The decision to move abroad can sometimes take minutes, or it can take years. But the act of moving abroad usually takes months. The preparation needed to move abroad should not be underestimated, nor should it be feared. I was reminded of this rollercoaster of emotions this weekend. No, I was not preparing to move abroad- I was assembling a load of furniture from Ikea.
When you go to Ikea, you browse around an enormous store, poking and prodding a dazzling array of choices. Finished products looking their best, also being poked and prodded by other shoppers thereby inducing a healthy sense of competition and affirmation. (If you are in China, you might pack a picnic lunch and a pair of slippers.. a funny article here) After getting a bit lost, you make your choices, sign the paperwork, and laugh with your partner as you try to get the boxes into your impossibly tiny vehicle, with the glow of "what will be" still fresh in your mind. This is the exact same feeling you get when you sign a contract to move abroad. It's lovely and exhilarating..
Then you get the boxes home. You open the neat, smooth rectangular box and that glow is snuffed out like an ash in water. There are hundreds of little crazy-looking pieces - all representing different steps. When you were in the store, that finished furniture looked so easy to assemble. You are not cut out for this! What were you thinking? Sure, there are directions but to your panicked mind they look like they've been written by monkeys. This feeling of panic and insecurity hits almost all international teachers, when faced with the enormity of the visa and moving process. How tempting it is to shut the box and call it a loss! You really didn't need that fancy new wardobe anyway - your old one isn't *that* bad now that you think about it... with a bit of glue...
This is where commitment and personal resillience comes in. If you are anything like me, you take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are not a quitter, as easy as it would be... and you forge ahead. Open to page 1 of the instructions and trust that monkeys know a bit more about furniture assembly than you do, and you get to work.
Hours later, after some head banging, flared tempers and oh-no-I-did-that-wrong-I-need-to-do-it-again moments, you are left with .....a finished new wardrobe, a bed that is missing a critical part (but after an hour on the phone with Ikea- sorry for the inconvenience- you are assured is on its way to you, special delivery), or perhaps a new job in a foreign country where the weather is fine and the children are better behaved. It might not be as perfect as the one in the brochure/ in your dreams but it's a definite improvement. With the benefit of hindsight you realise that while it wasn't a walk in the park, it was all worth it. Easy is not the same thing as good.
So you see, Ikea and teaching abroad really do have quite a bit in common.
At Edvectus, every single member of the team has been through the above- moving abroad AND flatpack. If you want to read some of our stories, check out our brand new 'about us' section HERE. We do know what you will face as we have all been there. And, for each one of us, it was a life-changer.