“What are you bringing with you?!” is one of the first things people ask when they find out I’m leaving the country for a few years. I only have 15 days left to figure this out. And we all know how good I am at packing. (ha. ha ha.)
Part of me that wonders “what will I totally miss that I MUST take with me?! Do I need Easy Mac? Taco seasoning? A special kind of shampoo?”
But I also think I should just take the bare necessities and live like a Brazilian. In Brazil. Using Brazilian stuffs and eating Brazilian food, and loosen my grip on the bottle of sriracha I’ve come close to stashing in with my toiletries. Because isn’t that part of the experience? Sliding into a spot within the culture and people you are living with? I don’t want to be the snotty American who insists on hauling a Keurig machine with her through customs (I would never, trust me). But there is also a tiny part that reads all the ex-pat blogs and wonders if I might truly lose my mind over a Ranch dressing craving one day.
I’ve done my fair share of first and second and third world travel, and have discovered that these are my essentials:
- good shoes (i have old lady feet)
- scarf (you can just do so many things with a good one)
- pringles (this isn’t necessarily true, but is it just me, or are pringles like the ONLY SNACK that is always available, no matter what country you are in?!)
- promise of internet every few days (if only to rewatch youtubes of my dog)
- local beer (amen)
I’m bringing all my clothes except winter coats, pants, and my substantial boot collection (tiny tears as I wonder when I can next justify wearing my cowboy boots) which will remain at my parents and risk theft by sisterly associates. I’m bringing starter toiletries, as they can be very expensive. But I’m not picky about makeup or shampoo. You’re lucky to get me to use either. So I’ll transition well into whatever Brazil has to offer on the cheap.
I am bringing TONS o’ school supplies, as I’ve been told I’ll be ready to sell my soul for a Sharpie. Funny – I’m not nervous about moving into a country I’ve never been, a language I don’t know, a million miles away. But I’m scratching worry spots on myself over this new job.
I will be the English Language Developer for an international school in Rio. I will be assessing all incoming students (from grades K-12, representing 30+ nationalities) when they enter our school, determine their English needs (some come with no English), and develop modifications and plans, working alongside teachers and parents. So. You know. A walk in the proverbial academic park.
At least, as opposed to when I began teaching junior high Latin five years ago, I already know English. Before I was learning a dead, foreign (AND DEAD) language on the job. Like, a few pages ahead of my students. So, this will be easier, right?! ha. right.
Living wise, I’ll be sharing a 3-bed, 3-bath apartment with my bestie Leana, who will also be my boss (hee hee), and the new music teacher, who is bringing a DOG!!!! We will form our own family band with our combined musical talents AND the pup will make my transition away from Kizzy easier. We’re a three minute walk to school and to the newest and most modern mall in Rio (movies, restaurants, shops, AC!) and a tiny boat ride away from the beach. My room looks over the park and we already have plans for Friday afternoon happy hours. :)
Logistics of leaving means I need to sell my car, abandon my guitar, and I’m preemptively crying over leaving my dog. I have to give up my phone number, the only one I’ve ever had, AND my unlimited data plan (I know this sounds stupid, but. dangit.). I will miss Mexican food, and autumn, and what it feels like to be cold. I wonder if I will miss driving.
Four months at “home” has not been all beers and skittles. I need to be on my own again. I am grateful to have had a place to land, to be here for my mom, to sleep in, layer on some more fat, walk the trails of the East Bay, and spend time with a few good friends.
But more than anything I can’t wait to work again with tiny faces, tiny hands, tiny hugs. To feel wanted, needed, and a part of something. To have meaning. And a paycheck.
The urge to highlight and use a giant paper cutter and laminate things is strong. I’m even looking forward to meetings and redundant emails and crazy parents. (Remind me to read this in a few months when I’m ready to walk away from teaching. It will probably be a Monday in November. Because this is the face I start making during staff meetings.)
I feel like that arrow being pulled back tighter and tighter, so that she might fly forward, faster and higher than she had originally thought.