Abroad

Yesterday an internal job posting was sent to everyone at the office. In a nutshell they are looking for someone to move to Trinidad for a year in order to head up a department there. After receiving three reply emails from my wife with an emphatic “Yes”, I threw my hat into the ring. I almost haven’t stopped thinking about it ever since.

Of course there is the glamorous idea of living on a tropical island, but of course there are the logistics. Especially since with are currently a firmly planted young suburban family. Back when we were stateside it happened on a few occasions that the office I had worked at circulated similar offers. At one point I was chosen by a principal to move to China in order to work on skyscrapers our office over there was working on. At another point an offer was circulated asking if anyone wanted to go work in Hawaii for a couple weeks. And lastly after September 11th, our New York office was heading the effort for damage assessment. So a handful from our office traveled there in order to help. In the first two cases I became quite excited about the prospect of each opportunity. I got caught up in the glamour of exotic travel and really didn’t get too far into the logistics and reality of what it might entail. In the third case, I really didn’t have the chance to think about joining the effort since I was already on a big project and my boss immediately took my name off the list. In all of these cases, it was just my wife and I. So going away and having her come to visit seemed less of an issue at the time.

This time around it’s a bit different. Yes, over the first 24 hours I’ve been caught up in the glamour of living on a tropical island despite my efforts to educate myself of what life could really be like there. Though it has slowly started to sink in. I’m remembering those other times I was passed over. Another thought came to mind this evening as we were doing some of the rather mundane things we do day to day. As when we first moved to Montreal from Chicago, I missed those little things we were so used to. Now after six years it is Montreal that is the place of familiarity. A new place is exciting and different. And it is supposed to only be for a year, but a year is more than enough time to yearn for the little things you miss. It’s a minor thing that can seem major when you are living through it, but it is interesting that I’ve even started thinking about it before the selection process has even begun. I’m judging my changes of getting it are about 1 in 4.

I am also remembering the other times I went far away from home. A bit more so the time moving to France than the time moving to Montreal. And one thing that came across my mind this evening is what it was really like living in a foreign place. Looking back, it was such an interesting time full of new places. But over the past few years of really looking more closely at that time, I’ve been trying to think of how it was day to day. And in truth it really wasn’t that amazing. It was like how you normally live your life. You get by doing what you need to do and some days are not so fun while others can really be like a vacation. I remember that often when I was traveling I would save money by sleeping sitting up in a train compartment. My diet consisted heavily of candy bars and Coke (I blame my youth). Cheap energy, but not a great combo for feeling your best. Yet I think back fondly about European train travel. I also remember that during my stay over there that there were at least a couple times that I got totally fed up with the difficulties of living in a foreign land. Times were often not easy.

Although what I have written above casts a sobering picture of what a possible temporary relocation may be like, I’ve always been one to keep my expectations low in order to be pleasantly surprise. I still feel that this could be quite an amazing experience for myself and my family if it happens. But it is best to be mindful that it’s quite likely it will not be easy day to day. Now we will just wait to see what happens in the next step of the selection process.

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~ by Frank on June 5, 2009.

4 Responses to “Abroad”

  1. Go, if you can GO!
    It’s only a year, and it will change your life. Going from the States to Europe to Canada is nothing, experiencing a place like Trinidad with not only change you but will be an exhilarating time for your kids as well. Don’t worry about the house, you’ll find someone to rent it. But you do have to plan a little.
    We organized in one week our year in Thailand with my mom.
    And once we got there, it was hard, we experienced culture shock, but it was the best thing about my youth, it changed me in ways I can never know.

    If you need any help with relocation, expatriate support, I’m there to help.

    Don’t get your hopes up, but don’t forget about it completely, you never know…

  2. We don’t know what we don’t know, and travel is one of the only ways to really fathom / feel that basic truth.

    God, how inconceivably dull I would be, had I not lived on 3 different continents. It has made me what i am – for better or worse.

    Go, go, go!

  3. Thank you, vanou & un.slaked.

    It has been an interesting week learning about the place and what is involved and hashing through many of the things to consider. I’m kinda jumping the gun a bit since I haven’t even been notified that I’m on the shortlist, but if it does happen it could happen fast. I’d rather try thinking it through and not going than be rushed into a decision. It’ll be another week before we get more news.

  4. Well of course you have to go if you’re picked. What a fantastic opportunity. Winter would miss you terribly though ; )

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