Missing piece

I had my last day at work last week. It feels frightening not having a job or not really knowing what I am going to do the next couple of years. It feels like a piece of me is missing.

Your job and identity

I would define my professional identity with Before and After Teaching. I studied languages and pedagogical studies in Finland and eventually got a job as a language teacher in a business school. I liked my job and the school and students. A teacher in Finland has a lot of freedom and they are trusted experts. Days were never alike and you got to cry every spring when the classes graduated.

Then I met my Dane and moved to Denmark. I wanted to try something else than teaching – I thought I would go back to teaching once I had learned Danish. Life happened – I never got back to the classroom. I managed to learn Danish but it took a long time and by that time I was no longer a teacher.

The great unknown – career abroad

I have had quite a few jobs during my almost 15 years in Denmark. I even tried working as a substitute teacher in a private school in Copenhagen. I got a job a couple of years ago that I really enjoyed doing and where I felt I was improving and learning new skills every day. I felt the same drive as what I had as a teacher in Finland. And now I had to leave that job and jump into the great unknown.

We (me and my husband) have discussed that my task in New Zealand will be to help the twins to settle and give them the best possible start in the new country with a new language. And I am fine with that – it is a privilege to be able to do that. But knowing our twins I think that they might be fast in integrating and making new friends. What will I do then? I´m afraid I will feel restless without a job.

Redefining yourself – again

So I will have to redefine my professional me again. I have always said I would love to be an entrepreneur. But I was a teacher and being an entrepreneur was just a silly dream, I told myself. Well, now I have a chance to develop that idea, I guess. I get exhausted by thinking of the possibilities but also excited. When you are moving to another part of the world, nobody knows you. I can dye my hair blue and wear hippy clothes and pretend I have always been avant-garde like that? I guess I am not doing that.. However, now is my opportunity to take the time and think: what do I want to do (professionally) in my life? Or do I need to do that?

Karriereverweigerer

German language has a word for a person whose priorities lie somewhere else than in her career. I am not a career person – if career means being ambitious about your title, how many people you manage, how much money you earn etc. But I have always wanted to have a job with challenges and possibilities to grow and learn and it is important for me to do quality work. We Finns are quite similar to the Germans – hard work is highly valued. Nothing wrong with that – if that is what you want. But people who openly say that their values are different, are often considered as lazy.

When I stayed at home with our twins for 2 years, that was pretty damn hard job. I felt (every single day) that if I was in an office, at least I could drink a cup of coffee when it is still hot. But I loved being with the kids and chose to do it (again, we were privileged to be able to do that financially) even though it was not a standard in Denmark and I had to justify it (many Danes told me I was doing my kids harm by having them at home – they would not learn to cope socially with other kids) over and over again.

Now I need to find that same mode again – even though the kids are bigger and they don´t need me 24/7. But I am pretty sure that a new country, new culture and new language will give me a new status at home – a status, which I myself have to learn to cherish.

PS. I had this post as a draft for couple of days. I have already done some research in LinkedIn, applied for a freelance job, found a full-time distance job I am considering of applying… I try to stop myself – this post is something I need to read myself, again and again.

Piece of cake

flea market rack

Flea market by the street and online

This morning at 6:04 I sold our sofa bed in the office. I put it on sale online last evening. The room is getting empty now – only my office chair, office desk and wine fridge are left. Well, that is pretty much all I need for the coming few weeks – wine and work…

We also had a few days´ experiment with a self-service flea market outside our house. I put a rack of clothes, some toys and books by the road with a sign, that people are welcome to take what they think they can use and pay (via mobile phone) what they think it is worth. We did that for 4 days and earned around 150€. Some of the clothes got stolen but a lot of people did pay for what they took. The twins were helping out by sorting out the rack, bringing back the hangers and bringing out new clothes to be sold. Yesterday I used all the money to buy new clothes for the twins. I had decided not to buy anything before moving to New Zealand but well, those online shops are damn good to advertise their flash sales and I am apparently weak for kids´ clothing..

Planning a party

We are going to throw a party for the twins´ classmates and another one for family friends in June. For the kids I am going to get a polaroid camera and photo booth – yes, 10yo kids love taking selfies and they do have mobile phones. But with polaroid camera we can have the actual photographs and get an album for all the guests, which they can decorate and write messages etc. That will keep them busy at least for an hour, right?

For the friends I have planned to serve cocktails. I recently discovered that we have a lot of booze – for example 15 different bottles of gin… My husband is not only food enthusiast but also collects wine – and apparently also gin. We do have a shaker and some other equipment for creating cocktails but I try not to involve the engineer in this planning because I am certain he would find a gadget we do not have but absolutely need for the party..

The twins also turn 10yo in a few weeks. That calls for some other gatherings, at least within the family. All the festivities need to be held outside due to Covid-19. Luckily the situation with Covid-19 is quite good in Denmark and our region at the moment so I am confident we can organize these parties outside in the garden. It is also easy and free of charge to be tested in Denmark so we will certainly ask people to do that before they come. The older family members have gotten their vaccinations and that is a big relief.

So far things run smoothly and without stress. Moving to New Zealand does not feel so real yet – but the disappearing furniture in the house and the reality, that I will stop working in few weeks do send some signals that something is going on. I have surprised myself by being able to take everything very calmly, day by day, and not getting stressed over details. When I stop working, I will probably start stressing over things that should be done, sold or sorted.

Piece by piece

Three months to the D-Day

I am usually quite organized and like to do excel-lists and plans and really get into details – usually way too early. This time I try to be more relaxed and concentrate on the bigger picture. What is really important? Renting out our house in Denmark is important and also takes a little time and effort. We have been living in our house for 6 years now and it is filled with stuff that we will never need. We don´t know if the future tenant wants to rent the house furnished or not…

Konmari our way

I started sorting everything out by accident when I put some closets on sale. Turned out they were interesting (and probably very cheap) as they got sold right away. That resulted in bunks of clothes (mostly my husband´s) and weird gadgets and odd random equipment (also mostly my husband´s) I did not know we had, being everywhere. So we needed to go through all that and decide what to do with them. I would love to live minimalistic so now was the chance! Every piece of clothing or “stuff” got a very fast evaluation: do I know what this is? will I miss it if I throw it away? can I give it to someone or maybe sell it?

Stuff we lost in the process

I don´t know how much money we have spent on CDs and DVDs… Anyhow, we had a lot of them. The Finnish ones I gave away to Finns having Finnish speaking kids. CDs got thrown away. Husband updated his wardrobe and woop – 2 big plastic bags were given to the local charity shop. The biggest inventory task so far has been the stuff from our office furniture. How many USB-sticks can one have?? Looks like I have a dozen from every job I´ve had since 2008 (quite a few). And of course, the only one I wanted to find was missing. Went through all the paperwork and thought that maybe that work contract from 1997 or receipt for my first bike in Denmark (2008) were not that important to save anymore..

Recycling – Money in my pocket and free space in the storage

In addition to the furniture, I have also sold kids´ toys and clothes. Luckily, they have good apps for selling second-hand in Denmark and it is free to use them. I have not calculated my income for selling out our belongings – it is more relevant to get rid of the things we do not need anymore. Any money in the pocket for that is a plus. Not to mention the environmental aspect when recycling something that very well can be used by someone else. Now, when I finish writing this, I will put up a little garage sale by our road – people can take what they think they can use and pay by mobile pay what ever they can / feel it is worth. Excited to see the results…

What ends up in the storage

We will only take a few luggage with us so of course, we need to put quite a lot in the storage here in Denmark. That will be the clothes that survive the evaluation: have I worn this during the last 12 months? No – sell / bin, Yes – to NZ/storage. Some of the furniture needs to go there, too. Not that much, though. The kids´ rooms will be refurbished when we get back – from little girls´ rooms to teenager rooms (omg!). Our bedroom will be renovated, too, when we get back. But we have tons of glasses, plates, vases (although I never seem to find any, when somebody gives me flowers..), serving dishes… Quite a few have some stories behind them and I kind of want to keep most of them. The rest I will try to give away to some students / young people moving away from home. We also have a kitchen equipment for every occasion as my husband looooves to cook – and he is an engineer. No need to elaborate, I guess. Every single machine is obviously very important so they need to go to the storage. Like also the triathlon bike, mountain bike, racing bike and the training equipment for bike training inside during winter months… You get the picture.

How to prepare a child to move abroad

Our twins are around 10 years old and not (at all) alike. The other one has been heart broken about us moving away, her missing all her friends, not being able to speak and understand the local language… just to name a few. Now that we got the border exemption, flights and the quarantine hotel booked we decided to contact the school here in Denmark and also all the parents of the twins´ classmates.

Find the pain

The more troubled twin seemed almost like a new person when she came home from school after all the adults had gotten our e-mail about us moving. She had been talking to her friends about our plans but had not really had any adult in the school to support her and apparently some of the kids thought that it would not be possible for us to move. She was relieved that “now the others believed her”. It has always been a big thing for her to be believed – that she does not lie. So maybe that was the trick? To get the adults in school and around other kids´ behind us to support her?

One morning she told me that sometimes she is almost happy about New Zealand. I asked her why, and she said that when she got the date for our move, and found out that she would still have time to go to a new club at school (starts 1,5 months before we move) and that she could still get the computer (she would have gotten a computer from school after summer), she said that she feels better. These things were never mentioned when she was really unhappy and crying – the the issues were about friends and family forgetting us while we are away. They have also talked about that at school – that we will keep contact with the class and that everybody would love to be in our shoes and move to New Zealand.

Next Steps

We decided to involve the twins as early as possible so that they would have time to get used to the idea. The next steps will be:

  • Getting them involved: “house hunt” online together online and make lists of things that they would like to have in our new home.
  • Language: I told them that we will drop the Finnish lessons they have been having every other week. Instead, I will teach them English. We will start once a week and see if we can practice at least 2-3 times a week the closer we get to the move.
  • Get to know our new home town online together: We will find out together what Christchurch looks like, what do they have there, how the climate is etc.

I am planning to start this next week. The other twin does not seem to be concerned at all and is talking about the move to everybody. The other one, however, is still quiet about it sometimes and prefers not to talk about the moving too much. I think I need to get them involved separately, because the happy twin will get the other one even more shut down with her positive approach.

It is not easy and my mother´s heart is sometimes aching for the silently grieving little girl. I can only hope this will turn out fine and that we all will get the experience of our lifetime.

Second thoughts

I have always done this, my whole life. I get excited about something big and get dedicated and do not give up before I have turned every stone to achieve my goal. Then I start hesitating and second guessing after succeeding – like now.

Moving to the other side of the world with kids

My biggest concern is our twins. The other one is very happy-go-lucky and does not worry too much about the next day. The other one, however, is very unhappy about moving to NZ. Listening to her thoughts is tough and makes me think if this is the right thing to do. Am I going to make my kids´ life a misery. Taking them away from their friends, home and everything they love here in Denmark. What if they don´t learn the language, have problems getting friends, hate New Zealand… What if, what if.

How to make the move easier for all of us

If we did not have the pandemic, I would hire a tutor for the twins to get some extra help with English. Maybe that will be possible in the spring, I really hope so. Otherwise I will start the tutoring myself.

We will arrive in NZ with 4 suitcases in the middle of the night, local time. We need to find a house where to live in Christchurch. I will try to narrow down the areas in the city – but it is hard when you know so little. My most important criteria are a good school for the girls and a solid house or flat on the ground floor that does not fall apart in case of an earthquake (omg -cannot even think about those). It should be close to my husbands office so that he does not have to commute a long time and also close enough some kind of center with shops and city life. Sounds simple but when you know very little about the town and country you are moving to, you end up searching and reading very controversial opinions given by people you don´t know.

We only live once

Every time I start thinking about the scary things about moving and second guessing our decision I find it comforting to asking myself: If you decided not to move because of being scared – would you regret not taking the chance? I know I would – we would regret the rest of our life not giving the opportunity a chance. So after all, the decision was not that hard. We only live once – and we have been lucky to have this opportunity to explore the world and show our kids that the world is full of possibilities.

Moving to New Zealand gets real

In the beginning it was just a dream

Quite a few years ago we visited New Zealand and fell in love with the country. The same time my husband was contacted by a headhunter, who asked if he could think of moving to Australia or New Zealand. Well, after the trip to North Island we definitely could think of that!

However, the timing was not right and we stayed in Denmark. Years went by, our twins got older, economical situation changed and suddenly it could be possible for us to think about moving to the other side of the world. But hey – shit happens – or virus – and we did not think it was possible to move anywhere.

New Zealand and Covid-19

The Kiwis did what the rest of the world could not – they beat the virus and found out the way how to control the possible outbreaks. We were offered professional help in case we wanted to move to NZ and decided to accept it. Suddenly we got a mail that we had been granted a border exemption. Now all we needed to do is to book a quarantine hotel and flights. Sounds easy but it was not. The hotel rooms were booked for the coming 3 months and that´s it. We checked the page regularly and one night – early morning in NZ – they had added more months and dates for hotel booking. We had to act fast and also book the flights as you needed to give those when booking. The dates disappeared as we were booking so it was very lucky that we saw the dates before going to bed that night. Only after having booked the rooms and flights we looked at each other and said – we are moving to New Zealand!

Long list of things to do for moving from Copenhagen to Christchurch

Although we have had this dream for years, we kind of gave up a little after the pandemic and did not think about the practical things. Now, as the reality of the moving in few months hit us, we have a long list of tasks to do. Rent out our house, sell our car, finish the changes we started last spring in our garden, find out where to put our stuff that we are not taking with us… I do not mind the list – doing stuff you know how is easy. I am more worried about the things I cannot control, don´t know and can only see once in NZ. But that will be the topic of my next post.