 - Working Holiday (Temporary) (Class TZ) visa

This is to advise that you have been granted an Electronic Working Holiday Visa, Subclass 417, on 06 December 2006.

This letter contains important information about this visa.

The visa grant number is XXXXXX. This is the unique number assigned to the visa. You should keep this visa grant number with you, as you may have to provide it to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) during the life of the visa.

This visa allows you to make your initial entry into Australia no later than 12 months from the date that the visa was granted. Your initial entry into Australia must not be after 06 December 2007

Once in Australia, this visa permits you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the date that you first enter Australia. It provides you with multiple travel to Australia, which means that you can leave Australia and re-enter Australia as many times as you wish during your 12 month stay. However, if you depart Australia during your 12 month stay, you are not able to recover the period of time you have spent outside Australia.

You will not have a visa label placed in your passport when travelling to Australia as your visa is recorded electronically in Australia's visa systems. It is recommended that you print and keep a copy of this advice for your personal records.

November 23, 2006

Rome! Rome! Rome! Rome! Rome! (also, Singapore)

RomeSo, I'm leaving for Rome in just a few hours!

As you can see, I've been busy planning this with post-its, as one does. The problem I'm having with Rome is that it's a whole lotta choices, and I can't believe that I have to narrow it down to just a few days worth of travelling. How can I do this city any form of justice at all?

But I will see the Vatican (I packed a special shirt for that, because all of my "nice" shirts are a bit to risque for the Vatican, and I couldn't handle the idea of wearing a t-shirt, but I found something that worked), and I will see the Collisium, and I will see so many things that I practically gave up trying to plan the trip at all and just started writing down all the things I wanted to do and sticking them on to my planning sheet.

My head is still spinning - Rome? Who goes to Rome? I don't go to Rome... that's for cool people.

Rome. Yay!

I can't even remember every place on my not-itinery.

* * *

Unrelated in some ways, but my laptop is broken. You can't tell because I'm cunning that way, but I have no n key. This is incredibly frustrating.

Also, I booked my appointment to prove I don't have tuberculosis. Yay me!

And it looks like I must (*sigh* oh the humanity) go through Singapore for my trip to Aus, which looks like I'll be starting in Perth. So, now I'm kinda planning my trip to Singapore. (So far I've planned to buy a guidebook.)

It's been so busy, again...

* * *

Rome! Yay! I will roam in Rome with the Romans!

October 20, 2006

Paperwork and Tape

Still working on the paperwork to prove I don't have tuberculosis so I can go live in Aus. It's been a never-ending nightmare of paperwork and red tape. Now I have a letter (that I need to take to a pay-clinic in Glasgow) that says "Please write in these spaces that Ms Pearce doesn't have tuberculosis, thank you", or some variation thereof. I'm getting really tired of the amount of hoops I need to jump through. I just want to write a brief note:

Dear Australia,

I want to come to your country, see lots of things, type really fast and PAY YOU TAXES DAMN IT. Let me come for a year and I'll be oh so good and wonderful.

Hugs and Kisses,

Why is this so hard? *whine whine whine*

September 26, 2006

Cows go Moo!

Arg. It's been such a hectic week and I'm feeling completely overwhelmed right now. I have done the foolish thing of attempting to navigate my way through the UK health care system. (Nothing seriously wrong.) It's been so incredibly aggravating... I'm sure there's perfectly logical ways of doing everything, but of course I'm not able to find them because I don't know them, and no one thinks to tell you these sorts of things. So, no one I know can help me sort this stuff, and it's been a frustrating bit of trial, error, and banging my head against a wall.

But things are better now.

I never thought I'd say I missed the Canadian health care system, but I did this week. In Canada, I would know where to go, who to talk to, and what to say. It took me three days to get that sorted here. Three freakin' days, because you need to first register with a practice, and then you can't get in to see them until the next day at the earliest, and they don't make appiontments at any point in advance.

But in brighter news, I may win a cow!

I may have bought the ice cream simply because it said "You can win a cow!" on the side...

I will name my not-yet-mine cow Cow! Cow the cow.


Yeah, anyway. Still sorting things for Aus. Sold a bunch of books today, and have plans to get rid of more things tomorrow. It's a very draining process. I wish that I could just do it all quickly and be done with it.

September 17, 2006

The Long Good-bye

I am very slowly but surely hammering away at the things I need to get done in the next four months. I applied a few days ago for my Aus visa and was told (very politely) that I would need a chest x-ray before I could be considered.

A chest x-ray. Because... you know... I might have something wrong with my chest, or something.

Closest I can come to sorting that out is because I lived in China.

I've been culling books (an always painful process) and refusing to buy more stuff (equally painful - I obviously *need* more stuff, right?) and just generally getting my life into order so that I can leave in January and have everything behind me sorted out. It's... it's...

It's really really stressful and I wish it were easier, damn it.

God, no wonder half the people I know go "Oh, I envy you travelling and living overseas, but I could never do it!" It's such a freakin' hassle. Why the hell do I need to go to a doctor in Glasgow to get my chest x-rayed? That's *stupid*, and I can't get it done just anywhere... the places they suggested that weren't in Glasgow don't *do* those for the Aus visas. And wouldn't I know by now if something was wrong with me? *sigh*

Anyway, I moved my to-do before Aus list to the sidebar so I could keep track of everything, and I'm hoping it all comes together easily enough. You'd think I'd be used to this, and at least this time I won't be constantly wondering what I can leave behind. I do love the UK, and I would love to come back here, but this is definately a long-term, if not permanent, good-bye.

August 23, 2006


So, I've been basing my Aus plans over the past year or so on the idea that I can only work in one place or one company for a maximum of three months. I got myself the idea that I would work and live in a province for three months, then back on up and move to another province, sign up with a new temp agency, and work my way around parts of Aus that way. I mean, yeah, there are more than four provinces, but really, that's just... well, logistics. The idea worked for me.

I downloaded the paperwork and was looking at it yesterday. I don't know if it's changed, or if it was always the same, but now you can work for the same place for six months.

This is, of course, a major change in my world-view. Cuz, you know, I'm like that.

So, I'm pondering: Do I go with Original Plan A, and work my way around various parts of a really big country? Or do I go with amazing and super-new Plan B, wherein I work in one place for six months (like, say, in the west half of the country), take a month to wander around on my way to the other half of the country and settle there for another six months, using that month in between to bum around Aus, checking out stuff and being a backpacking 30-year-old fiend.

(And does the plan of wandering around a country I know very little about with a big old "I'm a Tourist! Love me!" in my hands, aka the guidebook, strike you as more 'exciting and adventurous' or 'crazy with a side order of risky'?)

I really like the idea of bumming around a country for a while with no plan other than "Get to Sidney before June". But on the other hand... well, I'm naive, but not that naive.


Either way, I'm getting really excited about this now - I want to simultanously enjoy my time in Edinburgh and make January get here faster.

Also, there's a place in Aus called Kangaroo Island. Guess where I'm gonna go?

August 14, 2006

Everything Comes To This


I'm disgustingly proud of this photo and felt the need to share it. I finally got to take my brand-new tripod (Thanks, Don) someplace and use it, and I got some lovely photos of St Cuthbert's Churchyard at night. Since it's usually locked up, I was very satisfied over all.


I was in the churchyard at that time of night because of the Fringe show I caught there. It was Vespers, sung in Russian, and it was beautiful. It's amazing how religious music can be so moving, no matter if you know what they're saying. It really felt like... well, like a choir of angels. I was reminded of a quote I read once in my history of Wales... "When we meet God, I'm certain he'll be speaking Welsh." I think, in the end, how faith and spirits move us is so entirely based on feelings and impressions rather than words.

Which may be why the Islamic festival left me with a bad taste in my mouth. There was a presentation yesterday on women in Islam, and it was very poorly done. I don't want to go into it too much here, but I was hoping for some real discussion and insight into the faith, the religion, the culture, and everything caught up in those things. I wanted it to talk about things that were important to women in that culture and faith. Instead, they chose two "poster-child" type women to speak about their experiences. Neither had ever lived in a different culture. At least one didn't read Arabic. Neither could answer any of the questions we had about Islam and women. Neither was a scholar. In comparison to the way the man's talk earlier in the week had been, it was frustrating. And whereas I can see why people may not want to stand up and talk about their faith in terms of questions that seem like instrusions... well, that's what it was billed as. That's what I expected from what the Mosque itself had advertised. I wanted more.

I spent a lot of time questioning things this weekend. I went to a talk about history in India and Persia, where the idea that the problems in the Middle East right now go back as far as things in Ancient Greece. That sense of divide between us and them goes back to Sparta. Points were brought up about resentment on the side of people who are "Eastern". I tried to ask if the speakers, both authors of recently-published books about the history of the region, thought this might be because the "authoratative" books on the history and culture of the area were both written by White, Middle-Class, Western, Scottish Men. I didn't get a satisfying answer.

I wasn't really surprised at that.

I was strangely surprised by something else: Who'd have thunk it: People read at Book Festivals.

I was also surprised at one other thing: My passport returned from the Home Office. If I recall correctly from the last time this happened... things will start to move rather quickly from this point on.

I am so scared.... and so excited.

August 6, 2006

To Do Before Leaving for Aus, a list, by jo

I'm making a list of everything I should have done in the next four months. I'm trying to remember the things that would have made coming to Scotland easier, and extrapolating from there. Wish my passport wasn't at the home office - I could use it and get at least some of this done now.

If anyone has thoughts - whether you've moved internationally or not - I'd love to hear them. Please, share!

To Do Before Leaving for Aus, a list, by jo

1. Sort out Visa issues
2. Price out tickets for mid-January (looks like leaving after Jan 20 is best)
3. Find out about cell phones in Aus
4. Win Lottery
5. Buy the suitcase I'm covetting
6. Buy an iPod, it's a long flight
7. Get seed money gathered together
8. Cull through the books (ask self: how did I arrive in the country with four books in total and now have a packed bookshelf)
9. Ebay various items
10. Fix the table that I broke
11. Fix the wall that I also broke
12. Return the artwork I took off the walls. Be happy none of it is broken.
13. Put the beds back together.
14. Cull through clothes - strangely, won't need winter weight down there
15. Decide where in Aus to land before buying ticket
16. Suss out living arrangements (long term hostel? Flat share?)
17. Look for work
18. Collect reference
19. Bank account info
20. Get taxes sorted - do I owe anything? Should I get anything back?
21. Power stuff? Will I need adaptors?
22. Get a clearer idea of the weather in Aus, from something other than Weather Pixie.

July 28, 2006

If one were to be, say, looking at a flight to Australia for early January, would one prefer to fly through Hong Kong or Singapore? Should one, you know, be doing that. Not that I am. Because that would be making a commitment, which I do not do.

July 24, 2006

Not A Mid-life Crisis

I feel so restless. If my passport wasn't currently at the Home Office trying to convince them I'm a nice person, I may have called in dead to work this morning and grabbed the first train to London. But, since I suspect that France will want my passport before they let me in the country (to steal pastry recipies, of course), and that walking to Australia would be difficult from there, I may have to stay put.

I want to go someplace. I want to do something. I don't know what, though, I just want it to be now.

Me: I'm having a mid-life crisis! I don't want to have a mid-life crisis at 30! I don't want to die at 60!

Him: You're not having a mid-life crisis.

Me: If I am, does that mean I have to start dating women half my age? Because, ew... 15.

Him: No, because you aren't having a mid-life crisis.

Me: What about women two-thirds my age? That wouldn't be so bad... And I could get a fast sports car or something!

Him: You can't drive.

Me: Which would make it all-the-more tragic, don't you think?

Him: ... I'll be over here.

I don't know, I just want to go, now. I don't want to wait, and be mature, and do all the right things. I want to get on the first and fastest plane out of here. There's nothing wrong with the UK, and heaven knows I love Edinburgh, but right now... I just feel so restless.

If I had my passport right now, I'd be filling in my paperwork to Aus. As things stand, all I can do is write sad little blog posts.

20 days is a long time without travelling, at least for me.

May 31, 2006

Bright Sun-shiney Day

The End I took this photo on Monday. I love how the rainbow sort of crashes into Arthur's Seat in the background. I also love how that drab set of brown buildings in the foreground is where I live. It used to be whiskey warehouses, and you can still see the rails where the trolleys used to go up and down, presumably to the docks. It's really ugly on the outside, but I love my flat. It's big and has window seats and has this suddenly free guest room.

So, Kristi left today, and that whole chapter has been closed. I keep thinking I should feel more than I do, but mostly I just feel a sense of "the end". It's over, there is nothing more to fret about, and yay on that. It was a gorgeous day, and I revelled in it, taking more cow photos, humming my way through the city, and kissing at least one police office and a cabby. I'm not so much happy she's gone as happy that it's over. No more of this purgatory of waiting for her to leave so that I could move on. The last three weeks have been very, very long.

But for all that I enjoyed today, I'm finding myself pondering more my trip to Australia. Had a long talk with a friend today, and it feels like the choices about Aus come down to this: I can either do something fun, or make a smart financial choice. And I'm really at the point where I have to be making those smart finacial choices. Living and working in Australia will give me enough money to support myself and have fun and see as much of that place as I can, but it won't get me ahead. It may even leave me in debt, not a clever thing to have happening when one is thinking about grad school and all that.

I hate these sorts of choices. It feels like if I don't go to Aus, I'll regret it later, but if I do go, I'll regret it later, too, when I'm eating rice and working two jobs again. And heaven knows I don't want to do that.

But on the other hand, I don't know how much of that feeling of fear is because of the amount of emotional pressure I've been under for the past six months to not go. Kristi made it really clear that she would be very unhappy if I went. That she'd feel like she missed out on things in Scotland if I left it before she did. I don't really follow that, but I can't pretend that wasn't there for all this time, and I don't know how much of my constant worries about going to Aus are simply because I have been thinking of *not* going to make life easier for her.

I think, in the end, I'm gonna go because really: if I hate it, I can leave. It's not like there's a law that says I must live a full year in Australia. I can do six months, or three, or even one if that's my fancy. But that little blue bird of financial concerns keeps twittering in my ear.

Maybe I should start buying lottery tickets. What are the taxes on lotto winnings in this country, anyway?

{More cow photos} {all the cow photos}

April 10, 2006

Visa: It's everywhere you want to be

I'm so witty.

So, I was looking at more details about the infamous Australia Visa Thing. This is what I currently understand:

1) I can apply online.
2) If I do apply online, it usually takes 2 business days for an approval.
3) I can do it until the day I turn 31.
4) It's good to enter the country any time for a year, and then the countdown for how long I can stay starts, with a year from that date.
5) I can only work for the same employer for 3 months.


I think.

I need 5000 Australian dollars, which looks like about 2000 pounds. This isn't as much as I originally thought. For once, the exchange rate is in my favour! (I thought I'd need about the same amount in pounds, and 5000 pounds is a lot of money.)

It looks like this will not be as complicated as I thought it would be, which is a huge load off my mind. I'm still a bit torn - I'm pretty sure if I wanted to, I could arrange to stay in Scotland and work for longer, but I was leary to do that if it would screw things up too badly for Australia. Assuming I don't want to stay in Aus for 2 years instead of just 1, I should be okay. (As a note, you can apply for an extension of your Visa for Australia, but you have to work for three months in the agriculture industry. Me? Lazy. So, probably not.)

And that's where things stand now. I really want to do this, but at the same time, I don't want to leave Scotland quite yet. Luckily, I've got until July to get at least part of it sorted out....

February 15, 2006

Best V-Day Ever

You know what true friendship is?

It's giving someone an Australian Guidebook for Valentine's Day - even though you don't want them to go.

And I love my new guidebook. It's Rough Guides, for those who care about such things. (My guidebook to the UK is Lonely Planet, the one for China was Rough Guides.) It's full of information and prices and advice and great things, and I once again find myself flailing around as though I'm leaving next week instead of in 7 months.

(I'm torn - do I apply for my Visa really early, or not so much? I want it sorted out before summer at the latest, but I don't plan on leaving till September.)

This isn't getting into the sudden "Oh my god, I'm going to Australia" that hit me on the bus home today. (Right after I bought a blender. Who buys a blender when they're planning Yet Another International Move? I mean, besides me.) I'm so excited about this, but in a really abstract way. I think "Ooh, Australia!" and then my brain turns to mush and I just think of sunny beaches and what happens at Christmas time.

I know a bit of what I want out of the experience, and I know what living overseas is like and I'm pretty prepared mentally for that part, I think. I just need to calm down.

Still... 7 months.

Till I leave Scotland.

Oh dear. Now I'm sad.

About Countdown to Australia

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Anna Overseas in the Countdown to Australia category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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