My migration story starts in my imagination. From a very young age, I wanted to be “anywhere but here”. For the first 22 years of my life, the Netherlands was the place my body wandered while my mind was someplace else. I never did feel at home in those cold little lowlands, I felt at home in places I had never been before.
I’m not sure where my wanderlust came from. My family is full of people that seem perfectly happy in the spot they were put onto this earth, people that feel at home where they were born, where they belong. And then there’s me…
For me, travels could never be far enough, long enough. Flights never to boring, except for the ones that would return me “home”. I wanted to be someplace warm, someplace full of adventure, nature and new thing to explore every day, someplace far far away. If I ever wanted to find my own home I had to go out there and explore. The furthest place I could think of seemed like a good way to start… So I bought a ticket to Australia.
CHAPTER 1: AUSTRALIA – WORKING HOLIDAY
Clenching onto my ticket as if my life depended on it, I was about to board a plane to my new life. I had a mind full of plans how I would never stop crossing borders again. For the first time in my life, I felt free! The idea of extending my stay in Australia for another year started pretty much straight away. Backpacker jobs were for the taking, the country was even better than I could’ve imagined and the idea of returning back to Holland send a pit into my stomach. I could work here and save money to keep on traveling. But how to break this news to my family? I wasn’t quite ready for that.
Fast forward 3 weeks of good times and keeping quiet, that’s when I met Sam.
After a few dates and hanging out on his little boat, I was smitten. Decision made! No chance I was getting on a plane home! No chance!
A quick trip to New Zealand, a working holiday and a short flight back to Australia later, I was ready to stay a year, work, live on a boat and be in love. After a couple months of cruising our yacht around the islands, we dropped anchor in Airlie Beach. We got jobs working as tour-guides to the Whitsunday Islands and naturally had way to much fun to think ahead. We sort of vaguely looked into further visa options, but before we knew it, a year had gone past and the expiration date of my working holiday was fast approaching.
So we made a plan, which involved a lot of flights, a lot paperwork and a lot of stress. Hopefully this would all result into a life together in Australia. For now all we had to do was sail the yacht 600 nautical miles to Brisbane and get on that plane in… 2 weeks time… Oops!
CHAPTER 2: EUROPE
After a very eventful sail down to Brisbane, we managed to get out of the country just in time before my visa expired. Considering it had been a while since I had seen my family and people were wondering who I had been living with for the past year, our first stop was Europe.
We landed in Amsterdam on Christmas Day and the weather could not have been better. The whole time we were there we walked on a thick blanket of snow, which all very new for Sam who had lived in the tropics his whole life and had only seen snow a couple of times. We hopped countries, visiting friends and family, for a couple of months and when I was totally ready to leave it all behind again, Sam proposed!
CHAPTER 3: NEW ZEALAND – WORKING HOLIDAY
Newly engaged and ready to go back to Australia, we made a pit-stop of about 6 months in New Zealand to gather more evidence. Evidence? Yes evidence. Migrating to Australia required a mountain of paperwork, a tonne of proof we weren’t in this for the wrong reason and a lot of time and effort.
We bought a van, got shared account and all other official matters we could possibly share. We hit the road and drove around New Zealand until we ran out of money. Stopped to pick a few thousand apples to get a bit of cash flow back and generally enjoyed our life cruising land instead of sea together for a change.
As we were getting closer to feeling confident in our application for a residency visa, we decided to return to our beloved little boat for a few months and apply for my visa in Australia to await our faith from a country we both felt truly at home.
CHAPTER 4: AUSTRALIA – BRIDGING VISA
Home! Hopefully for good this time.
After a few months of chilling at sea, the piggy bank needed another boost, so I handed in my 20 cm pile of paperwork, received a Bridging Visa and went on our way to Hobart, Tasmania where Sam had work waiting with his uncle. We settled ourselves on the mountain to experience something different(I made a promise to myself, after living in flat nature-less fields most of my life, to live on the sea or a summit and nowhere in between) and started planning our wedding.
We married a few months later on a replica of the Lady Nelson. Since we had undertaken every step we possibly could have to make a waterproof case, all we could do now was wait. Wait for that magical email saying; APPROVED. Even though I felt like we did all we could, I went to bed with a pit in my stomach every night, praying it would be over soon, terrified we would be kicked out.
And then one night… it was there. A little icon on my phone saying you’ve got mail. Important mail! Mail that would decide where my life would go from here. Nervous, giddy and panicked, I opened the dreaded attachment to read two magical words; GRANT NOTIFICATION.
Grant? GRANT?! I got a visa? I’VE GOT A VISA.
Jumping on bed out of sheer excitement, I must have driven Sam crazy that night. I could barely sleep. What a relief!
CHAPTER 5: THE FUTURE
Still going through paperwork as we speak to cancel all my boring official stuff in Holland and notify every friggin’ department that I migrated, I can’t wait to have it all behind me and move on. We still have a long way to go, before I can apply for citizenship. I can’t wait for a blue passport with a kangaroo and emu on it, but at least things are in motion and I feel a huge sense of victory.
I am home!