But, for international teachers who are preparing to move to another location on the map, July is the time to organize and plan for the transition into a new home. As exciting as it is to enter a different culture & school/work environment, being able to set up the physical place into a space of warmth and comfort is essential.
I’ve personally experienced this shift several times. So,I thought I’d share a few things I’ve leaned that can help make that transition easier.
1. Visualize it. Find out exactly what furniture items the school/company provides (if possible get a photo). I’ve often heard teachers say they’d have packed more things to decorate with had they known the accurate layout of their space.
2. Pack at least two of your favorite things. Certainly, it should be travel friendly; not like your grandmother’s teacups or your favorite armchair. But, things that are happy reminders of home like pillow cases, magnets, special picture frames go a long way when you’re unpacking in an unfamiliar space.
3. Oh sheet! Find out bed size dimensions. I found out the hard way that a queen size bed in Tunis is not the same as that in California- the comfy cotton sheets I brought with me did not fit the mattress there. I prefer going a size larger than finding my choices limited in my host country.
4. Reuse. Chances are transitioning teachers are trying to let go of some home items before they head out. Ask your new school for access to in-house webpages where items are advertised. Often you’ll be able to find gently used furniture/accessories that would help make your space feel more lived-in.
5. Research. Find out what home stores there are in your new city. It’s helpful to price things like lamps or rugs and see if it’s worth shipping something you like over taking chances on what’s available.
6. Walls are more than functional. Ask if walls in your new home can be adjusted to taste. If possible, select your wall colors ahead of time. It’s awesome coming into a new home with your favorite palette to begin with. Our first year in Seoul, we were met with the largest wall in the living room wallpapered (note:most home interiors are wall papered in Korea) in large pink and mint green flowers. I nearly cried. It didn’t take long to have it replaced with a more neutral design that was easier to work with.
7. Find inspiration. Most likely you’ll be inspired by the cultural aesthetics in your host country. Observe how design works both in homes and commercial spaces. Have fun selecting pieces that represent your time overseas and that have a timeless quality as well; you can picture using it in your home for years to come.
Moving is a stressful event as it is. Add a shift to another country and apprehension of making a smooth transition can escalate. Creating a space that is uniquely yours and feels like home is greatly helpful in enhancing your overseas experience.
If you have any questions or want to add tips that may be helpful, please do not hesitate to share in comments.