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Expat Life

Expat, Packing

Unpacking Memories

June 26, 2017

Unpacking Memories

My jet lag fog is lifting and the stomach bug that hit me a few days after landing is finally over, which meant that I needed to tackle the six suitcases I brought home. The big issue with this is that I really don’t have a place of my own to put all the stuff I brought back. Unlike many expats and nomads, I don’t have a storage unit. My few possessions live in a building on my parent’s property, in what we call “The Office.”

Before coming home, I had asked my Mom to clear some room in the closet and a drawer for me so I wouldn’t have to live out of suitcase for the month I would be home. She hadn’t gotten around to it by the time I arrived. Which ended up being good as yesterday she and I went through what used to be my old closet and unpacked some memories together.

The closet is now a mash-up of her off-season clothes, my nieces hand me downs, and clothes that have sentimental value. My prom dress is there. My Mom’s first formal is in there. All my sister and my oldest niece cheerleading jackets are in there. So with each handful, my Mom pulled out, we would say, “Remember this!” or she would say “You never saw this costume.” We had a great time looking at things we hadn’t seen in awhile.

Then there were the things my Mom hadn’t seen from my travels and Qatar. While I am not a big souvenir buyer, I do occasionally buy things. I have also been gifted many things over the years. We oooh’d and aahh’d over these things as they were unpacked only for most of the to be packed again. I am mostly sad that all my lovely things will not be on display again.

Memories continued when I took some things down to the office for long term storage. I found some knee high heeled boots from my New York days. They promptly went in the trash as the leather had dried out. I returned Christmas decorations that had been taken to Qatar to their box and admired the ones I hadn’t seen in awhile. I went through a few boxes and decided it was time to let go of a few things in them as well.

So many people have commented on the fact that I have gotten rid of so much stuff when I left Qatar, but that is just it. It is just stuff. I am sure that when I return home again, I will have forgotten half the things I have packed away on this trip. Just like those boots I had forgotten about!

What memories would you like to unpack?

Expat, Prep, Qatar

Packing is Tedious!

June 5, 2017

Packing is tedious

Packing to go on a trip is stressful, at least for me. I make lists and usually pack a few days before just in case I have forgotten anything. So imagine packing your entire life up to move back to your home country! The packing is not only stressful, but it is tedious.

Every item that is in your house has to have a decision made about it. Every pen, every piece of paper, every book and magazine has to be touched and a decision made. Do I keep it, toss it, donate it or sell it? Obviously, storing anything is not an option.

Then you realize whatever you decide to keep has to fit into your suitcases since I am not using a shipping company to send my stuff back. This means you really have to get brutal with the keep, toss or donate decision. I am only taking my favorite clothes, shoes, books and the few souvenirs I have collected. I am hoping to go in four or five checked suitcases.

Why so little? Well, I technically don’t have a place to live in the US. All my things will go into storage at my parent’s house along with all the stuff that is in storage there already. I am very lucky they have enough space to keep my stuff, and I don’t have to pay for storage while I am on my long trip.

I know some people would have a hard time purging so much of their stuff because we all become so attached to the things we own. However, I did this when I moved to Qatar, and except for some furniture and one pair of shoes, I don’t remember a single thing I got rid of. Honestly, individual items of clothes and knickknacks, I have no idea what I owned now. So, I don’t miss those things at all.

After this move, I will write a whole post on how I have done this. Have you ever given away or sold most of your things when moving? Do you find packing tedious?

Expat, Prep, Qatar, Travel

Pre-Repatriation Blues?

April 24, 2017

Pre-repatriation

Many expats talk about the repatriation blues after they return to their home country. It can be hard to adjust to life back in your own country since it is now not the normal or having the excitement of moving to a new country. I have what I am calling the pre-repatriation blues.

The What?

Since I am not technically repatriating, I am not even sure this is the right term! I am only returning to my home country to store my stuff and see my family. I am sad to be leaving Qatar. A few times right after I gave notice, I had the feeling I had made a mistake and that I shouldn’t go. It is hard to describe what I was feeling. It was a mix of anxiety, fear, and self-doubt. What was I thinking quitting this well-paid exotic local job? Then reality set in that, for me, living to work isn’t how I want to live my life.

Then came the reaction to my post about quitting my job. I expected some sad reactions and a few supportive ones. I expected the people who disagreed with what I was doing would not say anything. Most of that happened, but I was overwhelmed by the statements of support not only from friends and family but total strangers. Then the sadness really set in as the more people you tell, the more disappointed friends, coworkers and students I encountered. They aren’t disappointed that I am traveling, but that I can’t stay and travel from Qatar. I have been on the verge of tears many times. One student insists on giving me a hug every time I see her. Who wouldn’t be sad to leave after all the outpouring of love!

Just like with everything else, time helps. Every week gets easier, and I get a few more things checked off the long list of to-dos before I go. That last day, though, I am trying not to think about it.

It Would Be Easier to Stay

Part of these “blues” are because it would be easier to just stay in Qatar. So many things have to be done to be able to leave Qatar. The biggest thing for me is selling my car, which I managed to do yesterday. Because people leave Qatar in cycles around the school year, selling your car in the Spring can be difficult, and you are most likely not going to get as much money for it as you wanted. The other part of this is fielding the calls from people who know that you have to sell the car and making ridiculous offers for the car. I had some people be very rude as well. Like somehow, I owed them the car since they were willing to make an offer! (We won’t talk about the fact that I was also emotionally attached to my car!)

The next hurdle to jump is closing your bank account. That sounds so simple in theory. Go in and close it, right? Not so fast. First, you have to cancel your credit card. Credit cards here are attached to your bank account, so I can’t close my account till the credit card has been cleared for 45 days. Since I never picked up the credit card or activated it should be reasonable that I shouldn’t have to wait the 45 days, but no! So now I won’t be able to close my bank account until some time in late May. It isn’t the end of the world, but something I could take care of now.

Qatar uses a sponsorship system for expats working in the country. Basically, my company sponsors me to be in the country. Part of that includes getting a residence permit. This also has to be canceled before I go. My company needs ten business days to do that. Then once it is canceled, I have seven days to leave Qatar. Not stressful at all! This means I will leave four days after my last day of work. Again, it isn’t bad as I have started to pack, but it adds some pressure.

And I wouldn’t have to say goodbye!

Packing and Purging

The other part of all this is that I am determined to return to the US in my suitcases and not have to ship anything home. I am ruthless when it comes to getting rid of my possessions. Five bags of clothes and shoes have gone out the door and countless bags of paper trash. The rest of it will be sold or given away before I leave.

Packing has already begun, so that is the least stressful part about this whole situation. It also means I should know if I will need to ship some stuff. The only hard part will be getting it all to the airport.

Have you moved back home after being an expat? Did you have pre-repatriation blues?

Expat, Qatar, Travel

I Quit My Job!

April 10, 2017

I quit my jobHow do you know when it is time to leave your expat job? Expats around the world ask this over and over and most expats will tell you that you will just know. And it’s true. I knew a little while back it was time to leave Qatar and so about two weeks ago, I quit my job. At the end of June, I will leave Qatar.

Why

This was not an easy decision for me to make. The weekend before I gave noticed, I called my parents in a panic saying “This is a dumb decision, right?!” They assured me it wasn’t. My parents have been extremely supportive of this decision, as they have been with most of the decision I have made in my life. I know that if I don’t do it now, I may never get up the nerve to do this.

There isn’t a specific reason for leaving, it was definitely a feeling of it was time to go. I have had the feeling before now several times and the feeling just wasn’t going away. Qatar has been a great place to live for almost four years. My job is great and so are my coworkers. Trust me this decision would have been much easier if I hated my job or my coworkers were terrible. I like them so much, that I had huge anxiety about telling them. I have been at this job longer than any job I have ever had and that is saying a lot for me.

I will miss Qatar and everyone I have gotten to know. One of the hardest things is knowing that I may never see some of these people again.

What’s Next

You may be wondering where my next job is or if I am moving home. But I will tell you there is no next job or repatriation for me. In my typical, not do anything normal way, I have decided to travel for a while. Yes, I am going to be one of those crazy people who quits their job to travel!

This isn’t my first quit my job without another job venture and everything ended up fine with those too. I have an idea of what I want to do for work, but it may not work out or something else may come along. I want to give the blog more focus and see what if I can make it pay some bills. It may never be my full-time job, but I will never know if I don’t give this crazy thing a chance.

So, Where To

That is the next question everyone has asked after hearing my plans. Nailing down a plan for long-term travel is hard and I want to not have a plan, but the planner in me is having a hard time with that!

First, I will go home for a month because I have to dump all my stuff somewhere. Thanks, Mom and Dad, again! Then I head to London for a month. It has been over 20 years since I have been there and I am dying to go back. As you can see, I am planning on spending longer stretches of time in places. There are several reasons for this. One is that it is cheaper to stay somewhere long term than it is to stay somewhere short term. The other is that I really want to get to know the place and see it more as a local would.

There are other things planned, but I want to keep my plans to myself for the moment. Don’t worry, I will tell you eventually! You will just have to keep reading to find out what those plans are.

 

 

 

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