Well, the events that I prophesied finally came to fruition! I arrived in Belfast with my family and dog on 13 May and it is starting to feel real. Although, as others that have moved internationally informed me, it will just feel like a typical vacation until the third or fourth week. I will try to touch on the accuracy of that claim in my next blog. Right now, here is some more on the reasons behind my move and the learnings thus far:

Why?

Since last I checked in, I have had a great deal of people ask questions that started in this way:

  • Why are you moving to the city of Belfast?
  • Why are you relocating your entire family?
  • Why do you sound like a crazy person?

I have never had a simple answer that seems to satisfy people, but whether there is truth to it or not, I believe in the theory that Dr. Gregory Berns described in Iconoclast - to think different (read: be more creative than others), you need to experience a great deal of new things and develop a new perspective. This is why some people choose to change industries late in life and find immediate success. I am convinced that living in a different culture will help me professionally and personally, and my wife was completely game for it, so it was actually a lot easier decision than you may imagine.

Preparations

Having gone through the process of sponsored UK Intra-company transfer visa applications, I can easily name a website (Visa4UK) and process in desperate need of a  User Experience overhaul. Some highlights:

  • I needed to provide passport details on all members of my family on my application 2 separate times: as those traveling with me and as my spouse and dependent children
  • I had to repeat the exact same details on a separate application for each individual, with only the specifics of listing if the application is for the main applicant or a different member of the family.
  • Once everything was submitted, the applications had to be completely scrapped and filled out from scratch because of a single drop-down selection at the beginning where selecting "Intra-company Transfer (ICT) up to 5 years" meant double the cost of a much harder to find "Intra-company Transfer (ICT) up to 3 years" option.

If you plan to bring a dog with you, the Massachusetts USDA office you need to visit (or else!) is in the middle of nowhere, they answer the phone on occasion, and they don't take appointments on Monday or Friday, so you will likely have to drive on two separate occasions to (1) drop off completed paperwork and (2) pick up the same paperwork with an embossed stamp from the only USDA veterinarian in the state.

Regarding the heavy lifting of actually packing, shipping, and disposing of items, I can tell you to ask someone else for advice because I failed at it. Sure, it all got done, but I have trouble looking back and naming a piece of it that I did right.

Post-arrival

Anyway, now that I am done whingeing, I can talk about my few experiences thus far, like The Dock where you choose how much money to put in the "honesty box" for the coffee and snacks (seriously, not even a suggestion). As an American, I immediately assumed that this is a cult or someone is watching me, but I have decided to trust it because the staff was so genuinely friendly that it took a few minutes to realize that they were not, in fact, hitting on me or my wife. Additionally, I really like seeing the large amount of "Danger of Death" signs that you would never see in the US and I finally found an "off licence" that carried some proper craft beer I have never seen in the States (harder than you might think, for a few reasons).

I have only fried one AC adapter so far, haven't figured out how to make the combination washer-dryer just dry some clothes, and while visiting T.K. Maxx almost felt like home, there is nothing quite like your first Argos shopping experience, where you order from a kiosk without ever seeing an item and a box is brought down to you by the store employees.

One more almost-like-home experience that continues my board game references from last time is sitting down for a lovely game of "Where's Wally?" at The Dock.

Now that I am here, let me know if you expect to be in Belfast this summer. We will take you out for a pint or a coffee with a price that you decide.