Catch-up with Katie

Konstanz on a good day. It lies right at the border to Switzerland and the Alps. © Katie Rochow

It is April 2020 - almost two years after I wrote the last blog post for Tuning In. In this very moment, I am sitting on the balcony of my flat in Konstanz, a small, picturesque city in the south of Germany. How did I get here? Well, that is kind of a long story. Many thoughts, memories and emotions are coming up when I think about the past two years. Where should I start? Maybe I begin with the end - the time when I had to say good-bye to Wellington.

The hard facts

The time had come faster than I expected. My visa was going to expire and my two teaching contracts finished with the end of the term. In order to be able to stay in the country, I had to find a full-time job and an employer that sponsored my visa. I loved teaching Music/Culture/Media Studies to university students and I wanted to keep doing that. So I applied at universities all over the country. From Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington to Christchurch and Dunedin. There aren’t many suitable positions in this field and huge, international competition. In short, I didn’t manage to get a job before my visa expired.

The special moments

Treasure hunting through Wellington finding special places, people and a clown costume. Treasure hunting through Wellington finding special places, people and a clown costume. | © Katie Rochow The last weeks in Wellington were incredibly special and sad at the same time. My friends went out of their way to make these last moments the best time of my life. From sailing trips on the South Coast with strangers who invited us to tag along to crazy party nights exploring some ‘hidden treasures’ of Wellington’s nightlife to real treasure hunts through the city where I would have to solve little riddles that led me to different parts of town where more friends, drinks and good times waited for me.

First and only gig at the Moorings. Katie on stage. First and only gig at the Moorings. | © Katie Rochow And there was the afternoon at the Moorings. What a special gift. I met Mike on one of my last ‘house parties’ in Newtown. He was a local musician and we talked about Wellington’s music scene and being a musician and... my visa situation. He asked if I’d played my music in front of a Wellington crowd at all. I hadn’t. I am more of a shy bedroom musician and a geeky researcher that focuses on reading, writing and ‘observing’ local music. We exchanged numbers and he said he’ll get back to me with more details soon. And he did.

A few days later I sat on a stage in what was one of my favourite creative-, private-public-musical hubs of Wellington - the Moorings. I was opening for The Southerlies - a very talented acoustic duo. Seeing my friends in the audience I wasn’t feeling nervous, shy or sad but was incredibly grateful and full of love.

The takeoff

Saying good-bye with bubbles at the beach. Saying good-bye with bubbles at the beach. | © Katie Rochow On the day of my departure my friends surprised me with a delicious champagne-breakfast on the beach. After some yummy food, bubbles and a skinny dip, they put a beautiful pounamu necklace around my neck and saw me off.  I knew that this wasn’t a usual takeoff. I wasn’t excited to go ‘back home’ and start a new life. I was heartbroken that I had to leave my New Zealand whanau and a place where I felt I belonged.

What would happen now? Where would I go? What would I do? That was a tough challenge. It took several months, various changes of place, flats and jobs until I arrived where I am now - on a little balcony in Konstanz, with a job that I love and some beautiful new friendships growing slowly but steadily.