Packing Up

And Letting Go

It takes six months to pack up, six months to unpack – David Pollock, Third Culture Kids

Mentally, emotionally, literally – Pollock, the late expert on nomadic expat life was right. When I left Australia in 2002, it was an exit I knew was a long time coming. Travel was all I ever dreamed of doing. And, months before I gave notice in each job overseas, I realised that I was emotionally ready to leave. Sometimes it was due to visas running out, other times because with families ever-growing and changing, the time was just right. Now, after three years here, I know it’s time to go. Mentally, I have been coming to terms with the exit for months, planning how to wrap up work projects, working out what jobs big or small, need attention. Making and checking off a list of sightseeing and experiences to finally do. Pollock is spot on – much as it does take months to emotionally plant your roots in the new destination and feel connected, likewise, the emotional pack up, the mental preparation to leave, equally doesn’t happen overnight. After so much practice, moving here, moving there, I’m still in amazement of how well it’s going. Continue reading

Taking Stock

In the Middle East, life can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, you live a charmed expat life earning good money, travelling, learning about other cultures and speaking more than one language. On the other hand, you could be gone in an instant at the whim of your employer. By instant I mean – out of the country within 24 hours. I have known a few people over the years to receive such quick exits; when I left my last Middle East position I had one week’s notice, but was given no free time to pack up and had to lie about my departure time so I could get dropped at a hotel early, where I packed everything I’d stuffed into shopping bags that day into suitcases better suited for my flight home.

To this day the weight of that knowledge firmly rests in the back of my mind, although my carefully chosen employers are not that fickle and I like that most of their staff are long-term permanent residents. Still, it’s one thing knowing you arrived with a couple of suitcases, it’s another to look around your apartment at the life you have made and home you’ve built, and try to determine how much you have and what you would take with you if you ever faced the situation. Continue reading