Moving is never easy. No matter how near or far you go. But add on needing a passport, visa, and a USDA health certificate so your dog can board an international flight, and well, that's enough to send even the sanest of people over the edge.
It has now been four months since we found out we were going to Chennai, India for our next 3 year tour. Exciting? Yes. Scary? Perhaps. Overwhelming? Absolutely!
The great thing about finding out where you're moving several months in advance is having the opportunity to do your research. Thanks to the internet I'm able to order travel books, read up on history and the country, and meet "virtual friends" in the blogging world. One of these new friends I've met is Danielle Barkhouse (Danie), an experienced Canadian expat who moved to Chennai last year.
Danie recently published a book called, The Expat Arc. It's a must-read for expats, anyone in the process of moving, ALL tourists planning a trip to India, and just about everyone else too. The Expat Arc is Danie's journal of her move from Illinois to India. I enjoyed it so much I couldn't put it down, and finished it in one night. She details everything from selling a house in the States, to shipping her dog, traveling alone with her son while her husband is already there, her first impressions, and her highs and lows throughout her first year.
While most companies help you with the physical transition of moving your stuff from Point A to Point B, they don't necessarily help you with the mental transition of moving and expatriation (adapting to the host country / culture). Danie poignantly writes about her culture shock, something that isn't widely discussed out loud, and how she slowly moved through the phases of it. She lets you into her personal window to view what it's like to live in a 3rd World Country. She gives you the tour of India through her eyes.
"Danielle's First Post From Chennai" "WoW."
"Our first day in India was fascinating and overwhelming. We woke up early and stared out the window for hours. I'm not kidding, we couldn't tear ourselves away. Inside the gate of the hotel is a lush tropical paradise...palm trees, colorful plants, interesting birds, good food and eager staff."
"On the other side of the gate is a world that I doubt I could describe. Just when I think I've seen the most fascinating and peculiar thing ever, I see something even more fascinating. Am I using the word 'fascinating' too much? Like I said, I don't believe I have the words yet."
I have a few. Eloquent, Heartfelt, Laugh-Out-Loud Funny. Danie's ability to articulate a good story lends you to visualize her in the situation every step of the way. She has the grand fortune of living on a property that is frequented by snakes, she's had several mishaps with her household help, and she's even had a run in with a large, hairy arachnid (see page 63 of her book for the nail biting horror.)
The Expat Arc is one book you don't want to miss. For my family and friends, it will help answer many of the questions you're already asking me about moving to India. For friends out in cyberspace, it's a fun read about expat life, travel, and understanding yourself. And for all of you planning your trips out to visit us in the next year, bring along your copy as you can meet the author, and she'll sign it for you! Don't delay, go to Amazon.com today to get your copy.
If you have any questions / comments / thoughts for Danielle, she'll be occasionally stopping by my blog to answer them. Just go to the comment section and jot down your thoughts there!