Monthly Archives: October 2016

Finding a Job Abroad

In some ways, my plan worked.

When I wrote the scholarship proposal for my trip here, I included visits to local professionals as part of my agenda. It’s much easier to say to someone, “I want to come in and learn about what you do,” than “I want to come in and talk to you about you hiring me.” So far, I’ve visited about half a dozen companies of varying size and profession, including landscaping, architecture, and GIS/mapping. When I asked about potentially working there, all but one of them gently said no.

One of the visits I made was to a nursery, and the owner mentioned that he knew someone at a landscaping company who could probably use some help. About a month ago I called and visited. The owner told me a little about what he needs done, and I’ve been going to some of the sites to learn about what’s being done. He’s agreed to hire me part time, so after I get back from Barbados and Guadeloupe I’ll apply for a work visa and then get started.

I am excited! I’m still a little anxious about getting the work visa, but I’m feeling much happier and less stressed now that some things are falling into place.

 

Those inspiring posts about moving to another country and finding a job are all lies

AKA things I wish my past self had known some before starting that would make my present self much less frustrated.

I’m not saying that the inspirational stories about living and working abroad are all wrong, but I do think that many of them sugar coat some things. Admittedly, I only have experience with one country so far, so maybe it’s less difficult in other places. I could rant about all the difficulties that have come up before I’ve even submitted a work visa application (like the fact that the form is supposed to be available online but it’s not, and when I called the office no one answered, and many attempts later the 10th number I called finally picked up, I got transferred three times, and then they told me that they don’t have the answer and to call the first number I called), but then this would just be a long an angry post.

I also don’t want to bash the idea of going out on a limb to live in another country. Even though there have been many headaches, and I’m sure there will be many more, I’m still not sorry to be here. I imagine that God is just having a good laugh at all of the times (daily!) that He’s calling me to be more patient.

If I could go back in time, though, I would have given myself a couple of pieces of advice regarding the whole work visa thing.

The first suggestion to myself would have been to do anything I could before leaving. I glanced at the process to apply before I left, but I didn’t notice that part of my application has to be a certificate of good standing from my government. Instead of just having that done ahead of time, I now have to mail them some forms, wait for them to do whatever it is they need to do, and then wait for the forms to be mailed back to me. Keep in mind that this process is lengthened by the fact that it takes a lot longer for mail to get here (though I’ll at least mail it priority on my end to expedite things).

My second suggestion to my past self is something that would have been more difficult to avoid. In summary, it turns out that it doesn’t matter that I have to wait a long time for a certificate of character from my country because I can’t apply for a work visa yet anyway. The reason is that once I apply, I can’t leave the country until it’s approved. Since I’m going to Barbados and Guadeloupe for my scholarship, I have to wait until I return to apply for the work visa. Had I known that, I *may* have planned those trips to be earlier in my scholarship window, and then I wouldn’t have the no-scholarship no-job interim that I now cannot avoid.

I’m sure that once this part is all taken care of, I’ll completely forget how frustrating it all was. That’ll be a nice day.

Until then, please pray for my sanity . . .

Highlights of Trinidad Living

The best thing for me about living in Trinidad is getting to see Kevan every day. I am realizing that I have swapped one problem (being far from Kevan) for another (working here and getting a work visa, currently), but it is so worth it. The frustrations of figuring out the paperwork/hoop jumping also feel less significant when I get to do cool new things!

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The more I look at this picture the funnier my face looks. Tan face, white neck, and I’ve somehow achieved a Zorro mask sunglasses tan. Kevan, of course, looks handsome as ever in his outdoor adventure hat. The was taken aboard the “Island Prince.”

A couple of weeks ago Kevan and I participated in a beach cleanup, which was the reason for the boat ride above. Ocean currents cause floating trash to end up on the island of Chacachacare, which is one of the islands off of the northwestern tip of Trinidad.

At the actual beach cleanup, where Kevan was excited that the volunteer in the background fit perfectly into the little container.
At the actual beach cleanup, where Kevan was excited that the volunteer in the background fit perfectly into the little container.

Kevan and I also did a marriage preparation weekend retreat at Mount Saint Benedict. We attended sessions where married couples spoke about their own experiences, and then together Kevan and I went through questions and topics about our future. They were mostly things we had talked about before, but it was nice to have the chance to discuss things intentionally.

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One of the views from where we stayed at the monastery. It was worth braving the mosquitoes to sit outside there for a bit.
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The volunteer who took our picture said, “Pretend you just got married!” which is why I am making that face.

That same weekend we went on a short hike up Mount Tabor. There was once a fire there which wiped out all of the forest, causing potential for a huge landslide. It was reforested with fir trees, which aren’t native to Trinidad. It’s pretty much the only place in Trinidad you can find fir trees, and when you’re walking along there’s a very clear line of deciduous trees ending and fir trees starting.

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It felt a little like being in the U.S. because of the trees 🙂

Last Saturday Kevan’s parents and grandparents threw an engagement party for us. Kevan gave a little speech and did a really great job. He told a short version of our story, which I thought was cute. I was also quite glad that I didn’t have to speak!

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This picture with Kevan’s dad is my favorite from the evening. Also, a lot of people brought us wine, which was a happy surprise.
Most of the guests were the parents' friends, but I met a few new friends of Kevan's as well.
Most of the guests were the parents’ friends, but I met a few new friends of Kevan’s as well.
A nice picture, in case anyone wants to see :)
Here is a nice picture for posterity!

Those have been the big events of the past few weeks. As I think about it, it’s not the big things that are different, just the details. An engagement party can happen anywhere, it’s just that this one had lots of LLB and rum cake. A beach cleanup here is like a highway cleanup somewhere else. You can hike anywhere in the world, the scenery is just different. Despite this, Trinidad feels different to me. The weather, roads, food, people, customs, and many other things are quite different from what I’m used to. Perhaps I’ll try to write about that in the future, too.