Archive for August, 2011

How Tin ended up in NZ :)

My decision to move to New Zealand was not as easy and exciting as that day I had my Dubai Surprise. But now, after almost 4 years of living here, in the Land of the Long White Cloud, as I look back and think of August 2007, I can’t help but smile and thank that young Tintin for making the hard but right decision of making the move and enduring the heartache. And now, I am sharing it to you….

Mid 2007 and it was the time when recession was starting to hit Dubai. A lot of workers being sent home, laid off. I know some Filipinos who were given their month’s notice. I saw the look of sadness and disappointment on their faces. I felt what they felt that time. Sad times are about to come, I thought. I was scared that soon, it will be my month’s notice being handed to me…

In the midst of all this, I received an email from a former colleague who just moved to NZ with his family. He asked me if I’m interested in working for the same engineering company he’s working for. He thought of me right away as their company is looking for someone young with my engineering skills. Also, he tried to sell me NZ’s tourism and said that NZ is a beautiful country and I’d really love it there. Haha ๐Ÿ™‚ I told him, to be honest, I don’t know where New Zealand is and the only time I’ve heard of NZ was on a milk commercial with cows and a flock of sheep running on the hills. Bwahahaha ๐Ÿ™‚

So yes, I sent him my CV. I got a reply from my to-be manager in 15 minutes. He wanted to discuss things right away and was very keen on talking about salary and visa. I didn’t reply right away, I thought I needed to talk to my then boyfriend. After our talk, I realized I just felt overwhelmed with my colleague’s email, the fast reply and the eagerness of the company to hire me. I realized I can’t leave my boyfriend. I love him and I can’t leave him. I didn’t even consider that I might be laid off anytime soon. I was so in love. I didn’t know how to reply to the email from New Zealand, but I had to tell them about my relationship. I emailed them the following day. The manager replied that he is quite sad that I can’t move but told me that if I change my mind and the position is still available he would really be keen to hire me.

A couple of months passed. Recession was starting to hit Dubai hard. A lot of stories of people sent home and a lot of us didn’t get pay rises. My boyfriend and I were trying to apply to other companies in Dubai but we we’re not lucky. Then I came across an ad on google with a link to a youtube video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbxYZ97yNkI&list=FLPBLbRjyJpcZxNCquYxHBDg&index=5&feature=plpp

It was a video about New Zealand, the country, the people and the song was one of my favorites when I was still young. I then searched New Zealand on google. The whole afternoon until night, that’s all I did. I thought of the job offer I declined. I felt gutted. I watched the video again. At that moment, I wanted to go. I really want to. First thing the following morning, I emailed the manager in New Zealand and before lunch, I got a reply. He said that is very happy to get an email from me, the position was still available and if I am sure I want to go to New Zealand and work, he is very much willing to help me with all the paper and immigration work.

I was stunned by this email. I felt a different kind of happiness. I got excited. A new adventure in a new country somewhere in the Pacific. I thought, 2 months after declining the job, ย it’s still available and the manager still eager on hiring me – this job must really be meant for me! ๐Ÿ™‚ I emailed the manager, ‘Yes I am interested and I want to go to New Zealand and live and work there’. After that, I started thinking how to tell my boyfriend.

It was another long, emotional talk, mostly I wouldn’t mention here as they are too personal, full of drama and would probably bore you guys. But in the end, we agreed that I will go there first and he will follow me. I believed him. I loved him so much and that decision made me so happy. I am moving to New Zealand and he will follow me and we’re gonna live happily ever after. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahaha

The processing of my papers to NZ then started. A lot of emails and calls from New Zealand to Dubai were made. A lot of trips to Immigration NZ in Dubai, medical check-up, blood test, paper work, paper work, paper work… After less than a week, I finally got a visa, and not just a simple work visa, it’s a work to residence visa! This is the visa that my would-be boss offered to help me get. (I wasn’t fully aware at that point how this type of visa would be of so much help to me.) I thought that this is too much luck for me, just too much. I felt so blessed. The following day, when I emailed the manager I already have the visa, I found out too that they will pay for my airfare and that they will refund the whole amount I spent processing the papers. Tintin is so BLESSED! ๐Ÿ™‚

Everything was set in place. I have my visa, my plane ticket, I’ve handed down my resignation… The plan was going well. My boyfriend was set to follow me in a few months. I was happy. I was very happy.

One week before my flight to New Zealand, I found a letter on my desk. I knew the writing right away. It’s from my boyfriend. I won’t mention everything that was on the letter, in summary it just said that he needed to go back home to Egypt as his family called him that his mother was sick. Tears fell and I felt in my heart that I can’t leave Dubai without seeing him. I was about to email my would-be manager that I might postpone my flight because I need to wait for my boyfriend’s return from Egypt, but he emailed me first. The email expressed his happiness that in 1 week I’ll be in New Zealand and he just wants to make sure, all that I need is in place and I won’t have problems flying and with the immigration when I arrive.

I didn’t send my email. I tried to call my boyfriend for days but there was no answer. A day before I left, I finally received a message from him, that he’s sorry he won’t be there to see me before I go. But I shouldn’t worry, he will follow me. I was quite hesitant to believe him. I had the feeling that there was something wrong. I read his email again. I didn’t want to go to the airport but I can’t turn back now. I signed a contract for a company in NZ and it’s less than 24 hours before I fly.

I ended up at the airport the following day, my eyes sore from crying the whole night, tired and sad to leave Dubai. My very close friends from work dropped me at the airport and said their goodbyes. I cried more. They told me to take care of myself and never lose hope. My bestfriend, she hugged me tight and told me, “If he follows, good. If he doesn’t stay. Stay in NZ. Be happy.” ๐Ÿ™‚

I cried the whole flight, from Dubai to New Zealand. I wanted to stop but my eyes just don’t want to stop producing tears. I arrived in New Zealand safe but with eyes very sore and red eyes.

I eventually broke up with my then boyfriend. ย He didn’t follow me. I don’t even know if he really had any intention of following me. I don’t think I am anymore interested in knowing whether he had any. ย I was so in love that time. My way to NZ was not very easy on my emotions. I learned a lot of things the hard way, mainly because of how I handled my emotions I reckon. ๐Ÿ™‚ I learned not to base decisions, specially life decisions solely on a man… Never to let my emotions overpower my whole system. There are times that what the heart feels is more important than what the mind thinks; but I also have to know when the fairytale ends and when reality begins… I learned never to turn down opportunities, maybe I won’t be lucky the next time. I learned that it may take time for me to finally be with the man that will love me and stay with me forever, he may not even come, but till then, I should enjoy my life, never hesitate to travel and experience new adventures! ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve been in New Zealand almost 4 years now, and I can say I never regret anything. My life now is worth every tear and pain I felt. I am stronger and I am tougher. I love my life now.. Not everything is perfect but I am HAPPY. I feel contented. I love myself, my life… ๐Ÿ™‚

I now also recall what a friend emailed me 4 years ago…

“You cry all you want now. Cry until your eyes can’t produce tears. Feel the pain now and cry as much as you canย becauseย tomorrow, I’m not allowing you to cry anymore. You didn’t lose anything. Your heart is still there, it’s not broken, it’s just in pain. You’re a beautiful, talented young woman who’s got a lot of adventures to experience. You’re 23! He lost you and you didn’t lose him. I assure you this, without any bitterness intended, there will come a day he will regret he never followed you. He lost you!”

Now as I look at this email again, I smile and think, yeah, he did lost me. ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL ๐Ÿ™‚

Experiencing Ramadan in Dubai…

Before I went to Dubai, the only thing I know about ย Islam is that they don’t eat pork and that Moslem men can have many wives. That’s all I know about Islam. I was born in a Catholic family and attended a Catholic school from primary to highschool. All I know is how to be Catholic. Lol. My first encounter with a Moslem was in University. That school have no requirements other than passing the entrance exam, so any person of any religion from any part of the country or even the world can go to that school, as long as you pass their entrance exam. I had a blocmate (person of the same course) who’s a Moslem from Mindanao. Let’s call him by the name Yusof. He didn’t tell us much about Islam, aside from the fact that he don’t eat pork. My knowledge of the Moslem world didn’t improve at all because of him. Hahahah

Anyway, so there I was, 2006, in Dubai and it’s my 2nd month there. We were in our shuttle to work (our office is in the middle of the desert) and our Administration Lady reminded us that it’s the start of Ramadan and it will be polite of us if we just stay inside the office pantry when we have our coffee, eat our snack and lunch or even drink water. ย This is to show respect to our Moslem officemates who are observing Ramadan. She then explained to us, the so called “new employees” who just arrived in Dubai, that Ramadan is a month-long fasting during daylight hours, around 6am to 6pm for the Moslems. During fasting, they are not allowed to eat, drink and even have sexual intercourse. That act is to redirect them from worldly activities and cleanse their souls. She didn’t explain much but I was able to get the gist of the concept of Ramadan. (I read more about it later on.)

Anyway, came lunch time. Everyone was hungry and everyone went into the pantry to eat lunch. We were all huddled together in the pantry that wasn’t even enough to fit half of the Filipino employees in our office. Now, all non-Moslems are inside it. Its quite a funny scenario. It was like a crime to eat and anyone seen eating will be executed. But it was entertaining too. Some were eating while standing. Those who were fast enough to go to the pantry first get seats and table to eat. Those who are slow, either wait in vain or just eat while standing, leaning on the wall. Even when some of us are done eating we still stay inside the pantry but give the seat to another person. But yeah, we still stay there just for the fun of staying there.

Lunch time!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

It was during this time too that I was able to really observe our Japanese bosses. They don’t really talk to us much. They just stay in their seats and still work while eating their lunch. Some of the crazy Filipinos leave the pantry when the Japanese bosses arrive and want to eat their lunch. I stayed and chat with the others just to observe them. One of them, he always take a photo of his lunch before he eats it. I found out later on that his wife makes his lunch and he loves his wife so much he takes a picture of it before he eat the food. I had a weird theory about this, what I was thinking that time was that maybe, when he gets home, his wife asks if he liked his lunch and there was an instance he forgot what it was and the wife became sad. So for him not to forget, he takes a picture of it before he eats and so when he gets asked, he knows. Almost everyone in out office thought this theory is crazy. LOL… The other Japanese boss, he eats very quick, without talking, chews fast like there’s a time limit. Another was very organized when he eats, always in poise. These Japanese bosses of ours are really interesting. You will think since they are all Japanese, they have the same manners, but no, they each have their own uniqueness that entertains us a lot. My favorite is the one who talks a lot while eating. Well he talks more than he eats. He’s often left by himself in the pantry. Well, that’s during the Ramadan period.

Another observation was the foodcourt situation at the big malls like IBN Battuta and Mall of Emirates. There was this one time we went to the mall during Ramadan and we went past the foodcourt and it was covered with some black cloth. LOL… Imagine a huge piece or whatever of black cloth attached to the ceiling covering all those tourists and non-moslems eating so that the moslems won’t see them. We can hear the clattering of spoons and forks!

Most foodcourts and restaurants are just closed and don’t serve food until after 6pm, when the Moslems are allowed to eat too. If you’re on the road during this time, you will see like a gathering of Moslems at a park sharing food and eating together after praying.

This was my first Ramadan in Dubai. The following year, I was more prepared for it, was not much of a shock anymore. Only the second time, I was dating ย a Moslem guy and he won’t even talk to me during the day! Fasting to its extreme sense! LOL ๐Ÿ™‚