Moving to another country can be a very daunting project. And packing for the move can be equally as daunting. This may be a simple project, but it’s not an easy one.
Remember that during this transition, you’re in the process of both letting go of your past life and looking forward to your new life. Because of the implications of this huge life event, all your possessions will take on a greater meaning. Your things aren’t just stuff. They represent you. The harder it is to let go of something, usually means that this thing is significant and holds emotional value for you.
As you sort through all your household and personal things, keep this idea in the forefront of your mind:
You’re belongings fall into two categories, emotional and practical.
Clothing is a good example of the practical items, because what you pack depends on the climate you’re moving to. If you now live in a place that is super cold and you ski but your new location is hot and tropical, it will probably make more sense to leave behind your ski gear and woolen sweaters.
And once you’ve decided not to take the ski gear and winter clothes, the second decision will to be to figure out if you’ll sell, donate, or put these things in storage.
Other practical items that you’ll need to decide about might include kitchen appliances that may be hard to find in your new country or books that would be hard or impossible to replace. Technology such as laptops, tablets, printers, also may not be easily found in your new country, so it will be important for you to do some research on the subject. Also, find out the voltage compatibility of your electronics in your new location. Some appliances may not work well or not at all, which will be a deciding factor whether they go or stay. This is the practical side of packing.
Now, for the emotional stuff, which is usually where the problems with packing begin.
There are always certain clothes, books, artwork, decorations, curtains, pillows, or something that you’re sure can’t be left behind. I’ve seen and heard all of the reasons, whether it’s your children’s toy sets and bedroom posters, or paintings that you’ve had on your living room walls for years. Or, there may be a vase or a table that was passed down to you from a family member.
Maybe you’re struggling because there isn’t a clear reason why you’re clinging to a certain item. What is vital for you know is that your belongings have a practical and an emotional necessity. Understanding the difference between the two is key for this packing project. Be mindful of the fact that the more you hold on to, the less space there will be in your new home for new things. Likewise creating space mentally will also allow for new experiences as well.
The simple but not easy question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I really need this item for my new life?” Thinking about what is practical for everyday living and what items are emotional valuable are two important factors in determining what to pack.
You can have both…
Language learning is a huge part of adjusting to a new country, so it’s no surprise that my clients have this challenge. Let me tell you about Grace – we worked together when she was preparing for her move to Portugal from the US, and like most people, she wanted to learn Portuguese because it was “the right thing to do”. Very quickly she realized that pleasing other people – the locals – was not enough to make her book her classes and do the homework.
So she defined her goal – she wanted to have a 5-minute conversation, completely in Portuguese with an Uber driver. That would make her feel independent and functioning in her new country. That also seemed attainable enough.
She gave herself 2 months to achieve the goal and focused her studies on phrases and words she’d use in this type of situation.
When we met one month later, she celebrated the fact that she had been able to have a 5-minute conversation with an Uber driver without using English. And right after the celebration, she set herself a new goal: go to a yoga class in Portuguese and not ask for help in English.
Starting to learn a language can be daunting. But when we have the right structure to organize what we want, when we want it, and how we want it, the abstract becomes tangible.
Our desired outcome becomes ever more real so our language teachers can help us get there faster.
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