Leaving your life behind

Leaving your life behind is never an easy thing. I have only done it once before, back in 1998 when I started Uni. It wasn’t easy then, but I find it more complicated now. Back then, I didn’t have any things to carry (aside from my clothes) and I had no legal obligation. So I could (and indeed, did) just pack my clothes and leave.

But this time, I find it more difficult.. or at least, heaps more complicated. Of course, there are the usual moving related shenanigans such as notifying the real estate agent, utilities companies, and Internet provider. Australia Post actually has a very useful mover’s kit that not only redirect your mail to a new address, but also notify other government institutions of your change of address. Unfortunately this doesn’t really work if you’re going overseas.

After living for 8+ years (I lost track), I have accumulated a lot of books, movies, music, furniture, and other things. Most people are happy to throw away the books and movies, but not me. I don’t like throwing books away.

In the past few weeks, I have done the following (not necessarily in this order)

These don’t include the many queries I made about stuff such as the implication for having an overseas address for Australian bank accounts, implication of private health suspension to Medicare levy, and lodging tax returns at two different countries.

I do feel like I am being uprooted from my life in Australia. After this Sunday, I will no longer have a place I can call my home in Australia. Not as in I can’t call Australia home anymore, but in the sense that I will not have a ‘base’ in Australia. Nowhere to return home to. And that’s scary.

Of course, once I get to Copenhagen, I will have to do everything all over again. But this time in reverse. We’ll see how that goes. Probably in the next few posts.

When am I flying back?

Someone was asking me the other day, “when are you coming back?”. Just like the previous question, the answer is “I don’t know”. But the reasons for this are different.

The job offer states that I will be in Denmark for 2 years. This will be a great opportunity for me to explore a bit of Europe. I can literally go to another country for a weekend. In fact, if I wanted to go and see Eurovision this year, I could take a 35 minute train ride from Copenhagen to Malmö (running every 10 minutes or so!), watch the show, and be back at work the following day.

It will make no sense for me to waste my vacation on a long plane trip to Australia or Indonesia. I want to go to places I haven’t been before. That’s why I wanted to catch up with as many people as possible before I go, just in case I won’t see them for 2 years (or more).

Having said that, while flying back on vacation is very unlikely at this stage, this does not mean I will not be back on work trip. The group has collaborators everywhere, including Australia. It is probably likely that I will be assigned on a collaborative project which allows me to travel back at the group’s expense.

Of course, everything is up in the air at the moment. After all, I have to fly off before I can fly back. But the bottom line is, I may be back before my 2 years is up. Rest assured, I will give people some advance notice, just in case they want to leave the City before I fly back.

When am I flying off?

One of the most common questions I have been getting is “when are you flying off?”. This is actually a rather complicated question to answer. The short answer is “I don’t know”. To expand on this, I will have to give you a background of how the process works.

I am going to be employed at a university. As most of you know, I will need a work permit. I guess this is kinda different from a visa. Whereas a visa allows you to enter a country, a work permit allows you to work there.

As an Australian, I do not need a visa to enter Denmark. It is perfectly alright for me to enter the country unannounced (as a visitor). However, should I want to work there, I will need a work permit. This will have to be applied for from outside Denmark. That’s why I can’t just waltz into the country and then process my permit onshore.

The form that I need is called AR1. It is an application for residence and work permit in Denmark on the grounds of salaried work. Notice that it says residence and work permit. We’ll come back to this a bit later. The AR1 form follows the common procedure: the employer needs to start the process and provide relevant details such as a job offer and position description, before the employee (that’s me) can fill in their bit and submit the completed form. The job offer has taken the University a while to cook up, and I only got the formal offer from the University on 3 Apr. in the offer, my starting date was proposed to be 1 May.

After the University advised me that they have sorted out their bit of the paperwork, it was my turn to complete it. There was a short exchange back and forth between me and the University because I had initiated the process under a different case ID (application) – a story in itself. The form itself was very easy to complete and definitely not as rigorous as an Australian visa form. I completed and submitted it on Friday, 5 Apr.

At this stage, there was one other hurdle in order to get the AR1 form processed. Remember that AR1 is a residence and work permit application. The work permit part is the form itself. The residence permit part requires the submission of biometrics data (i.e. photograph and fingerprint), without which the AR1 form cannot be processed. But once they receive the biometrics data, the form will be processed within 30 days.

As it turned out, Sydney was the only Danish mission in Australia that can do this. So on the day that I completed the form (Friday), I exchanged a few e-mails with the Danish embassy in Sydney about an appointment on Monday. To their credit, they were willing to schedule me in at a very late notice. The last e-mail I got from them was timestamped almost 6 pm on Friday, way after the normal office hours, confirming an appointment for the very next working day (Monday).

The actual appointment itself only lasted for 10 minutes. The same lady who I exchanged e-mails with was the one who helped me at the embassy. She advised me that when the work permit is issued, the University and the Danish embassy in Sydney will get the notification electronically. Due to security issues, the embassy in Sydney cannot forward me my work permit. Instead, they have to print it off and send it to me by snail mail.

Here’s where things get interesting. The University has been generous enough to offer a flight ticket for me. But obviously they can’t do this until it is certain that I get my work permit. I have advised the University that there are a few outstanding things that I need to do that will require me to present a flight ticket. Therefore, I requested them to book me a ticket for at least a week after my work permit is issued.

This brings up another issue which at this point is pure speculation. The best case scenario is that I will get my work permit early this week. But my job offer has an effective start date of 1 May. Will the University try to make sure I start on the 1 May, meaning I fly off early next week? Is there any implication if I fly off after the date that I am supposed to start? At the moment I come back to the answer I gave before, “I simply don’t know“.

All I know is one thing: I will get there eventually.

Hello again

Hello again. Did you miss me? After a very long absence, I have returned to the world of blogging, complete with a new domain name.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences as I embark on an adventure which will take me to Copenhagen and beyond. I am very excited about it. I am currently waiting for my work permit to come through, after which I will fly off to Denmark and start my new position with the NanoGeoScience group at the University of Copenhagen.

In the next few posts, I will write about the story so far and the general process of moving to Denmark. Stay tuned.