There are a bunch of ways to prepare for a new job and a new home, and most of them have to do with stuff. Getting stuff documented, approved, packed, shipped. But how do you prepare the stuff inside yourself?
The thought hadn’t really crossed my mind until Rachael and I received an early wedding present from Jane and Joan, close friends. They set up a meeting for Rachael, me, Mike, and Liz with a woman who does cross-cultural training for Nike named Julie Resnick. When foreigners move to the United States to work for Nike, she helps them adjust to the culture. And when Nike sends their employees overseas, she helps them prepare for the cultural adjustment of living in a new place. But rather than teaching about the culture, she focuses on how to adjust to it. She’s sort of like a counselor that focuses on culture shock.
I wasn’t expecting much from the couple hours we planned to spend with her on a rainy morning in June, but it ended up being incredibly helpful. I’m familiar with how cultural change is likely to affect me personally, having moved out of Oregon three times now, but meeting with Julie gave Rachael, Mike, Liz, and me a chance to discuss how the change is likely to affect us as couples, and as a group of friends.
One of the activities Julie had us do was to write down the perceived positives and negatives of moving to Doha, from the perspective of our partner, so Rachael tried to imagine what I was looking forward to and what I was worried about, and vice versa, and the same for Mike and Liz. Here’s what Rachael imagined to be my positives and negatives:
- New challenges culturally
- A place of our own
- Working in a school
- Ease of travel
- Taking the summer off
- Going to a new place with friends
- Getting married
- Introducing family to a new culture
- New things to take pictures of
- Leaving family
- Putting off a master’s program
- Being in a school
- Lack of a clear purpose
- Feeling like our time there is not our own
- Less autonomy
- Being away from Portland
- Things being more difficult
- Can’t take the Bill of Rights with us
- Feeling like Rachael is leading and I’m just along for the ride
Obviously she was just guessing for me, but most of these were accurate. Of course, the negatives aren’t necessarily negatives. They could also be looked at as challenges or opportunities for growth.
We had that meeting quite a few weeks ago. And at the time I would’ve said that I was pretty positive and excited about heading to Qatar. Now, about three weeks before we’re set to leave, I don’t think I could be more excited. The negatives are still there, and they’re still real, but they’re just way less important in my mind than the main positive, which is this: We’re going on an adventure!