Two Weeks Until the Big Move

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I am definitely in the stage where I am constantly flip-flopping between extreme excitement and extreme panic.  One moment I feel completely confident in everything I have done in my research and preparation, and the next moment I am convinced there is something I have forgotten, something I do not know about yet that will catch me off guard.

The thing is, I know for certain there will be these things because no one can research so thoroughly that they suffer no surprises upon a move to another city, much less to an entirely different country.  This brings me to my questions for my readers:

For those of you who have moved to another country–or even just a big move within your own country–what things surprised you that you wished you had planned for?  If you have insights specifically to Mexico, that is wonderful for me, but I hope that everyone will feel free to share.  You never know who you might help.

Even if you have never commented before and are one of my silent readers, please take the time to share.  It is greatly appreciated.

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16 responses »

  1. I’m very excited about the move to Mexico because we’re taking that next step and I hate the sitting around and waiting for the 10 year clock to start ticking. My only goal is to figure out how to keep scrapbooking while I’m down there 🙂

    • I passed a scrapbooking store in Pachuca once–I forget exactly where. If we have once I imagine that any mid-sized city should, though I could be totally wrong.

  2. I wish I had gotten everything but the kitchen sink apostilled. Teaching license, TESOL certificate, university degree, plus all the usual stuff like marriage certificate and such. You never know when this is going to be necessary.

    I wish I had brought more Big Red gum the first time around. 😉

    More than anything, I wish I had brought a bigger savings account. We blew through too much money way too fast just trying to get the basics set up.

    One thing that depressed me was that small appliances and household basics cost more than I had anticipated in Mexico, much more than they do in the US. I probably would have brought more of these things if it were possible.

    But most of it was stuff I couldn’t plan for. That’s what moving to a new country is all about. The best preparation is to be flexible (and preferably to have money to spend on all the unknowns). Every day brings new surprises and most of the time it’s fun and interesting, but sometimes it just makes you want to curl up under the covers and cry. Having a supportive spouse is the most essential aspect.

    Also, one thing I wasn’t ready for were the changes that slowly unfolded in my husband over the years as he adapted to life in his own birth country. He became a totally different person than he was in the US, and a different person than he was on “neutral territory” when were in Europe. Sometimes this was good from my perspective, but a lot of traits popped out that made me say, “Where did THAT come from?” So again, the flexibility to know that just because we’re together doesn’t mean everything is going to be the same as it was.

    No matter what, this is an awesome adventure, and you’ll do great. Good luck getting ready!!!

    • Yeah, my school told me I did not need anything apositlled. I have my transcripts, birth certificate, and marriage certificate apostilled because I wanted to be safe. I would have done the same with my degree and teaching certificate, except that neither have arrived yet! I have been told my teaching certificate may not arrive until December! However, the degree should be here in the next week–leaving me no time to get it apostilled before I leave. Such is life!

  3. The hardest thing for me is to be so far away from my family and close friends. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I didn’t realize how hard it would be to make new friends in Mexico, and often long to speak my own language, and share cultural commonalities with others. And I’m pretty adaptable. But nothing beats someone who understands you, and besides my husband, I don’t have that here. Don’t think there is any way around the friendship struggle unless you are lucky to find one where you will live. Otherwise, hug your family and friends a little tighter while they are still around you. You will miss them once you move.

    • I am hopeful that being with the English teachers I will be able to make friends. The problem with that is they tend to only be there for one or two years. If I make this school mine for the majority of my teaching career, I’ll have a lot of friends come and go.

  4. I wish I had a whole suitcase full of bug spray. I can deal with the heat but not the moscos. Everyone says that I will get used to it one day but I have not stayed here long enough for that to happen. Also make sure that you have some type of video chatting set up here in Mx. and back in the states. It has made such a difference for me and my family, it is one thing to talk on the phone but being able to see everyone while talking to them is just amazing. I now have my grandparents, aunt and uncles and mom and dad hooked up. I think you will do great, have an open mind about everything and just enjoy the adventure. And be prepared to wait, for everything, that is the biggest thing the girls prepared me for. If you think you are going to get what you need tomorrow expect to get it next week!

    • I never got bit-up in Pachuca, but on his farm it was a different story. I am bringing mosquito netting because I like the canopy look, but I imagine it will be nice to have if we want to leave a window open.

      So far I have a few friends and family with the ability to video chat. I need to check and see about a few others.

      The waiting! I have heard so much about it. I really need to work on my patience.

  5. Where I live (Puebla) we have mosquito repellant in the grocery store and wal-marts. There is pretty much everything but I do remember that when I first arrived I could never find a veggie peeler that went the right direction. The ones I found were for peeling towards yourself (for a right-.handed person). On a trip to the states I ended up buying one I liked and still have it 8 or 9 years later. If you have nice plastic bowls and spatulas, for baking, bring those. I have never found nesting plastic bowls that I like. The ones I have found are ceramic and expensive. Also, placemats seem to be way over-priced everywhere I go. Decorative items are expensive as well, so if you have space to bring the ones you like (picture frames, etc) bring them. If there are certain seasonings you like, they might be a good thing to bring.

    I also took a very long time making friends…but I did find them when I taught English. Thankfully I have one friend I met while teaching English and now we’ve been friends seven years. I hope you find friends you can relate to quickly, you need someone you can vent to, who will understand you and speak your language. My closest friends still are the ones I can speak to in English. But that’s my experience.

    You can’t plan for everything. Just know that it takes time learning to settle in and understand cultural cues. Take it a day at a time. And allow yourself to vent as much as you need to. That’s what a blog is for. And we who are here can tell you that it’ll be ok, and we understand 🙂

    • Thank you for taking the time to reply. I seem to get contradicting answers on the price of decorative items. What I have managed to gather is that if it is something handmade that can be found in markets, it is cheap. But things like throw pillows, prints, picture frames, etc are rather expensive. I cannot get much that is decorative with me this time around, so my goal is to bring more when I get to go home in December. The idea is two duffel bags, one with clothing and necessities, and the other with things to make my home pretty.

      I have already made contact with a few of the teachers at my school. I am hopeful that we will get along as well there as we have online and on the phone!

    • I was told that I should get the following shots: tetanus, hep A, polio, typhoid, and diphtheria. I was able to get all except the typhoid–I was told to get it with the health department but no one would answer the phone. All the others I either was able to obtain or I was able to get my vaccine records showing I received them. Additionally, I am hearing from others that when you arrive in the Mexico City airport, they are currently asking all travelers to get the measles vaccine. They apparently give it to you at the airport. I think this is optional, but I cannot promise that.

  6. For me, moving from California to Puerto Vallarta was great! I was young, single and ready for a new adventure! And that was almost 20 years ago when you could hardly get anything from the States. Wal-Mart, CostCo, Burger King, Dairy Queen…none of that existed. However, the move from PV to Guadalajara…now that was hard. The change in weather, leaving my beach town for the second largest city in Mexico, leaving all my English speaking friends, not having a job and I have to totally agree with another person who left a comment on how her husband changed. My husband is from GDL and I do not know what it was, perhaps the influence of his family, I do not know, but he started coming up with things that totally blew me away. I have been here for almost 2 years now and I am happy to say that things have gotten much better.

    One other thing, immigration wanted my degree to have an apostille in order to process my FM3.

    You will see, everything will be just fine.

    • I’ve been wondering if these requirements to receive the visas change based on which office you go through since the school told me I did not need them. Strange.

  7. My boyfriend lives in La Paz Mexico and i’ve been traveling back and forth for the last 3 years while finishing my degree here in the States in order to move down (in hopefully another year). Sometimes I go just for a quick 1 week visit, other times my job flexibility (and savings account) allow me to be there for months at a time. He has been rejected once before for just a tourist visa, so he has never been to see where I grew up. My family, however, has gone down on 2 occasions to meet him and see our house and life in La Paz. I relate to a lot of what you say on your blog and frequently “laugh out loud” at some spot-on observations of bilingual, bi-racial relationships. Our language barrier has grown to a small annoyance in our daily lives, as we’ve both excelled in the other’s language over the last 3 years.

    When I first went to Baja California for 4 months, my Spanish was intermediate and I wasn’t familiar with the world of slang, cultural references and body language cues. I had an ok time of understanding someone (mostly friends & family of my boyfriend)if they were speaking to me straight in the face and using small words. Since this was very rarely the case (except with my boyfriend, because he understood and is a very patient man) I was left in the dark during a lot of group conversations, parties, bars, etc. Background noise became a huge barrier when trying to listen to someone speak. Multi-tasking while speaking or listening to spanish was hard (still is sometimes). I’m sure you’re aware of all these little parts of “speaking” a language, but I thought I would give you a heads-up on the feelings of isolation it can cause. No matter how attentive to me my boyfriend was in a group situation (and he was), I still felt just slightly “off” the whole time. I never understood EXACTLY what was being said. I had some idea based on snippets of words I understood and I got very good at reading people’s faces and expressions to model my own after. I hadn’t realized before I was there for such a long time, how isolated I would feel. I did make inroads and made connections strong enough with certain friends and family members of my boyfriend that they would take the time to make sure I understood. After three years, I can definitely see a difference in how I feel in group situations and at social events. I blurt out phrases and my reactions to what people are saying are my own. But this did not come until many awkward, “grin and bear it” kind of nights with groups. I’m not sure of how much Spanish you speak or how comfortable you are with it right now, but wanted to chime in and tell you to expect these nights of feeling isolated from those around you (maybe even a little bit from your partner)and that it’s no one’s fault and it will certainly get better with more practice and time. Sorry I wrote so much! 🙂 keep the posts coming!

    • Thank you for your reply! I am glad that you enjoy my blog and find it relateable. My biggest concern at this point is the language barrier and changes in my husband that reflect the fact that his is no longer amongst my culture. Language is something I know that I will just have to work on and I do not expect to be perfectly comfortable for quite a few years. My concern with my husband is him starting to act macho when he never has before. I hope he doesn’t feel the need to become a man like that.

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