Help! I want a change! What is this expat life all about??!

Apart from the obvious – international experience, your kids having friends from across the globe, and the opportunity to travel….Here are some other really cool things about being an expat

  1. You meet an entire new set of friends who are (mostly) like-minded, and want to do something different, travel, and are open to new experiences and take the journey that is life on a big ride. These people talk less (generally) about the mundane and generally get less wrapped up in sweating the small stuff. They spend far more energy on planning their next holiday or travel adventure than remodeling their kitchen, for example.
  2. You may learn a new language – or at least the basics of another language (the latter is almost a given)
  3. It feels like taking a break from reality.
  4. Your life experience is broadened and you will gain a whole new perspective on so many things
  5. You still get to keep your old friends and it’s really awesome to go home and reconnect with them all!
  6. It looks good on your CV
  7. You may learn so much more about the world you may end up living somewhere you never though you would and loving it!
  8. Your friends are also your travel agents – for the best advice on where to travel next, just ask an international teacher!
  9. It is a lifestyle which enables you to live abroad and travel WITH KIDS! In fact it is a wonderful opportunity for your kids to experience all of the above and MORE.
  10. When your friends move on, it’s sad, as it is a transient lifestyle for sure – HOWEVER, you now have free crash on the couch rights to wherever in the world they move to, along with a free tour guide in their new city!
  11. You get to try LOTS of new food, and to understand how the food links into the culture as well as learning how to cook new dishes!

So if any of these things float your boat or tick your boxes, read on….

teaching abroad great way to discover the world with kids!

 

For my husband and myself, we had no interest in remodeling the bathroom or changing the colour theme in our living area, we hate doing the most basics of gardening other than growing a few veges, and we were tired of these never-ending conversations.

In terms of our careers, were bored, and we were stuck!

The never-ending monotony of living from week to week with very little savings towards a house was depressing.

So we did something about it!

Work expectations

WORK EXPECTATIONS

 What is a typical load for a teacher at the school, also what is considered a FULL teaching load, as this can change exponentially.

Also what is required in terms of extra curricular activities. Some schools require you to do one one hour ASA (after school activity) per week, others require you to cover ASA’s every day of the week! Again, this is a landmine of reasonable expectations through to, are you joking me! We had job offers where the working day started at 7am and ended at 6pm! Make sure you know what you are in for! Also note, that some schools provide all meals if you have to work late, which takes the edge off the expectations that you have to work late, if you don’t have to go home and cook.

 

Read full article here asking the tricky questions

Schooling and medical care…What to expect, and what to check for!

This blog is a section from the full blog 11 Questions to ask in your interview

SCHOOL FEES

Most schools provide free schooling for 2 kids. Some will stretch to 3 kids.

This is something important to ask and also if there are any extra costs e.g. your school fees may be paid for, but there may be other costs such as an elaborate stationary and activities fee, or a technology fee. It shouldn’t ever be a massive amount of money, but this is a consideration, particularly if you have more than one kid. Also, check that all your children are covered for their school fees, medical insurance and flights home, as some only cater for 1-2 children.

 

HEALTH CARE

Again, as above, will the health care cover your entire family? What is included and not included. Such as pre existing conditions you may need treatment for, or some policies exclude some common issues altogether, and this is generally well hidden in the small print. Some policies cover dental, others don’t. Some cover a very basic level of care, while others cater to 5 star service if you ever need it. In some cases, you can pay to upgrade the medical insurance the school give you to a better package including optical and dental or even worldwide cover so you are also covered for all your holidays. If you can do this, it may be well well worth it! I ended up needing some surgery, and while the insurance company didn’t make it easy for me, I was treated in an amazing hospital where I had my own room and facilities!

pexels-photo-905874.jpeg

Motor vehicle cover. Again, one to check, as some policies sneakily don’t cover any injury sustained in a vehicle of any kind, including your everyday car journeys, or the go-cart racing you want to do on  the weekend. Another one to check out!

Check out full article on your checklist of things to ask about before accepting an offer

5 Best Tips when deciding on your Housing – what to ask; staff accom Vs finding your own; and many other considerations…..

This is an excerpt from the full article What to ask in your interview

Housing

In most cases, and particularly in your first year, the school will provide you with Staff Housing. This is generally in a compound or an apartment block. In larger schools, they may have staff across a few apartment buildings. In other cases, they may give you an allowance to find your own housing, and put you up in a small hotel for your first few weeks until you find something.

Here’s what to ask;

1. How far away from the School is the housing?

One job we nearly took and turned down at the VERY last minute in China, was because they never mentioned until we asked more about the housing, that the Primary Campus and the Secondary were an hour apart. And the housing on the Secondary Campus. Which would have meant our daughter and myself would have had to travel by bus for 2 hours per day too and from school.  Having lived a life where nothing was really more than 10 minutes away for years, this was just too big a jump for us as a family. I know that for many this may not be an issue. But see the blog on “are you ready to become an international teacher” to see how doing a negotiable and non negotiable s list becomes really handy when he world is suddenly your oyster. We felt this should have been discussed earlier, but if you live in a massive city in China, 1 hour of travel is nothing and they didn’t consider explaining this difference in campus locations. But for us, this was a major factor. We had been in jobs where we didn’t all get home as a family until 5.30 or 6pm and we were looking for a better work/life balance which saw us all home by 5pm or earlier every day. Again, check out your list of why you want to move and what you are moving for.

2. Is the housing near any building sites or on a main noisy road?

From experience, this is a big one. Living next door or even surrounded by building sites is NOT FUN nor it is recommended. In fact this was my first question about housing with my new job. Unless you are totally immune to this kind of noise, we found this is best avoided as it can be detrimental to our health.

3. How big is the apartment/villa – how many bedrooms?

Particularly in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Singapore, the housing can be tiny. Which may suit some people, but for others it can be claustrophobic or not doable. As musicians, we have an entire room for our Music Studio and all the equipment, so needed a bigger place or an extra bedroom. In some cases, you may be able to pay the difference between a 1-2 bedroom place to a 2-3 bedroom if needed. Some of the places in Beijing didn’t even have an oven, and cooking was done on a tiny stove on the tiny balcony. In some cases, you may be better to take the allowance and find your own place.

4. (For families) Are there other kids living nearby, and are they similar ages?

This is a massive bonus for settling into your new environment. if there are heaps of other kids nearby of a similar age, particularly for primary school age kids. The advantage in working for a larger school with a a larger staff living in the same area, is the play dates galore! This will help your children settle, and help with language immersion if applicable. So if you have more than one job offer, these are the kind of things which become big considerations in your choices. Trust me, the ease of letting your 7 year old walk down the end of the apartment corridor to her friend’s place and vice versa is gold.

20150706_191735.jpg
Check out what activities are easily accessible from your new home. Keeping the kids busy with new and awesome experiences will help them settle (#bribes) into their new surroundings

 

Advantages of staff housing verses finding your own accommodation.

In your first year abroad, if the staff accom is suited to your needs, then then is definitely a good idea to go with the staff accom. It means you have that support of other teachers and their families literally at your doorstep. This is incredibly comforting once you have made connections within the team. It’s also wonderful for after work drinks, as you don’t even need to taxi home! On site babysitters if there are teenagers about wanting to make a bit of cash, and great opportunities for sleep overs for the kids. Take turns looking after each other’s kids so the parents get a date  night!

A single friend of mine actually described the experience like boarding school for adults but with alcohol and freedom #awesome.

Also great when you suddenly realize you need a teaspoon of baking soda, a thermometer and emergency kids pamol because you dropped the glass bottle of it and it smashed everywhere and your kid has a fever, someone to help you lift something, or open a jar when your husband is out and the damn thing just won’t open……..you get the idea! Essentially, having people you know close by who will become your new family and support network is gold.

i feel I should add some negatives to be aware of though to ensure I am notating the experience correctly. Cliques, little privacy and being left out.

Generally the bottom line is people will help you out if you are in need, such as drive you to the hospital or take care of your kids if you need to rush off to the doctor. However, as is human nature, people can form cliques. This can be tricky if a heap of the other families go off on an adventure and your kid is one of the few not attending as you’re family unit is not in the ‘cool’ club. This can be hard. Especially the first day back at school when all the kids are talking about their camping trip or beach adventure, and your kid realises all the other kids have been having a great time together and she wasn’t invited. It is also hard to have a small party at your home without making people feel left out, so it goes both ways. It may be easier to invite everyone, knowing that people who you don’t really like may turn up as well, but better that than having people left out. There is also the small town mentality of gossip as well which can be like a plague upon all your apartments. And really really tedious.

So the basic run down of to take staff housing or take the allowance and find your own place. What is right for you and your family depends on how well you know the area and would you feel confident enough to find a place of your own? Or go the easier option of ready provided staff digs. If you are a very private person who likes their own space, then finding your own spot might work best. If you have a couple of kids, and the staff accom has heaps of other kids similar ages, then go towards the staff accom like a moth to a porch light.

teaching-abroad
Or when the moth decides that YOUR FACE is a great place to hang out!! What to expect, experiences travelling the globe while working as an international teacher

This is an excerpt from the full article What to ask in your interview This link will take you there….

Adding your Interntational Travels and Overseas Experiences to your CV

Including your international travels in your CV, and reflecting on how much these have actually taught you, could actually help you land that job!

 

Including your international travels in your CV, and reflecting on how much these have actually taught you, could actually help you land that job!

If you think about this process of hiring an international school teacher, or someone to work for your company from overseas, the meer fact that that person has at the very least dabbled in international travel is a big thing.

So be sure to let your employer know through your CV or mention it if it comes up in your interview process!

IMGP6553

Maybe limit/edit the stories of your time in Amsterdam though!

Culture Shock is a real thing, and the basics of adjusting to a new way of life can be taxing, and any travel you have done previously will help you in this process.

IMG_2494.JPG
Taking in the Bali temples, Ubud, Bali

This is especially helpful if it was for a decent period of time. Backpacking, attending a yoga retreat in India, or a holiday where you skipped from one place to another, with neither a plan nor detailed itinerary. Unfortunately, that package holiday where everything was planned out for you and you planted yourself by the pool in the resort and barely left it, isn’t going to help you as much as the aforementioned types of travel.

It is no hidden truth that many people become international teachers so that they can travel the world.

It is a wonderful way to travel the world. You get to immerse yourself in a new culture, having already set up employment before you leave the shores of your homeland. Also, many schools have staff accommodations or have a fairly robust system to get you into accommodation once you get there by supplying you first few weeks accommodation close by the school and then giving you a housing allowance, and recommending agents who the school has worked with who won’t rip you off. They often pay some (if not all, depending on how much you are bringing) of your shipping costs, and some schools give a setting up allowance, to assist you to buy furniture and appliances for your new home abroad. The setting up allowance, rarely covers everything you will need, but it will definitely be a start.

Travels always come with new learning; how to negotiate an entirely foreign transport system, how to plan ahead, how to adapt when the plans need to change suddenly, how to communicate when you don’t have a handle on the language or only know a few words, and how to navigate both literally through winding alleys, or spaghetti junctions, and navigating your own existence within different cultures and different ways of doing things.

IMGP6383.JPG
Navigating the locks, while living on and “Driving” a canal boat in England

So be sure to add this to your professional experience, or perhaps create a brand new sub title in your CV labeled “International Experience’. From an employers point of view, if you have never worked overseas, but spent 9 weeks backpacking south east Asia, or 3 months in Eastern Europe, you are showing that employer you are adaptable, courageous, a risk taker and above all, know what it is like to be suddenly thrust into a land of unknown and new experiences (and survive it). All things that are very important to this new adventure in your life!

International Teaching? Because you deserve it!

WHY BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL TEACHER? – GOSH DAMN IT, BECAUSE YOU DESERVE IT!

I know of people who say, oh yeah, get qualified on tax payer money, teach for a few years and then leave for overseas……thanks a lot….

So here, I’ll alleviate the guilt for you…..

  • Firstly, I’m almost certain not many of us had our education paid for us! I’ve only just managed to pay my student loans off after nearly 20 years! Secondly, I’ve never heard that used for ANY other profession.

I’ve never heard of a management exec of entrepreneur being slandered for leaving their home country where they were educated and honed their craft and skills?

  • Secondly, teachers are some of the hardest working individuals I know. Yes we get good holidays, no one is denying this, but they are much needed mental health breaks to COPE with the profession. I challenge anyone to work under the stress of a teacher’s load every day and still smile and be diplomatic as **** when Sally’s mum questions why her maths scores aren’t where she thinks they should be at 5pm when you are trying to actually go home and eat something wholesome for the first time today.
20150121_152011.jpg
Ready for parent teacher interactions….or perhaps the race track?

 

Teachers teach because they are passionate about what they do and they genuinely want to make a difference in the world and care for the next generation.

I’m sure I’m on the same page as many of you, that we are on a bit of a quest to save the planet as we nurture the skills, respect, kindness and understanding of the next generation as best as we can. 

  • Thirdly, it’s time for people to respect the profession again. I’m not shy about saying that, in an international school, most of the time, the parents and students are more respectful of their education (probably having something to do with having to pay large sums of money for it also, but also because they value their education). Some teachers go off and volunteer to teach for pretty much FREE in third world communities where they are a teaching some of the very first generations to ever get any kind of formal education. This shows how much respect the learning and gratitude towards teachers is valued, and is sorely needed back at home. If i read one more angry post from a Facebook comment about how it is the school’s fault or the teacher’s fault for a behaviour also issue, well, I’ll say no more, as I know you all feel the same way!

 

  • Fourthly, I love the argument of “but there’s not enough teachers here, and now you’re leaving too?” 

Let’s be honest folks, we’ve been telling governments for YEARS of the impending shortages. We’ve seen them coming, principals have seen the droves of teachers leaving the profession and the amount of time people spend within the profession after becoming qualified is dwindling drastically. Because it’s hard, and there is little respect for those in the jobs, and many are now leaving as they literally can’t make ends meet on a teacher’s salary. Not that this isn’t the case for many other professions, and the widening pay gap and living standards in most countries are leading people towards jobs they enjoy less or are not passionate about, so they can pay the bills and have any hope to save for a house or their retirement.

So, if you are interested in tackling a new adventure and want to know more about it, click on these links below

IMG_3940
Teaching overseas has allowed us to fulfill some life long dreams.  Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Click here for the top reasons to become an international teacher..

What to ask in your interview- Don’t be afraid to ask the tricky questions!

Many of us come from a job market with jobs are scarce and we used to essentially agreeing to all of the terms and conditions or anything that your employer asks, just in order to get a foot in the door, to get a job.

 

free housing when you teach abroad
Be very clear of the details of your accommodation, ask for pictures, location and what is around the area.

This is not one of those times. You need to be absolutely clear about what the terms are, where the housing is, if all schooling is provided for ALL of your children, what are any extra schooling costs. What are the expectations for work and in particular – extra-curricular activities, what the health care is and whether they can provide you a link to check it out, and exactly what/who you will be teaching!

Getting a job in an overseas market this is not just taking a job maybe half an hour for the down the road from your home. This is a massive undertaking involving leaving your family and your friends behind, generally selling off most of your personal belongings and furniture, if not everything. This is the time to be very specific about what the job you be getting in the overseas market actually is.

Be aware, very aware

The last thing you want to do is arrive in the country thinking, for example, you would be teaching senior music to discover that most of your days will be spent in the preschool and with grade 2s and 3s on tambourines  and maracas, or even worse….7 classes of cheap screeching recorder playing 6 year olds slammed into your timetable every week. Not that there is ANYTHING wrong with teaching a younger group, unless you’ve never done it, don’t enjoy it, and when you are used to running Jazz bands, rock bands which win national awards and Reggae bands who graduate school and tour as professional musicians!

Be specific. Don’t assume just because they HAVE senior music/art/drama/French/Spanish etc, (and that is your specialist area, and you discuss this at length in your interview) that you will be teaching it. The trickiest thing about International Schools is that there are often people with agendas, and there isn’t much you can do once you have signed and moved half way across the globe. In between you signing, and arriving, so many things can go down. So make sure that your contract states WHAT you will be teaching to WHOM or at least follow up with an email thanking them for the offer, and noting the items and specifics you discussed within the interview.

Of course, it goes without saying, do all of this respectfully!

So if you are a primary school teacher and you love teaching grades four and five and you would be OK to teach grade three but you really really don’t want to teach grade one or two then you need to make that clear. This HELPS your employer as well. There is nothing worse then turning up in a completely foreign country to your new job to find out that it isn’t what you thought it was. Your employer has spent a lot of money and time recruiting you, they want you to be happy! It makes economical sense. Also many changes occur last minute, e.g someone can’t return or has to drop out of their contract as a parent has fallen ill and they need to return home to care for them, for example. If your employer knows that you will be entirely unhappy teaching their grade 1 when they do a shuffle of positions to cover this gaping hole, then they won’t consider shifting you, but it may work out that they had you in Grade 3, and suddenly a Grade 5 class has opened up and if they know that that is your strongest suit in teaching, they may indeed change you to there. There is often a last minute shuffle of new recruits. And trust me, being in an entirely new world  in an international setting can be unsettling enough, without any extra surprises.

IMG_3485.JPG

Your employer will respect you for asking these kinds of questions it shows that you have really thought through the process of moving services to new teaching position.

Most international schools also deal with last minute changes of staff. This is something that is simply excepted in the industry.  In saying all of this one of the biggest things in anyone’s personality that will help any teacher in an international seating is adaptability and flexibility.

Housing

In most cases, and particularly in your first year, the school will provide you with Staff Housing. This is generally in a compound or an apartment block. In larger schools, they may have staff across a few apartment buildings. In other cases, they may give you an allowance to find your own housing, and put you up in a small hotel for your first few weeks until you find something.

Here’s what to ask;

1. How far away from the School is the housing?

One job we nearly took and turned down at the VERY last minute in China, was because they never mentioned until we asked more about the housing, that the Primary Campus and the Secondary were an hour apart. And the housing on the Secondary Campus. Which would have meant our daughter and myself would have had to travel by bus for 2 hours per day too and from school.  Having lived a life where nothing was really more than 10 minutes away for years, this was just too big a jump for us as a family. I know that for many this may not be an issue. But see the blog on “are you ready to become an international teacher” to see how doing a negotiable and non negotiable s list becomes really handy when he world is suddenly your oyster. We felt this should have been discussed earlier, but if you live in a massive city in China, 1 hour of travel is nothing and they didn’t consider explaining this difference in campus locations. But for us, this was a major factor. We had been in jobs where we didn’t all get home as a family until 5.30 or 6pm and we were looking for a better work/life balance which saw us all home by 5pm or earlier every day. Again, check out your list of why you want to move and what you are moving for.

2. Is the housing near any building sites or on a main noisy road?

From experience, this is a big one. Living next door or even surrounded by building sites is NOT FUN nor it is recommended. In fact this was my first question about housing with my new job. Unless you are totally immune to this kind of noise, we found this is best avoided as it can be detrimental to our health.

3. How big is the apartment/villa – how many bedrooms?

Particularly in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Singapore, the housing can be tiny. Which may suit some people, but for others it can be claustrophobic or not doable. As musicians, we have an entire room for our Music Studio and all the equipment, so needed a bigger place or an extra bedroom. In some cases, you may be able to pay the difference between a 1-2 bedroom place to a 2-3 bedroom if needed. Some of the places in Beijing didn’t even have an oven, and cooking was done on a tiny stove on the tiny balcony. In some cases, you may be better to take the allowance and find your own place.

4. (For families) Are there other kids living nearby, and are they similar ages?

This is a massive bonus for settling into your new environment. if there are heaps of other kids nearby of a similar age, particularly for primary school age kids. The advantage in working for a larger school with a a larger staff living in the same area, is the play dates galore! This will help your children settle, and help with language immersion if applicable. So if you have more than one job offer, these are the kind of things which become big considerations in your choices. Trust me, the ease of letting your 7 year old walk down the end of the apartment corridor to her friend’s place and vice versa is gold.

20150706_191735.jpg
Check out what activities are easily accessible from your new home. Keeping the kids busy with new and awesome experiences will help them settle (#bribes) into their new surroundings

 

Advantages of staff housing verses finding your own accommodation.

In your first year abroad, if the staff accom is suited to your needs, then then is definitely a good idea to go with the staff accom. It means you have that support of other teachers and their families literally at your doorstep. This is incredibly comforting once you have made connections within the team. It’s also wonderful for after work drinks, as you don’t even need to taxi home! On site babysitters if there are teenagers about wanting to make a bit of cash, and great opportunities for sleep overs for the kids. Take turns looking after each other’s kids so the parents get a date  night!

A single friend of mine actually described the experience like boarding school for adults but with alcohol and freedom #awesome.

Also great when you suddenly realize you need a teaspoon of baking soda, a thermometer and emergency kids pamol because you dropped the glass bottle of it and it smashed everywhere and your kid has a fever, someone to help you lift something, or open a jar when your husband is out and the damn thing just won’t open……..you get the idea! Essentially, having people you know close by who will become your new family and support network is gold.

i feel I should add some negatives to be aware of though to ensure I am notating the experience correctly. Cliques, little privacy and being left out.

Generally the bottom line is people will help you out if you are in need, such as drive you to the hospital or take care of your kids if you need to rush off to the doctor. However, as is human nature, people can form cliques. This can be tricky if a heap of the other families go off on an adventure and your kid is one of the few not attending as you’re family unit is not in the ‘cool’ club. This can be hard. Especially the first day back at school when all the kids are talking about their camping trip or beach adventure, and your kid realises all the other kids have been having a great time together and she wasn’t invited. It is also hard to have a small party at your home without making people feel left out, so it goes both ways. It may be easier to invite everyone, knowing that people who you don’t really like may turn up as well, but better that than having people left out. There is also the small town mentality of gossip as well which can be like a plague upon all your apartments. And really really tedious.

So the basic run down of to take staff housing or take the allowance and find your own place. What is right for you and your family depends on how well you know the area and would you feel confident enough to find a place of your own? Or go the easier option of ready provided staff digs. If you are a very private person who likes their own space, then finding your own spot might work best. If you have a couple of kids, and the staff accom has heaps of other kids similar ages, then go towards the staff accom like a moth to a porch light.

teaching-abroad
Or when the moth decides that YOUR FACE is a great place to hang out!! What to expect, experiences travelling the globe while working as an international teacher

 

 

SCHOOL fees

Most schools provide free schooling for 2 kids. Some will stretch to 3 kids.

This is something important to ask and also if there are any extra costs e.g. your school fees may be paid for, but there may be other costs such as an elaborate stationary and activities fee, or a technology fee. It shouldn’t ever be a massive amount of money, but this is a consideration, particularly if you have more than one kid. Also, check that all your children are covered for their school fees, medical insurance and flights home, as some only cater for 1-2 children.

 

Health care

Again, as above, will the health care cover your entire family? What is included and not included. Such as pre existing conditions you may need treatment for, or some policies exclude some common issues altogether, and this is generally well hidden in the small print. Some policies cover dental, others don’t. Some cover a very basic level of care, while others cater to 5 star service if you ever need it. In some cases, you can pay to upgrade the medical insurance the school give you to a better package including optical and dental or even worldwide cover so you are also covered for all your holidays. If you can do this, it may be well well worth it! I ended up needing some surgery, and while the insurance company didn’t make it easy for me, I was treated in an amazing hospital where I had my own room and facilities!

pexels-photo-905874.jpeg

Motor vehicle cover. Again, one to check, as some policies sneakily don’t cover any injury sustained in a vehicle of any kind, including your everyday car journeys, or the go-cart racing you want to do on  the weekend. Another one to check out!

Work expectations

 What is a typical load for a teacher at the school, also what is considered a FULL teaching load, as this can change exponentially.

Also what is required in terms of extra curricular activities. Some schools require you to do one one hour ASA (after school activity) per week, others require you to cover ASA’s every day of the week! Again, this is a landmine of reasonable expectations through to, are you joking me! We had job offers where the working day started at 7am and ended at 6pm! Make sure you know what you are in for! Also note, that some schools provide all meals if you have to work late, which takes the edge off the expectations that you have to work late, if you don’t have to go home and cook.

 

To sum up

it is reasonable to expect good to great health care, and if you come from the UK, NZ,  Aussie or many other countries where you generally relied on state health care, you will be excited to find that you can make that specialist appointment for tomorrow, rather than be on a never ending waiting list.

you can expect the school to provide full schooling for 2 kids, you may have to negotiate if you have 3 or more kids, and many schools simply do not cover beyond 2.

your package should include flights to your new home, and an annual flight to your ‘home-home’ for your whole family. Some schools will provide to nearest international airport and some include the internal regional flights as well which is a massive bonus if you live far from the big smoke in your country.

work expectations vary greatly and it’s impossible to take in all the factors. Some schools give you what appears a lighter work load, but then you realize you have 5 duties a week and 2 after school programmes to do, as well as expectations to organise multiple events/camps/school performances etc. So try to ask all of these questions,  but without wanting to sound like you want the smallest hours possible. As a drama teacher, this is a sore point for me, as most schools expect you to do a normal load, as many duties as everyone else, and run a production which means every lunchtime is taken with rehearsals for 3-5 months or more, many many after school and weekends with rehearsals, painting sets, designing lighting plots etc. So I like to state my case as a previous professional director who needs reasonable time allowances to create an amazing product for the school.

IMGP7092.JPG

 

 

 

 

How did we get here?!

Just over 2 years ago, we arrived in the sandpit we now call home, well, one of our homes. The process of getting here is still very vivid. We had done a dream board – you know, like Oprah tells you to do, of sorts.

We wrote down where we wanted to be in 10 years and in 20 years.

We then brainstormed all our options to get there. Including all manner of crazy ideas, like starting online businesses and living in the depths of Bali in a tree hut with Wi-Fi.

In the end, to be honest, we picked one of the easiest options, becoming an International Teacher. As the school organise your visa, often your housing and the schooling for your kids! Also it is a more secure way to earn income and travel the world.

school-holidays-working-abroad-international-teaching
School Holidays are no longer, going camping or hours in a car with fed up kids to visit the inlaws, they are a challenging experience of where shall we go next! Hoi An, Vietnam.

We were already at that place where we wanted, no NEEDED change and were willing to jump into the ring and take on the challenges of a new life and a life abroad. As Brene Brown states in her book “Rising Strong”, one only enters the ring if one is prepared to take a fall or to fail. Admittedly, many of the other “rings” or scenarios on our dream board posed a much higher chance of big gains or big failure.

So like any risk, we weighed up the options. We went with one of the roads a little more traveled and a safer option for anyone with a family.

20150403_123707.jpg

Here are some things I think will help anyone seeking a change and who are looking into the option of International Teaching;

  1. Talk to other’s who have done it! You will, undoubtedly know someone who knows someone who is/was an international teacher, or at the very least, living the expat life. Talk to them, connect with them on FB and ask them their story. Everyone has a different story, but every story has something unique for you to hear and learn. THere are many expat pages on Facebook, see if you can join any of these in cities that you are looking to move to, these are an invaluable place of real-time information.
  2. Go through an agency such as Search Associates. This removes a GREAT DEAL of risk. Companies such as Seek, Teach Abroad etc do not always check or vet their schools, whereas Search does. As they quote themselves, there are well over 6,000 International Schools out there. They deal with around 2,000! And there is a good reason for this. 
  3. People will tell you everything is wrong and scary beyond the shores of home, don’t listen to them! See note 1, ask people who are/have lived overseas. The people who will tout that moving overseas is dangerous and crazy, are generally those who have ventured very limited miles past their own city. THis is named by people who live as expats as the CNN experience.Where people who know of a place, only by what they have seen on the news. And as we all know, there is next to no reporting of happy or good news from, well, anywhere!
  4. Ensure that you are definitely ready to make the leap of faith and move overseas. Is it worth missing a close relative’s wedding, an 60th, a christening or a damn good family or friend’s party for? This is the cold hard reality of selling up, packing ya bags and jumping on that plane. In many cases, International Schools are pretty lenient in letting you have unpaid leave to fly home for a long weekend to attend something big, but financially, depending on how far from home you are, this can be a big consideration of whether it is worth it. Also, are you ready to make a whole new set of friends and support network? If so, start packing baby! 
  5. Have you considered all your options. Make sure that it isn’t just a new job in a new city in your existing homeland isn’t what you really need or might work better for your family.
  6. How will this affect your children? If you have any, if not, congratulations, this just got a whole heap easier, skip to #7. Of course, this is one which is the forefront of any conversations about moving.

I can tell you from experience and from talking to others and seeing other families go through this change, that, as a general rule, children adapt much better than we do. We are good a sheltering them from the daily hassles of the new life, so generally they are free to meet new friends, take in new surroundings and have fun!

IMG_2510.JPG

Also the wealth of life experiences and living the international life is undoubtedly an amazing gift to give them. I can say, however, that teenagers sometimes do not adapt as well. I repeat *sometimes*. If this adventure means taking them out of their comfort zone and away from their friends for the first time, at this stage of life it can be rough. However, if they have already traveled a lot or moved from city to city before, then they might adapt better. Some people I know have had back up plans, such as options of living with grandparents or aunts back home, just in case. But, when all is weighed up, it is down to the individual kids and teens. Show them pictures, talk about what it might feel like, or what you might experience emotionally, physically (e.g. is it much hotter or colder where you are going), and the wonderful experiences you might gain.

7. We quickly up-skilled our global knowledge with this experience. Once we decided that International Teaching was DEFINITELY for us, then we had to decide where! The most important aspects we looked into, for us, were;

    1. Access to live music, theatre and general nightlife
    2. Nothing with snow (that was my *must* – I love snow, but I like to go to it, I don’t appreciate it coming TO me)
    3. Good balance of income with living costs – of course, we could have earned much more in places such as Saudi, but we didn’t want to take such a hit on how that might limit our social lives and access to things.
    4. Political stability
    5. Good health care
    6. Easy to travel to and from – some destinations are amazing, until you realize you will spend all your extra earned money getting to and from that place. Dubai was a very easy pick with the largest airport in the world with easy access to a great number of providers, making it much cheaper to fly in and out of.
    7. English is spoken. Unless you have the time/brain power to learn a new language, then there are many countries where English is the second or even third language of most residents. These places are much easier to travel within and to get things done – such as pay a bill or make enquires about things in person or over the phone.

Once you have your list of what you are looking for, then it narrows the search.

You may want to have a negotiable and non-negotiable chart and search for countries which tick the boxes for you.

So, in a nutshell, this is why we chose to become international teachers and the process we took to make it happen. I have blogs also on what to expect in the interview process, How to survive a job fair and many more related fields.

blur cartography close up concept
Photo by slon_dot_pics on Pexels.com

How do I deal with Homesickness?

10 tips for dealing with homesickness

Firstly, give yourself a break if you are feeling homesick. This is a totally normal part of living abroad. Remember, the challenges you are taking on head on to forge our this journey, adventure or chance to get financially ahead, are always there, and they are, challenges!

Sometimes these feelings of homesickness can creep up a little bit at a time, and sometimes you just want to grab your suitcase and board the plane back home right there and then.

What is homesickness?

A form of anxiety and or emotional distress which can come from 

*being totally out of routine or normality 

*or away from those you love 

*or away from your support network

*consistently facing challenges, and a feeling of being out of control

You WILL undoubtedly, have those feelings, particularly in the first few months, and especially if the expectations of what life will be like abroad does not match to the reality. This is particularly hard for children (especially teens), as well as us adults. There will be MANY challenges in the first few months as you adjust, acclimatize and assimilate into your new environment.

IMG_3119.JPG

So the first line of defense is to expect that you WILL at some stage, feel homesick!

  1. Keep some of your fav snacks from home for these occasions – especially your children’s favs for when they are missing home. Snuggle them up on the couch together and watch their fav movie while having something from home. There’s something about the magic of watching your favourite movie for the hundredth time which is very soothing no matter where you are.  This is a scenario purely for comfort, while it the gentle lull of script you know by heart, with characters so familiar they feel like home, you will undoubtably be able to use this to destress. For the adults, the same things applies! Note: if you don’t have the snacks from home, prepare a home made fav that was a regular thing in you’re previous existence, or wine, wine is always universal!
  2. Ensure you have a regular time to Skype or make contact with close family and friends (as Skype is illegal in some countries – check this out before you leave – you may be able to get a VPN). Having this regular contact makes this part of your regular routine, thus, a slice of home and normality within your week/fortnight/day. It may be tricky to match times, but you can always have fun picking a time, and making it special. For example, for a while, we were Skyping on a Friday morning, while eating breakfast while my parents in NZ were eating dinner. So it was like having a family meal together, but through the magic of the internet. The best time to contact may be your lunch break at work. So maybe every Wednesday you Skype a family member or friend then. A note with this, you will need to pick a few people only for the regular Skyping, otherwise you will spend your entire weekends on the computer!
  3. Allow yourself those feelings, accepting them as normal makes it easier to process them. Don’t think that just because you are homesick then it is a sign that you have made the wrong choice and should pack up and go home! This is PART of the adventure. And EVERYONE feels them. You are not alone, remember that. Now go and talk to someone who has been overseas working/living as an expat longer than you. This is really helpful to gain some perspective 🙂 They will tell you, that they have often felt like this (well the vast majority).
  4. Start a Blog to document your journey and all the interesting things you are doing. Anything which is out of the normal. This works two fold, as your family and friends will know what you have been up to, and it means at times when you are feeling sad about your decision to emigrate, you can read over your own blog to see what fun you have been having! It is very easy to forget these times when you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of homesickness.
  5. One of the hardest times to be away is if there is a family occasion like a wedding, birthday, 21st etc that you are unable to make it too. So try to plan to be part of the celebrations if you can by Skyping in to the event, or if it is a wedding or grandma’s 60th etc do a small family video where you wish them well and send it along to be played during the festivities. Try to plan your own special outing in the country you are in on the same day as a form of celebration. Go out to dinner and say your well wishes to whomever the celebration back home is for. 
  6. Rationalize what it is in your new environment which is causing you stress. For example, if you are from a small town (as I am), your reaction to busy roads, traffic jams and crowded noisy malls is going to be challenging. Try to limit these activities and plan your day off with a bit of this and something normal, e.g. a walk in the park or on the beach if that is possible. Any kind of nature will help your general mental health, homesickness included. Especially if you are from somewhere with lots of nature and are suddenly forced into a concrete jungle like a square peg in a round hole. 
  7. Soundscape! This is something people don’t often think about or realize really affects our wellbeing. See this Ted Talk where Julian Treasure gives a really good explanation as to why this is. https://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_the_4_ways_sound_affects_us?language=en.  But the basics of it is, with the wonder of the internet, we can help ourselves with this. Coming from NZ, there are a few vids on YouTube which are sounds of the bush. There are many the same for Australia, Canada, UK, etc. The soothing sounds of the birds native, or in prevalence to where you are from does WONDERS. Just pop it on in the background. Your mind will hear the songs and feel relaxed. This is wisdom from our ancestors, we still pick up on the sounds of birds chirping which lets our system know that ‘all is well’. This is why something as simple as playing a track with birds sounds from home will make you feel so much better. Also as a teacher, I often play this between classes, so the students walk into my classroom with bird song. This has a calming affect on them for sure! IMG_3178.JPG
  8. Before you make this massive move, search up all the fun activities to do as a tourist. We made pictures of the environment and the fun things to do nearby (and not so nearby) into a small scrapbook for our daughter so she had some pictorial reference of where we were going and some things we can do when we get there. Also include, if you can, pictures of your staff accommodation and some of the people at your new work/school before you go. Get this book out again when you have low days, look at your book, or list, of things you can do. Then go out and have fun as a tourist. NOTE: if one of your stressors is the traffic, or the transport, try to find something close so you don’t have to go through the stressor for too long or use an alternative mode (shout yourself a taxi so you don’t have to think about maps, getting lost etc).
  9. Make your nest. Put up pictures, get some nice throws or rugs in your favourite color for your environment, In short, nest. Focus on your inner world, that being your new home. Perhaps invite some of your new colleagues round for dinner. Now, you might not want to have friends over as your house is a crazy mess! But if you are working at an international school, EVERYONE knows what it is like, and most of their houses were a mess for months before they got them sorted. They certainly don’t expect it to be box and chaos free. Seriously! No one cares about the mess 🙂
  10. Go out and take 20 or even 50 photos of things in your environment. Pull crazy faces taking a selfie of something totally strange to your normality. E.g. for us, the endless men’s spas and advertising of Moroccan baths made me giggle. I had no idea what a Moroccan bath was so the humorous part of my brain just imagined getting into a bath with a large hairy Moroccan guy named Mo, to scrub your back, wondering why would you do this and why would you pay for it! Go into the strange quirky shops, the ones off the main strip. 2 week after moving to Dubai we found a wee clothing store literally packed to the ceiling with apparel, including a dress with the print, “you are my world, my everything, i am so lucky the day I found you….(it went on)….I shit love you”. We giggled for ages and took a photo of it! Basically, this forces you out and to take on a different view – through the camera, of your new environment. ~Try to not include anything which is causing you stress like a pile of rubbish!
  11. Explore a local supermarket. One of the most fascinating things about moving to a totally new world is the food on the supermarket shelves. Have a competition within your family to find the strangest new food. Pickled baby octopus, fermented fish…things that look like eyes in a jar, and you’re not so convinced they’re not! Incorporate this into the weekly local shop. Of course, be prepared to find shortfalls in what you need or normally use. It will take time to work out the alternatives and what is the same as you have at home but with an entirely different name! Hopefully you have joined the facebook group for the teachers/or colleagues and you can drop a note on that to find out where to get stuff you need. E.g. things like hulled sunflower seeds or spray bottle/can oil were 2 things we really struggled to find. Be prepared for there to be hic-ups like this.
  12. Plan your next adventure! IMG_3565.JPGOne of the best things about being an international school teacher, or living abroad, is the holidays! Whether it is a staycation to experience your new homeland or a trip to a neighboring country, or even a trip home, in the moment of homesickness, start googling the possibilities. This is a great way to connect with your new colleagues. Ask them their fav places to visit. The wonderful thing about working in an international guide is that you have EXPERTS for so many places on the globe. Where to go, where to stay, the number of an amazing tour guide or driver, the name of the most superb restaurant, tailor and more. 
  13. Exercise! It’s nothing new to know the fact that exercise helps the state of mind. You may not feel like exercising at all, but if you are able to combine this with a social activity e.g. hitting the gym with friends, or a game of any sport where the facilities are accessible.

If you haven’t left yet, I have a great article on what you can do to ease the culture shock, preparations before you go….

 

Make DOWNSIZING easy with the Kats Love Boxes Challenge!

A simple system to make the whole thing less painful.

With love and understanding from a total ex-hoarder –  expert level!

Most of us can do with a downsize and de clutter, let’s be entirely honest. But the thing that defines this is the reason. If you are moving into a smaller place, moving overseas or moving in with someone and working out which half of each house will be nicely slotted into the new shared experience, then you have a really good deadline which is always a good motivator.

I call this method, the Kat’s Love Boxes method.

Get 5 large plastic containers. Label them thus

  1. Keep 

  2. Donate to a charity store

  3. Give to someone whom you know needs it

  4. Sell 

  5. Can’t decide.

Don’t block your DOWNSIZING FLOW

The ‘can’t decide’ box may seem counter intuitive of the process, but here is the reasoning! This means that you don’t block your DOWNSIZING FLOW. If you stop to ponder an item, think about it, you get bogged down in details, memories and the process becomes hard again. Just throw any item like this in the can’t decide box and deal with it later…on to the next item.

If you enter each drawer, each cupboard with the same amount of gusto, then this process becomes much easier.

Even give yourself a set time. E.g. I will go through the hall cupboard and I will be finished and sitting down for my cup of tea in 1.5 hours. 

woman in grey shirt holding brown cardboard box
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Controlling the “KEEP” box

Now the “keep” will be much bigger or smaller depending on your outcome or goal. But try to really limit this to what you absolutely need. If you haven’t used something, no matter how useful it may be at some stage in the future of your life, get rid of it. If you haven’t had the need for it in the last year, then it is simply cluttering up your house. Think about the number of things you have. Like do you really need 5 hot water bottles, 23 towels of varying condition, and 6 spare blankets? Pick your favs and ditch the rest. 

Alternative ideas for those sentimental items you want the hold onto for memory sakes

How to ditch the goods but keep the memories/warm fuzzies – in a even better way than in a box!

Try not to get sentimental of the actual object. The reason most of us hold onto things is for the sentimental attachment and these are wrapped up in memories surrounding the object. Can you take a photo of it? Can you hold onto that memory in another way?

4 ways to do something creative with your sentimental goods…

  1.  Make a poster; all of the Productions or Concerts you have seen, or cards you have lovingly received, postcards from abroad, photos etc. Can you take the ticket stubs and maybe the first page of the programme/flyer and put that into a big frame and make it into a piece of art? Same goes with any cards you can’t bear to part with. They do you no service in a box somewhere in a cupboard. But presented as a piece of art all together, this may bring you much joy to hang on your wall.

2. Immortalise them in film; Another option is to make a small home video of all your memories and keepsakes. Hold the item and in a mini-doco style, tell the camera about this and the memories which come flooding back when you think about the person/experience you hold dear to that item. Be sure to explain any textural feeling or smell attached to this ‘thing’ as by saying this, years later, it will fill your memory with these senses as well as what you see and hear. This is a much better way to keep these things and memories forever. Then donate the item or get rid of it. You have recorded the memories you hold with this item. Now do it for all the other items. Then if you ever feel down or like you are missing things, just play this mini doco you have created. Make sure you save it to the cloud so it is safe there forever – much safer than in a box anyway!

3. Share with a friend; If you come across something that came from a good friend, it might be a note, or a small gift or a ticket stub from a concert you attended with a friend, or a napkin with a funny cartoon, whatever it is. Make a small vid about how you still have it and recall the good experience related to this and actually send it to the person you shared that experience with. Then they have the memory stored forever as well.

4.  Repurpose them; Give the object a new life. There are heaps of ideas on Pinterest where people have turned baby clothes into a quilt/blanket,  take funky items and placed them into a series of mason jars on the mantle, take pieces of costume jewelry, old buttons, coins from overeats destinations and glue them onto hair clips.

5. Make photo books; Understandably, the wonderful picture, painted shell or um thing your child made for you at preschool or primary with love and care, well we can’t just throw them away! We are not monsters! But we CAN immortalise them forever and photograph them all, nicely, by using a couple of sheets of large card in black and white. Simply place the item/picture on the card and take a picture of it. Make sure you have a good light source to do this. Then get those pics into a photo book. Many places online do them, i’ve Had great results with **** when i remember the link i’ll Paste it here**** and what’s more, you can totally send one to gran for Christmas! Bonus points for Christmas present – done!

Once you have done this, if you still can’t throw away the pics, give them to family to choose any they want to keep for their fridges or get framed, and let them sort out what happens to the rest. P.s. these make great recycled gift wrap as well.

6. Use the force, um Cloud, I mean Cloud!; All that stuff you do need from time to time; Books, recipes, sheet music, instruction manuals (many of which are already stored on the internet) can all be photographed or scanned and saved in the cloud. You no longer need to carry this stuff you own physically. In the words of Elsa, let it go, let it go….

 

If you are leaving the country and can only ship or take a small amount of things in your KEEP pile, this is the next step…

KEEP – the next frontier for this box

Take this box, and divide it into “Take” and “Store”.

Depending on your circumstances, try to store only those things of greatest significance. Things that future you will definitely need, or will be extremely valuable in some way.

Note, that some countries will not allow you to STORE anything if you are applying to be a non-tax citizen. One of those countries is New Zealand. So, for this, you cannot officially store anything and certainly not in a storage location which has regular bills, and you as the account holder.

This is one of the things we faced, it was hard! We managed to convince my mum to exchange the rubbish bed in her spare room for our bed, so technically giving it to her, but it means we have a comfy bed to sleep on when we come back for Christmas. And in the event we do actually ever move back home, we have a bed to sleep on. There were a couple of extra things we gave to my mum and dad as well, knowing that if future us ever really needed them that we could probably get them back (so long as they don’t downsize too!)

You might even find, by going through the KEEP box a second time that you have similar things in there that you really only need one of, so keep the other boxes close by in case you change your mind on any items.

KEEPING THE KEEP AND GETTING IT TO YOUR NEW HOME

SELF PACKING versus GETTING PACKERS

If you don’t have a lot of stuff to ship, then I can definitely recommend going through a Company who let you pack it yourself. Of course, you need to check and be scrupulous about what you can and cannot take into the country. And often, the internet has varying lists of what you can and cannot. Get something from the Company you are going through which states explicitly what you can take with you. The reason for self packing, is that if you were ever good at the Tetris game, or win with packing the camping gear successfully into the boot of the car, then you have the skills needed. Or if you have a good friend who is the master of this skill, give them a box of beer or a nice wine and set them the challenge! The money you will save will be far greater than the bribe! 

Performing the self pack dance, née work of bloody art!

Items you will need:

*Duct tape

*Notebook and pen or device to note down each item and which box it is in

*Good sturdy boxes

*Permanent marker to number each box and you might want to write a basic description of the contents which will help you at the other end.

1. Put ALL clothing, bedding, towels, cushion covers and all soft stuff in one pile. Do not pack this, this is what you will pack WITH.

The only exclusion is the really delicate items of clothing, pack those puppies like the silk they are made of!

Now I know that a part of many of you will die to see your T-shirt’s, fav jeans, coats etc stuffed mercilessly around the hi fi system, for example, I add, you will need to wash and iron everything at the other end anyway. Your clothes will have been through months on a dock/storage/boat/immigration, in every kind of heat and freeze, and most likely fumigated and sprayed with heaven knows what. We double washed everything at the other end.

Use clothing, towels and bedding to pack around things rather than bulky packaging. Often the packaging goes on size and not weight, so you don’t need to worry about the weight.

You can pack things into things. Such as jewelry or breakables into the foot of your tramping boots, packed with socks. Use all available real estate. Use books to line the boxes and give even more protection to valuables or breakables in the middle.

We even packed a massive amount around the guitars we took. There is space in all manner of places when packing. And I have witnessed on so many accounts, where people get packers, and they have packed something tiny in a box, with masses of packing and little else to fill that very expensive space in the box.

Try and get big strong boxes which stack into a square if you can! I thought that packing companies would have this down pat, but it seems they really don’t. For example, getting the right ratio of small, medium and big boxes which pack in to a square meter, really helps you get a grasp on how much you are taking, and it also eliminates extra wasted space. 

Sell and donate boxes

1. Have a garage sale. This is a wonderful way to sell off your multitude of bits and pieces. You may even need to have 2 of these. One with the initial cull and one once you are moving out of your home.

TIP: Have your donate box there at the garage sale, and if you get the feeling, or recognise that someone is at your garage sale as they simply can’t afford new clothes, for example, then ask them to take anything they need from the donate box. It is super satisfying to donate things to people who need them, it is even more wonderful to do this in person. You should be able to spot the old lady who is looking for a new frying pan or the solo mum who is shopping for clothes and toys. Have this box there for them.

2. FACEBOOK sell! You should be able to list your things on Facebook buy sell local directories. If you have a LOT of stuff to sell, start your own FB page of what you are selling, then just paste the link to that page on all the different buy sell forums you can access locally. People love a “moving overseas, everything must go!” Sale. Price things to move quickly as you will often have less time that you think before you need to be at the business end of the downsizing quest!

3. Set a time limit for these things to sell. Once that time limit has passed, unless there are a few things really valuable that you really want the money for, put the lot in your car or ask the charity to pick it all up.

I haven’t forgotten the CAN’T DECIDE BOX…

Congratulate yourself on getting this far.

Now you have sorted your KEEP box, and pretty much decided what you will take THEN  look into your CAN’T DECIDE BOX. See if there is anything in there your really long for, or see if there is now anything in this box you can put into the other 4 boxes.

By now, you will hopefully feel a lot lighter. I know I did. Seriously, I come from a LONG LINE Of hoarders and I had tried MANY MANY times to downsize and de clutter. So I thought through the process, scientifically. I realized that if I could get into a real sort out flow and not be stopped by cradling something with wonderful memories trying to decide whether I could part with it, then I could do this. I developed this system, to which my husband was, at first, very perplexed, until he saw it in action. It totally worked for me. Also having the deadline assisted the process for sure. I didn’t do everything as I wrote it here, but a lot of it. I have added the ways which I would have done things differently – like set a finite date to sell things and donate after that.

It’s not easy, and i’ll Be honest, there WERE tears. I was so emotionally attached to so many of my things. I had carted them around from apartment, to flat, to flat to house, up and down the country. There were tears at the process of going from having all this stuff at my fingertips ( I say fingertips, but always after a long search through at least 5 boxes) to not having it there. I felt a bit naked! But once I accepted this as a challenge and just went for it, the pain of letting go of all of these things, went away, and I started to feel the freedom.

I really had a hard time letting go. BUT, once I did, OMG the freedom I felt!

It was incredible, and I know that I can do this again without too much hassle. I look around at everything in my room presently, and I know exactly what I would keep if I were moving tomorrow. And I am totally comfortable to sell/let the rest go.

Don’t discount how easy it will be to get those little bits a pieces you need once you are in your new country.

One more piece of advice I would definitely give is to move out of your house at least 3 weeks before you board the plane, if you can! Whether you rent or sell really dictates this timing, but if you can stay with friends/family, stay at an Air BnB, house sit, whatever, you need that space between your old life and new. Otherwise, you are selling up and selling your bed the night before you leave and trying to coordinate when you need stuff until, and the last minute items you do need, and trying to live without a fridge or bed while you sell your household goods around you. You will be too exhausted. You need as much energy as you can get before you board that aircraft for your new life. So cut yourself some slack, stay with friends or family for as long as you think both parties could bear it. This will make the transition easier.

Focus on the freedom you will feel when this is all done, trust me, from a expert rated ex-hoarder, it’s amazing!

Happy sorting and packing!

With love

Kat