The Six Stages of an Expat Move...

>> Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Our shipment arrived from Moscow just over a week ago.  We are slowly - oh-so-slowly - working our way through unpacking it, and it suddenly struck me yesterday that there is a definite process involved here; one which others who have moved home (and not just internationally) might recognise...

It's the morning that the movers are due to arrive. You have breakfast and look around your mostly empty house, contentedly imagining the warm and welcoming impression it will give once all your belongings have arrived and been unpacked.  Right on time the truck pulls up outside your house, and you watch with eager anticipation as the team throw open the doors.  'This shouldn't take too long to unload' you think to yourself.  'There aren't that many boxes...'

The move-in begins.  The team begin to shift box, after box, after box.  After box.  After box.  After box.


Stage 1: Shock

'Jesus.  How much stuff did we bring?  I thought we did a pretty good job of reducing it before we even packed it all up, but this?  This is going on for EVER.  And how on earth are they going to get that sofa up the stairs?'


Stage 2: Denial

'It's going to be fine.  Look, they got the sofa around the corner in the stairwell and yes, I know it's upended in the lounge at the moment but once we get all those boxes unpacked there'll be loads of room, and who needs to swing a cat, anyway?


Stage 3: Anger

'I mean, for chrissake, what was I THINKING?  This box, this one here, we didn't unpack the last time we moved.  Who takes a travel cot to a different country just in case someone with a baby comes to visit, and then brings it back still in same the wrapping it arrived in the first time around?  Who does that?   And what about the empty picture frames?  Who moves EMPTY PICTURE FRAMES?  Why didn't somebody stop me? And that sofa will fit in the corner, between the fire-place and the cupboard.  I took measurements, dammit.  It WILL.  It must.  Or so help me...'


Stage 4: Bargaining

'OK.  Now.  If I put that in there, and this in here, then maybe, just maybe, we can fit the extra china set at the bottom of...  No, that's not going to work.  So, if we move that cupboard over here, and then balance that chest on top of it, perhaps the sofa can go against that wall, and then we can block the wall cabinet with that chair... No, that's not going to work because then how will we get out of the room?'


Stage 5: Grieving

'I can't believe it.  I worked so hard to get all that stuff ready to be moved, made so many trips to the recycling bank, delivered so many toys and so many of the kids clothes to the charity shop and for what?  That sofa - my favourite sofa, that I love so much - still won't fit in the sitting room...'


Stage 6: Acceptance

'There's nothing else for it.  The sofa is going to have to go.  Where's that number for the British Heart Foundation?

'Hello, is that the British Heart Foundation?  Do you still recycle sofas?  Great, I have one that I bought all the way back from XXX with me, it was especially made for us and we love it.... Wait.  What do you mean, you won't take it because it doesn't have a kitemark?'



(With apologies to Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who formulated the original theory of The Six Stages of Grief, an invaluable aid to those who are going through the grieving process)

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