Our secret’s out. As we write this—looking out the window at a bleak English sky as the drizzle washes away the dregs of yesterday’s snowfall—it’s easy to get excited about travelling abroad. One thing about holidays is that the experience of change is refreshing, albeit all too brief: you spend the first half of a two-week interlude winding down, and the second half winding up again! We’d like to introduce Project Koru—a change on a much grander scale than our usual breaks afford.
In a nutshell
In a nutshell, Project Koru is a break from the life we currently lead in the UK, exchanging it for a Kiwi experience. We think of it as more of an “adult gap year” than as a working holiday or sabbatical. We’re at the planning stages currently, but plan to blog our progress by way of encouraging others to take a risk and fulfil their dreams (umm, and to write stuff down to disguise a flaky memory…).
What is a Koru?
It’s a very “New Zealandish” symbol, as explained here.
Why the tag-line?
A fern frond (koru) unfurls:
Hidden inside is new growth, fronds that have thus far not seen the light of day. Possibilities are the basis of human imagination and what dreams are made of:
There are lots of reasons, some of which we probably haven’t formulated yet. Mostly it just feels ‘right”, but here are some more specific justifications (not that we need any!):
- Not having later regrets: perhaps an obvious one. Who wants to look back on their life in years to come and reflect that, despite the opportunities, they were too afraid to take them?
- We may not have the option later: a (mild) paranoia likely resulting from working in a profession (medicine) where we witness people cut down in their prime too frequently. We have our health now, but it doesn’t seem wise to postpone such an experience for a leisurely retirement that may never come.
- Now is a good time to explore the balance between income and quality-of-life.
- A decade is a good reflection point: as we near the end of our planned time in NZ it will be 10 years into a career in general practice (for Bruce, a little longer for Simone in her speciality), 10 years of home ownership in the UK, and 10 years of marriage. What do we want to do with the next 10 years?
- A challenge is healthy: stay in one place for a while and you develop a “comfort zone” in which you know the rules. You have all the advised insurance, know who to call for x home emergency, can predict your weekly grocery bill, and can be certain of feeling worn out after work. When you move home/ country/ job/ populace you change all these relatively “known” variables. It’s like starting over: refreshing, but at the same time unnerving in an exciting kind of way (we have both moved countries once already)
- Experience life elsewhere: is the grass really greener on the other side of the fence? There’s only one way to find out…
- Discover what really matters: when you leave almost everything behind (except what can fit into two over-stuffed suitcases) it reaffirms that what counts is what’s inside you, and not what material goods surround you. You hopefully realise that you don’t “belong” to a certain environment, but rather can thrive any place into which your skills and attitudes can adapt.
- People not infrequently ask “Why are you still here?” and “Will you go back?”. It’s good to be able to offer an alternative response to “Don’t know really”. Having come to the UK in 1993 on a one year exchange, a return home for Bruce (NZ is still “home”) seems long overdue.
- The patient as the enemy: Not something Bruce is proud to admit, but sometimes the system (if it is the system) seems to turn doctors against patients. Not enough time, no solutions to offer for primarily social problems, rationing, contradictory directives—all things that conspire to create antagonism that should not be part of the doctor–patient consultation. Is the problem internal? Is it due to prevailing UK consumer attitudes? Does it reflect the landscape and climate? All good questions that maybe a complete change will help answer.