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Summer is the time when many of us are moving to our new jobs in new countries. While it is understandable to be excited about the new location, it is also wise to do a little planning, to prepare for future departure...

Igor: Every country is different, and many schools have dedicated assistants to help teachers with integration. As a newcomer, it is difficult to know what questions to ask as you get settled because you do not know how things will work (such as recycling, garbage, sinks, laundry, and the like).

Pam: I often resorted to, “What do you use?” because the assistants want you to make your own decisions about what to buy as you set up your own new household. Keep in mind that you probably only have a limited shipping allowance for leaving, so it’s important to think ahead to the time you will be shipping out.

Igor: For example, when we were leaving Japan, we knew that Japan had no market for used things. It costs substantial amounts to dispose of used items. Especially if they are unusual for the Japanese, like western style beds. Whatever you buy, becomes a liability when it's time to move!

Pam: I purposefully bought items I wasn’t attached to, they were good quality, durable and usable for when I had them but I kept in mind that I didn’t want to keep them forever.

Igor: We were lucky to have some Japanese friends who took our couches, tables, desk, all our other furniture and appliances and we did not have any beds. But one of our colleagues had a hard time trying to get rid of her almost new stove, a queen size bed, TV and other stuff. Televisions in particular are an enormous liability in Japan.

Pam: Worse, as you continue working, and are trying to pack out at the same time, the moving details are secondary to the work related issues. You find yourself trying to deal with your household goods and items that no one wants as you also pack your classroom and your luggage.

The used furniture people know that you have no other options, so they will offer you a very low price for your quality items, and then charge you the same price to haul away the television set! Sure, it’s not fair! But in the end, the “stuff” is no longer your responsibility. I think Japan is particularly harsh in this regard!

In Conclusion. Do As The Romans Do. Don't buy or bring anything unless it is absolutely necessary. In Japan, for example, you sleep on a futon. The floors are covered with tatami mats. It's so comfortable and healthy. We got used to it quickly. (In fact, we are thinking of adding a Japanese bedroom in our home in Oregon.)

As you arrive, other teachers are leaving. You may be able to obtain used kitchen appliances and furniture from them, inexpensively or free of charge.

Network. Ask the school secretary.  And ― don't buy "exotic" items that have no value in the local market.




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Thank you for the info. Yesterday l did an English lesson on the tsunami that just hit Japan. I took out some pictures and the students after brainstorming had to write a paragraph on it. These are the ESL students. It is really nice of you to send these [photographs] as l have a Japanese student in my class. They wrote so much from what they heard on the news. It is nice to be able to show them your pictures and say that not all is what you see on the TV.

Thank you very much and a big VINAKA VAKALEVU

[Thank you in Fijian]



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