Some people have asked me if I'm ready to go. Well, that's a loaded question...
To get to this point, I needed a "team" of professors at the University of Otago who agreed to see me through my dissertation. We worked together to develop my research proposal. After the proposal was approved by a committee, I then had to be accepted by the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine and accepted by the University of Otago.
It's all fine and dandy to get accepted into school (this was my first acceptance after 20-something applications, so you'd think I'd be psyched), but I needed $$. I turned to the U.S. Department of Education, batted my eyelashes, signed on a couple electronic dotted lines and voila! I had access to student loans.
That's not all that's involved in moving to New Zealand to pursue a PhD. No way, Jose. Before I could submit my application for a student visa, I had to have a medical exam. Apparently, they don't care much for folks who bring TB and syphilis into the country. After having a little bit of blood drawn, nearly fainting twice in the lab hallway, and sipping down two juice boxes, I proved that I am squeaky clean.
It didn't take long for my visa to arrive (maybe 2-3 weeks?) after I "lodged" it and then I found accommodations on campus. I'll live in the postgraduate dorms for a year and then move off campus after that.
That's the big stuff.
I'm currently in the process of figuring out what the heck to pack. My road bike is a must. I can use it to explore New Zealand on rides and I can race (Hellloooo Ironman New Zealand 2014!). Besides that, I need to start figuring out what clothes to bring. It worries me just a smidge that everyone suggests (okay, they strongly suggest) that I bring warm clothes. Other musts will be the laptop and camera. Everything else is just nice to have. I think. A lot of websites offer advice to study abroad students who will be back home in three months, not three years.
I'm also starting to say my goodbyes. A few weeks ago, I wrapped up my last shift as a pharmacy technician at Binghamton General Hospital. This past weekend, I trekked six hours to visit college friends in Massachusetts. Tonight, I enjoyed a heated game of trivia as my farewell party with my awesome coworkers from the Broome County Office for Aging. Tomorrow, I will teach my last private swim lesson. I'm working at my full-time job until the 17th, so my evenings will be busy visiting local family and friends.
I'll continue looking for loose ends that I should tie up, like my cell phone plan, alerting my credit card company that I'm going overseas and anything else that I notice. In reality, I only need to worry about things that I absolutely cannot get over there before my next trip home. There are very few things that I can't live without in New Zealand (road bike) which makes packing way easier.