Personal Statements

I was going to rewrite this post, but after reading through it, there’s not a lot I’d change.
Yes, this was the most time consuming part of the process, but it was also my favourite part. We’d never really taken the time to sit down and think about our story, our meet-cute and to enjoy it.


Just as an aside, I think this is without a doubt one of my favourite photos of us.
How ridiculous are our faces?!
It was taken when we went to the Edinburgh Dungeons at the end of our anniversary trip to Scotland.

take your marks. go.

This part is possibly one of the most time consuming elements of the whole visa process, because you’re mostly relying on other people who aren’t working to the same emotional, panic driven schedule as you.

For us, people are so supportive and excited about the prospect of us coming back that we didn’t really have to nag anyone too much to get their statements back to us. I would say, however, to start thinking about this part first.
This element can be ticking over in the background while you’re getting the rest of the documentation ready.

Perhaps the strangest part of these statements is writing down, in tangible terms how I felt about Zac, and seeing his version of what he feels for me.
Even stranger is reading that from an outside perspective.
You never really get to hear what people think of your relationship (weddings aside); usually you’re not hearing people’s real

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Police Checks.

It’s very easy, from my relatively zen place having done all that nearly a year ago, to say not to stress about these checks.
But they’re possibly the most straight forward pieces of evidence you’ll need to collect, I’ve had countless DBS checks done for my jobs over the years and never batted an eyelid, it’s just when the emotional value is attached that it suddenly becomes a concern.

There are a lot of elements of this process that are out of your control.
You’re surrendering your fate to the will of the visa gods and quite often, the best you can do is to simply be on top of the bits you can organise.

Looking back on the timelines, nothing takes as long as it feels.
I’d heard horror stories of the Police Checks taking months to come back, but the reality of it was mere weeks.
It’s also not as hideously costly as you think it might be, but I’ll go through all of that.

To confirm, you’ll need two police checks (4 in total).
A UK police check for both of you, found here.
An AU police check for both of you, found here.

The forms themselves are pretty self explanatory and really easy to complete online, but make sure you have your evidence ready before you start the application.
We’d already been scanning things in, and naturally I had everything organised in folders on my desktop (that’s right, I gave this desktop significance) but it’s really helpful to have everything together before you start applying.
The other thing to note is save your files as JPEGS – for some reason the forms can’t handle PDF copies of documents!

AU Check: $42 each (accurate as of 2016)

Applied: 9th May
Received: 23rd May

I don’t know if I went slightly overboard with evidence for this one, but having already lived and worked in Australia for a year, I used documents such as my Working With Children Check and AUSTSwim qualification towards the application.
For my proof of address I included both our Aus address and our UK address.
I used a utility statement from our house in Chadstone, as well as a wage slip from my previous job in Melbourne and then bank statements from the UK.

Don’t get caught up in worrying about having 100 points of evidence – but I wanted to make sure there was no way they couldn’t grant my certificate.
As long as you have all the basics, you’ll have more than enough.
Naturally it was a little easier for Zac to provide 100 points of evidence, his birth certificate and drivers license were enough.
The key thing is to just make sure you have one form of photo ID and another form of ID to corroborate that.

The only things that threw me when I was doing the AFP check were seemingly trivial looking back, but at the time significant enough that I wanted to mention them.

First thing was: do I have a case worker?

Even though we’re going through an immigration lawyer the term ‘case worker’ seemed really ambiguous and I was momentarily concerned about how to answer this.
Eventually, we went with ‘no’.
As far as we understood it, if you’re working directly with someone in the department: that’s your case worker, more immediate immigration cases with trickier dealings. Yes, we’re using a third party, but all that really means is they’re checking the paperwork and sending it off for us, they’re not ‘working our case’.
Is that enough of a distinction?

Secondly: which option do I tick?

Now the reason this threw me was, for immigration purposes, you need to have a really thorough police check. When I clicked ‘Option 33’ it was saying ‘Name Check Only’.
I didn’t want my name checking! I wanted a full police check!
Option 33 is the correct option for immigration purposes, and the ‘Name Check Only’ simply means we don’t need to have our fingerprints checked and scanned as well.

Zac’s check came back within the week, mine took slightly longer, but as an Australian citizen, his was inevitably going to be a bit quicker.

UK Check: £45 (accurate as of 2016)

Applied: 3rd May
Received: 15th May

The UK checks have a few more steps online, and require you to input a lot more of the details yourself as apposed to simply providing copies of evidence.
It’s a little more time intensive, but at least you know it’s all in accurately.
I’m not sure which one I prefer!

The biggest stumbling block for our UK police checks was finding someone to endorse our application.
Our endorser just had to be someone who will vouch that you are who you say you are, the only kicker is they have to have an occupation from an archaic and obscure list. The assumption being everyone knows a Doctor or Lawyer or Judge…
Thankfully I know a few bloody good nurses and teachers, who are suitably qualified to say my face is my face.
Zac fortunately knows some teachers and policeman from umpiring so we were covered in that sense and as far as we know, those people were never actually contacted to endorse our application – I think it’s just one of those formalities to catch out the sneaky ones.

let me reassure you, from my pillow fort of zen: these are the least of your worries.

The most important thing I need to say is: don’t worry if something goes wrong…
Between us, we managed to input Zac’s birth month incorrectly on one of the forms, so his police check came back with his birth month at one end of the year at the top of the form and at the other end of the year at the bottom.
The check was still approved, even with this minute error and because all the documents and the birth date at the bottom (which was apparently more important) was accurate, they issued us with a new (correct) certificate within the week, free of charge.

It’s very easy, from my relatively zen place having done all that nearly a year ago, to say not to stress about these checks.
But they’re possibly the most straight forward pieces of evidence you’ll need to collect, I’ve had countless DBS checks done for my jobs over the years and never batted an eyelid, it’s just when the emotional value is attached that it suddenly becomes a concern.

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.
Repeat.

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.

Our ‘Meet-Cute’

Every couple (not-so) secretly loves telling the world how they met. And like every great ‘how we met’ it started off really awkwardly.

It’s the moment we dream of.
Hollywood has spent decades perfecting the meet-cute and you assume you’ll get a monumental buzz when you meet ‘the one’.
I’m not saying it doesn’t happen like that for some people, but I gave up on ‘love at first sight’ a long time ago.
Lucky for me, Zac hadn’t.

not your typical office romance.

I met Zac at work.
I had just started in sales, peddling memberships at South Pacific Health Clubs and he was one of the club personal trainers.
I’m incredibly awkward, and a complete nervous sweater and knowing I was supposed to be an adult and shaking hands with all these new people made my palms slick.
A few damp handshakes into my induction and I grimaced as I was introduced to this baby faced trainer the boss was hilariously referring to as ‘Tiny’.

I soon realised why he was grinning, as when ‘Tiny’ stood up, he towered over me.
“G’day, I’m Zac.”
He held out his hand and I panicked.
“Oh, I’m not really a handshake kind of girl, I much prefer to just go straight in for the hug, not professional at all, but I’m more of a tactile…”
“No problems there, I give great hugs, bring it in.”
To be fair, the hugs did get better from that first one.
His gangly limbs and bony hips gave him more of a ‘Groot‘ countenance and having never hugged someone so tall I had no idea where to put my head. He was desperately trying to avoid groin to groin contact and the entire office was watching.
It was awkward to say the least.

As I found out later that day, I’d seen him hobbling around the gym floor in a moon boot when I came for my interview, but having confused him for my only other sales competition, decided I’d take a healthy disliking to him.

Later on that day, while I was busy trying to muster up the courage to use the phone, he slid over to me and tried to casually ask how old I was.
By this point I already felt like I knew a hell of a lot about him and despite being generally terrible a bit rusty with the flirting game, I was pretty sure this line of interrogation was leaning romantically.

the weirdest personal training session of my life.

Like every couple, I love telling this part.
The next day he’d cleared his schedule in the afternoon so he could show me around the equipment and help me get used to the gym.
Clearly detecting a complete noob in me, I was glad to get all the help I could get, and while I was sure this was a ‘come on’, Zac was so sweet to everyone, it was hard to tell where it was going.

The thing I really liked about him then and completely adore about him now is how open he is.
You can’t help but feel at ease around Zac.
Warming up was laced with conversations about the size of my chest, if I had to wear extra sports bras, or got back ache a lot, but I wasn’t uncomfortable answering, it felt like I’d known him for years, not days.

He began putting me through my paces, finding out a world of information about me while doing so.
By the end of the session we’d shared a brief synopsis of our entire lives and there was so much more I wanted to know about him.
Sets were interrupted with compliments. In particular I remember him stopping me with 3 box jumps to go; thinking he was going to correct my technique, the excuses were already tumbling out of my mouth but he was more distracted with the koala socks on my feet.
He told me I had the prettiest eyes he’d ever seen and then without skipping a beat ordered me to drop and give him 10.

There was just something about him.

But I was hung up on his age.
At this point Zac was 20, so in boy years, 16.
But he wasn’t your typical 20 year old.
And there was something there.
Something beyond aesthetics (I’m a sucker for a tall boy), and beyond awkward flirtation (I’m a sucker for a funny boy), and beyond the fact he was ‘exotic’ (I’m a sucker for a South African accent…he didn’t quite get me there).

In the end, as he asked me out to watch a movie while I cooled down, I thought:
“F**k it, nothing to lose. Free movie if nothing else.”
Looking back on that moment now, two years later, with hindsight and a hell of a lot more self awareness, it feels like a much bigger decision than just the movies.