Moving is always a challenge. Moving internationally is a pain in the ass.
There’s the stuff that isn’t worth bringing (almost anything with an American plug/current configuration), the stuff that we want to hold onto but not take to Singapore, the stuff we want to give away, and the stuff we’re taking. Separating all of it into the correct piles, being home for the Freecycle pickups, and working with two different moving companies was a lot to do, especially with a toddler in the mix. Now, as I watch the international movers pack up my stuff, I’m working on paperwork-customs declarations, inventories, insurance forms. Ravi has a meeting with a tax accountant next week after he comes back to better understand how the tax situation (yes we’ll still have to pay US taxes as well as Singapore taxes) will work.
But it’s also an amazing opportunity.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how this move would have completely unfathomable to me 10 years ago. Sure, I went to France for a month, and sure, I dreamt of living in London, but I had no idea of what the reality of an international move would be, and if I had known, I would have run screaming in the other direction. I’m so grateful for Ravi and his parents (as well as their friends) who have gone through this before and have reassured me time and again that while it is overwhelming in the moment, it will all be okay.
I’m so excited for Elanor and the wonderful experiences she will have living abroad. She’ll attend school where she will be taught in English and a second language, most likely Mandarin. The travel opportunities near Singapore (Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, etc) are places we would have loved to go to, but other than Australia would probably never have made the 20+ hour flight to visit from Boston to visit.
But I think the best benefit for Elanor is seeing the diverse range of kids she’ll meet there. She’ll know kids of every nationality, religion, ethnic or religious view, etc. To paraphrase Barack Obama “The benefit of travel or living abroad is that you learn, on a visceral level, that people in other countries are just that–people.” It’s pretty hard to make generalizations about a particular religious or ethnic group (for example Muslims) when you grew up knowing people who were that ethnic group/ sexual orientation/ religion/ etc.
Conversely, the hardest part is leaving our friends, our family, and the familiar. Ravi and I both went to college in the Boston area, and we’ve both lived here for the better part of our adult lives. We know where the stores and restaurants we like are, which services are where, the fastest route to something during rush hour, the subway map is burned into our brains, and even things as mundane as knowing who to go to when I need a shoe repaired are all part of our lexicon of knowledge about the greater Boston area. In Singapore thus far I know where the zoo is (and how to take a cab there), have a very basic understanding of the subway system, and have located the local franchise of “The Little Gym” where Elanor will continue taking gymnastics. Its intimidating to think of starting over with new local friends when many of our friends here have been friends for 5, 10, or more years.
But as I watch the movers pack our stuff in preparation for tomorrow’s loading into a container not to be seen again for at least 65 days, I am filled with a mix of excitement and nerves.