Observations on Preparing for an Overseas Move

I married a very well traveled, cultured man. Originally from small town Nebraska, I met him in Tulsa, OK at Oral Roberts University. He worked in the missions department, across the chapel foyer from my office in the worship department. I thought, “a sailor from Nebraska? That’s different.” He grew up on an incredibly charming lake set in the midst of small hills and corn fields, about 10 miles from his hometown of Lexington. By the time Nathan and I began dating, he had already experienced the world quite a bit, having traveled to places near and far. A small town boy had become a man with the nations in his eyes. He wore brown leather strapped sandals from Jerusalem. A Polska zip up coat. He carried a Mountain Smith pack, and wore a Tilley cap. He belonged in distant lands, eating diverse foods, speaking in languages not his own, and making friends wherever he went. These were things that drew me to him, no doubt. I wanted to adventure with him. And it wasn’t a forced façade or performance of some sort. It was really Nathan Scott French. A unique soul.

Nathan Explorer

Nathan lived in Haifa for a summer in 2007. He then went back in 2009 to live in Jerusalem for two years, as he worked on his master’s degree from the Hebrew University in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern studies.

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Late at night, we would Skype and I’d marvel at how nonchalant Nathan was about life in Jerusalem. Not in a disinterested way, but in an easy way. Despite hang-ups, quirks, and unexpected obstacles, Nathan was at ease doing life in Jerusalem as a single man. He thrived in a place where everyday life required learning and the ability to be flexible.

I, too, was fairly well traveled and cultured, just not as much as my counterpart. By age 26, I had lived in Denver, CO, Tulsa, OK, Concord, CA, and back to Denver. I had been to Mexico, England, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Niger, Romania, Israel, and other places. However, I had never been abroad for more than a month at a time. Nevertheless, I’ve had a desire to live overseas since age 12. That is a whole other story in and of itself, of which I might share some other time.

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But in a nutshell, I am 29 now and I’m new at this. I am certainly no expert on what it’s like to move abroad, much less live abroad. But there’s a first time for everything, right? So this is it. My time to experience something my husband already has. Something many others have done long before I. Perhaps I am naïve and starry eyed. But I tend to keep a balanced view of things, knowing that life in Aberdeen will be different, difficult at times, and full of challenges. But it will also be an experience that Nathan and I get to share, and something I’m thrilled to do. It feels right, and it feels like it’s about darn time!

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And now we have arrived at the final days of August 2014. We are in the car on a last road trip to visit family and friends. We vacated our apartment yesterday, finished our jobs the day before that, and now we are just over 2 weeks to our departure date to Scotland. In this preparatory process, we’ve noticed a few things about what it’s like to prepare for an overseas move as a married couple.

  • This type of move is easier to complete when one spouse has done it before. Nathan warned me months ago, when we decided to go for it, that it would be hard. It would require a LOT of logistical oversight and preparations. I believed him, but now I’m living it. He was right.
  • This type of move feels different than other moves. You don’t get to throw your stuff in boxes that will be moved across town or even to another city or state. Instead, we’ve purged large amounts of “stuff,” so that only the essentials are back in the states with family. That way only the basics go with us in checked luggage. Clothing, some books, a small picture album, important documentation, and a couple very small wall decorations to make our new place feel a bit more homey.
  • This type of move feels like a high-speed train barreling full force towards the set deadline…toward the moment we’ll get on the plane at DIA. Before then, a lot of stuff has to happen. A lot of wrapping up, and tying up of loose ends. And let’s be real… a LOT happens AFTER the flight! A whole new life begins. But our minds are currently locked onto the departure date on this side of the pond.
  • This type of move is harder on family and friends. The distance is greater, the travel is longer, and it’s more costly to see each other. In other words, we won’t be finding $50 Southwest tickets to visit our loved ones. However, our new home will be a travel destination and somewhere friends and family want to visit. So that’s a plus!
  • From what Nathan has described, this type of move carries a sense of finality with it. This is part of why it seems to be harder on friends and family. But in reality, technology is advanced enough at this point to allow for frequent and quite normal communication, once the time difference is taken into consideration. Thankfully, we aren’t in the days of snail mail as our only means of contact. And so, it might just feel like we’re on a bit of an extended vacation to those we leave behind.
  • This type of move requires you to be OK with the unknown. We haven’t had the pleasure of visiting Aberdeen or any other Scottish location prior to this move. So we will show up, get settled in, and learn the lay of the land. At this point, we don’t know much about The Granite City, but we will!
  • This move has been blessed even before it has happened. Everything has fallen into place, and I was connected with a wonderful group of women at the University of Aberdeen via Facebook. I’ve been in contact with several of them for months. I’ve asked questions, interacted with them, and already made plans for social gatherings when we arrive to town. And not to mention, we’ll have one of these new friends at the airport upon our arrival! Let me say how wonderful this has been. These expats have already “been there, done that.” They know what we’re experiencing and they give great advice on the highs and lows we can expect coming into it as the new kids on the block.
  • This type of move is likely much more enjoyable with a spouse who enjoys adventure! Nathan has years of experience leading teams of people into different cultures and places. This time it’s just us two, but I rest in knowing that he is travel-savvy and experienced at this whole moving abroad thing.
  • This type of move is both exhausting AND exhilarating! We are both astoundingly tired given all that’s happened to get us to the move, but our excitement for the change and chance to explore something new drives us onward.

Signing off from the plains of Kansas. Until next time!

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