We are the road crew
by Peter Meingassner, Head of Solutions Design & Application Engineering at TGW China
06:30, the alarm goes off and Shanghai and my new job at TGW China is calling. I woke up to enjoy a last Austrian breakfast before I said goodbye to my loved ones. One fast train ride later I am putting the luggage on the airport check-in counter and receive my boarding pass. The music blares into my headphones as I pass the security check and make myself comfortable at the boarding area. As I stand there waiting to board, I use the time to recap the last weeks and recall the expatriation process.
I can’t help but think that my departure to China approached quickly, and there had been little time to sort my things out. Of course, I’ve already experienced and thoroughly enjoyed some short periods abroad during my studies and later with TGW in Barcelona, but this is different. This reaches a whole new level. It reaches beyond a short adventure trip to a European city for a semester not only in terms of duration, but also distance. This is a complete separation with all those remaining in Austria for three years. Thus, the preparations are significantly more challenging.
First, I had to squeeze through an abundance of bureaucratic necessities to bring myself and my wife to China. But not all bureaucracy was bad. Actually, due to the fact that long-time partnerships are not recognized by the People's Republic of China, I had the pleasure of getting married one year earlier than originally planned. Furthermore, the long and arduous process of gathering, translating and approving of all the documents needed for the visa, began. Health checks were conducted and agencies were contacted that would plan and facilitate the integration process in China. And yet, with all the profound support from our legal and HR department at TGW, the bureaucratic tasks were and still are an annoying burden of expatriation.
So now that all the documents were out of the way, I found myself facing the situation of sorting my different possessions, which brings me to the second point in my expatriation process: getting rid of my stuff. That entailed emptying the apartment, selling car and motorcycle, and ending all contracts, such as phone, electricity, internet, insurances and so on. All of these required a large amount of time during my last weeks in Austria. Especially the dismounting of the furniture and kitchen proved to be quite a time and energy consuming activity. On one hand I tried to sell as much furniture as possible on different online platforms, on the other hand I desperately looked for storage capacities at friends and family’s places to keep the higher valued items. Thus, I sincerely want to thank my friends and family for the never ending support, encouraging words and devoted time.
But things do not end with selling, cleaning and sorting things. Packing still needed to be done, a task of high importance and the third key factor to a successful expatriation. But before packing could even start, things needed to be sorted out. The combined belongings of me and my wife from the apartment were sorted into what was about to be taken to China, what needed to be thrown away, and what stayed in Austria. Then the packing process began. I also had to think of things to take for my leisure time, so electronics and decorations were packed as well. In the end we managed to fit everything in three big suitcases, two cabin trolleys and two backpacks.
With packing out of the way, it was time to say good bye to the loved ones. Even with the help of technology, the contact with them will be diminished with the expatriation; you can no longer join their life events, and they are no longer there to witness yours. So naturally, I spend several days, and even more nights to say good bye to my friends and family in a proper manner. But I do not fret. Although time and distance makes it hard, it reminds you why you return home and that makes the reunion all the more worth it.
I am boarding now, walking down the sky bridge to my plane, greeting the flight attendance and taking my seat. In some minutes, the plane will take off and bring me to my new challenge, to my future. All worries and regrets vanish. This is the way I want to live.
Another time, another place,…we are the roadcrew!