Storytime! Meet Agne. After spending 6 years in university and working two jobs, she went to New Zealand to live in the van and work in the fields picking berries. She shares her adventures and learned lessons.
My love for travelling started after Work&Travel USA when I spent 4 months in the USA in 2017. I was still in my last year of master’s degree studies when I returned from the USA. I found a visa for New Zealand; I was thinking about Australia, but it was just for studies. After 6 years in university, I didn’t want to jump back straight to studies again, so I decided to go with New Zealand.
Every year just 100 Lithuanians get this visa; when I tried the first time, I didn’t get it; after one year, I tried again, and this time was successful. The difference between New Zealand and USA was that you are going already with a job vacancy in the USA, and in New Zealand, you were going without knowing anything where you were going to work or live. This kind of visa allows you to work and live in New Zealand for 1 year; but because of Covid-19, the government extended our visa for one more year.
Before going to New Zealand, I was working as a QC analyst in one pharmaceutical company laboratory and as a junior scientist in University, so I just quit both of the jobs and left the country just before the new years of 2020!
We (me and my boyfriend) came to NZ in 2020 January, were working in blueberry picking for almost 3 months. Lockdown kicked us, and we were without any jobs for about 5 weeks, later we found out other simple jobs, saved money for the camper van and started our road trip around NZ in the end of September. We spent 2 months in the North Island and 3 months in the South Island ( all the time living in a camper van). Most of the days we were just changing locations, doing different hikes, and spending time in nature. The craziest thing that I did in New Zealand was diving with the Great white sharks; of course, I was in the cage, but still!
What was the biggest lessons you learned on this trip?
That you really need to enjoy every day, that things, new clothes aren’t so important for me and I can be with the same stuff for a very long time. Life is an adventure, and you don’t need to be so serious about it (like I used to be!)
If you would do everything from the beginning, what would you do differently?
Put fewer things into my backpack, nothing else.
If someone is secretly dreaming about the lifestyle you are living now, what would you advise them?
Just go for it; I’m not a freelancer or something like that, right now I’m working full time also, but the memories will stay with me for the rest of my life, probably like the best memories from my life 🙂 My boyfriend is saying a really good phrase: when you will be lying in bed before your death you won’t regret that you didn’t work enough, you will regret that you didn’t travel enough, didn’t have adventures, that you miss so many interesting opportunities.
Is it scary to go on the adventure of a lifetime? What was happening in your head?
I won’t lie, it was scary. I was thinking Agne you were spending 6 years at university to get a master’s degree. Right now you were going to another side of the world probably to pick cherries (because agriculture jobs are the easiest to get and quite good money, later it is really easy to quit them and just go for travelling, you not restricted to anything). A lot of times, I thought that I’m really stupid with a decision like this. Still, when we bought a camper van and start a road trip around NZ I didn’t regret anything, especially that moment in the whole world was a lockdown, and we were travelling without any restrictions.
What are the most amazing things about living here? Living the way you live.
Even though they have 4 seasons also, the weather is totally different; winter on the North Island is like Lithuanian autumn or early spring. The biggest minus is -1. Also, nature, if you want to see amazing beaches, you need just to go up to the North, if You want to see big mountains and ice glaciers, you can fly to the South Island, New Zealand has a huge variety of nature.
What was the hardest thing in this whole experience?
All uncertainty because usually I like to plan things in my life, travelling with a certain amount of money, and then when they have almost gone, you must find some quick work for quick cash 😀 It was stressful 😀 We didn’t even plan our road trip, all spots that we wanted to visit we found out 2 days before.
What do you suggest to people how to prepare for adventure like yours?
Do research what you want (study in a different country, work or just live and work for some time and travel), find what visa options are, start saving money even before getting visa approval. In the beginning, you will need to have savings; the more you have, the easier it is. Like we were fine when the lockdown started because we had savings, and we could stay without working for those couple of months, so you never know what could happen.
What are your next steps? Is there any adventure you are planning?
Right now, the plan is to stay in NZ as long as we can, maybe come back in 2022 Spring in Lithuania; actually, we don’t know; life in NZ teaches us not to plan, just to live this day. If we go to Lithuania, before coming, we’ll definitely go to visit some other countries, and just we didn’t decide which one.