New Zealand Onward
It's been 9 months since I last updated my blog. In the past 9 months, my life has changed a lot, yet I have not been able to write down any of these changes. Right now, as I am on a plane, leaving New Zealand possibly for the last time, I feel like it is time for me to recap my life in New Zealand, and talk about the future.
A year ago when I gave up my pilot career and came to New Zealand, I was eager to study in university, and NZ offered tons of opportunities for high school drop outs like me to acquire the required qualifications. While I quite enjoyed this country during my previous visit, my decision to come to NZ was purely practical - I needed a degree to immigrate, and NZ could provide opportunities for me to get it.
My first few weeks in NZ were quite smooth. I was able to rent an apartment relatively quickly, and opened a bank account after only minor mishaps. However, 3 weeks after my arrival, the entire country entered COVID lockdown, which was a very unfortunate news for someone who had just recently arrived in the country - I was forced to spend the next 2 months at home without any entertainment available to me. This ordeal put a damper on my new life in New Zealand.
Over the next few months, the COVID situation got much better. Although I didn’t agree with some of the government’s decisions, objectively speaking NZ did quite well in terms of COVID response. We were able to live a normal life, with no social distancing, masks mandate, or gathering limit in place. I finally received my secondary qualification in December, and that got me thinking, should I stay in New Zealand, or go to a different country?
Even though I enjoyed visiting NZ as a tourist, actually living there was a different story. There are some annoyances that tend to be ignored while you are on holiday. For example, I am not a big fan of driving, yet NZ’s public transport system is neither reliable nor convenient. Also, NZ’s economy is mostly based on agriculture and tourism. The tech industry of NZ is quite small, and most international corporations are based in Australia instead.
Since Australia was relatively close to New Zealand, and had much more opportunities, I decided to relocate to Australia. I applied to multiple universities, and finally decided on the University of Adelaide - It is a world renowned university, they offered me a scholarship, and the living costs in Adelaide is relatively affordable. Unfortunately two days before I was supposed to leave for Adelaide, the Australian border was closed to NZ residents due to a case of community transmission in Auckland. The closure was meant to last for 3 days, which later got extended to 6 days. When the border reopened, NZ residents were required to quarantine upon arrival. This caught me by surprise, and made me hesitant to travel to Australia. The COVID pandemic, and especially the first lockdown had a huge emotional toll on me. To this day, whenever I walk past a managed isolation hotel, I feel extremely sorry for everyone inside, and feel lucky that I don’t have to be one of them. Therefore, I was reluctant to put myself into this undesirable situation. I was also afraid to be forced to attend classes online if I failed to make it to Australia. I had to take online classes for the majority of 2020, and I hated that experience. In the end, to mitigate these risks, I decided to postpone my entry to university until 2022.
Since I no longer had anything to do in 2021, I had to come up with new plans. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always dreamed about learning Portuguese in Brazil, so I decided this should be the perfect time to do it. Some friends of mine were concerned about the COVID situation in Brazil, but I figured that if everyone is still traveling to the US, which has the worst COVID situation in the world, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t travel to Brazil. I quickly booked a immersive Portuguese course in Rio de Janeiro, and submitted my visa application. Shortly after however, a 11-5 curfew was announced in Rio. I was upset since I was looking forward to experiencing the Brazilian nightlife, but I decided against changing my plan because it was a minor inconvenience. Two days before my departure, new restrictions were announced, including closure of beaches. Further restrictions are set to be announced on Monday. This was extremely worrying, since a lockdown is very likely, and it was too late for me to change my travel plans. By the time I land in Brazil on Monday evening, the restrictions will be already in place. Therefore I made a contingency plan - I booked another ticket to Quito, Ecuador. If a lockdown is in place when I land in São Paulo, I will cancel my flight to Rio de Janeiro, and go to Ecuador instead. Which is why as of writing, I’m not sure if I’ll be sleeping in Rio de Janeiro or Quito tonight.
On a positive note, I’ve recently started a relationship. I met my boyfriend on a dating site. In the past I’ve been skeptical about the effectiveness of dating sites, but my boyfriend and I fell in love as soon as we started talking to each other. Even though certain things have been rough lately, I’m nonetheless happier than ever. I am super excited about our future, and I’m dying to see him in real life.
22 March 2021
Onboard EK261 above Cameroon