Waaay back in 2010 Emily and I decided to move away from the UK drum and begin a new life in New Zealand. The country was always on the cards as being a final or finishing location to live life but, as the bitterness of duties became prioritized over general contentment, we decided to make the move sooner rather than later. I had enrolled for my Masters Degree in early 2010 and Em won a “Silver Fern Visa”, which allowed her to work in NZ for an extended period, a slight miss-hap with planning in hind sight but, opportunities at the time had to be taken without consideration to current situations. The Visa was effective immediately, so hanging around and waiting for me to finish my Masters was not a viable option, so we decided to live apart for 12 months until my degree was completed.
In September 2010 I moved to Aylesbury and found a “Key Worker Accommodation” where I flatted with 3 trainee nurses (as a side note, this may sound like a fantasy for some, but in reality it was Hell! I consider myself a friendly, “get along with everyone” type of chap but, alas the girls were from a unpleasantly “bitchy” breed and a male entering their already established gaggle was doomed from the initial “hello”). I continued my teaching position at Aylesbury College as an IxD tutor and began my Masters Degree in Art + Design at The University Of Bedfordshire, along with studying a Teaching Diploma at Aylesbury and fulfilling my freelance commitments with Southwood Studio. “A tall order” you might say and yeah it was, I had no time for anything else, I locked myself away each day after teaching to work on my Masters, weekends were committed to building sites for Southwood Studio and any spare hour was taken up with studying for my Diploma in teaching.
Looking back now I’m unsure how it was achieved, within seven months I had completed an 18 month Masters Degree with a First Class and Commendation, after 10 months I successfully passed my Teaching diploma with a grade 2 observation, designed and built 8 websites for Southwood Studio and prepped for emigrating to NZ all at the same time. Physically and mentally I was shattered but, it was now July 2012, my academic year had finished, I had my work Visa and I was free to leave everything behind.
Settling in to NZ life has been both a challenge and a breath of fresh air. The challenge comes from realising there is very little bureaucracy in the workplace, teaching is (so far) stress free, I’m trusted to teach my subject specialty without pressures of unrealistic and harmful target setting. There is a healthy dose of common sense which I find a delight to be a part of. Don’t get me wrong the UK is fantastic for progression and recognition however, there are levels of middle and micro management in educational establishments which inflict a strangle-hold on teaching professionals. I remember bitching to a colleague about the amount of unnecessary paper work getting in the way of my lesson prep, his response was “well, that’s higher education for you”, is it really, if it is, then there is something fundamentally wrong here… but, that’s a whole new rant for some other time!
Here in NZ, we’ve made some fantastic friends, seen and stayed in jaw-dropping locations and colleagues at NMIT are so “at the top of their game”, its intimidating (in a good way). I continue to work hard on projects, teaching and commissions but, there seams to be a greater air of satisfaction about it; with this I’m able to relax at weekends now and I’m able to teach, no really, teach what I value about Photography without a pile of dead tree, being duplicated or triplicated for target approvals. Marlborough is fantastic, if you love the country life, if that’s your thing, then you’d love it here, so much is within easy driving distance without encroaching on its rural charm.
I still run Southwood Studio and I’ve started up an Art and Design blog called Kiweye. We’re here to stay and I’d say we’ve found our home in the country we’ve loved from afar for so long. So, here’s to you and yours, crack a cold one, tomorrow is gunner be another sunny day!