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The Expat Brain On Departing

Expats, while back in our passport nations we’ve finally figured out how to order coffee and how to drive without honking. We’re sleeping through the night and haven’t had a sixteen-hour movie marathon while locked into a non-reclining seat in weeks. And now, it is time to return home. What’s running through your mind? Here’s a glimpse of mine.


  1. I bought too much stuff. Darn that Target store.
  2. But I won’t be able to buy running shoes for two years.
  3. I forgot to buy peanut butter.
  4. It wouldn’t fit in the suitcases anyway.
  5. The suitcases all weigh 50.0 pounds. I rock.
  6. I forgot to buy birthday presents for the autumn birthdays this year. I suck.
  7. I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed.
  8. I don’t want to think about how hot it will be while sleeping in my own bed.
  9. When will the Star Trek transporter be developed?
  10. Travel time only 25 hours, hey not too bad this time.
  11. So glad I don’t have to pack diapers anymore.
  12. Wish I hadn’t watched all the coverage of Malaysian flight 370 and MH17 in the Ukraine.
  13. Wish I could stay in Minnesota.
  14. Am glad I’m not staying in Minnesota.
  15. Wish I could see XXXX one more time.
  16. Am glad I got to see XXXX at all.
  17. What kind of money will I need on this trip?

 What are you thinking in those final, countdown days and hours?

*image via Flickr


Packing, Is It All Just Stuff? at Babble

Today I’m pumped to send you to Babble, another site I will start contributing to. The stunning Kristy Carlson of Long Miles Coffee Project: blogger, photographer extraordinaire, expatriate in Burundi, mom, coffee connoisseur, all-around amazingly talented and deep woman, has invited me to share her Babble Blog, Into Africa. I’m excited and humbled – this woman rocks. Kristy is one of those friends about whom I am convinced that I’m getting the better end of the bargain. We share common history (met in college) and a similar present (living, working, raising a family in Africa). We document this challenging and fulfilling life with the hope that words and pictures will help us figure it out, help us live and love and honor our host nations with ever.more.grace.

My first post is about packing, something I’ve done so many times I should be an expert. But there are always tears, always forgotten items, always silly things that waste suitcase space, and always the reminder that it is just stuff.

I’d love for you to head over to the Babble site to read, share, and comment. We’re working on increasing traffic to Into Africa. I’ll be posting there at least once a month. Check out Kristy’s blog too. I dare you to spend less than ten minutes browsing her photos of Burundian coffee farmers.

Here’s an excerpt and then click on through…

Packing, Is It All Just Stuff?

Let’s talk about packing. I love listening to expatriates talk about shopping and packing. Anyone else been the woman at Payless with twenty boxes of shoes? Buy 1, get one ½ off. We expat moms looking for sandals and tennis shoes for the foreseeable future take that seriously. Anyone else been the woman in Kohl’s crying in the dressing room because you don’t know what size your daughter will be two years from now? Or cried in Target because you don’t know if you’ll be back in one year or two years and how much sunscreen you will use between now and then?

Either you’ve packed, way too many times, or you are about to pack and have way too many questions. Either you are going somewhere few people have gone before and can get no reliable information on what you need or how you might get it there, or you are going somewhere loads of people have gone and you face far too many suggestions of what you need or how you might get it there.

I know how she feels

I know how she feels

Packing is country-dependent, family-dependent, personality-dependent, cost-dependent, and sanity-dependent

Read more about packing, the issues it causes our marriage, and the attitudes we’ve embraced about 500 pounds of luggage…Packing, Is It All Just Stuff?

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