There are a few things that everyone who has had the pleasure of moving to a foreign land has experienced. They're not always pretty, but they're part of the package. To be clear: this package must weigh under 50 pounds and contain no more than 3 oz. containers of liquids.
Here's how these things played out for me this time around:
1) Packing: Always a tortuous endeavor, things were no different this time. The major dilemma is, of course, with a life's worth of stuff, how exactly is one to pack it into a suitcase that must weigh less than 50 pounds? Then there was my confusion about what exactly it means to be a "humid sub-tropical climate." I gathered enough to realize that there probably wouldn't be a white Christmas for me this year, but I didn't honestly know enough if that translated to year-round sweating, or if nice sweater may eventually be appropriate. Regardless of one's packing technique though, I knew I would inevitably get sick of the limited wardrobe soon. It's a funny thing-- most people only wear a fraction of their wardrobe on a regular basis, but knowing that's all you have is often an intimidating prospect. My biggest concern was how much underwear I could cram into my suitcase to create the most distance as possible between loads of laundry.
As for the other accoutrements, I had my priorities. There are some things that I just really wanted to take because, well, I just didn't feel like figuring them out once I got there. I know I can get things like toiletries, Q-tips, plug convertors, etc. in different countries, there's enough to worry about when you first arrive that I just wanted to have them taken care of, even if they take up a bit more space. There are just some things you like to throw into your suitcase at the last minute that make packing slightly less overwhelming. If I didn't have to bother buying Q-tips for a year, maybe that would distract me from the fact that it would be several months before I had a chance to see anyone from home. Probably not, but how much space do they really take up? I also like to have some money of the country where I'm going before I get there. It makes transportation a heck of a lot easier when you get there and save the trouble and cost of an airport conversion.
2) Traveling: I have to say there's nothing so great as a bajillion hour flight that takes off at the crack of dawn. Take that and add in airline food and the fidgety stranger sitting next to you, and you'll be begging for your next circumnavigation of the globe.
My flight from Detroit to Toronto was on a plane about the size of windup car, and the co-pilot had to strain to see over the dashboard. Now, I'm all for young, successful go-getters, but the open cockpit of this plane revealed a woman about my age that was flipping through the owners manual before we took off and looked way too excited for this not to be her first time flying. Don't worry though, things turned out all right.
Now, my flight from Toronto to Hong Kong was just a hoot and a half. After getting ousted from my original seat to be replaced by my neighbor's child, I ended up next to the two people on the plane with bladders of steel, who apparently never needed to get out of their seats. Not one to be a burden, I got up for a total of 3 minutes on the entire flight. My shoes would not go back on my feet when I landed.
All of this was fine. (Who needs blood circulation anyway?) The part that was minorly concerning to me was the announcement about an hour before Hong Kong as we were bumping through typhoon-effect turbulence kindly "reminding us where the emergency exits are located on the plane." Um, ok. That's reassuring. Alls well that ends well and we touched down just fine.
3) The Airport: Often a place where one finds the most interesting of people, airport experiences can often make or break a journey. Fortunately, this time was relatively smooth. An interesting feature I found in the Hong Kong airport was that they ask you to take off your hats as you walk by a checkpoint so that they can take your temperature as you're entering. If you get red-flagged, you're entrance into the country is apparently in jeopardy. Do watch out for that.
I made it through the first test just fine and presented my passport at customs. With lots of clacking on the computer and a surprising amount of stamping and scribbling, but very little actual questioning, I made it past the booth. I dragged my suitcase off of the carousel, found the green "New Territories"taxis and was on my merry way.
Of course, the fun and undoubted challenge of moving to a new land just begins at this point...