We are officially Expats in England. Joe, Joci, and I arrived yesterday after a 10 hour flight from Phoenix and a lot of tears with my Mom and Dad. It was really tough to say goodbye, and things here are different than I expected, but we're all good.
It all started in November. Both Jon and I had been working from home when a position within Jon's company was posted for Milton Keynes, United Kingdom. Jon brought it up, half kidding, and something inside of me...just...clicked. I told him to go for it. We talked about it a little and he applied. Then, we were turned down for another associate in his company. We were disappointed, but moved on. We bought lots of big Christmas gifts and didn't think anything of it again until January when Jon got another email asking if he was still interested as his associate had declined the offer.
We began the LONG process of applying for a visa to the UK through a company that Jon's company had hired to help us. To say this process was long and tedious and brought us to the brink of bailing on the whole process a couple of times, would be putting it mildly. But, we figured this was our one big shot and if we didn't go for it, then we could be passing on an opportunity that we would later regret. It took three months to get our paperwork ready, going back and forth by email with our visa liason. We submitted by FedEx by putting our packet on the plane five minutes before it was due.
We were told that it could take two to thirty days for the visa to be approved. It took them about four days to acknowledge receipt, and only two days to approve our visa. After approval, we had three weeks to leave the country, yup, that's it.
I put in my notice at work, we had two final garage sales, entertained two out of town guests, packed up or stored our house, sold our cars, and all the other little stuff that goes along with it. Even better Jon left early, first to go to Copenhagen, then to England, then to Rotterdam, and back to England, just in time to pick the kids and I up from the airport.
If you know me, you know I can get overwhelmed easily at first. Then I recover and am good to go. I told myself again and again through the process that this is a marathon that I have to run, not a sprint. There were going to be several steps to go through, each one a pain in the ass till we get to where we're back on track. Not really my style, and so it's been a bit of a struggle for me, certainly, but I think I did better than I normally would have.
There were some surprises along the way. Like finding out that I have diabetes. More on that in another post. I was surprised by how hard Joci took to saying goodbye to things, our house, our dogs (again, another post), our cars, but especially, my parents. I was surprised by how well Joe did these things. His biggest struggles was with leaving his two best friends since Kindergarten and leaving my parents.
The car ride from my parent's house was really hard. There were A LOT of tears, as I'm sure my parents had after we left as well. Joci and I sobbed while Joe just quietly cried to himself. The good thing there, though, is that they are planning on visiting England in September, and we are already looking forward to that. It was hard to say goodbye to the people in my life, even though we will be back soon. My coworkers were so generous and kind, my Aunt Rene cried, and my friends sent me off with lots of hugs. I can say honestly, the outpouring of love that I felt, truly touched my heart. Everyone was so excited for us.
The plane ride, believe it or not, was not that bad, probably because I was expecting it to be hell, wondering if I should 'drug' my kids, etc. Truly though, it was much better than I thought. The wait at the airport was quick, mostly because of two slow moving kids and things to do. Once we got to the gate, we got a little snack and then I realized that the plane was boarding travellers that needed assistance or had young children, and that was us. To make my life easier next time I will for sure, not be taking so much on with us to the plane. Joe and Joci were perfect ANGELS! I am so utterly proud of them. The only bad part of the trip was being about an hour delayed in waiting to take off because of some luggage issue and the plane was a bit hot and stuffy. Other than that, British Airways was awesome to fly with and super comfy, even in the econo class. Once we got to England the kids and I employed Hooge Teamwork and worked together to get the luggage, all five HUGE pieces onto two trollies, find our elevators and transport, and finally walk out to see...Jon waiting for us.
Now the real work begins...
We have to find a school for the kids and a house to rent.
I have to get used to being a stay at home Mom.
I have to learn how to drive a manual with the wheel on the right side of the car, driving on the left side of the road.
I have to figure out how to make our teeny tiny washer/dryer combo make my clothes NOT come out wrinkled so that I am not ironing every single piece of clothing.
We have to figure out our cell phones.
There's a lot to do and I will try to keep you all posted on what we learn and where we go.