It's crunch time. Exactly three weeks from today I will touch down in Brussels, Belgium and begin a 5 1/2 month overseas stint. It's the fourth time I've left the U.S. to spend multiple months living in Europe, so you'd think I'd be really good at executing trans-Atlantic moves. You'd think. But instead of feeling like I'm making progress on the ever-growing pre-trip to-do list, I feel like I'm swimming upstream. The list isn't getting shorter, it's getting longer, and time is quickly running out.
Moving your entire life to a foreign country is no easy task. There are boxes and suitcases to pack, financial matters to rearrange, purchases to make and friends and family to see one last-for-now time. You might have to find new housing, renew your passport, buy international health insurance, or prepare for a new job. My current to-do list includes such daunting tasks as "research/buy a new laptop," "clean apartment from top to bottom," and "rent storage unit; fill with worldly possessions." I have managed to find a nice couple from Seattle to sublet my place, which I admit was a satisfying cross-off, but the anxiety level of too much to do and too little time is still threatening to put an end to my sanity, once and for all.
Why doesn't moving overseas seem to get any easier the more I do it? Denial, perhaps? I do always tell myself I have a ton of time to get things done, but it's never true. The preparations are enormous, and distractions of regular, daily life don't just stop because you tell the universe you have an overseas adventure on your hands. The result is that I'm taken by surprise each and every time the big day starts to creep up on the calendar. My only consolation is that on the first three times I moved to Euorpe, despite everything I had to do last minute, I never once missed the plane because of unfinished business. And with the prospect of living la vie en Belgique, I'm not about to ruin my perfect record.