Back from a break!

Back from a break - the Things stood waiting for me on their scooters on a oath in Singapore's Botanical Gardens

I’ve been meaning to write for weeks.

Maybe even months.

I’d love to say that this I’ve had an intentional detox as most people assumed. That I purposefully elected to stay away from social media and from writing. That I made the positive choice to focus on our family and our international move.

I’ve been writing… a bit

The truth is that I have 3 or 4 posts sat in drafts but never finished or published.

They aren’t even in drafts here on the blog. They’re in a word document and were written on planes or in snatched moments on notes on my phone with no internet connection in a snatched few minutes of clarity when I’ve found the grace of time to think. I’ve been touched, really touched by those of you who have got in touch to see how we are all doing. You range from the people who know us best (hello family and besties!) to people I know though blogging but have never met to complete strangers who follow me and engage with me on social media. It means so much to know that people all over the world are rooting for us.

I’m hoping to get back to what I wrote at some point over the next few months. Maybe they can help someone else right in the middle of a move. Maybe I’ll find it therapeutic to re-read them and look back on the summer. Or maybe I’ll open them up to find they’re a pile of rubbish lol.

The other reality is that my phone has been dying a slow but definite death, randomly refusing to connect to perfectly good internet or even to take photos. I’ve had sporadic internet because I couldn’t get a new phone or even a decent SIM card. And I, the ever so slight perfectionist, have found myself second guessing the photos I want to put on social media. Paralysed by thinking of the best caption I could write. On photos that wouldn’t take.

And missing the window in the process.

The mental load

It’s been a crazy few months since we found out we were moving. And let’s be clear – we were grateful for these extra few weeks that we haven’t usually enjoyed. There have been official things to happen at Mr Wanderlust’s company: as soon as they do, the HR wheels click into motion and suddenly you’re in. a process that you can never be ready for no matter how long you’ve been waiting.

The truth is that I needed a break. That an international move takes up more brain space than I have ever given myself credit for. And on this occasion something had to give. Given I could barely hold a single thought in my head before it was crowded out by the next one, it was obvious that writing was not going to happen this summer.

The mental load can be almost overwhelming.

This is the reality of expat life

This is the reality of international moves.

An international move becomes more complicated the more you involve dependents like kids and dogs. Once you agree, as a family, that one person has the “lead career” and will earn the money, then the default is that the other one picks up an awful lot of the rest of it.

It’s easy to forget that the other person is also doing huge chunks of admin just to get you out of one country and into another. In our last week in Doha, one day I found myself Mr Wanderlust’s office and looking over his shoulder as he reviewed his expat re-assignment checklist. For everything I’m doing, he’s been doing something else, it seems. And I had no idea.

I’m so lucky that he appreciates all the things I’ve been doing too.

Easy arriving, easy living

I can’t lie.

As expat assignments go, arriving in Singapore is a soft landing.

For all that no move is without it’s stresses. The dog still isn’t here and I will never quite forgive the school for refusing to grant entry to a 7 year old kid because they didn’t have a report card that hadn’t been written yet. I’ve not been contactable with the lack of a local SIM card (don’t get me started on the fact that another school misplaced 2 kids on their bus on the first day of term and it was in the moment that I realised no-one could call me, nor could I them). We’re still not in our permanent housing and finding our next home seemed an impossible task 2 weeks ago… But really, in the scheme of things, it’s not that bad and it’s early days.

Before we left someone referred to Singapore as winning the expat jackpot and so far I’m inclined to agree. For all that international moves are hard, it’s a pretty easy location to arrive into and we’re loving it.

Not our first rodeo

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t all luck. Singapore might be an easy place to move to but we also work hard at settling as quickly as we can. We’ve realised that with every move, we’ve got more and more efficient.

At a BBQ a week after arriving, we were grilled on what we needed to do now that we had arrived. I realised that all the big things were already done and was amused that each time the person we were speaking to was shocked and impressed. In less than 10 days we had found a house, a car and domestic help. We had arrived with school places for 2 Things already in place and knowing what needed to be done to get Wanderlust Dog here with us.

The thing is, this is what we do. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again. My first month in Houston, 10 years ago, I barely spoke to anyone from one end of the day to the next while I waited for my work permit to come through. Here, I filled my first week with activities for me and the Things. We house hunted, we did immigration paperwork and we explored. We went swimming and made little fiends in the playground. Since they’ve started school, effectively abandoning me and taking with them the social crutch of having kids, I’ve stayed busy. My second and third weeks have been filled with admin, starting new friendships and saying yes to every opportunity and invitation that has come my way.

Happy family, happy life

The Things, much to my relief, are doing well. They love riding the bus to they new school. It’s early days yet but so far they’re thriving there. They’re thriving here.

And so are we.

We love the climate (I think we are the only ones to think it is cool here lol). We love the buzz of being amongst crowds of people in the mall. Riding the MRT and busses at the weekend still has a novelty factor. We’ve caught up with old friends from former assignments and already started making new friends.

I’ve always said that home is wherever we are, so living in the present when you’re in a new location is a must.

And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Emma Morrell
Emma Morrell

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