It's amazing how time flies! We're seeing the last of the New Jersey summer and the sycamore trees have begun to drop their leaves, one of the first signs of autumn around here. We got to travel a lot this month, visiting family in Maryland, attending a wedding for friends in NYC, and spending an awesome weekend with my partner's high school friends from UNIS at the Long Island house. Neither of us have to work on Monday due to Labor Day, and since we've been travel-heavy for the past few weekends we're going to take it easy and stay local.
We got some further clarification around our move date so I decided to tell my employer. I know that notifying them 6 months in advance could have been risky but I work for a large, international pharmaceutical company which I hope will be able to afford me the opportunity to explore roles in India. After breaking the news, my mentor and regional vice president were generous enough to reach out to their professional networks and provide me with introductions to colleagues who currently work or have worked in marketing and sales at our Mumbai office. This has led to a some great conversations and networking, and I'm confident that I'm moving in the right direction. Realistically speaking however, my thinking is idealistic and I have willingly left out, for the simple purpose of saving time and space in this post, a handful of logistical issues that could be game-changers in my quest for work. Time will tell.
We'll be going to Pune in October to find housing, tour my partner's workplace, and explore our new "hometown". I'm excited to be able to see everything in person for the first time and also nervous since this is going to be our only shot at finding the place we'll call "home" for the next few years. In looking for info on housing and the expat experience in general, I came across Jeanne Heydecker, a marketing and business development professional who has had a blog since she moved to India from the US with her son, dog, and cat in '07. She writes about her work, travels, and her experiences as an expat living in different parts of India. If you haven't already, check out her blog, HERE. She was nice enough to give me a generous amount of invaluable, no-BS feedback on what to keep in mind when looking for housing, so I'm feeling confident that along with with her advice and the relocation agent my partner's work has connected us with, we'll be able to settle on something.
Before we leave, we need to make sure our vaccinations are up-to-date, and more importantly, I need to address my fear of practical footwear. Second, I need to get my name changed in my passport to reflect my married last name, which involves me filling out a form, and mailing it away with my old passport, a passport photo, and $175.00 (It's usually $110 but I need it to be expedited).
Once I receive my new passport in about 2 to 3 weeks, I will need to apply for a tourist visa, which will take 7 to 9 days. Will also need to arrange boarding for Miss Stella and pre-pack another bag with all of my business stuff for a national sales meeting in Orlando, FL, since I will be flying our for that almost immediately after we arrive back in New Jersey. Should be busy, exhilarating, and absolutely exhausting.
My parnter and I decided it was time to make good on a goal that we'd been daydreaming about for the past few years: living abroad.
His employer has a program that provides international opportunities to its employees and in November, we decided to make a commitment to it and initiate the placement process. December and January were occupied by interviews and a lot of legwork on his part, filling out applications and following up with people. From then on, his employer worked to find a match and we waited impatiently. I would be lying if I said that waiting for news like that is comfortable in any way.
Two weeks ago, he was given a vague, soft offer for a position in India. His initial response was no, as there were too little details given at that stage. Thankfully, a formal offer was presented a few days later. I was at the Long Island house when he told me and I rushed as fast as anyone can on the L.I.E., frantically reaching out to a few friends on my own little emergency recon mission to get information about living in India. It took 5 hours to get home and we stayed up until 1 a.m. dissecting the offer. We discussed finances, his new role, logistical details, and if it would be a realistic fit. After revisiting the conversation several more times and a few meetings/phone calls with the HR managers here and in India, we decided to accept. Our moving date will be the week of January 19th, 2014.
The "life" details that were spelled out in the offer are more than enough to ensure we'll be as safe and as comfortable as possible during our stay. Furthermore, our friends' accounts of Pune indicate that it is a modern, metropolitan city, albeit not immune to an immense amount of trash and pockets of poverty, which hosts several universities, museums and other tourist attractions, top notch restaurants, cosmopolitan shopping malls, and award-winning hospitals and medical facilities. We will have a driver 6 days of the week to help us deal with the infamously tricky-to-navigate traffic situation (no more parking spot hunting for me!), and we are being put in contact with a relocation specialist dedicated to working with us on our living arrangements. This person is familiar with expats and I have been told that there are several good neighborhoods which make for an easier transition from the Western comforts we have grown used to. Our maltipoo Stella will be joining us.
Since we are moving in 6 months, my first priority will be to make sure our health is taken care of via reviewing our immunization records with a doctor who specializes in travel medicine and consulting with a veterinarian regarding Stella's immunizations. Other than that, my parner's employer is has experience with relocating employees so I'm trusting them to keep us apprised of any necessary actions on our part.
I'd like to give a little shout out to our friends for their time and unbiased feedback during the vetting process. We couldn't have felt comfortable without the support and first-hand accounts from you guys!