How to Survive the Visa Process

How to Survive the visa process

A year ago today was one of the most emotional days of my entire life. 1 year and 48 hours prior, I received an email that I was waiting for four months. Four long months of being seperated from my partner in crime and the love of my life. Not by choice but because we were simply born in different countries and had different passports. I have to start by thanking everyone who supported us during that extremely difficult time in our lives. You kept me sane and I’m forever grateful.

On this email from the U.K. immigration office, it simply said that the decision for my visa application had been made, not what the decision was. I was staying at my childhood home visiting my parents until I got the decision. I had tracking on the package that contained the decision and my passport so I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know what time so I refreshed the app about 386 times that day.

My mom and I waited by the door the entire day peering out the windows for the UPS truck. I made her stand guard while I did my workout and showered. We took turns using the bathroom. We tried to watch cheesey rom coms to drown out our anxious thoughts but nothing was helping. I have never had so many butterflies in my stomach.

It was such a surreal experience when I saw the brown UPS truck park outside my house. I shot up from the couch and my mom had to catch me in her arms because my legs nearly gave out. I wasn’t sure if I could open it in front of my parents or what I would want to do. As soon as we got the package in the house, I barely remember what happened, the emotions and anticipation flooded my body.

My Dad opened the package for me with a letter opener and handed it to me without looking. My hands were shaking as I read the first line “You have been successfully granted your visa to the U.K…”  and burst into violent tears of joy. Straight up SOBBING.

“I GOT IT!!!!” I screamed eventually because my parents weren’t sure if they were happy or sad sobs. I immediately Facetimed my partner who was waiting for my call in England. I was still sobbing. I won’t lie, I’m a crier but I didn’t expect that reaction. He answered the phone and I was sobbing and within seconds I froze. He had no idea what was happening and thought I didn’t get it. I hung up and tried again and thankfully got a better connection. He was so relieved they were tears of joy. The stress and the build up of almost 2 years of international visa drama were over (for now), just like that with one UPS delivery.

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This all sounds very dramatic, trust me, it was. That’s why looking back a year later I can’t hardly believe that was our reality. When I was going through the process of applying for a partner visa in the U.K. I had no idea where to go to for advice and all I wanted was some personal experience. I couldn’t really find any blogs and all I wanted was someone who understood. It was so stressful it’s taken me a year to even be able to write about it. Every website had conflicting information and you had to pay a lot of money even to get an appointment to see if you wanted to potentially work with an immigration lawyer.

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WCW: Emily Millman

It’s the last month of 2018 and I have some catching up to do with my #WCW series. So for the month of December I am going to feature a new woman crush of mine every week! The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Emily.

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I know it’s not Wednesday but it is this very special lady’s birthday, so I thought what better time to celebrate her? Some may say I saved the best for last. Emily and I met through a travel Facebook group and after getting to know each other fitness came up and I asked her if she wanted to join my virtual bootcamp. She said she already had the program but that didn’t mean she couldn’t get involved with us! I was excited to have her energy and sass in our groups.

Over the last two years, I have mentored and coached Emily,  first on her fitness journey and now on both her fitness journey and her business. She is passionate, coachable, reliable, and a fiercely loyal friend. She is an awesome business partner. Despite me living on the other side of the pond, we have managed to hang out a lot this year and she keeps me on my toes and achieving in our business. We talk about changing the world and how much we love food in the same conversation. She takes me as I am but also inspires me to be BETTER. Whenever someone new enters our business, I always say, “Find yourself an Emily.” I’ll let her take it from here.

  1. What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?

I crush over women who live their values and beliefs while following their dreams and supporting other women to do the same!

  1. What do you do for a living? What is the most challenging part about it?

I wear a couple of different hats! My background is as a nurse— I’ve worked intensive care, stepdown, and the emergency department; specifically as a travel nurse for the past few years. The most challenging part about nursing in general is the sad state of the healthcare industry in the United States… I got into nursing to help people, and it’s both heartbreaking and exhausting to watch the corporate system chew patients up and spit them back out, over and over. Fortunately, that’s not my only job!

My passion lies in my “side hustle” (recently turned full time focus!), which is health and fitness coaching! My goal is to help as many people as possible learn how to care for themselves in order to prevent the plethora of chronic illnesses that my patients have inflicted upon themselves with years of poor lifestyle choices. The most challenging part of coaching is also one of the best parts— I’m on my own schedule with no boss! That means that I have to be dedicated and disciplined, especially with the less glamorous tasks that aren’t fun!

  1. Who are three women that you look up to and have inspired you the most in your career/life?

My mama! She’s built an incredibly successful and respected private driver education business without a college degree or support, while also serving her community in a variety of ways. You— I had no idea I could feel so fulfilled building a business from my laptop! Anyone else who’s slaying at whatever they do— I try not to idolize people in order to avoid playing the comparison game.

  1. What is one topic you wish more women knew about on a global scale? Why?

Climate change. We need to get our act together, and quickly, if we want Earth to be around to host us much longer! There are SO many small changes that we can all make, and would have significant impact if everyone did their part!

  1. What advice do you give to women who feel that they are constantly surrounded by drama in their group of friends?

You are who you surround yourself with! I’m not saying drop the drama…. but maybe think about building yourself a new, drama-free circle that will support and empower you instead of stressing you out! I’ve found that I can impact the culture of my circle just leading by example— try it out! Disengage from the drama, and focus on positivity, it’s contagious.

  1. Do you believe being a strong woman with a passion for her career takes away from a woman’s ability to be a loving partner/mother/friend/sister?

Absolutely not— in fact I think that having passion for your career fills your cup to ENABLE you to be be a more loving partner/mother/friend/sister! You can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself, and I believe firmly that every individual needs their own “thing” separate from the closest people in their life.

  1. What is something you are really excited about currently in your own life?

If we’re going with the theory that excitement and anxiety are two sides of the same coin… going “full focus” with coaching! My husband enlisted in the army this year, and we’ve been separated since September while he’s been in training. In January, I’m picking up and moving myself and our pups to be close to him. As a travel nurse, finding an assignment shouldn’t be an issue, but apparently all of the hospitals near that army base are fully staffed, so I have the opportunity to focus on my business!

  1. Why is self love an important part of being a modern day woman?

There are SO many demands on you as a person today! It’s so easy to be torn apart by being pulled in a million different directions— practicing good self care in whatever way works for you is the only way to keep yourself whole!

  1. If you could have a lunch date with any woman on the planet, who would it be?

I don’t put many people up on a pedestal, to be honest! I’d be happy to have a lunch date with pretty much anyone who’s kind and interesting!

  1. How can anyone reading this keep up with you and what you’re doing in the future?

The best way to keep up with my adventures is on Instagram, @scrubs.squats.sass!

Bonus: What is one question you have for me?

I’m a lucky lady in the aspect that I get to pick your brain on the regular! A question for you…. would you rather never fly again, or have to sit with a very aggressive/mean/smelly seatmate who wouldn’t leave you alone for every single flight forever?

What a funny question. I would definitely choose the aggressive/men/smelly seatmate because I can’t imagine living in a world where I don’t fly! How would I see you? And my family? I could suck it up. Plus noise cancelling headphones would save my life. Traveling and new adventures is a passion we both share and one of our big goals in our business is to be able to spend substantial time in Bali in the future. Not to be dramatic, but to me, to travel is to live so a life without travel sounds pretty miserable to me.

Thank you for being you, Emily. It’s been a pleasure building our businesses together this year. I’ve seen you go through so much in your personal life and you never let it get you down. This woman right here wrote a letter to her husband at basic training every single day without fail even when we were on multiple vacations during that time. What.a.sweetie. I always knew that you would be an excellent coach and what do you know? I was right. I can’t wait to see what next year and the years to follow bring as I know this is only the beginning of something wonderful. Keep that sass, keep that hunger for excellence, keep that drive for preventative medicine, keep that goofiness, just keep being you because you are magic. Happy birthday my dear friend, the world is lucky to have you and so am I. You are definitely worth crushing over.

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WCW: Hannah Fitzpatrick

April and May have been CRAZY for me! Tons of travel, a new VISA for England(YAY, finally), and two weeks in Hawaii! The list goes on. Without further ado… here is my belated April #WCW. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Hannah.

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Hannah and I met back in highschool in Upstate New York. I’m not even sure where? Maybe a field party. (LOL) But we always got along great and as we grew up realized we shared a common love for traveling. We had the chance to meet up when she came to visit me while I was living in Thailand and she was traveling through. We made so many memories that trip and realized how much our traveling, writer hearts had in common. I have watched her transition through many life milestones from afar (thanks social media) and always marvel at her ability to seem so incredibly present and grateful for the little things. I’ll let her take it from here.

  1. What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?

I think any woman that is working to better herself is worth crushing over. Generally speaking, as a culture, we are all too quick to judge others. Even if it’s unintentional, sometimes we look at other females and whether it be out of jealousy or self righteousness, we think we’re somehow doing better. But at the end of the day, we all have struggles and I think every single woman that sets goals, small or large, and inspires other to do the same is worth crushing over.

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WCW: Ashley Katchadourian

It’s March and what do you know I made you wait all month for this #WCW too. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Ashley.

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Ashley and I met at an event in Sydney, Australia called Rad Livin. I found this event on Instagram and decided to go by myself even though I didn’t know anyone. Ashley had the same calling (except she came all the way from California!) Luckily I saw this pretty brunette sitting by herself and decided it would be a good seat. We instantly bonded over being American and then figured out we had a lot in common. We spent the whole day together at the festival and everyone thought we came together. Luckily, thanks to the power of social media we stayed in touch and eventually Ashley moved back to Sydney. I have seen Ashley transform from talking about her dream life the first time we met to actually living which is pretty fricken amazing to witness. Thanks, Ashley for all you create in this world. Thanks for your young, hungry, hustle mentality and being someone I can always bounce ideas off of. I’ll let her take it from here.

  1. What do you think makes a woman worth “crushing” over?

A woman living passionately doing what she loves.

  1. What do you do for a living? What is the most challenging part about it?

The most challenging part about what I do for a living is explaining what I do for a living. Simply put, I am a content creator. Right now, I’m the community manager and do video for festival called #RadLivin, an annual festival held in Sydney, Australia created to inspire people to do what they love now. Additionally, since I graduated university, I have oscillated working for my family business, which is how I finance everything I’ve done for the last 3 years. I am currently in the application process for a video gig in Manhattan, NYC.

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WCW: Veronica Drayton

2018’s first WCW is an extra special one. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.
Meet Veronica. 
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I met Veronica when my very first #WCW of the series, Hollie, invited me to The Goddess Group picnic in Sydney. Not only did I get to spend time with the founder of the Goddess Group, Melissa Ambrosini, but I also got to meet all of the wonderful women who had been attending the groups.
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Veronica and I got along right away because of those North American vibes! I was drawn to her beautiful tattoos and her kind but very commanding personality. We were the last people at the picnic and took the bus and train together so we had the maximum time to chat. Anyone who can willingly talk as much as I can instantly gets brownie points in my book. We connected on many levels and I remember getting off the train and thinking, “I really like that girl. I hope we become friends.”  Unfortunately I met Veronica shortly before I had to leave Sydney but I got the opportunity to attend one of her Detox Your Life workshops and she sparked a new love for essential oils in me and strengthened my love for meditation. Luckily after I left Sydney, we have remained in close contact with social media and the interwebs.

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WCW: Jessica Rooney

It’s November 1st but I had to wait till Wednesday to bring you October’s WCW I have a special treat for you. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Jessica.

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Jessica and I met through a mutual friend, Ariella while we were all traveling in Bali. We are all a part of the Facebook community, Girls Love Travel and Ariella and I connected and had been virtual friends for a while when our paths finally crossed in Bali. We were all able to attend a yoga class together. When Jessica and I got to chatting poolside, Ariella was like “yeah, I think you two have a lot in common.” Somehow this escalated to an outdoor shower photoshoot for our Instagrams and I knew I loved her.

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WCW: Hollie Azzopardi

WCW Series: Hollie Azzopardi 

I am bursting with joy to announce my new blog series- Women Crush Wednesday. Every month I am going to feature a woman who I know personally who inspires me and lights up my world. The Women Crush Wednesday hashtag and social media trend is nothing new. But I am trying to reclaim that title not just for half naked celebrities or women you actually know nothing about. The women I crush over are using their womenhood, their voice and their passions to make our world brighter. I have some incredible women in my life so I am honored to share them with you. I hope you find them as inspiring as I do.

Meet Hollie.

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She came into my life by pure chance when I made a desperate semi-joking Facebook status when I moved to Sydney and needed to make friends. A mutual friend (she only met because she stayed in his place as an Air BnB) digitally introduced us and Hollie instantly was super welcoming and friendly as a native Sydneysider. We connected with our mutual passion for health and wellness. It took us a while to meet in real life but once we did it felt like we’d known each other for years.

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#Relationshipgoals

 

If you’ve read my blog for a while you might remember when I first moved to Sydney and took myself out on a solo date for the first time. It’s one thing to eat alone at a quick cafe or food court style restaurant but going out to a proper restaurant with white table cloths and a fancy menu- that’s different.

I promised myself- no matter how long I’m with my boyfriend or married in the future, even when I have a big family of my own- I vow to take myself out to a nice meal on my own at least once a year.

26 flew by and I realized I didn’t keep this promise with myself. But then the Universe stepped in. On the last day of my 26th year and the first one of my 27th, I unintentionally took myself out for a nice brunch. I planned on having a Fluro Friday event here in Auckland but the weather didn’t cooperate. It was pouring rain and I had the cutest Uber driver from India who was a part of an organization called Know Thyself which holds meditation retreats all over the world. We chatted about meditation, eating healthy and how more people need to be connected to the way they are feeling. We had a great chat so I didn’t realize what the weather forecast was until I had already took said (expensive) Uber to the other side of town.

I knew that people probably wouldn’t show but I decided to grab a coffee at the cafe right by the beach and wait for the rain to pass. I walked up in my crazy Fluro get up- flower crown and all. At first I felt a surge of sadness and disappointment. I knew in Australia my One Wave Bondi tribe would have been there rain or shine. I missed my brunch besties, my family and my friends from home all at the same time. But in a split second I reminded myself of my gratitude journal. Five things, Susie. I ordered my coffee and pulled my journal out of my bag and the five things came rushing out so easily.

I smiled because this 27 year old woman wasn’t scared to sit at a posh brunch spot alone in an 80’s bomber jacket and flower crown with tons of business men in suits. Sure, I was disappointed by the rain but we rescheduled for next week and it allowed me to keep my pact of a solo date each year.

I felt deeply grateful for the courage, self worth and confidence I have developed over the years but especially in the past few years. I can’t put into words how important it is to be able to truly and deeply love your own company- just as much as  your closest relationships with others. Much like a close friendship or family bond– it doesn’t matter how long you’ve strayed away from the loving relationship with yourself, when you return to it, it feels easy, you pick up just where you left off and your heart instantly swells with love and joy.

As I sit here at this brunch place, I’m still here and writing this on notebook paper since I didn’t bring my laptop. The sun is now shining- of course. But that means I get to do my meditation on the beach and go for a nice long walk along the ocean. After I write this, of course.  This is also like returning to an old friend. A comfortable, familiar feeling. Time and time again– I am floored by the power of words in my life and the immense sense of rightness I feel as soon as I’m creating words of my own or reading the words of others.

I won’t sugar coat it, the last couple months in New Zealand have been the most difficult of my life, probably since Corey died in 2006. But life has a funny way of contradicting itself because these struggles have led me to a more gratitude, more self actualization and most importantly more clarity on just how strong of a human I can be.

After brunch I popped in my headphones because I got an email that my favorite podcast, The Melissa Ambrosini Show, released a new episode about relationship goals. As I started listening to this awesome couple talk about love and relationships, I laughed to myself because right now I am #relationshipgoals with my own damn self.

Don’t get me wrong I’m in an incredible relationship with I am so in love with my funny, charming, English gentlman-but luckily that doesn’t exclude having a kickass relationship with myself too.

Starting my 27th year, I am committed to keeping my #relationshipgoals with myself thriving. I implore you to do the same. Loving yourself is not about posting pictures in your undies on social media #selflove. Dude, if you can do that and you feel great doing it, more power to you-but much like beautiful couple photos don’t define what love is actually about, self love is so much deeper than being confident and proud of your body. Let your relationship with yourself evolve and change, give yourself the grace, patience and encouragement you give others and most of all- keep those promises you make to yourself- You’re going going to write that book, start that degree, say that thing, plan that trip, and take yourself on that date. I guarantee you won’t regret it. Now that’s what I call #relationshipgoals.

 

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Should you move abroad?

 

This is probably the most common and repeated question I am asked. Should I study abroad? I was thinking about teaching overseas, what’s it like? What brought you to Thailand…Australia.. New Zealand?When I sense this reoccurring theme I think… blog post. That’s what happens when you’ve been blogging for this long. It’s easier to just get out all the advice in one fell swoop.

So… you’re thinking about teaching abroad? Dreaming of leaving your boring job behind to travel the world? Want to meet a sexy foreign man and never return? Be careful.. It can really happen! Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.

So let’s go through some pros and the cons and what I believe you need to be ready for no matter where you go or why.

Pros

Your life becomes a “holiday”— When you move abroad everything feels shiny, new and exciting. You always feel like you are traveling because, well, you are. You feel excited to do ordinary and mundane things and every single day someone comments on your accent. You are an outsider, which to me makes life fresh and unusual. And I love that.

You see so much-– I always say the best way to see a country is to live there. 2 weeks in a country. Forget it. You don’t actually get a real feel for the culture, the people, the struggles, the local spots and the hidden gems. Should you still go if that’s all the time you have? Of course. But the best way to see a country/ area of the world is to just move there already. Stop thinking so much.

You never have to say “what if”— I have had so many older people tell me that they wished they did what I did when they were young. I promised myself I would never be someone who looked back and regretted getting settled down too fast– and I am definitely keeping that promise. I would rather give it a shot and hate it, then never try and just dream about it for the rest of my life.

You gain a newfound respect for your home– You start to love and appreciate home more than ever. You understand what a gift it is to have familiar faces and places. You savor every second with loved ones. You realize how privileged you were to grow up where you did. (in my case, anyway) and you are proud to represent your country-no matter where you roam.

You find out what you actually like– Traveling and living abroad teaches you to actually figure out what hobbies and interests light you up. You can’t travel and see the world while having 17 random hobbies you only do because of your group of friends. You probably can’t get your nails done every two weeks and buy all the latest trendy outfits, but if you’re like me you’ll realize that shit didn’t really make you happy anyway.

You don’t define yourself the same way– When you live in your hometown, home state or even your home country: you are constantly defined by constructs outside of yourself. Your family, your church or religion, your friends, your college, your favorite sports team, your gym or your state. Once you cross the borders, you have to define you. Everything about your past is just a story and a memory. People meet you at face value–who are you today? You can be whoever you want to be. Sure, you never lose those parts of yourself but you get to decide how closely you let them define you.

You realize it’s not the only way– This was one of the biggest things for me. The perspective. The cultural differences. It’s absolutely mind blowing at first. I remember when I first moved to Thailand I felt so sorry for the young children playing in the streets with no shoes. I could tell that they lived in the small area at the back of their parents shop and I felt like I wanted to adopt them and “save them.” I quickly realized they had every single thing they needed and they were as happy as clams. I stopped feeling sorry for them and started feeling sorry for the  4 year old kids, glued to their iPad in the back seat of the Range Rover with 4 nannies and a serious lack of attention and interaction with their parents.

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Make your bed= Change your life?

 So the burning question? Should you make your bed? JK.

Everyone is asking me…How is New Zealand?

I know you are picturing me in wide open grassy fields with picturesque mountains, huge sparkly lakes and perfect flowers in the foreground. Maybe bungee jumping, diving into caves or sipping wine in sunny vineyards? Quintessential adventure traveling in New Zeland. I wish that was the case but the nomad lifestyle isn’t always what Instagram portrays it to be. No matter how positive my attitude is the adjustment into a new country, culture, and lifestyle is never simple especially when you leave everything to sort out once you’ve already arrrived. Bank accounts, hours searching for apartments, flatshares, house shares, Air Bnb’s online and then viewing them only to be told they aren’t available for short term leases or you’re sharing the apartment with 6 other strangers. No wifi, finding new phone plans. This is not a rant or a complaining session, it’s simply a dose of reality because I want to help my readers to understand all aspects of the nomad lifestyle, even the not so sexy parts.


Luckily, my first week in New Zealand did start on a high note. My favorite nonprofit organization, One Wave celebrated it’s 4th birthday last Friday. If you haven’t read my blog before or you’re just stopping by One Wave is a non profit surf organization raising awareness for mental health by dressing up in Fluro gear every Friday and heading to the beach for surfing, yoga, and some serious heart to hearts about what it’s like to suffer from mental health struggles. This organization introduced me to the coolest humans and my closest friends in Australia and I was stoked when I found out for the 4th birthday they were celebrating at the a beach suburb in Auckland, Takapuna, which coincidentally was a 25 minute walk from our Air Bnb. I see you Universe, you beautiful thing.

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Harry experienced his first Fluro, I got to see my Fluro sista from Sydney who recently moved back to NZ, and we paddle boarded in the serene waters at Takapuna Beach. Nothing could make me feel more welcome than bringing my normal Friday tradition with me to my new home. Harry and I headed to the city for brunch and then entered into the life admin stage. Adulting sucks sometimes.

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