Expats moving countries is like ripping a little piece of your heart out


The picture of me that I posted with this blog post, is of our weekly walk around Margaret Island. During quarantine it is one of the only places left that we can find some solace. It is in the ritual of it, as much as the exercise of it; breathing in the fresh air, taking in the views of the Blue Danube, and watching the trees change with the seasons. Take note, it is almost a year of this COVID business and we make our full circle back to where we began.

We had +20° and -4° changing between them like a fickle, emotional, tantruming child, and the instability of it brings health issues for some. It can bring your immunity to its knees, further, Spring seems to be a time of aches and pains, coughs and colds, and this week two more neighbours caught COVID and are in full quarantine.

These past two weeks have been strange for sure, with sad news from our school. One parent lost their life to COVID-19 leaving one of our students alone. It feels like COVID-19 is getting closer and closer, and it makes me feel that quarantine is just part of the grander equation, and the little we sacrifice now, means greater rewards later. Scary times we live in, but we must endure and take a moment to count our blessings. It is always worse for someone else, and we can always find ways to help others in need.

Loss of livelihood, loss of life and loss of hope.

With our impending move, there is so much to think about. SO very, very much to do. This week I finished with the majority of my private students, wrapping up the year early… Saying goodbye to them is hard. Many of them I have been teaching for years and have seen them grow up before my eyes. It is the pleasure of teacher to watch students spread their wings and fly. It is not easy to say goodbye, however thank goodness for FaceTime! I am sure I will stay in contact for their milestones and will be there for them if they need any help down the road.

I need to make time to sell, give, pack and throw away most of our expat life. Ten years comes with things, the same things we vowed to never collect again, but life has a way of accumulating little piles of stuff in the corners which you think you need.

My cousin from Bakonysarkany came over yesterday, and his wife and I went through some bathroom stuff that they could take home to their two young girls. We counted 28 half bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I mean what is wrong with me? Also, I went through all our linens and counted 25 sets! So that’s bottom sheet, duvet cover with two pillow cases; I could open my own linen shop! Not to mention 12 throw blankets, dozens of decorative and sleeping pillows, and 12 duvets! Of course they are from when we had our Bed and Breakfast and our homestay students, but I feel a little bit like a hoarder.

I meticulously washed all the whites on hot with lovely smelling, organic softener and have them hanging in my laundry room ready to be folded nicely as my other cousin is coming on Saturday morning to take another truck load of things to Bakonysarkany. For them I am giving the majority of the kitchen stuff, the bigger items; the extra plates, the cups, sandwich, popcorn and soda maker… all the things that collect dust, and the things we love to use but can’t sell… She loves to entertain like me, and I cannot think of a better person to give my lovely cooking items to. And what they don’t need they will pass on to the many families in the village!

The majority of our things stayed with the house; the beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs, benches, bathroom shelving, vanity, couches, end tables, curtains and all the things needed to maintain the garden. They also got a variety of kitchen things too, because that is also something I apparently hoard. Now when I say hoard, it is probably in the realm of normal collections, just having started with nothing in 2011, and nearly nothing in 2016, makes me wonder why I feel the need to have anything more than bare minimum. I thought I had this minimalist thing down! Apparently not as well as I thought.

I have started little piles of books going to certain people, returning others to school and of course those of which I will need to bring… I feel that most things I will never read or use again, however, it is hard to say what line of work I will end up in… that is the cool part of expat life…

Alfonz sold the instruments, bikes, cars, camping gear, ceramic pots with plants inside, tools from the garage… the house is starting to look empty… The rooms are much bigger all of a sudden. I remember not a year ago we started to really decorate and settle in. C’est la vie! It is like the day you say, wow my hair is so long, I promise not to ever cut it again, and then you go to the store, see a hairdresser and impulsively cut it all off. It is the prelude to the next action, the moment of feeling content… I wonder if others are like this or am I officially messed up? All good questions!

We cleared out the attic, and gone through our clothes, sorted through decorations trying to figure out how many shipping boxes we will need… surprisingly we are chuckers not savers and only have a box of winter stuff, a few pieces of new sports gear, and a couple of keepsake paintings that have travelled the world with us. Most things, are only things in the end. I never understood how some people cannot part with things. Especially when it feels terrific to get rid of the things that weigh us down… a fresh page, a new start, an opportunity to be whoever we want to be next.

Sadly the cat is staying. We found him a good home…a lovely family wishing to adopt him, and we are starting the process shortly. They will meet him and spend time together, and we will make sure he gets used to his carrier for transporting. They have another cat, which makes me worried, but I think Elvis will like the company in the end. I am praying to the heavens above it all works out because shipping a cat to another country during quararinte is a difficult and costly task, especially with mandatory quarantines and extremely long flights.

I have applied to dozens of jobs in Nanaimo, anywhere from Sobeys management to BC Ferries scheduling, ESL and Montessori teacher- university staff. It really doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I can learn from it and enjoy myself. It would be ideal to use more of my skills together. Plus I am willing to go back to school and get whatever accreditations they may need. This life is very long and there are so many interesting things to be, how can anyone choose? I am activity searching for more slashes to add to my title: teacher/manager/writer/author/blogger/municipal councillor/entrepreneur/jack of all trades, master of none! Perhaps too eclectic for everyone’s tastes, can’t make up my own mind… yet I still have no regrets because if you create a life interesting enough, you cannot wait to wake up to it each and every day! Still would not trade with anyone on the planet. Love my life, but moreover, love life in general. Still feels like there is so much left to do and see, new friends to make and laugh with, recipes to share, places to explore…

Starting another adventure and perhaps one of our final moves is bittersweet.

Amongst the massive stress moving comes with, there is a moment of clarity when you look back at all the things you’ve done, the people you met, the places you saw, the things you learned and you feel so incredibly lucky to be alive. Alfonz and I talk about it all the time, how lucky are we to have been so brave, look at all we gave to the children, the experiences shared, the languages learned…

With the pandemic we can either crawl in a ball, start rocking back and forth waiting for the end to come, cry about money lost and businesses closed, or you can take action and live every moment with purpose and thought; enjoying life and all the moments in between to the fullest. Sometimes the bad times launch us towards a more purposeful life, wanting to give back, stopping others from making the same mistakes and giving what little you have learned along the way back to the pot. Without the bad times, we cannot see the good. And there is so much good in the world. I know this to be 100% true. You just have to unplug long enough to recognize it.

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