Tessa - Speech Language Therapist
I am so incredibly thrilled that we decided to make the move here and for all of the pieces to fall into place as they did. I really do love everything about my experience so far and we haven't even come close to experiencing what NZ has to offer
Hi everyone! My name is Tessa Blake and I am a Speech Language Therapist from the USA. I came to NZ in October with my husband, Ian.
The process to come to NZ took me less than 3 months from FIRST contact with Accent Health Recruitment. The easiest part of the process was it was all so quick and there was amazingly helpful coordination with Accent Health Recruitment. My recruiter acted as the "middle person" between myself and my prospective employer. This took a HUGE weight off my shoulders during the process as there is a lot to think about. She helped keep me on top of every single step in the process and went above and beyond to assist us in having a smooth transition here. She was so incredibly easy to communicate with, understanding, and friendly! Merryl never acted like it was just a "job", she genuinely wanted everything to be fantastic for us, and it has been!
The most challenging part of the process was... Hmm... Honestly' it really went very smoothly! I'd say maybe the two more stressful pieces were getting all the visa paperwork completed (there are many i's to dot and t's to cross!) and finding a place that suited our needs. We were coming without a car, no furnishings, and a dog (on the way). We needed a place within walking distance of the city centre or convenient bus routes that was in our price range AND allowed dogs. Coordinating getting our dog here actually will probably be the hardest part as the paperwork for dogs is more complicated than for people!
My first impressions of NZ were that it is absolutely magical. We haven't even been 15 minutes outside of the city yet and the landscape is unlike anything I have ever seen and I have travelled a good bit! It is more beautiful than any photograph I have seen.
The best parts of NZ are: I love so many things, this is going to be a long answer! The outdoor lifestyle and wildlife are fantastic. After only being here for 5 weeks we had already gone hiking, saw rare yellow eyed penguins, got chased by sea lions (yes, believe it or not they run faster than you think!), went running on a number of beautiful scenic tracks and trails, played touch rugby for the first time (now a member of the team!), went to an All Blacks test match, and joined an alpine club that goes on regular climbing trips.
Also, I love the people (most people are SO friendly here) and I feel like there is so much less of a "keeping up with the Jones's" feeling. Where I came from, it felt like everyone was trying to outdo one another with material things and money. I just don't feel that way here.
I also love the lack of traffic (when people say "Dunedin rush hour" I chuckle after living in places like Philadelphia and Boston). It is also amazingly clean and fresh here! I rarely see trash!
The local farmer's market has some of the most amazing local fresh fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses and baked goods offered at really amazing prices! I also LOVE the sweets here, the Cadbury chocolate factory is in the city centre so there is endless amounts of delicious Cadbury chocolate flavours. They have so many different types of baked goods that it will take me a year to try them all (can I say thank goodness for the outdoor lifestyle!) OOHH and who could forget the WINE!!!
What I miss the most is our dog (he is with my parents now, paperwork and shots almost completed), Kale salad (we ate a lot of those delicious greens back home, but we are finding other equally delicious substitutions)
My advice if you are planning to come to NZ is - Make sure the friends and family you want to keep in touch with are set up with apps like "Skype" and "Whatsapp" (international free text, audio, video, picture messaging). It has been so incredibly easy to keep touch this way.
Ultimately we wish we could bring all of our friends and family here, however, it has been SO easy to keep in touch through technology and we haven't missed a beat back home thus far :)
I would also recommend starting your visa application as soon as you start getting serious about coming. Even if you don't have a job offer yet, you can still have most of the paperwork filled out and will know exactly what steps you need to take (i.e. medical exams etc) once you do get the job offer. We were able to get our visa's sent in and processed in a week's time as the only piece of paper we were waiting on was the proof of employment.
So far I have been really impressed with the healthcare system here. I have so much more flexibility in my job and it has been easier to access certain materials and devices needed for my speech therapy practice. I really feel like I am able to spend time with my patients and there is no specific "productivity" expectation. Don't get me wrong, I still work very hard and are expected to perform, but it just seems so much more patient centred. Everyone I have come in contact with who works in the healthcare system seem very satisfied with their job and are genuinely happy to be at work. People seem to LOVE to work here! (Maybe it's because they get triple the vacation time we do in the States!) There have been a few things to get used to as some of the terminology is not the same, but for the most part, the speech and language therapy practice is almost identical to the states. All of the SLT's here are very knowledgeable and skilled and I could not be happier to be part of such an amazing team. They made me feel so welcome!