Saturday, August 4, 2007

Anti-terrorism in NZ and Australia

I have not made it out of the pacific yet and already have been "randomly" searched at airport security. Twice. Once in Wellington, having just said goodbye to my family, and once in Perth. After being forced to walk through the scanner at Perth airport security with my belt off (apparently I could be hiding my arsenal of weapons behind the buckle) I was asked by an official to "come this way please" because I had been "randomly selected for an explosives search". The first thing that ran through my mind was to make some sarky retort about it being because I am black (sort of), but the official was much blacker than I am, so I thought better of it. Can't help but wonder if this is going to be a common feature of my travels.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Pre-departure checklist

1. Get a UK visa.
Probably the sort of thing I should have sorted out months ago, but here I am, leaving in less than 2 weeks and minus one UK visa. Although I can say it's not my fault. It just takes so bloody long to compile my life story to give to the grumpy bastards at the high commission. And the numerous letters required from Edinburgh have been anything but prompt in arriving here in NZ. If all goes according to plan though, my visa should arrive the day I leave.

2. Get a place to live in Edinburgh
Again, probably the sort of thing I should have all ready before I leave, although this looks less and less likely every day. And again, not my fault. Have spend the past several months waiting for Edinburgh/the UK Postal service to tell me where exactly I'll be living and with whom.

3. Get a plane ticket.
One of the few things I have actually done for this trip. Have had my tickets booked and paid for for several months now. Have also spent the past few weeks buying cheap plane tickets for a spot of European travel before I start at Edinburgh. The cheapness of air travel in Europe absolutely boggles my mind! Even when converted to NZD it is still cheaper to fly around Europe than it is to fly from say Wellington to Dunedin. Way cheaper. Shows how a little bit of competition goes a long way in the pocket of the consumer.

4. Get a mix of scholarships to cover the ridiculous cost of studying abroad
Done. Actually this is the whole reason for doing this in the first place. Managed to obtain a scholarship from the Wellcome Trust, who I can only conclude are very smart or very misguided to give money to a perpetual student like me. Actually, I think being from the other end of the earth gives me an air of exoticness that got me through the selection process. They're probably trying to fill some quota for ethnic/foreign students. Anyway, once you get one schoalarship it becomes a billion times easier to get additional funding (don't ask me why, just one of the crazy laws of academia) so I'm now a fully funded student. Nice!

5. Try and save some money to pay for travels beforehand
Also done. Spent several months working in the second worst job I've ever had (well, if you're asking, the worst was being a checkout operator at the local supermarket when I was 15) for barely over minimum wage. I think I'm just too arrogent to work in the hospitality industry, because I know for a fact that I am far more qualified than 99% of the people I serve. I also don't like being told what to do by someone 4 years younger than me.