A common aspect to expat life is moving. In the last nine months, my family and I have moved house four times. We have just completed the last move for now, moving from our temporary flat in the city into the house we bought in our desired neighbourhood. We are lucky. Not only did we find a property in the location we wanted, it isn’t like the typical houses in this area – built in the 1950s and in desperate need of major renovation. It is on the only street with new houses, so our property is just over ten years old. It’s less than five minute walk to Kindergarten (the only one we’ve sent our kids too) and school and we know most of the family with young kids in the neighbourhood already counting some good friends among them. The only drawback was that we had to wait for the house.
But, it was worth the wait. Anyone who has bought a house knows the feeling. Finally, to be able to choose paint colors and tiles that you love and to get to move and place the toilet in the position that makes the most sense to you and your family’s needs. My kids squealed with delight when they walked into their bedrooms the first night they got to sleep in their new home. They declared over and over how pretty everything was and how much they LOVED their rooms and how much better everything was compared to our old house. My only regret was not catching all of it on video. The craziness we had just lived through all became worthwhile at that moment.
The process of moving was an arduous one though. Our move was scheduled to last 2.5 days, which shocked me. I was hoping it would take only 2 days and that we would be able to sleep in our new house at the end of the second day. But, it was a complicated process of consolidating the rest of our things from San Diego that had been in storage, finally taking possession of the things we had in storage from our move to San Diego three years ago, and the easiest part of moving things from the existing flat to the house. But what made everything much worse, was that the American moving company that we had used to move out of San Diego (they were overall a catastrophe: A number of our things including large pieces of furniture were damaged. Let me know if you want to hear more as I could go on!) did not do a good job of keeping things from the same rooms together or in any logical order. Parts belonging to shelves and wardrobes were packed separately rather than with the actual pieces of furniture to which they belonged. All of this delayed the whole process and hampered any efficiency. The movers had to constantly ask us where to put things or how to divide things up. They couldn’t immediately assemble our shelving, wardrobes or any of our storage units, so that we or they could quickly unpack things into them. Our move ended up taking four days. For most of that time we had five movers and we had a carpenter who installed lights, cables and shelves and our cleaning lady was working alongside us cleaning our fridge and getting our stemware and wedding china into the armoire.
We are exhausted. We barely had time to recover between Friday, the last day of the move, and the next Monday when I had to drive to Frankfurt Airport, 2.5 hours from here, to pick up our au pair from South Korea. She’s also overwhelmed, never having left Korea before in her life. Witnessing her adventures and helping her integrate has reminded me a lot of the time when I first moved to Germany eight years ago, but also reminded me of typical characteristics of Koreans and Korean culture. I had worked out a strategy to not make any Korean food for her first week so as to stave off any disappointment or comparison from her recent memory. In other words, I wanted to wait until she was good and desperate for it. I also figured that just as keen as she was to improve her German, she would be eager to try the local German cuisine. Well, she didn’t even last two days when she was asking me for rice.
I’m not full on the Expat Kimchi saddle yet, but I am slowly making my comeback. Stay tuned for more!