Time really does fly when you’re traveling. Once again I managed to not post anything in over 6 months! So much has happened since I last posted too but I will definitely backtrack later. I am currently in Thailand with Lisa on the island Koh Phangan. I used up my entire working holiday in New Zealand, even getting an extra 6 months with a work visa. But I have hit the road again and have so much to post and hopefully in the coming weeks, I can update everyone on what exactly I’ve been up to lately as I know I’ve been a bit secretive. Stayed tuned!
Again I know it’s been almost half a year since I posted anything on this site and I know it’s supposed to be about being an expatriate so at first this post may seem a bit weird but I assure you, it is part of why I am an expatriate so bare with me.
There is without question that our liberties and freedoms have been under attack in America for quite sometime now. Everyday it seems to get worse and worse. From domestic drones roaming our skies to corrupt government officials telling us they know best. Well America, today is the day that marks the beginning of the end for what once was the freest country on the planet. It’s been happening for a while now, we give up some freedoms to enjoy security but the price is rising to a point that I believe even every day Americans will refuse to pay. Hell, I started to refuse to pay the price last year back in May.
I am talking about the United States government spying on EVERYONE. Not just those suspected of terrorism, not those even remotely associated with terrorism but every single American in the United States. I know for a fact Americans abroad are spied on by the government and in a sense, after 9/11, many have come to both accept and encourage that (I don’t and never will) but now, even those in the homeland are treated guilty until proven innocent or no need to prove innocent at all. The latest installment of your life in the hands of a corrupt government official comes out of the National Security Administration’s subpenaing daily reports of ALL phone calls made/routed/terminated over the nation’s 2nd largest telecommunications provider, Verizon. See here if you haven’t a clue what I am on about.
Apparently, all branches of government are involved and when this story broke about 12 hours ago, the White House quickly dismissed it as routine and “normal”. There is nothing normal about this. When all branches of the government are telling us it is for our own good and that we must accept it, that my friends is when we must fight back. There has been no due process of law for the government to obtain this information about everyday citizens and in fact, it is our right to privacy and due process. The Forth Ammendment of the U.S. Constitution states:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Now, do you think the United States government has probable cause on every single person in the United States for our papers to be searched? I don’t. If these government officials are telling us that they are in their legal rights to do this, they are dead wrong.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and for them to circumvent this is treasonous. Any politician whom agree, affirms, or does not object to what is going on is part of this oligarchy that has taken over our country and should be swiftly charged with treason and shot upon being found guilty (for those of you who don’t know, I am not pro death penalty but for tyrants, which these people clearly are, I will make an exception and I am at least willing to give them due process of law, something they no longer afford to us).
If you think that the government is only targeting those on the Verizon network, think again. This story just broke. In the coming days, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they’ve targeted all the networks and have been doing it for years. This is by no means something new.
This brings us to the question, is civil war imminent in America? No.
Unfortunately, as you read this, you probably have already lost interest and may have accepted this as the price you pay. You will continue about your day maybe giving a thought or two about it if someone else brings it up but otherwise, you’ll be more interested in the sports on TV or what your friends are up to on Facebook. You figure this is someone else’s problem, that there still are good politicians and they will clean house. You are wrong. This is YOUR problem and yes there are good politicians but they CANNOT clean house without your help. It is time for action. Turn off your TV and close your laptop. Take to the streets and protest! If protesting in the streets isn’t your thing, write a scathing letter to your senators, congressmen and president. Demand action or demand their resignation. Do not just go about your day as if nothing new has happened because this is big.
Today is the day we must take action, that we say enough is enough. Today is the day we push back, that we take back the country that is rightfully ours and put leaders in the position of power that can fix this and not compound the problem. If you fail to act, you may not have a TV or Facebook to log onto tomorrow. It will just be propaganda and you will become another mindless zombie feeding the machine more so than you already do.
If you aren’t as pissed off as me, you should be because what the government will do next will be even worse. They will know that if you do not react, that you have become complacent and are happy with this oligarchy. Our freedoms and rights as humans are eroding faster than ever in America, it is time we draw the line in the sand behind their current position and push back.
We won’t be going to civil war with our government anytime soon because we forgot what freedom is all about, we got comfortable in our lazy ways and the, “we’ll fix it later” attitude, but really, we should have started the war years ago. By time most are ready to fight back, it will be too late.
Getting a working holiday visa to New Zealand is straight forward and cheap compared to other countries. If you’re an American and you apply outside of New Zealand for the working holiday visa, it’s free! Now for those of you who don’t know what a working holiday visa is, it’s a visa that allows you to travel to a country on holiday and work at the same time. Technically, a working holiday visa is supposed to be mostly about the holiday part supplemented by occasional work but for many, you will leave the country with more than you entered with if you spend wisely and will still enjoy a nice holiday as well.
New Zealand, like most countries with working holiday schemes, has different restrictions for different nationalities. A working holiday visa is available to citizens from the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Singapore (work exchange programme), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, and Vietnam. If your country is not listed, it probably does not have a working holiday agreement with New Zealand but you may be eligible for a different visa. Many of these countries also have a quota meaning they only give out a certain number of working holiday visas to citizens of your country per year. Be sure to check New Zealand’s Immigration Website for details. If you are from the United States, we are not subjected to a quota system so no need to fret about that one.
Typically, the visa is good for an entire year but you do have the option of extending it for 3 months if you spend 3 months doing agricultural work. If you’re like me and more of a city person, you won’t venture out into farm land so you don’t have to worry about applying for the 3 month extension. When your year is up, it’s up and you best exit the country. However, if you are determined to squeeze every last hour out of your working holiday visa, be sure to check into this little known extension! In addition to only being valid for a year, you can only get a working holiday visa to New Zealand once, regardless if you have dual or multi citizenship.
Now regarding work, the countries that are listed above have different restrictions so you will need to visit Immigration New Zealand’s website for full details. The most common restriction is that you can only work for the same employer for a maximum of 3 months. Now this restriction applies to about half of the countries, for the other half, there is no maximum amount of time you can stay at one employer as long as your visa is valid (Americans can work at the same company during their entire working holiday if they so please). One interesting visa restriction that applies to all nationalities that is a little strange is that you cannot work as a prostitute (prostitution is legal in New Zealand). Other than that, you are free to work where ever!
Now that you have some of the facts about the working holiday visa in New Zealand, you are ready to lodge your application. It is all done online at http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/stream/work/workingholiday/ Just click the country you are from and follow the instructions. Do note the following (from their website)
- usually be permanently living in <the country of your passport> – this means you can be temporarily visiting another country when you lodge your application
- have a passport from <the country of your passport> that‘s valid for at least three months after your planned departure from New Zealand
- be at least 18 and not more than 30 years old
- not bring children with you
- hold a return ticket, or sufficient funds to purchase such a ticket*
- have a minimum of NZ$4,200 available funds to meet your living costs while you’re here
- meet our health and character requirements
- hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation insurance for the length of your stay
- be coming to New Zealand to holiday, with work or study being secondary intentions for your visit
- not have been approved a visa under a Working Holiday Scheme before.
If you are already in New Zealand you also need to hold a valid temporary visa.
*You are required to hold sufficient funds for the duration of your visit and for the purchase of an outward ticket from New Zealand. Such evidence may be requested on arrival at the border.
Obviously they aren’t going to check all of this in detail. I certainly didn’t arrive with NZ$4,200, an onward plane ticket, hold comprehensive hospitalisation insurance, have a police clearance certificate or health certificate but I still got into the country. It all depends on how you fill out the application. If you declare that you are healthy, not a criminal, have a plane ticket out/NZ$4,200 no one is going to be the wiser. Keep in mind however, they do randomly select people (I seem to be this guy when it comes to Australia. I’m currently being required to present a police certificate which is more of a pain than anything since I need to get fingerprinted and contact the FBI to show my record is clean before they issue my working holiday visa for next year. More on that debacle later.) out once in while before approving the application, that is when you will need to provide them with the required information. If you lied on the application about being healthy and you can’t prove it, you’re not getting in obviously. So really, you need to out weight the risks of being honest or lying and possibly being caught and prevented from entering the country for many years. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to dealing with immigrations and custom officials.
Once you have submitted your application, you will usually hear a response from them in a few working days whether your visa was granted, denied or additional information is required. My visa was granted in 3 working days and no additional information was required (unlike Australia, grrr but that’s for another post). Depending on your country of origin, you will either get a physical visa label to attach to a page in your passport or it will be “electronically attached”. Once your working holiday visa is approved, you have a year from the issue date to activate it. To activate the visa, simply arrive in New Zealand. If you do not activate the working holiday visa within a year from it being issued, it’s gone and you can never get it back so be sure to only apply for it if you plan to use it otherwise you’re shit out of luck.
Once you are ready to travel to New Zealand, be sure to bring a printout of the visa (if it was “electronically attached” that is). This is mostly for the airline officials to show that since you have a working holiday visa, you do not need proof of an onward ticket. However, it may speed up the process through immigration if there are any problems. Immigration didn’t even look at my printout as it was already “electronically attached” to my passport number.
After that, it’s time to open a bank account, obtain an IRD (tax) number, and finally, find a job. Like I said, the New Zealand working holiday visa is pretty straight forward to obtain and the information posted above is from my experience and the collective experiences of those I have met here as well. You may experience something different and if that is the case, please post a comment about it so we know what happened and what we might expect in the future. Immigration laws are constantly changing so be sure you are up to date with the ones of the nation you are travelling to. Just because I said something back in December of 2012 doesn’t mean it is true years down the road!
*IMPORTANT* There are many websites online that promise a working holiday visa for money. Although some may be legitimate websites that can help you get your visa, some may be fake as well. Always research any company before paying them to get you a visa. In all honesty, you do not need a company to help get you a working holiday visa anyway because it’s the least complicated visa of them all (after a tourist visa at least). Save your money and just apply for the visa directly from Immigration New Zealand, the official website of New Zealand Government’s Immigration Department.
I know this blog is about being an expatriate and most of my readers will not quite understand why there is a blog entry about Fort Collins, the last city I was a resident in the United States on here. Well in order to understand me better, you need to know where I am coming from and I feel you would better understand my dislike of my country I have if you knew the kind of city I came from. This entry will give you a little more insight into where I am from and what propelled me into becoming an expatriate. Granted, you won’t get the full story (you need to wait for my book) but you will get some idea behind my thought process.
I lived in Fort Collins for almost 2 years of my life and in that time, I witnessed extreme police corruption and brutality. My first witness to these corrupt officers was the week I just moved up to Fort Collins. There was a riot in old town, granted I did not witness this first hand but did hear from friends and through the old grape vine that the riot originally started after an officer used excessive force on a drunk patron, go figure. The Fort Collins Police department (or as they call themselves Fort Collins Police Services, a joke of a name) has been known for only ever telling half the story and said that a crowd got out of control over a misunderstanding but I think it was the Fort Collins Police that got out of control over a little misunderstanding. Read the article about the riot here. It doesn’t say why the rioters suddenly began throwing beer bottles at officers but I think the reasoning is obvious. Perhaps the Fort Collins Police should have been charged with starting a riot? Obviously they were behind the riot in the first place.
Fort Collins Police officers, those sworn to uphold, protect and defend the constitution have little respect for the legislative authority that allows them to exist in the first place. They don’t seem to grasp We The People allow them to be, not the other way around. Therefore, you would think that they would have a little more respect for the people and the law that allows them to have a job in the first place but they don’t. In this report, an officer is shown shoving an innocent civilian that was legally filming the officer in public. I guess the man had a good reason to be filming the Fort Collins Police, as does any person in Fort Collins as their short fuses can go off at any moment. Was the officer charged with police intimidation or assault? Nope. He probably got promoted as happened in the next case.
Meet Officer Kobey Northen, who is now Detective Kobey Northen. Before Detective Northen harassed CSU students for the whereabouts of family members (seriously, this guy does this) he was a patrol officer with the Fort Collins Police. He was called to a domestic violence report where in the end, he ended up shooting a suspect he accused of drawing a gun on him after being maced. What? I asked myself the same thing. This officer maced a suspect then shot him after accusing him of drawing a weapon on him and the victim. How does one draw a weapon on an officer after just being maced? I can’t imagine someone doing this but supposedly it happened. You can read all about it here and you can decide for yourself if the story adds up or not. For me, it just doesn’t add up and I think the officer was promoted just to get him off the street so he doesn’t end up shooting someone again. Excessive force anyone?
Some people may chalk these up to isolated incidents, I don’t as I know these aren’t isolated incidents, these are only the ones the press will report on (another problem with our country, the selected reporting of important news). Consider this, is it an isolated incident when the Fort Collins and Larimer governments makes it policy to arrest people for not breaking the law? Nope.
In November 2012, Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment for the legalisation of small amounts of marijuana. The vote has yet to be certified by the governor so technically it is still illegal but most police departments and district attorneys in the state of Colorado have recognised the will of the people and decided to stop the prosecution of these victimless crimes. Not in Fort Collins where the Fort Collins Police, Larimer County Police and Larimer County District Attorney continue to go after petty offences that soon won’t even be a petty offence! I think Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said it best that he doesn’t listen to the constitution, only statutes that gives a prime example of why the entire government of Fort Collins and Larimer County should be dissolved.
Good news for those who got citations, if you continue your case until the governor certifies the vote, your case most likely will be dropped as the prosecution won’t have a leg to stand on. Knowing Larry Abrahamson (whom is term limited and being replaced in January with his mini-me) he will try and strong arm you into taking a plea deal. Decline any deal he gives you and demand a jury trial. The jury will most likely find you not guilty and you will have cost the backwards county a small fortune in trying to prosecute you for something that is legal now. It’s unlikely it will even get that far as I know some where Larry Abrahamson has a few brain cells left (he’s almost consistently drunk from what I heard) and he will dismiss the case right before it goes to jury.
Finally, there is the case of Tim Masters, the man who was wrongfully set up by a Fort Collins Detective by the name of James Broderick for the murder of Peggy Hettrick in 1987. If this case in itself doesn’t describe the state of Fort Collins, I don’t know what will. The way poor Tim Masters was treated all the way to the bitter end sickens me. Larry Abrahamson wanted to try and charge this poor guy again even after it became blatantly obvious he was innocent until the Colorado Attorney General stepped in an said Masters was exonerated. The worst part is that this corrupt detective James Broderick not only continues to get a paycheck from the city for over $100,000 a year but they are footing a lot of his legal bills! What is wrong with this city? In case you were wondering, the average officer in Fort Collins makes at least $72,137 a year to rid you of your constitutional rights and most are just as corrupt as James Broderick such as officers Jarad Sargent, Nick Rogers, Adam Braun, Timothy Moeller, Randall Klamser, Rex Steele and Wendy Slaughter, just to name a few after a quick Google search as quite honestly, the whole department should be listed.
These aren’t the only examples of the corruption in this city but just the tip of the iceberg. Many accounts of police corruption go unnoticed by the public and our media will even turn a blind eye to it in many cases. This is one of the major reasons I have had it with America, it has become a police state where the average citizen cannot and will not be treated properly by the very people we entrust power to. It’s time We The People woke up and said enough is enough. Vote out of office these corrupt officials, sheriffs that have no regard for the constitution, mayors and city managers that allow police departments unlimited budgets, judges that aren’t impartial, and district attorneys that have their heads too far up their own asses to see what’s really going on.
I want to come home but refuse to until we as a nation clean up our act and get rid of the corrupt government officials. This is my political statement but I cannot do it alone. Before you vote for anyone, ask yourself, do you believe in a better candidate or are you voting for a lesser of two evils? Because if you are simply voting for the lesser of two evils, you too are what’s wrong with America.
The police aren’t the only problem, the courts are too! In my next article, I will discuss how the courts are in bed with the police department and district attorney office and why you will never find a fair judge in this town. This article is part 1 of a 2 part series on Why Fort Collins Sucks.
Creating privacy in a dorm room is very difficult to achieve, especially since someone is always around. If you’re like me, your room back home was your sanctuary where you could go to get away from it all, to have some peace and privacy. This doesn’t happen in hostels, especially in the dorms. Noise and lights at all hours of the day and night are part of life and can be very irritating at times. There are ways to mitigate these problems though, to find some bit of privacy where you can get away from it all and just be by yourself.
The most important thing about staying in a dorm is moving to the bottom bunk as soon as possible. The top bunks are absolutely the worst places to be sleeping. Top bunks have absolutely no privacy and are notoriously loud and shake the most. If you check in, realise that you are most likely going to be stuck in a dorm room on the top bunk unless you are really lucky. Usually after a few days, you can move to a bottom one but you need to be quick. Try and wake up somewhat early so you can relocate your belongings the second someone checks out. Bottom bunks are premium space in dorm rooms so it is critical you are faster than your room mates at moving. Early bird catches the bird! The longest I ever spent on the top bunk was a straight 19 days, it was hell.
Once you have the bottom bunk, privacy is much more easily achieved as you can make a bunk fort using blankets, jumpers (hoodies), towels and just plain clothes. My recommendation is you buy a cheep blanket somewhere as this is the best way to cover a large area efficiently. My bunk fort is made up of a wall on two sides, a towel and blanket on one long side and a towel and a jumper on the final side. Obviously the best bunk is the corner one so you don’t need as many items to cover the sides.I can sleep at any time day or night because I can make it dark enough that light coming in through the windows or from the room lights don’t bother me. I might not be alone in the room but I am in my subroom!
Noise obviously is a problem in a dorm room as people have different schedules and different amount of respect for their fellow room mates. I have discovered I can fall asleep with headphones playing in my ears and I won’t hear anything at all. If you play music from your phone, you can wake up to your alarm without a problem as it too plays through the earphones.
Eventually you will get to the point that no matter how much light is coming in or noise, you will be able to fall asleep but it can take a while to get used to. I highly recommend making a bunk fort for your sanity and the ability to sleep at any time you please, not just when everyone else decides it’s time for lights out. You might be sharing a room with 7 other people (sometimes more) but remember, privacy can be achieved.
Some things to note, your bunk fort will fall apart from time to time. This is usually do to the person above you moving or changing sheets as they undo your stuff in the process. They are usually rude about it too and will not fix it for you, bastards. The best way to avoid this is to use some zip ties or duct tape (see my article on why duct tape is so important) to capture the materials through the cracks so that they are still supported by something when the bed above you is moved around. Gravity sucks but you can over take it if needed. If you are only going to be in your bunk fort for a short period of time, using zip ties or duct tape isn’t worth it, just deal with the pain of redoing your fort every now and again. Anything over two weeks though, it is worth securing the sides of your bunk fort.