In October 2009, New Zealand Auckland greeted me with the spring sun and fresh sea wind that hit me in the nose as soon as I got off the plane. My name is Tamara Belevich, then I was 22 years old, and for the first time I made such a long flight. I came to New Zealand to study English and to begin the first point of an ambitious emigration plan that we developed in Moscow together with my husband Dmitry. He was so tired of corruption, bad weather and eternal traffic jams that he was ready to move to warm latitudes and start everything from scratch there.
I liked the idea of a radical change of scenery, but I wanted to choose the country not only on the basis of the sea, sun and palm trees, but also with the prospect of career growth. I recently graduated from MGSU, received a diploma in hydraulic engineering and got a job at a large state research institute. On the one hand, I really liked to be involved in the construction of something useful and monumental - seaports and hydroelectric power stations. On the other hand, the more I traveled around Russia, the more widespread mismanagement and corruption caught my eye. I understood perfectly well what my entrepreneur husband wanted to leave.
Studying the countries for resettlement, we quickly dropped the UK, USA and Canada, stayed for a short time in Australia and eventually made a choice in favor of New Zealand. None of us have been there before. My English was limited to the level of the average Russian school. Dima did not speak any language except Russian. All I knew about New Zealand was what I had read in a travel guide that accidentally came across my arm during our honeymoon in Cyprus. I was delighted with the photos of volcanoes, deserted beaches, geysers and the incredible blue of the lakes. We decided to take a chance.
After studying the topic on forums and specialized sites, we found out that the New Zealand Migration Service publishes an official list of professions that the country needs. It usually includes engineers, doctors, and more recently jockeys, lumberjacks and bicycle repair specialists. Suitable candidates, provided that they are young, physically healthy, speak English and have found a job in their specialty, receive a residence permit in New Zealand under a simplified scheme. Their spouses, of course, too. This was our option.
I was delighted with the photos of volcanoes, deserted beaches, geysers and the incredible blue of the lakes
Arriving in Auckland, I settled in the family of engineer Sam and school teacher Judith. I had several months to improve my humble English to a level with which I could enter a local university. My head was swollen with the number of new words and the volume of grammar, but the success of our family plan depended entirely on me, and I confidently walked towards my goal. I devoted all my free time to get to know the country and the city better.
I immediately liked Auckland. Good ecology, the sea is nearby, there are parks everywhere. And incredibly safe. After Moscow, with its metal doors, fences, security guards and alarms, I was amazed that two-thirds of the entrance doors here are made of glass and no one even thinks that someone will break this stained-glass window and rob the house. Everything is so calm that on domestic flights around the country, you are not even asked for documents, only a ticket.
The language courses have proven to be very effective. After four months of intensive preparation, I passed the passing grade exam in English and entered the Auckland Institute of Technology's MSc in Construction Management. By that time, my husband, who had been in Moscow all this time, finally moved to me in New Zealand.
I started to study. The master's program was designed for a year and cost 22 thousand dollars.Unfortunately, there are practically no grants for foreigners in New Zealand. The style of university teaching was very different from what I was used to in Russia - in Auckland, for example, they did not monitor attendance at all. Here, students are provided with all the opportunities for comfortable learning and complete freedom of action. Everyone chooses for himself whether to study or lose the money paid to the university.
The issue of further employment, naturally, began to bother me almost from the first days of study. I chose hydraulic engineering as the topic of one of the coursework, however, starting to collect material, I quickly realized that it was seriously lacking. There was nothing to lose, and I wrote a letter to the management of the largest hydraulic engineering company in New Zealand, where I explained that I was writing a scientific work and really wanted to ask a few questions to specialists. I was not only answered, but also invited to the central office in the capital, Wellington. My meeting with the managers lasted five hours. And when, after a couple of weeks, as promised, I sent them to look at the text, the company unexpectedly sent me an invitation to work.
The New Zealand surprises did not end there. Before defending my diploma, another extremely tempting business proposal appeared. Australian oil and gas consultancy WorleyParsons hired me for a junior engineer position with an annual salary of $ 55,000. Three months after I went to work, Dima and I received a permanent residence permit in New Zealand.
For several years in a consulting company, I managed to do joint projects with refineries, Auckland Airport and a government water supplier. A couple of months ago, I was lured into by New Zealand's largest dairy producer. I am currently leading a project to modernize one plant in Auckland. I have six men subordinate to me. I really like that it is customary here to maintain a very clear distance between professional and personal life - no one climbs into the soul and does not get carried away with gossip. Subordinates call me "iron lady" because in the office I am demanding and can be quite tough. Otherwise, how would I manage employees who are more than 25 years older than me? It was only after the move that I realized what a thrill it was to work on large construction projects and not think about corruption at all. I check all tenders myself. In New Zealand, everything is very simple: you do your job knowing for sure that no one paid anything to anyone.
At the same time, all this time I was helping my husband. While Dima was mastering English, he understood everything related to language schools and visa documents so much that he began to advise foreigners who want to study in New Zealand and Australia. As a result, we launched an international site for booking English courses Tambook.
Only after the move, I realized what a thrill it is - to work on large construction projects and not think about corruption at all
Auckland is an amazing city in the sense that no foreigner with the most monstrous accent in the world will ever feel like a second-class person here. The absolute tolerance of locals to visitors is a matter of course. Therefore, I have never heard anything unpleasant, let alone insulting.
New Zealanders, especially from well-to-do families, mature very slowly. Up to 30 years old, they live on the support of their parents, think about what to do in life, travel a lot, study something lazily at the university, drink wine for a long time in restaurants and lie on the beach with pleasure. And at the age of 35 these same people urgently get married, acquire a house and give birth to three children in a row at once. I'm bored with such people. But among the New Zealand youth there are also those who early faced real life and did not break down in front of difficulties, but used them for self-development. Here I am friends with such.
I admit that there is virtually no cultural life in New Zealand at the level to which I am used to. I try to go to the performances of all the interesting artists who come to Auckland, but this, of course, is not enough. However, I do not make a tragedy out of this, because I can always break out on vacation anywhere - in New York, London, Moscow, Paris - and there to fully immerse myself in the museum and theatrical life.
I can say without the slightest doubt that New Zealand is my home, and I am not going to move anywhere from here. Have I started to feel happier in Auckland than in Moscow? More likely no than yes. But I know for sure that my life here has become much more comfortable and safer. I breathe fresh air, swim in the sea, ride a bike and go to interesting, well-paid jobs.