After about 6 months we got the email from the immigration office that they are getting closer in granting the PR Visa. At that time if you fulfilled all the requirements (of which the most important one was the qualification for a skilled occupation category) it was very unlikely that you would not get the visa. So as long as all your paper work is in order you could plan the move and get ready for the day when the final approval arrives. So we had sold our house, moved to my ex husbands fathers place for the summer and knew we could book the flights and ship the plywood box soon. Basically we were all ready to leave living on “stand by” in a way.
Because it takes two months for our things to arrive on the other side of the globe it made sense to take as long time as possible on the way there. So we booked flights through London to Beijing and Hong Kong to Brisbane. Why Beijing? Well because a colleague of mine agreed to let us use his apartment while he was in Finland . Huge thanks to you (you know who you are <3). Hong Kong because there are only a couple of different airports in Asia that fly to Brisbane and Hong Kong was one of them.
We left in August 2008 from Helsinki-Vantaa airport and by the time we had flown for 10 hours the flight captain kindly announced that we are above Estonia so basically 60 km away from where we left and after 10 hours of traveling. What did we learn from this? Don’t book the cheapest flights if you want to get there quickly especially with small children.
Beijing was really interesting, we walked a lot. Went to see the Great Wall of China and other attractions. I don’t think I would have ever visited China otherwise so this was really a great great opportunity that we had. Hong Kong was also really interesting and beautiful place. Quite international but still not too much and such good food! Worth a visit definitely also.
I remember when we started to approach Brisbane I was looking outside from the window and thinking is there anything else except sand here as I had been watching the moonlike surface for quit a while already from the airplane window. Are there actually people living here somewhere? Then the mountain range came into view and a bit more green as we started to get closer to the shore of the Pacific Ocean and our destination Brisbane International airport.
This would be our new home for as long as… Well we don’t know. We didn’t have a definite plan. Plan was to get there, stay for at least the year ex-husband had a contract for. If possible stay for the four year needed to get citizenship. BUT those were all plans. Truth was it was scary, it was exciting, it felt like a dream or a different reality that we were entering. Could we indeed call it home? Would it feel like home?
After landing we went through the infamous border control and of course it was a bit scary having seen all those series on TV. First you show your passport and then the dogs came as we were getting our luggage. One sniffed really long my son’s bag and they asked whether there’s been any food in there and I said yes I think we had a banana in there. The officer said most likely the dog just smelled the banana and then they let us pass. It was much quicker than I thought and pretty much the same entering any country.
Leaving from the airport with the taxi I remember being so scared because I felt all the time like we are on the wrong side of the road and I’m going to die. It was a strange feeling because I hadn’t been in a country with left side traffic for a while. You did get used to it pretty quickly though, but first feeling was definitely weird.
It was super warm, it was sunny, it felt like any other place in the world, it wasn’t that different actually. We arrived at the apartment hotel that we had booked for 2 weeks so that it gives us time to find our own place and figure our our next move while waiting for the visa to be processed. After unpacking and changing clothes we left outside and went to get something to eat. It was a strange feeling being finally there after such a long time and so much work.
It’s hard to describe how emotional it is. How long process selling almost every single thing that you have ever owned, packing your life into a couple of suitcases and a small plywood box and just leave. Just go not knowing what will happen on the other side. Will we find jobs? How will the kids be reacting? What if we have to return tail between our legs in a couple of weeks? Will we be able to support ourselves over there? What about the language, will we be able communicate? Thousands and thousands of thoughts going through your head.
But we were finally there. Such a relief yet extremely scary. What next you ask? Well getting organised!