Quick! Gather everything you’ll need to live in another country for the next year or so. The job you just landed on a new continent gave you a couple weeks to get ready, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble putting everything together.
Moving overseas isn’t like moving to a new city. I can’t pack my favorite chair or that fake-down pillow that feels just perfect. My plane ticket allows two big bags. Maybe three.
I’m obviously not bringing my stack of Greek mythology books that I’m seriously going to read someday, but I have room for a Kindle. I can bring watches, tie bars and other jewelry, but I can’t take the cigar box that houses everything. Can I get by with my digital watch, or do I need to wear something nicer and relearn how to tell old-people time?
There are so many things to consider.
How does my new home view Americans? I might be the bubbly optimist who enjoys quoting “The Big Lebowksi” and talking about my uni days. They might think I’m a psychopath who elected a psychopath and is trying to spread my love for the Fourth Reich. Will they see me as a flag-waving patriot or a wide-eyed citizen of the world?
Do I need to learn the language? How well do people speak English there? Is their language similar to my native tongue? I really, truly, honestly don’t want to memorize another freaking alphabet — two more if I take the job in Japan.
What’s considered casual in my new country? Is a hoodie and jeans acceptable? Or should I go with a dress shirt and khakis? Hey, I don’t want to appear on my new country’s version of “People of Walmart.” Will I even be able to find clothes and shoes my size? Will I be ostracized because of my tattoos?
Why are my students taking English? They could be bored housewives, small children or businessmen. I could teach a hopeless romantic trying to meet new partners or just annoyed college students taking another effing language elective.
How conservative is my new country? Will I need to delete my online history and change my name? Maybe they’ll have topless beaches.
One of my potential new bosses misspelled my last name as Friedmann — is that a good or bad sign that he thinks I’m Jewish (I’m sort of Irish Catholic) or is my boss just a bad speller? Will a fart joke make me the comedian of the year or the most crass piece of immigrant trash the country has ever experienced?
Will their post office deliver stuff from Amazon or care packages from my mommy? Eventually I’m going to need a new — ahem — Fleshlight. Wait! It’s not actually for me. It’s for this guy that’s, um … too embarrassed to order it or something. Just forget I said anything. My editor will definitely take that out.
Holy crap, do I really want to do this again? I’m not even done with these questions. There’s more for next week … if I’m even still in the U.S.