There’s a lot of waiting.
As a writer, it makes for dramatic metaphors, short stories filled with fervent tension.
As one half of a partnership, it makes for a long few months apart.

take your marks. go.

via Daily Prompt: Cusp

I had so many images that popped in to my head what I saw the daily prompt.
Clinically speaking, a cusp is a pointed end, or where two curves meet.
To be on the cusp of something, however is to be on the precipice; to sit on the edge of something big, the verge of a development.

I feel like I’m sitting on all kinds of cusps at the moment.
No prizes for guessing which one is at the forefront of my mind.
Zac and I had a disagreement yesterday, and the loneliness I’ve been feeling here bubbled over and seeped in, lacing the vicious text I sent him, challenging him to call me selfish one more time when I was doing all this for him, I was here because of him, I was lonely and friendless, wet and cold, because of him.
I didn’t…

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Memories Box

This was without a doubt the most fun part of collecting our evidence and by the time we’d got here, I’d got in to a rhythm.

The ‘memories’ box part of collecting our evidence was by far my favourite and by the time we’d got to this point, I felt like we’d got more of a handle on what we were doing.
We were in a rhythm almost and it wasn’t a chore, so much as a fond exercise in togetherness.

This section of the evidence is to prove the social aspect of your relationship, so we also threw in invitations we received, screenshots of messages to arrange meeting up with friends, FB check ins, Instagram posts.
All those things you do without thinking, they’re time and date stamped and they’re great to include. Neither of us really use FB either, so when we did have a check in to include, it had been posted by our more social media savvy friends.

You’ll probably find you do more things as a couple than you realised. Not that I didn’t already know we are basically inseparable, but invitations from friends always included Zac without prompting.

memories box.

I’d been collecting ticket stubs and paper momentos from our dates, days out, little things that would have a lot of meaning to us (like the instructions I left for him for cooking dinner the first night I was working and he was in charge of food).
I always keep things like tickets, but even after a few dates I wanted to get a shadow box frame to fill with these keepsakes as a present for Zac for our 1st Anniversary together.

My rare sentimental gesture meant we already had all of those ‘key’ pieces of evidence on hand.
Train tickets, cinema tickets, flight tickets, parking stubs and a beer voucher from London when we woke up at 3am to Hawthorn win a three-peat Grand Final.
We normally had photos from all these dates as well, so after prising open the frame again, it was just a matter of finding the photo to go with the ticket and getting a digital copy.

make friends with your PDF viewer.

I’m working on a Mac, so use preview, but whatever platform you’re on, get familiar with PDFs.
Remember back when you were gathering your financial evidence? I’d already turned the digital copies in to PDFs, so I just picked a month and then attached the relevant ‘fun’ evidence to that document.
I know there are limits on the number of pages/documents you can upload to a visa application, so I think this is possibly an excellent way of getting around that.
I also felt it gave a tangible context to the memories.

I hope you can see from those screen grabs.
Each file starts with the bank statement and then there’s ticket stubs, receipts (the receipts we actually used were for things like gym memberships, restaurants etc. but there aren’t any shown in those grabs) and some pictures to go with it.

Because we were making use of Dropbox, I’d create the PDF with the bare minimum I thought was needed for the month, but within the Dropbox file, add more photos, ticket stubs, receipts, screenshots, etc. and leave it down to Ana’s infinite wisdom to decide what she wanted and what she didn’t need.

make a night of it.

You’d be hard pushed not to enjoy looking back over photos and love notes, reliving the past few months, or years.
With most of the hard work done, we set aside a bit of time each night and tackled a couple of bank statements each. Zac picking his favourite memories for one month, me picking my favourite memories for mine.

It also made me realise just how much we’ve done together.
That’s one of the things I love about Zac – he’s as wide eyed about the world as I am and wants to try everything once. Some dates were a huge success (pizza and mini golf in Nottingham) and some were a huge disaster (Water Theatre Puppet Show in Ho Chi Minh City), but it was so much fun to look back on them and laugh about an evening well spent.

Be Patient.

There’s a reason they say patience is a virtue, and right now, it’s your best friend.

I’m writing this post in a futile attempt, to
a) remind myself to be patient and
b) to offer kind words from the future that things do turn out.

what’s that? don’t think about it? oh, but that’s the only thing on my mind!

I know, I know, as soon as I tell you to put it to the back of your mind, you’ll be consumed with questions and won’t be able to stop thinking about your new life in Australia.
Doesn’t help that every other channel is showing reruns of Relocation: Down Under all day.
Before you judge my daytime TV habits, I’m a swimming teacher: there’s a lot of day time down time.

Hopefully, you’re not working to a schedule.
If you’re sensible you won’t have already booked a flight.
We are definitely not sensible, and we were working to a schedule.
Zac’s umpiring career would only allow for a season off, meaning he had to be back in the country by pre-season in January.
His working holiday for the UK would run out before then and to be honest I was homesick. I couldn’t bear to be away from him while we were waiting and somewhere in the middle we decided to go travelling for a few months, because when were we going to get a chance like that again?
While I clung on to that return date like a beacon of hope on those long winter nights, I was also terrified I was pinning my future on an overinflated concept of happiness that could never live up to my expectation.

I can be a little dramatic.

The point is, there’s no ‘end date’.
You don’t get given an anticipated return time, other than the promise you will know something within a year or so.
I was expecting to feel excited when the visa application was finally submitted and the money was taken from our account, but instead I was anxious, wracked with a sense of ‘unfinished business’ – for want of a better way to describe it.
We were in Cambodia at the time and I remember sitting on the paper thin mattress in our room at the school, reading and re-reading the confirmation email and then staring blankly at the wall.

you’ll drive yourself mad with ‘what ifs’

I’m not saying you won’t have questions, and if you’re like me, you’ll need a 4th and 5th and 17th opinion or version of events.
Everyone’s case is subjective.
Everyone’s visa comes through on a different timeline and I’m still working out if immigration do things in dog years or human years.
A close friend is going through the same process, but she’s 2 years ahead of me.
She did it by herself, all credit to her, so her story is completely different to mine and the time lines she was working with are vastly apart from our experience.

I spent the first few months, when we were gathering evidence, holding her as some kind of almighty immigration guru, but that was worse than just sitting up all night googling everything.
I had to take a step back, take a deep breath.

If you want to consume stories of people going through the process, avoid the forums.
I’ve found that largely they’re full of misinformation and it can get heartbreakingly confusing.
The thing I found most frustrating was not being able to connect with someone who was going through the process, who was living the wait, or who had lived it, someone objective enough to lay out the information in a way I could understand, that didn’t make it feel that all hope would soon be lost.
That’s why I was so excited to be a part of this blog, in the hopes that I could perhaps be that person.

i think too much.

My biggest problem is I’m a worrier.
It always comes from a place of love and passion, from much more red, fiery emotions, but at the base of it, I’m a worrier.
Perhaps because of the worrying I’ve become incredibly patient.
It might be more to do with the teaching, but I’ve often been commended on my patience.
And oh, I feel such a fraud typing that.

I’m not patient.
I’m the most impatient person you’ll meet (other than Zac, who always manages to ruin surprises, because he’s too excited to tell you about it, because he knows how much you’ll love the surprise).
Combined with an overactive imagination – something I was always commended and condemned for as a child – and I’ve spent too many sleepless night concocting every possible scenario.
Sometimes it helps.

In the end, the best thing we did was forget about it.
We just enjoyed the adventure we’d decided to take together.
We kept busy at work, busy with friends.
We went for long drives and spent weekends in Wales, or Scotland, or Amsterdam.

Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

– Joyce Meyer

As I write this, I’m in New Zealand and Zac is still in Melbourne – the final part of this phase of our journey.
I think this is the worst part, the part I’m least willing to be patient with.
It’s hard for me to explain.
I’ve always been a solitary creature who needs constant social interaction, an introverted extrovert, some days I hate the fact that he’s all up in my space, but the second he leaves I want him to come back.
For most of my close friends (particularly those who lived with me at Uni) the fact that I haven’t had a moment to myself since we met is testament to our relationship alone.
It’s not just that with this temporary long distance I’m relearning how to be an individual, more that he’s as much a part of my identity as my obsession with coffee, or how I always smell like chlorine.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Mine has grown restless and as I bumble into a semblance of routine, my patience is growing thin.
I just have to rest assured that everything is still ticking over in the background, the cogs still turn, and while each week drags out when this is all done and dusted, I’ll comment how quickly it all seemed to pass us by.

Let’s Start At The Very Beginning…

If we ignore the fact that I’m terrible at introductions, this is a great introduction. In summary, I’m Becky, and I’ve been exactly where you are. Trust me when I say, it gets better.

I’ve heard it’s a very good place to start.
Fellow musical enthusiasts, I hope you’re also singing about female deer and drops of golden sun, now.

I don’t think I’ve ever been great at introductions.
I’ve been described as quirky, kooky, eccentric, but the overriding consensus is I’m weird, quickly followed with “but the good kind of weird“.
I’ll take it.
As in turns out, in Melbourne, ‘the good kind of weird’ is basically a little bit hipster, perhaps that’s why I fell in love with the city.

I’m slightly ahead of myself, shall I start again?

In my natural habitat: down a lane way in Melbourne with a coffee in one hand and something sweet in the other

just a coffee snob who fell in love with the right city.

My name is Becky.
In September 2014, I got on a plane to Melbourne, Australia on a working holiday visa.
A swimming teacher by trade, Australia seemed a sensible place to be.
I bought a one way flight, certain that anywhere had to be better than the little market town in the Midlands I called home and figured I’d work out the rest of the details when I got there.
I had work lined up for the first 6 months and blinded by optimism and a whole lot of excitement, assumed I’d do such a great job, they’d sponsor me to stay and I could teach swimming forever.

Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way.

My 6 months flew by, and despite the best efforts of the staff, friends and enthusiastic 6 year olds who were going to send a petition to the Government on my behalf, council policy prevailed.
I hadn’t really planned for things not to go my way, and started blindly applying for jobs, buying time in the country to work out how I could stay.

Thankfully I was only out of work for a few weeks, during which time I nearly made a permanent escape to Byron Bay, but feeling overwhelmed with my options to make Australia home, I was just glad to settle in to a routine again.

Classic Snapchat screenshot – he can actually grow a beard now, none of that ‘teen stubble’
In April 2015, I met Zac.
I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight.
It’s certainly not your conventional love story, but I’m an ‘all or nothing‘ kind of gal and after some pretty disastrous dates during the previous months, there was something about Zac: I just couldn’t stop smiling.

First date: kissed in the rain.
Second date: met the family.
Third date: moved in together.

All or nothing.

then and now.

We knew from the start we were serious about each other.
We knew from the start we wanted to build a life together.
We knew from the start a solution was being presented to us.

Meeting Zac just made me more certain that Melbourne was where I called home, was where we were going to start our family.
The ‘how’ was now just going to take some time.
We decided to apply for a Partner Visa and while I wanted to be there in my own right, on my own visa, there was no doubt in my mind about making this commitment together.

But it’s an incredibly long winded process.
Research and stress and an overwhelming feeling of ‘it will never get done’.
I was drowning in a sea of paperwork, forms and blogs, online and offline help, and so much conflicting advice, and then I finally stumbled upon a company called’Let’s Go Global’.

I showed Zac and we made the second best decision of our lives together so far.
(The first being crazy enough to pursue an international love affair)
An email and reassuring phone call later and we put ourselves in the very capable hands of Ana and George.

The rest, as they say is history.

This is just our story, my version of events. Going through the process, I know how difficult and frustrating and emotional and overwhelming it can be.
If you look online, you find a rose tinted version of events, there’s an abundance of information and it’s usually conflicting and confusing.
Like anything worth having, it doesn’t come easy, but you can believe me when I say it’s worth it and having Let’s Go Global supporting you each step of the way makes it a hell of a lot easier.