Expat Questions: "What do I really need to take with me?"
If you are an expatriate or you have moved abroad you might relate to this: staring at an empty suitcase and asking yourself; « what do I really need to take with me? » Because sometimes there is a delay between the moment you leave the country and the moment when your things are relocated to the new destination.
We think we need so many things in order to live a happy life: fashionable clothes, nice furniture, many shoes, a lot of cosmetics… But actually, what do we really need?
When I left Romania for my Erasmus semester in Toulouse, I had a small suitcase of 15 kilos. 3 years later I moved from Toulouse to Paris with a full to breaking point Clio. 7 years later I moved from Paris to Vienna and my 100 boxes where sent to destination in a truck.
And then we moved to Beijing and we had to put our 200 boxes in a warehouse and relocate with our suitcases and 100 kilos for 2 people.
So the big question was: “what do we take with us?” And also “what do we really need in order to feel like home in a new country?”
And not only I had to decide about this when we moved to Beijing but since we moved, I needed to travel a lot between Asia and Europe. Actually I have spent the last 9 months in hotels, service apartments and friends houses. Each time I had to pack. I have stared many times at my suitcase trying to figure out whet do I need… for the next weekend, for the next 3 weeks, for the next 4 months.
So here are 5 things I have learned from this experience:
- I can survive with very few things: some clothes, my Macbook and an external hard drive, some books, a camera, pens and notebook, my yoga mattress and very few cosmetics
- With 2 or 3 objects that remind me of home and some fresh flowers I can create everywhere a homelike ambiance
- Creativity. How to use one object for many different situations? In our consumption model we think that one object responds to only one need. Actually it doesn’t have to be this way. I have in my suitcase a fabric that I can wear as a dress, a pullover and a scarf.
- I always ask myself before buying something new: “do I really need this?” and don’t buy things I have already. For example we didn’t buy any household appliance in China. We have preferred to rent it
- Instead of focusing on material things (buying the “right” furniture in order to feel like home in a new country- which is sometimes important when you are an expatriate, no doubts about it) I can chose to spend this time with my family or exploring my new country
So THIS I know now. AND the next step is to experience my 5 new principles with a baby. Challenging. J It will be the next life experience in the Change Cocoon.
How is it for you when you relocate or when you travel for a long time?