In four days, I will leave my home of eight years to move almost 9000 km away to a country I’ve never visited. I can’t wait. I love you, Hong Kong, but it’s time to go. Prague, you called, and I’m coming.
I did exaggerate just a bit. I’m not going entirely alone. Lola the mini-schnauzer is coming. My 18-year-old son will visit for the first few weeks, too. It’s mostly alone, though.
Because I’m interested in other people’s adventures, I thought that others might be, too. I’ve tried to find blogs by people in similar situations to me, and there aren’t very many. Okay, I found zero blogs about recently divorced women in their fifties becoming empty-nesters and deciding to shift holus bolus to a foreign city.
In case you’re wondering how you go about making such a change, here is some of the nitty gritty about how I did it.
Career Choice: This is crucial. I’m an international school teacher. Some career paths lead overseas very easily, others less so. If you’re a teacher, you can work overseas by joining one of the recruiting companies. I’ve used Search to find both my overseas jobs. Tons of sites share information and forums about all aspects of international teaching. There are international schools in many cities; Hong Kong has dozens, literally. If you’re in another sector, you’ll have to do some research.
Leaving: It’s tough to leave your friends, and honestly, I don’t know what I’d do without Facebook. In practical terms, leaving Hong Kong is a bit complicated. You can’t get your final paycheck until you have a tax clearance, which involves a couple of trips to the Department of Internal Revenue and the payment of any taxes due. The rest is all the usual stuff you’d do if you were moving to the next street: utilities, getting rid of stuff, arranging the move.
Arriving: My employer is arranging my visa. I had to send my original university diplomas and transcripts along with birth, marriage, and divorce papers. I also had to obtain criminal clearances from Hong Kong and my native country, Australia. The tricky bit was that I had to obtain an Apostille on each of these documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This took months and was very expensive. Additionally, I had to work out how to move Lola the mini schnauzer, but there are lots of companies to help with this. Lola will travel on my flight in a crate in a temperature-controlled area in the cargo area, separate from the bags. She’ll be checked by a vet in Zurich on our layover, and her papers will be examined.
When we arrive in Prague on Monday morning, someone from the school will take us to a hotel, and I’ve been working with a local real estate agent to build a shortlist of possible apartments which we’ll visit on Monday afternoon. I’m working on getting Lola into a kennel for a few days. I was going to take her to the dog-friendly hotel with us, and take her everywhere, but I think it’s impractical.
So that’s the plan. The last couple of months have been super stressful with work, report cards, my son’s graduation, packing up, and saying goodbyes. At the moment we’re staying at a lovely friend’s apartment from which you can see both the south and north sides of Hong Kong island. I’m writing this in a massage chair after having dinner with another friend. I’m grateful for this peaceful lull.
What am I looking forward to? Career-wise: teaching at a small, thoughtful school that has a fantastic reputation. Personally: medieval architecture, cobble-stone streets, sitting in cafes watching people, seeing stars at night, lots of weekend trips on budget airlines to nearby cities, cheese, castles, and grass. New friends.
What am I wondering about? Learning Czech, all the practicalities of setting up home, making friends, finding vegetarian food, getting my Czech driver’s license, going to church in Czech, Lola’s adjustment.
I promise lots of photos and stories. Hang about.