I've done it, I've actually done it!
Firstly I guess it's probably a good idea to explain the absence of posts over the last few weeks. Since the end of the academic term everything has been a little crazy and time has just slipped by. I have very selfishly spent the time with my family, trying to make the most of the sort holiday whilst also selling, packing and generally trying to sort everything. You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff that you have to do even when it's only you going to the other side of the world.
You know, it has to be said there is something quite therapeutic about being put in a position where you have to get rid of the majority of your possessions. You really are in a unique position to look at your life and take stock of what's important. It also turns out that you wouldn't believe the amount of utter rubbish that can be crammed into a small house. I say that but those who know me will be sat there and probably saying "I told you so!" (I'm looking at you Christopher).
For anyone out there who hasn't gone through this sort of experience I can really recommend it, even if you’re not about to up sticks and fly to the other side of the world. That said, here are my top tips for getting rid of the stuff you don't want / need:
1. Sell it. Gumtree is an amazing invention, we had people coming from literally all over the south of the U.K to collect the stuff we put in there, without a doubt my favourite selling tool. eBay has been great as well, but the fees are killer, expect to spend at least a 5th of the sale price in fees for both eBay and PayPal alone. Finally Car Boot sales, personally I hate these mostly due to the ridiculous early morning starts (really not a morning person) but they do allow you to just sell stuff.
2. Give it away. There is without a doubt something genuinely very lovely about giving your possessions to friends and family and. It's amazing what your closest and dearest want from your house given half the chance. A slow cooker here, 140 DVD's there (not a joke), even the old Hornby track you forgot you had in the loft.
3. Charity shop. This sort of goes without saying (I hope), but your local charity shop will be more than happy to take most of the rest of the stuff you decided you don't want to keep. My theory being that even if they only were to get 50p for what you give them, it will help to do some good in the world. Perhaps a slightly rose tinted way to look at it, but never the less my opinion, and we gave a lot to them so I really hope it to be true.
4. The dump. Not much to say about this suffice to say that I sent ALOT of stuff to the dump. In fact I took 6 car loads, and I mean full car loads, to the local dump and it felt good. Really good. The stuff that I took had little or no use to anyone and the very act of chucking it in a skip made me feel surprisingly positive about everything.
An Emotional Goodbye
|A lonely walk down the airbridge|
So the time that I had been truly dreading had come, time to say goodbye. You know there was a
sense of normality until the morning of my flight, almost the calm before the storm. That all changed as soon as the alarm went off and things started to really happen. Packing the car, checking I had everything, the inevitable last minute panic that I had my passport and Visa confirmation letter all made it worse.
You know the worst part of all of this was that I really couldn't comprehend how I was going to be able to survive without my family with me, but feeling like I had to keep things together for them. The car journey to Heathrow was somewhat quite to say the least, my son slept, my mother didn't say much (That’s a first) and my wife just kept looking at me. It felt very surreal.
Now they say that every cloud has a silver lining and you have to hold onto these small gifts. When I went to drop my bags I knew that I was over my weight allowance by about 8kg, enough for any airline to charge me a lot of money. I can't say I was terribly happy at the check in desk and I think that may have helped as the lady on the counter clearly worked out the overweight but chose to overlook it. Not an upgrade, but still a very helpful gesture.
We had all decided that it would be better to get to the airport early and have breakfast there, better that than miss the flight. To be honest that felt almost normal, just chatting away with my family, but then came the time for me to leave them. The part that got to me the most? Saying goodbye to my 3 year old son. He has been the light of my life since he came into this world and to know I wasn't going to see him for over 2 months was more than a little gut-wrenching. He had no idea what it all meant and I cannot explain how hard that was. As always my wife was amazing, I just don't know what I would do without her in my life.
The plane journey was uneventful, but I can assure you 14 hours gives you plenty of time to not sleep and think things over and over in your head. I can only give anyone in a similar position this piece of advice ... take a book. A mistake I won't make again was not taking one, watching mindless films is in no way as good of an escape as a book is.
As it turns out I wasn't the only person from my school on the flight, the Vice Principle from my school was also flying with her son and husband. They were really lovely and I owe them a special thank you for making the whole experience a lot easier.
A Bit Of A Shock
Once the plane arrived it just felt like a holiday on my own, the hot and humid air, a standard airport that I had never been to before. Thankfully I had my travel companions with me to help me though the whole process of working out where the hell to go, KLIA is a big place and not as straight forward as other major airports.
I cannot explain how long the queue for immigration was, I've seen places like Heathrow at its worst and that had nothing on KLIA. For the standard line it was over 2 hours and this wasn't even a very busy day!
Again, thankfully the vice principle made the decision that as they have resident status we could risk going through the line for locals. This line, although MUCH shorter, still took over an hour for us to get through as they seemed to not be bothered about the number of people amassing at the back. To say it was a slightly off-putting arrival is an understatement.
Again, that suggestion of the book is a top tip!
Off To School We Go
So, after settling into what I can only call the world’s smallest hotel room, albeit clean and functional, for all of 30 minutes it was time to get into school. I had made the decision to go straight in rather than bumble around a tiny room on my own, my theory being it would keep my mind off of things and help with the jet lag. Guess what, it did exactly what it was meant to do and made me feel like I was at least making some kind of effort to start a new life, even if I felt like a walking zombie.
I'm not going to go into too much detail here about what we have covered over the course of the induction weeks, suffice to say there is so much to cover it is going to be another blog post next week.
My final thought for my post is this ... it doesn’t get any easier, you just get used to it and everyone else is going through some sort of similar experience as you. Everyone has left something and everyone is new, embrace this and get to know their stories as it will help make sense of yours.