The Trees
by Ali Shaw
The Trees by Ali Shaw

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
by Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman

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Emigration Diary
Posted by Tam


Disclaimer: Reading this after the fact is kinda funny and very melodramatic. I try to hide it, but I can’t be sure how successful I am in those attempts. The truth is simply put that I’m a very emotional personal and I veer towards extremes.

My week works from Wednesday to Tuesday, so I have the damn weekend separating the first hurdle from the second.

Total solitary limbo period: 46 days, or 6 weeks and 4 days.

Week 1

Matt’s visa has come through, and he’s hopped on a plane.

My visa application has officially been submitted, and now the final waiting round begins. I posted in various Facebook forums asking how other people’s experiences have gone in the past to get a sense of how long the wait would be. The responses I got weren’t all that positive, saying there was a backlog to start off with, slowing the process down even more than usual. On top of that, I received an email from our agents saying that the type of visa I applied for isn’t treated as a priority at all, so try to be patient and wait. The general consensus being that is could be anything from 3-8 weeks.

Sleeping in the spread eagle position lost its appeal after night 2.


Week 2

Even though we’re working through agents, a lot of the time it feels like we just aren’t getting any luck from them, so I called INZ (Immigration New Zealand) myself. The good news is that I got to speak to my case officer directly, and my case has been reviewed by a Medical Assessor. The bad news is that the Medical Assessor had requested additional information. News to me, so I spent a couple of hours frantically trying to get to the bottom of it. Eventually I was told that I needed to do additional TB tests which would take further 6-8 weeks. The agents also gave me a tongue lashing for not disclosing my medical condition prior to the application. So, I called the doctor that performed my original assessment and he’s just as confused. He actually insisted on speaking to one of the agents directly before taking any steps to make an appointment for the sputum smears.

This news just sent me reeling…

After playing a few hours of Mortal Kombat to work through all the emotions and dealing with the anger and frustration I was able to calm down and actually get some rest.

I called INZ the next day, but my case officer wasn’t in. Just for peace of mind I asked to go over all the details in my file. Turns out it wasn’t me that needed to go for TB tests at all, and they’d confused my medical reference number with someone else’s.

No apology from the agents for the tongue lashing. The incompetency and bureaucracy is enough to make you scream.


Week 3

Asked for and then received confirmation that my real medical reference number is linked to my visa application. The agents tell us that the number of Medical Assessors has doubled, so hopefully this means good news soon.

The emotional ups and downs are the worst. I’ve officially given up trying to cook for one, so I’m living off sandwiches and pizza.

Sleep eludes me. This is particularly weird as I used to be able to happily go to sleep at 8pm. Now I need to be completely exhausted and even then I can generally only fall asleep after midnight.

Officially in queue to be reviewed by a Medical Assessor.


Week 4

We’ve started bickering a bit and at times it feels like unless we try really hard, we just speak past each other. Its’ saddening and frustrating.

Such a difficult balance to strike between waking up hopeful that today will be the day and going to bed knowing that it wasn’t. Feels like the only time ever I get excited when I hear an email ping.

Annoyingly become unreasonably emotional when I read the news or see anything remotely heartwarming.

To try and combat the feeling of being absolutely useless, I’ve started applying for jobs again.

Still in queue to be reviewed by a Medical Assessor.


Week 5

The weeks are becoming harder and harder. Waking up on a Monday morning trying to come up with different ways to keep busy, and mentally ticking off the people who have some time available during the day. Trying to take everything one day at a time, but with nothing pencilled in the calendar to start off with it’s a tall order.

Becoming more and more emotional as time passes, even start having random outbursts and not being able to stop crying. Just feels like I’m not going anywhere – not fun and not easy. Starts feeling like my life is going on without me in it.

The stress eating has officially started – actually surprised it took this long to take hold of me.

Starting to sleep less and less. Sometimes at night my head starts playing tricks on me and I hear the faintest of noises that set me on edge.

The insides of my cheeks are all chewed up, raw and bloody. An internal Glasgow smile, if you will.

STILL in queue to be reviewed by a Medical Assessor.

gemma correll lazy bones

Week 6

NOOOOO! Can’t believe I’m in the sixth week already, grumble grumble.

Absolutely got my hopes up when the agent sent an email saying the case officer would be receiving a large batch of medical assessments. All hopes were dashed the next day when mine turned out to be not included in the pile.

Asked for any additional information like any idea how much longer it could take for my assessment to be reviewed, or when another batch of assessments is due to INZ? I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that I never received a response from my agents in this regard.

A weird numbness has taken over replacing all other emotions. Pretty sure it’s self-preservation tactic to ensure I actually make it through this stressful and emotionally draining process.

Watching TV has become a chore, even though its one of the few things I can do to pass the time quite easily. Even staring at the wall has become comparably more enjoyable.

I’ve been feeling a bit rotten lately, so I’ve started improving my diet by cutting out pizzas and other junk food and introducing fruit and vegetables back into my life.

Sleep has been an issue for a while now, but it’s not getting any better. If I try to cheat by taking an afternoon nap, I’m punished by not being able to go back to sleep at all until the next night.

hang in there

Week 7

It’s actually happened! My visa has come through and now the mad rush begins to get the sticker in my passport, book flights and work through the last goodbyes.

The strangest and probably most inevitable part of leaving is having a really hard time saying goodbye as the gravity of this kind of decision weighs down on you. At one point it felt like I was almost hyperventilating with my shoulders heaving and just battling to gasp for breaths. You’d think that months of mentally preparing for this sort of thing would help at least a little. It doesn’t.


Things that no one tells you

  • Suffocating loneliness is real and horrible
  • Learning to surrender to life’s ebb and flow is one of the hardest life lessons hidden here
  • Sometimes you need to hide away under the duvet for a day or two to regroup
  • Weird superstitions will take hold of you, like not wanting to buy too many groceries as you might have to finish everything before you need to leave, or waiting to confirm weekend plans until the last minute unless you somehow jinx the chances of leaving before the weekend starts

Illustrations by Gemma Correll.

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    Posted by Nicki

    Reading this have me immense anxiety. I am
    So glad you’re “here” and that u have your voice to listen to. YOU’RE a ray of sunshine that I had missed so much, so much that if almost forgotten what the sunlight felt like altogether. I love you!

    Posted by Nicki

    So many typos.

    Reading this GAVE me immense anxiety. I am
    So glad you’re “here” and that I have your voice to listen to. YOU’RE a ray of sunshine that I had missed so much, so much that I’D almost forgotten what the sunlight felt like altogether. I love you!

      Posted by Tam

      Wahahaha! I’ve been an absolute victim of autocorrect this week too (as you know!). I love you so much, and cannot wait to see your face again – at least we’re in the same timezone again which makes the world of a difference 🙂

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