We’re excited to introduce our guest writer, Christie, to you today! We’ve been in communication with her quite a bit over the past several months and we’re so happy to be publishing her “moving abroad” series here on the blog. Christie has just recently moved abroad with her family and we’re so thankful she took the time to take notes and write down tips to share with all of us. We hope you’ll find this series helpful. If you do, be sure to share it with others who might be preparing to move abroad in the near future. Also, don’t forget to share your wisdom in the comments section below!
Each time I say, “We’re moving to Europe,” it surprises me. Moving overseas has been on the horizon for several months now, but all of a sudden the actual move is upon us. It’s just three months away. We’re applying for visas and deciding whether or not to ship the car.
As a military wife I’ve learned not to plan the next move too far in advance; things can (and often do) change at the last minute. So I’ve been waiting. But now, my husband’s orders are in: Our family of four is headed to central Europe.
As a teenager my family lived in France for a couple of years, so I’ve experienced expat life from that perspective. This time, though, I’m a parent. I’m the mom, the one who’ll be responsible for reading labels in a completely new language, finding my way around foreign city streets and figuring out where and what my son with a peanut allergy can eat. I’ll be the one trying to teach my children to live joyfully in an environment where I’ll feel out of my depth everywhere except in our home.
Before we pack any boxes, though, I need to get mentally prepared first. Here is my to-do list:
Realize failures and embarrassing moments will happen.
I naturally dislike situations where I’m forced to do something uncomfortable, like trying to find a place I’ve never been before or speak a new language. Trying to do both at once makes me want to cower inside and order everything online. But I just need to get out and try. And when I do, my boys will learn how to handle mistakes. Plus, there will be plenty of (someday) funny stories.
Recognize that I will need to find a new routine.
The definition of insanity for expats is trying to do the thing you used to do at home in a different country in the same way while expecting the same result. My days won’t look the same as they did while living in the States. It will take trial and error, and it’ll take time. Eventually we’ll settle into a new routine. Just as our daily schedule has evolved to accommodate growing babies’ needs and naptimes, our routine in a different country will adapt to factor in tram travel and bringing home only a day’s worth of groceries at a time.
Remember I can’t plan everything.
So many things are out of my control. That’s the reality of traveling—and life. I can research and I can prepare, but I can only so much ahead of time. The rest I have to leave to the Lord. I know in the past I’ve let the fear of the unknown (or the fear of being unprepared) dissuade me from going places. Allowing those fears to make my decisions has left me with a few regrets. I don’t want to have more.
Evaluate my attitude.
I know that my attitude toward this move will set the tone for my whole family. While I don’t need to put on a phony smile, I also don’t need to voice every frustration, especially in front of my children. Sure, there will be times I. Just. Want. To. Ask. For. Something. In. English. But I want us all to think back on our time in Europe fondly, despite the difficulties. If the little ones remember a complaining mother, it’ll cloud their memories of this unique time.
Pray over each step.
My husband and I have been doing this for months. We’ve prayed through each of our many military moves, and we’ve seen huge blessings from it. Long before we move we begin to pray for a Bible-believing church to attend, friends for ourselves and our kids, a safe and comfortable place to live, a good work environment for my husband—anything we find ourselves worrying or stressing over. We’ve been grateful to see these prayers answered each time. Sometimes it takes longer than we anticipated, but God is faithful.
And now that I’ve been through the checklist, it’s time to consider those moving boxes.
How do you mentally prepare yourself for an overseas move or an extended trip? Or even running errands with little ones along?
Are you ready for the next part in the series? It’s time to “Get on the Plane”.
Photo Credit: rebekahgreggphotography.com