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Thread: Made It

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Default Made It

    Well, I finally arrived on Thursday after what seemed like an endless journey. I was concerned since I departed NY in a snow and ice storm and had to connect in Milwaukee (not known for its great weather, either), but had no issues.

    Company were fantastic -- had me met at the airport with my brand new company vehicle and arranged accommodation for the night on the North Shore. I was (and still am) very apprehensive about driving on the left, and had to drive to Hamilton first thing yesterday, so I did a few practice runs around the North Shore before the sun went down. If you were driving behind a new X-Trail piloted by a clueless driver on Thursday afternoon, that was likely me -- sorry!

    Made it to Hamilton no problem; first order of business was to activate bank account that had been opened from overseas. Took about 15 minutes, and would have been less except the EFTPOS card they had waiting for me was somehow defective and they had to issue another. Super service, but I do have to mention that I also exchanged some US currency at the bank and got a terrible rate compared to what I received at the airport on Thursday, so I'd say it pays to compare rates if you're exchanging a considerable sum (I wasn't) -- there are banks everywhere. I also don't understand why the exchange rate on wired funds that I had sent predeparture was so much better (this was BNZ, BTW).

    Arrived at new office and was told they hadn't even expected me to start until Monday, but picked up mobile and laptop and submitted reimbursement voucher for travel expenses, met the team, had lunch with my boss, and toured the project site that I'll be responsible for, so a good start overall. Not overwhelmed with company-arranged lodging, but it'll do for now. It's certainly convenient -- 5 minutes to the office, at most. Was invited to join one of my colleagues for a little friendly pistol shooting tomorrow afternoon --that should be fun. I suppose many Kiwis think all Americans are crack shots; I'll try not to embarrass my countrymen.

    So now I just need to sort permanent lodging for the family, whom I miss terribly. They're flying out next weekend, so not a lot of time to do so (made worse since we're settling in Auckland, but I'm lodging in Hamilton).

    First impressions (in no particular order) -- very efficient and friendly services here. If you know what barbecue sauce is in the US, do NOT expect the local version to be similar (frankly, it tasted more like a spicy marinara). Wine is quite expensive by the glass in restaurants, but dirt cheap by the bottle. Kiwi women are gorgeous (that's for you single guys out there -- I'm not). If you're from any country that drives on the right, take a local copilot with you on your first couple of trips if at all possible.

    Any forumites in the Hamilton area up for a drink or coffee in the next couple of days, let me know -- I'd welcome the company and local experience.
    Last edited by sks; 5th February 2011 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Congratulations on your safe arrival and flying start.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    UK
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    Default

    Congratulations on landing safely. At least it's not too long to wait for your family to arrive. Sounds like it is all going well so far

  4. #4
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    Jan 2011
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    United Kingdom
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    Hi and congratulations on your arrival.

    Can I ask what type of project work you do and how you found your job?

    Thanks

    Mark

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Asheville, NC
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    Glad you are over there! Sounds like things are falling into place nicely! Enjoy your new home!!

  6. #6
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    Welcome.

  7. #7
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    Apr 2010
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    US / MO
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    Great update! Thanks for sharing your first thoughts in with us. Hopefully more to come!

    I remember being freaked out about driving on the left when I first visited Ireland. Wasn't too bad, however getting used to the roundabouts did take some time. I did manage to hear a horn or two...

    ~Don

  8. #8
    Manks's Avatar
    Manks is offline Serial procrastinator and general busybody
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    Aug 2009
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    Congrats for getting out of NYC in that weather and happy landings in NZ. Wishing you luck as you familiarise yourself with everything Kiwi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    NZ
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    Thanks for the spate of good wishes and welcomes, everyone.

    mptopham / Mark -- I'm trained as a civil engineer, but work primarily in construction management. Long, long story on the job -- short version -- job originally offered two years ago, offer then retracted due to economic conditions -- offer renewed on better terms recently (after I had PR). I suspended my job search whilst visa application was pending, but kept in regular touch with the company (and other industry contacts). Seems to have worked. Specifics for any Hamilton forumites -- I'm overseeing the addition of six cinemas to The Base shopping centre at Te Rapa.

    Work is fast-paced -- construction is the same all over the world, more or less. My team is an awfully international bunch -- only two Kiwis out of 22 members. My boss is a Brit, my direct reports hail from Ireland, the UK, South Africa, Australia, and the USA. I love the attitude and atmosphere -- boss believes in a lot of social interaction among team members, so calendar rapidly filling up with fishing, golf, sailing, and barbecues. I'm pleased to report that my shooting skills have not deteriorated too badly, and I probably perpetuated a stereotype or two about Americans and guns, but that's OK.

    Initial impressions on cost of living are that you can easily go broke if you want to eat out at restaurants and drink in bars, but that grocery prices are definitely manageable if you shop intelligently and adopt local products (which I have found, in my limited experience, to be uniformly excellent; different, but good). The motel where I'm staying is packed to the rafters with construction types (trade staff and mobile supervisory personnel) -- I have no idea how they afford to drink at the attached bar every night, but they do.

    People I've met outside the work environment have been cordial and friendly, but definitely much more reserved than Americans. I've heard some mindblowing theories about American politics (even on radio call-in programs, where the wildest conspiracy theories were bandied about as pure fact), and have done my best to be a polite ambassador for more balanced views. It's led to some interesting conversations, anyway.

    Tough slog to find a suitable rental house, and the nightly Hamilton/Auckland round trips are becoming a bit tiring, but I'll get through it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by sks View Post
    I've heard some mindblowing theories about American politics (even on radio call-in programs, where the wildest conspiracy theories were bandied about as pure fact), and have done my best to be a polite ambassador for more balanced views. It's led to some interesting conversations, anyway.
    That has been one of my favorite things about this place, it's great to hear what people come up with.

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