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Remember Wayne's World? Top Ten lists WAY before Letterman.
I've been reflecting on this move, and thinking that there are a few things I have learned about the process of moving overseas, so I thought I'd share them with you.

1) You learn exceptional problem solving skills.  Navigating the vagaries of of an expat move requires a lot of thinking 'outside the box' (even though I hate that overused phrase, it's early and I'm still drinking coffee so the neurons are just barely firing.)  There are so many variables to juggle and trying to make them all fit feels like a million piece jigsaw puzzle that you're trying to put together after a night of tequila and strippers.  It's not pretty. 

2) You allow for meltdowns.  Yes, I've already had one.  I wound up sobbing on my kitchen floor and then subsequently fixing myself some lavender calming tea (for more on that - go here). As an aside, I tend to melt down on the kitchen floor a lot (not that I melt down a lot, just that it tends to happen more frequently on the kitchen floor) -- not entirely sure why that is but it dates back to my late teens...any thoughts are appreciated.

3) Life does not stop just because you have a big move.  In an ideal world you would be given a remote with a 'pause' button to give you 2-4 weeks to get your life in order for the move.  You wouldn't have board meetings, or appointments, or papers due or work obligations or social obligations.  You would just have all the time you needed to sort, and pack, and talk to movers and take your dog's paperwork all over creation.  In reality, this does not happen and you just have to suck it up and deal with it.

4) People have done this before.  I am sure that when one is pregnant (never having had children I don't have a true compass on this) new moms tell themselves people have been having kids since the beginning of time and a) your baby isn't the first and only and no one wants to hear about it all the time and b) you'll be fine, you'll figure it out.  I suspect both of those apply to the expat scenario as well.  Although, if I wanted to throw a major dose of 'crazy' onto this move, I could just get myself knocked up and then that would definitely make for some interesting blogging. 

5) You will be in denial at some point.  I'm still there so please don't burst my bubble.

6) You will lose your temper with someone.  For me, that was the vet's office a few days ago.  I swear I could make millions teaching a class on how to import a dog/cat overseas to veterinary staff. I was trying *so* hard not raise my voice when they, once again, could not understand which form to fill out. Further, I was at the end of my rope when the vet came in and the conversation went something like this:

    Vet: I'm confused about her paperwork, has she had two different names?
    Me: Yes, I've indicated before, and it should be in her records, that she was our foster dog and then we adopted her and when we adopted her we changed her name.
   Vet: Well, on this form it indicates she's a German Shepherd but your vet in New Orleans says she's a Husky.
   Me: Right, well, I can't tell you why they put that -- she's half and half (as I lift up her tail and show the vet her curly husky tail)
    Vet: Well, I just don't know if this dog has had a rabies shot.
    Me: I'm not sure what to say -- it's the same microchip on the dog so, that's the best I can do.  I can't really help how a vet fills out the paperwork.
    Vet: The New Orleans vet should have given her a 3-year rabies vaccine
    Me: Um, ok?  I'm not sure what to say about that...
 (Meanwhile, the Rotten One pulls on her leash and coughs because she chokes herself)
    Vet: Is she sick, does she have a cough?  It's very important that she not have a cough
    Me: No, she was pulling on her leash
    Vet: She looks very thin -- are you feeding her?
    Me: (this is where I snapped) Yes, I feed my dog!  (Although I did forget once last week...)

Now mind, you, this conversation is AFTER waiting an hour and a half in the vet's office with three different techs coming in with the wrong paperwork and asking me questions like "have you had her rabies titers taken?" Uhh yes, I had to do that 6 months ago.

7) You will eat pancakes and drink vodka.  I don't really know how to explain this...except that it has happened to me several times during this move.  I seem to make pancakes (to use up my flour) and drink vodka (to use up my vodka).

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Something like this (click for source)
8) You will have emotional swings -- without the hormones.  One minute you're so excited about the new adventures and 15 seconds later you're crying because you're already missing your friends (and you haven't left yet).  You're angry that the vet accused you of not feeding your dog and you're elated about the upcoming trip to Paris.  You pretty much get the privilege of an endless trip to Six Flags and riding a roller-coaster over and over again, except that it's all in your head...

9) You will suddenly care a lot about your health and grooming.  Because you are not familiar with the doctors or hair salons or whatever in the new country (not that they are bad, just unfamiliar), you will steadfastly hold on to your healthcare/grooming places in your country of origin.  So you will overschedule yourself with long overdue doctor/dentist/hair salon appointments right before you leave in order to put them off in your new country. (Note: you've never cared this much before...)  Which of course creates the additional stress of actually making it to all of those appointments  (Case in point, in 30 minutes I have to leave for the hair salon.  Last week it was dentist and dermatologist)

10) You will obsess over something insignificant as an avoidance tactic.  I seem to be choosing a candle to obsess over.  For some reason I feel like I NEED this candle, but can't figure out if it can go in the sea crate or if I have to pack it in my luggage to take on the boat.  I have been obsessing about this for days and can't seem to close the loop on the decision.  Obviously if I make a decision, then I'll have to face the *really* hard realities of moving and I clearly am not ready to do that.  So I'd like to just hang on to my candle obsession for now.  Thanks.
6/3/2011 04:40:00 pm

Re: 9 - every time I go home I visit my heath and hygiene people. haircuts, dentist appts, etc... you gotta keep them in the phonebook for when you go home, you know!

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Alegria
6/4/2011 12:16:32 pm

I too have taken a sudden interest in my health so much so they now know me by name at the local "emergency" walk-in clinic (moving to a country without social healthcare is an emergency in my books!).

Reply
6/5/2011 06:19:46 am

This is why expats are such fun.
Re #2: I hope your new kitchen is big enough.
Re #4: The crazy bit, it's been tried, often. There are great stories.
Re #8: Sorry to say, only the details will change. The breakdowns will still come, just about different things.
Re #9: When you stop having appointments at home is how you tell when you've really moved overseas.

Reply
6/6/2011 05:23:13 pm

Oh I remember the meltdowns well! Just hang in there and keep drinking that vodka :-) xo

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