Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Spring Break 2009: Doha or Bust

Good News:

The tickets are being booked today for our Spring Break trip to Doha! We leave on Saturday, March 14th, around noon, and get to Doha Sunday evening--a 26-hour trip if you include layover time, etc. Then we return Friday, March 20th. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but hoping that I won't be so excited that I can't sleep on the first leg of the trip.

My mom and I actually had a productive and healthy conversation yesterday about the move. She was receptive to my suggestion that she take a look at the Relocation Binder available online and provided by the support office here at my university's home campus. The girls were originally going to be in Home State over Spring Break, but we'd scheduled H's time so that she'd have some alone time with my parents before going to her dad's house. Because of our trip, that's no longer possible, but my Mom took the change with a grain of salt and said no big deal! At first, I thought she must be self-medicating, but it appears that her Jeckyl & Hyde mood swings are the result of menopausal hormone issues, so there you go. Too bad there's not a schedule she could give me to let me know which are the good days and which are the day ;)

Also, she said she isn't ruling out international travel! She isn't making any promises to come, but she's not saying it's out of the question. This is progress people!

Bad News:

We found out Hubby, who has been teaching 2 classes at a local CC this semester to help us put back enough money for the summer and pay off medical bills from my neck surgeries last year, won't have ANY summer teaching opportunities! Evidently, the full-time faculty are scared of the unknown economy, and ALL of them have requested summer teaching, usually something happily delegated to the part-timers. Luckily, between our tax refund, which we put into savings, and the extra money he's bringing in this semester, we should have enough to make it through July and August. At that point, our salary from the new positions should kick in, but I'm still checking on this. Either way, we'll be moving before August 1, and our living expenses for the month prior to the start of the fall semester are covered. What does this all mean???

More Good News:

Both Hubby and I will not be teaching this summer! He'll be able to help take care of the new baby, while I continue to get some dissertation work done, and we'll be able to work together on the relocation process! On one hand, I kinda feel like we're being lazy bums. I've NEVER not worked...ever...like since I was 15. This already feels weird. On the other hand, I have no doubt I'll be plenty busy and in definite need of hubby's help with both baby and relocation, which also includes a massive garage and moving what we're not selling into a storage unit back in home state.

For those of you who've dealt with international relocation, what are the biggest glitches you've run into?


kenandbelly said...

I found it a helpful first step to determine our baggage allowance and willingness to pay additional baggage charges. That helps to set parameters around the amount of stuff you can take. Here's hoping they're ponying up for your relocation costs, though?

It might be worth looking into whether you can leave some items in Doha after your spring break trip. Stuff you might need come fall might include... some non-newborn baby gear? Fall/winter weight clothes and coats (whatever winter weigh means in Doha)? Christmas items you cannot imagine Christmas without? Or even jsut a stash of some of your favorite non-perishable American goods (this may take some research into what's available there)? We really struggled to feel at home abroad without access to proper macaroni and cheese and, come thanksgiving, canned pumpkin. Sounds silly now but you'll be glad later when everything feels overwhelmingly new and different.

AcadeMama said...

k&b: yes,definitely, all relocation costs are covered, though there are some weight limits in terms of what can be shipped over. since the house is 90% furnished, we're allowed 450 lbs. per person. after that, we have to pay the difference. the food concerns are so funny, because i'm a total foodie, but hadn't even thought of bringing things like that over during the move. what a great and perfectly sensible idea!

M said...

We didn't run into any major glitches, and our move was much less "international" than yours will be (and I have to point out, that despite your claim that you and Hubby will wait to make a decision until you visit Doha, you sound like the decision is already made). As you know, due to logistics, C made the move about 10 days before Wild Man and I did. While the separation was stressful for all involved, I really believe it was worth it. It gave C time to get things settled, and Wild Man and I walked into a home that was about 75% unpacked. Wild Man's things were spread throughout the house, meaning he had virtually no adjustment period to the new home. While this clearly won't be an issue for the baby and maybe not even for H, you and Hubby might think about staggering your arrival in Doha. If he and H could arrive even a day ahead of you, the baby, and E and get E's things unpacked, that might make her feel more secure, especially given that she's already facing a stressful summer with the arrival of a new sister.

Having said that, I realize you just might not want to face traveling so far with a newborn and a 2 1/2 year old alone (I'm not sure I would!). In that case, I would just keep lots of comfort items on the flight for E to have as soon as you get to the new house.

Oh, since I have no idea if things like this are covered in relocation materials, you will likely need H's father to sign some sort of letter indicating that you have his permission to travel out of the country without her. Given how far you're going, you'll probably want to contact your lawyer to make sure you don't have to make any changes to the custody agreement. I know he's agreed to let H go, but without this sort of legal documentation, you may have some trouble getting H through customs. This weekend, C drove Wild Man across the border to pick me up at the closest U.S. airport, and he had to have a notarized letter signed by me that stated he had my permission to get Wild Man across the border. He also had to take Wild Man's birth certificate to prove he was, in fact, his father. Given the length of your stay, this may be different for you, but I would definitely check into it once you decide to take the job.

Jennie said...

While you are visiting, you may want to do things like set up a bank account and apply for a credit card, if possible, so you don't have to be relying on US accounts when you first arrive or you'll get hit with lots of international fees. If you have time, you might just go shopping to get a sense of how much ordinary things cost there. My friend recently moved abroad and used a lot of their shipping weight allowance on random things like zip-lock bags and baby wipes and cleaning products that are unusually expensive there vs. here.

I am really excited to follow your adventures via your blog--I hope you keep writing and posting photos.

AcadeMama said...

M: If the trip weren't 26 hours, I'd consider taking the youngest two on my own, but given the time and the connections involved, I think we'll stick with the strength of group travel. H is generally really helpful when she knows she needs to be. Plus, since the home is 90% furnished, we won't really be walking into nothingness. It certainly won't feel like *ours* at first, but I think bringing the kids' comfort items (blankies, pillows, toys) in our luggage will help.

And we do have to have my ex-husband's written consent for H to travel outside the country. There's a specific form for him to sign, and I have to provide a copy of the divorce decree. These are actually required by the university to release them of any liability regarding custody issues.

Jennie: That's a great idea about the bank account! To my surprise, none of the standard international banks that I recognize are in Qatar, but there are a few top national banks there. We'll talk with other faculty members to see if they recommend a specific one. I'll also make a point to ask about particular brands or items for baby that might be best to bring with us!

Lisa Dunick said...

wow-- that all sounds so exciting. Almost makes me think that I'd be willing to relocate...almost.