You pack, you say your farewells, you fly to the new place… and then what? Nothing! You build your whole life from scratch. You search for an apartment, go to Ikea to buy lots of things that you truly need, and you make new friends. How hard can it be right? Depends how you look at it.
Depends if you go on an assignment or a local contract. In my case, the move to Hong Kong was an assignment. Meaning the company found an apartment for me where I could stay for the whole duration of the assignment. The company also paid the rent… fab! In the case of a local contract the company still provides temporary accommodation for a month – and they pay for it… BUT after a month you need to find your own place. If you don’t, you have a problem. Currently I’m four weeks in Germany and managed to find a place… it wasn’t easy and the search road was bumpy but it finally happened. Anyway, stories about house hunting in Germany in the next post 😛
One way or another, if it’s an assignment or a local contract you arrive at a foreign place, to stay at an alien apartment which you have to make somehow your own.
The moment I arrived in my apartment in HK I was a bit pissed off at how cold it was. The aircon was put on arctic and I was literally shivering. Then I opened the closet and thought it’s a joke. Only five hangers. Then I opened the kitchen cabinet and thought It’s also a joke.
Two cups and two glasses. No wine glasses, no corkscrew, no bottle opener. How was I supposed to open my wine?! Looked up on the internet if there is an Ikea in the town. There was! So not thinking much, I went there to buy some small things. Yeah right… ended up with a bag full of stuff. Including a tablecloth and candles. With time I started to love my HK apartment. New candles, blankets and cushions made it very cosy. Here in Germany, I went to Ikea last Friday to snoop around… also went twice to TK Maxx to see what they have in the home section 😀
However, it’s not only about home décor, but there are also other things. You need to check out the local supermarkets to see where it’s best to buy food and wine. For example, after three months in HK I found a local supermarket where they constantly had a sale on wine… not bad. You explore that only by walking around the neighbourhood and looking what’s there or you ask some colleagues at work for advice. There are also all sorts of other things. Restaurants, bars, pubs, bakeries, dry cleaners AND public transport as well as the city’s topography. All that takes time, it’s not obvious straight away. Remember when in Singapore PRS and I were trying to get back to the dormitory after a whole day of sightseeing. We walked across the town to the metro station to take the train to the stop we knew. Couple of weeks later it came to us that that day we could take a bus and go three stops back to the campus. Also how confused I was when walking around Tsim Sha Tsui trying to get back to my apartment. Two weeks later I figured that I could simply walk down the TST promenade… all the little shortcuts you find with time.
Now in Germany I have another everyday challenge apart from the usual. I need to find a pole dance studio and a fitness centre. Man, if I think that it’s already one month without the pole I feel extremely sad. Plus, I feel that the muscles I build up are disappearing slowly.
Although I miss physical exercise as hell I know that I have to give myself time to deal with the move first. After that I will have plenty of time to get my strength back. Hoppe my muscles won’t completely fade away within one month. However!!! I do yoga and stretch so I don’t get completely out of shape.
Any pieces of advice on how to discover your new everyday life easier in a new place? Well, keep your eyes open, pay attention to posters… Yes, that’s for change! By paying attention to posters on the public transport and ads on TV you can find interesting apps, discounts or activities happening in your new hometown. I discovered a public transportation discount for example.
Yes, indeed you need to find people to hang out with, so you don’t go crazy. Now here let’s be frank the first six to eight weeks you will be focused mostly on work as your social life won’t exist at all. That means you will be alone for most of the time. Now here I would like to remind you that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. For all those in doubt about the difference refer to one of my precious posts [link here]. It’s normal that in the first weeks in a new place you won’t know many people apart from your boss and one or two work colleagues. Now it’s even more difficult because of the still remaining covid restrictions not many people go to the office. However, I hope that will end eventually and normal office life will return as normal or at least a bit as normal.
Anyway, yes, right… in a normal pre covid environment you could meet people to hang out with at the office. If you are a smoker like me you would probably meet people in the smoking corner. This is how I met two of my very good friends in HK – Henry and Bodhi. Another place to meet people is a bar where all the people from the office go after work to have a beer.
In HK there was a famous corner bar. At 6.00 pm you could see everybody there from the office. Magic trick is to ask one of the people you already know to go to a bar for a beer. After an hour or two, more and more people start coming in and your friend happens to know some of them and you get introduced… and so the wheel starts. A fantastic way to meet new friends. In case you don’t smoke or drink you can go for example to a session of the Toastmasters speaking club. In that speaking club there is always an opportunity to say that you are new in town and look for advice and help. Knowing that the people who go to those sessions are always extremely helpful I can assure you that you won’t feel alone anymore after visiting one of those sessions.
Generally, and again with time you will find new places to shop in, new bars to drink at and people to hang out with. No stress, just patience.
What about you Alice?!
Well, it felt a bit weird after arriving in Dusseldorf. I told you already about the goodbye drama at Krakow airport. I did feel sad after leaving behind all those people I cared about.
Basically, the first ten days in Germany were odd. I couldn’t work – literally as I was waiting for all the technical stuff to get sorted. In the meantime, I was walking a lot to explore the city. Managed to find a nice sauna 😀 Took care of all the admin stuff like setting up a bank account, registering my stay at the city hall and most of all looking for an apartment. However, I felt so exhausted all the time and I was catching up on sleep. Seriously, I was sleeping a lot. It felt like I needed to recharge the sleep batteries, as they went on low during February and all those activities I did in Krakow. Think that somehow the universe knew that I needed the time to chill out and relax. I did use the time fully… and relaxed! Now after being able to work again, I feel full of energy and ready to thieve. Also, a huge plus point, one of my friends from Kraków came over for a one week visit to Dusseldorf. Man, that was really cool as I wasn’t alone but also could be the fab host and show him the cool places I managed to discover in the first weeks.
Now, there will be lot of new challenges but how do we say in Germany – auf ein neues 😀