Thursday, September 24, 2009

What should have been in my suitcase!

Looking at these first four entries, it is obvious that I don’t know what I’m doing.  They are way too long, I need more pictures and more paragraph breaks.  This is a learning experience, bear with me.

See there, new paragraph.  So, once you have found your new home abroad, the next question is “What should I bring from home and what’s the best way to get it over there?”

Once again, your negotiating skills will need to be sharpened.  The ideal situation is for the Company to pay for a 20 or 40 foot container which will be packed up in your home country and shipped across the ocean to your new location.  It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks for a container to travel from Point A to Point B.  Additionally, you might want to ask for an air shipment as well, which takes about 10 days to 2 weeks to arrive.  The little air shipment is a pallet of your boxes, (we fit nine cardboard boxes on our pallet), of stuff that you need to survive during the weeks before your ocean container arrives.

What goes where?  Well, this is up to your personal needs and what may or may not be available in your new country. When you go for your househunting trip make sure to visit the grocery stores, liquor stores, electronic stores, etc.  to see what YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BUY that you are addicted to back home.   Ex-pats love to play a game called “What’s in your suitcase?”  We pack the strangest stuff!

Here’s a list of some of the crazy things that I have smuggled in suitcases and boxes from the US to Switzerland, some of which may or may not be illegal, but I really don’t care.

1.        Large glass bottles of Texas Pete hot sauce.

2.       Cans and cans of jalapeno, Anaheim, chipotle, ancho and any other kind of non-perishable peppers I can find.  They don’t quite get the whole Mexican food thing here in Switzerland.
3.       Seed packets of cilantro, all of the above peppers and tomatillos.
4.       Jars and jars of banana peppers.
5.       Cans of black beans.
6.       Boxes of brown sugar and self-rising flour.

7.       4 vintage Eames fiberglass shell chairs, disassembled and brought through customs as checked baggage.
8.       Goo Gone

The one thing I miss that, alas, cannot be shipped is bagged ice.  The story of hosting my first cocktail party here in Switzerland and what I had to go through to amass enough ice is a story for another day.

The one thing that most ex-pats say that they regret not bringing is more books.  Books are very expensive to ship after the fact, so make sure to get them on the container.

The air shipment will most likely be more clothes, your guide books and language tapes, your TV and printer (if you are bringing them), air mattresses, pillows, bedding, towels, a few family photos—all of the stuff that will make your life easier for the two months before your container arrives.  Besides, it feels like Christmas when you have been living out of your suitcases for two weeks and then this little bit of home shows up.    Take advantage of it!

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