Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We made it!

It wasn't easy - but we made it. Throughout this journey from San Francisco to Amsterdam I've felt like we were peeling back layers of an onion. On the surface, it was my dream job. All I had to do was convince my husband to go, and find a way to get my dog there. Simple enough, right?

As you sit there chuckling at my naivete you may appreciate what it really takes to make a life changing move like this. There are normal things like packing, lining up a job for your spouse and arranging mail forwarding - but then there are snags along the way that make things a bit more challenging...such as:

1) Being such a fan of your dog that you'll do almost anything to avoid putting her in cargo - from investigating charter flights (too expensive at $80k) to begging the new COO of your company to let your dog ride on the company jet (it was full), to ultimately resorting to shipping her in cargo. Then - in order to shorten the amount of time on the plane for your dog, you drive cross country in a rented Ford Expedition (the only car large enough to fit her crate) so she'll be used to traveling in it for extended periods. When you arrive at your departure airport you discover that there's a freak heat wave and it's too hot to fly, so you scramble and rebook from a city 5 hours north in order to make it out on time. Then you get delayed on the tarmac for 2 hours due to storms. Upon arrival, you discover that your dog is physically fine - though really nervous and thirsty and needing to find a spot of grass immediately. Upon check-in at your hotel you learn that they DO take dogs - just not ones over 25 lbs - but your pitiful look convinces them to make an exception. Next challenge: Permanent housing. The housing agent has just ONE apartment in the entire city that will take a dog - and then only for 6 months.

Did I bring a lot of stress upon myself just for my dog? You bet. Was it worth it? Yes, now that it's done and she's snuggled up by my feet :-) Even so - we're bringing her back to the US on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship!

2) Banking - Have you ever had a fraud hold on your account while traveling even after you've called the credit card company to tell them you'll be traveling? Have you ever tried to wire money internationally from your small local bank in the DC area? Apparently if you aren't there in person to request the transfer, you need to go to the local US Embassy in Amsterdam to have them put a consulate stamp on the request and it must be notarized. Then you need to overnight it and wait for the call from the bank verifying that you *really* want the money. OR you can go to a larger bank and get a new account so you can initiate transfers by phone. Thanks to Bank of America for their help in rushing this through.

3) Being a landlord - Have you ever walked into your house to re-sign your tenants for another year, only to discover water damage in the walls due to a leak in the roof? Not fun. Fixable, but not fun when you're leaving the country in 4 days.

4) Prescriptions - Did you know that some insurance plans a) don't ship internationally and b) won't let you get more than 2 months of a prescription at a time? Instead you are told to buy a year's worth of medicine up front at full retail value, wait a year and then submit the claim for payment. It's a silly insurance policy, but congrats to Target in Sterling, VA who was the lucky recipient of my full price order.

Don't get me wrong. We're going to have a great year abroad and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity. My one recommendation for anyone else plotting a similar move? Take a few vacation days before you leave and after you get there. I tried to save my vacation days and almost lost my mind in the process :-) Now that my venting is over, prepare yourselves for the fun stuff....like pictures of carrot croquettes and the story behind the name of the blog "Mooi helm"

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