Now that our shipment has arrived and the boxes have been unpacked, I’ve had some time to reflect on the things that we did and did not bring with us to Scotland. I must have been having some serious brain freezes in the weeks preceding the move, because some of the things I omitted and some things I obsessed over were just plain dumb. Fortunately, I moved to Scotland instead of Bangladesh and I can run out and buy an extra set of tennis shoes if need be. Mind you, the tennis shoes will cost 30 percent more than they would have stateside, but that’s just a price I’ll have to swallow.
Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I honestly
feel like we did about the best we could with the time and knowledge we were given. I
don’t know of a single ex-pat who can say ‘nope, I wouldn’t have done anything
differently’. It’s a complicated life, with so much to consider, and there is just
no way to anticipate every single scenario. For instance, just when I confidently
resolved that I didn't need 684 hangers, my mom
pointed out:‘You may not need those in Scotland, but you’ll definitely need them if your
next assignment is Nigeria’. Maybe so, but what do I do with them in the meantime?
Same thing with our pull out couch. It’s way too
big for our Scottish sitting room, but it sure would be great to have
if we ever need to fill a 5000 square foot house in Thailand. So do we hold on
to it uncomfortably for the next 2-3 years on the hypothetical possibility that
we’ll need it later, only to find out that we’ll be living in equally small
housing in Perth, Australia? And if we do go to Perth, do we continue to
hold on to it in case our next assignment
is in Thailand? Mental gymnastics, I’m telling you.
So, with my limited
knowledge, here’s the list I’ve been able to come up with of things I should
have packed to bring to Scotland.
In my suitcase:
An extra pair of tennis shoes. I only brought one
pair of running shoes in my suitcase because I figured they’d last me the 6-10
weeks until our shipment came with an extra pair of my favorite Nikes. What I
didn't consider was that we’d be joining a fancy-schmancy gym
in the first week of our arrival, and fancy-schmancy gyms usually frown upon
wearing muddy shoes on their fancy-schmancy equipment and through their
fancy-schmancy locker rooms. And it’s impossible to run in Scotland without
getting your tennis shoes absolutely caked with dirt. Now that my shipment has arrived,
I have my neat tidy gym shoes tucked into my gym bag and my disgustingly filthy
running shoes sitting by the front door. I just had to live through 6 weeks of embarrassment
in the meantime. Now, that’s a first world problem if I have ever heard one,
but it was a problem that could have been easily avoided nonetheless.
equipment. I packed our Vonage box in our air shipment thinking it would get to
us within the first week, and since we didn’t have our phone line/internet
connected until 2 ½ weeks after we moved in, it would have been pretty useless
to bring in my suitcase. However, our air shipment didn’t arrive until about 3 ½
weeks after we arrived, so I went a full week with pointlessly not being able
to call home. I was really frustrated. So was my Mom. Again, an easily avoidable
problem, and one that leads me to my next item.
A US Telephone. The telephones here have different plug ins that don't intuitively plug into an American Vonage box. We eventually got it sorted out, but instead of taking 5 minutes to get it working, it took us about 5 hours of frustration to figure it out.
Water proof hiking pants. The hiking in Scotland is magnificent, but
the weather is not. I brought hiking pants with UV protection, but too much
sunlight is usually not a problem in Aberdeen. I can easily buy a pair of rain resistant
‘trousers’ here, but again, at about a 30% higher cost.
Air Shipment: Hindsight
regarding the air shipment packing is a bit skewed since ours didn’t arrive
until 3 weeks into our move, and thus only about 2 weeks before the rest of our
belongings. Most everyone else I’ve talked to received theirs within the first
week. But even if we had received ours right away these items would have been
Measuring cups and mixing bowls. I had to get creative for cooking
supplies in our first few weeks, and the problem couldn’t be solved by getting measuring
cups here since the Brits use the metric measuring system, and I use American
recipes. My converter app on the I-phone has been a big help through the
transition, and I also sterilized my dogs' food cups since I know Bailey’s is 1
cup and Sam’s is ½ cup. You gotta use the resources you have.
should have brought more adaptors for our US electronics. I only brought 4 with
us, 3 of which were previously designated for our up/down appliance converters.
That means that we are constantly switching the spare between our computer/phone
chargers, our printer, lamps, hairdryer and American DVD players. I just
ordered 20 adaptors from Amazon UK so I should have them by Friday, but I wish
I would have had them off the bat. I really should have known better on that
A shoe rack. We’re grateful to have a master
walk-in closet, which is truly a luxury in Scotland. And while this closet is enough
to fit most of my clothes and shoes, there is a bit of overflow. Fortunately,
we anticipated this to an extent, so we bought a hanging rack for my
summer/work/church clothes. However, we didn't come prepared with a place to house
my summer/work/church shoes, and for now they are thrown willy-nilly into a
cloth box beneath the hanging rack. It’s working, but I’d feel better if they
had a bit of shelter. I don’t want them to start feeling unloved.
A small bathroom
Scots are seriously storage challenged, and most of the bathrooms don't have cabinets
or closets, so you've got to create a space to put your towels. Since our
family bathroom is quite large, we'd like to put a small linen closet against
one wall, but we can't find one here for less than about $300. And trust me,
they aren't worth $300. At Target, something of higher quality would sell for
less than $100, so it's a hard pill to swallow.
Food. This one is tricky because technically you aren’t supposed to bring
food with you. I’m not sure if that’s a UK rule or if it’s the moving company’s
policy, but either way it wasn’t that big of a deal. Knowing that, I probably would
have brought an extra can or two of Tony Chacere’s Cajun seasoning, more JIF
natural peanut butter, and definitely Smart Pop Fat Free popcorn mini-bags.
There is no low fat popcorn to be found in Scotland, and we are really missing
this go-to snack. We brought our air popper, but I haven’t found any raw
kernels yet. For now, the hunt for raw kernels is on, but when I go back to the
States in October, I’m definitely bringing back a year supply of the mini bags.
Like I said, I’m sure I’ll be amending this
list as the months go by and as my hindsight gets even clearer. However, this
post is getting a little lengthy so I’ll save the things I wouldn’t have
packed, and the things I’m glad I brought for another day.
Any ex-pats out
there have any insights about what they would have done differently? Any future
expats have any questions about something you’re debating about bringing/not
bringing with you?