Pastures New

When the check in clerk told me my excess baggage would cost £1700, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t.  

I was rational for five minutes, trying to repack my belongings and work out what could be left behind. Then I went into meltdown. I needed it all. What the baggage clerk didn’t tell me was that at the airport there are companies who specialise in sending excess baggage for a far cheaper rate. I coughed up close to £300 and am now waiting – and believing – that my essentials are on their way to Auckland. It’s unsettling, having half your possessions in the air, the rest on the high seas.

I’ve been here five days: long enough to get over jet lag, react spectacularly to mozzie bites and open a bank account. The thirty hour flight was a bit of a shocker. I arrived, in a warm hat and coat, to be met by two small boys without shoes. Their father, George Oosthuizen, is a South African surgeon, who offered to put me up after hearing about my adventure.

Without exception, New Zealanders have been welcoming. I’m being treated like a queen and feel a huge debt to those who have taken time and trouble to show me sights, pass on inside information and make me feel at home.

My first day was akin to a first day in the NHS. A flurry of forms, occupational health, induction folders, you know the score. There were, however, a few telling differences. In the UK, I was the only medic on the team, acting up, down and sideways. Here, there is a skilled, well-trained, multidsicplinary team. Everyone was on good behaviour, but morale seems high. Colleagues talked about their work with pride and enthusiasm. Resources seem plentiful. Perhaps burnout presents differently here, but I have yet to see signs of it in the team I’m with.

The lows? I’m feeling displaced without my mobile phone. It’s taking an age to get connected and that’s incredibly frustrating. Hardly a major complaint. Human resources asked for a next of kin in New Zealand, so I ended up nominating a very new friend and felt a pang of homesickness. Subsidised sushi in the staff canteen soothed me, as did the view of palm trees swaying outside.

The grass is greener on the other side of the world. But for how long?