My Expat Journals – Part 1

When I first moved to the UK, I wanted to document the process – everything from preparing for my visa to selling everything I owned to actually getting on the plane.  In my previous (private) blog, I documented this across three parts, and have been asked a number of times recently to discuss what my actual experience was moving abroad.

This is Part 1.

I didn’t want to do it, but I did.  I gave in.  I bought a damn suitcase.  Do you know how much this goes against everything I believe in?  Not the purchase of the suitcase, but having to pay for baggage, especially checked baggage.

I realized the night before I was to leave that there were some items that I really wanted to bring that just wouldn’t fit in a 40 litre hiking bag.

Before I could commit or convince myself I actually needed a suitcase, I went to 5 suitcase stores.  I was appalled to see how much these big bastards cost!  I would have to pay a mini-fortune for one and then another mini-fortune to have it checked.  The travel industry is out to get us!  Finally settling on the cheapest one I could find in Wal-Mart, that had the strangest hint of petrol, I drug it home and promptly ignored it.

The morning of my departure, you know, to move across the Atlantic, I got up and did my normal stuff.  I went to the market for breakfast, went to the dry cleaners to pick up a top I had forgotten about, and went into the office for a few hours.  All before packing.  Needing to leave for the airport around 6:30, I decided to start packing at 4 pm.  Torture.

Not knowing what to pack or what I really needed/wanted, I ended up arbitrarily squeezing things into the suitcase and my hiking bag.  What wouldn’t fit, went into a donation bag (that I’m sure my mother still is holding onto in her closet/is wearing half of).  Finally, with the biggest, most overweight suitcase in the world, I made my little brother drag it to the car.

At the airport, the Air Canada attendant checking me in made a joke about my big bag and asked me how long I was travelling for. I told her at least 2 years and explained the work visa.  She started pumping me for information because she’s also applying soon!  Because of our bond, she waved the fee for my luggage (both checked and over weight … and it was about 40lbs overweight).

After I had the awkward hugs and people crying like they’d never see me again, I went through security with my little hiking bag and got ready to start my new adventure.  It didn’t really feel real, that I was going away for so long, until we were boarding.  I was walking across the tarmac and realized “shit, I have no idea when I’ll breath in the smelly, salty, SJ air.”  Even still, I hopped on the plane like I was going on some sort of magical adventure and got ready to depart.

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