We leave for our adventure in the UK two weeks from today. It has been quite an adventure already so far. From losing the girls passports shortly after receiving them and having to expedite new ones (we still haven’t found the original ones, they may have been tossed accidentally into the recycling), to spending three weeks navigating the UK Border Patrol Visa Application pages, trying to figure out how to pay for the visas, to having to clear out our house and deciding what to sell, ship, or store. Logistically and financially, the decision to move to another country and go through the steps to actually physically be in that country have been more than we could imagine.
I began looking for a position in another country last fall. It started out as just a general interest, see which countries used Physician Assistants, and what jobs were available. I didn’t at the time really think that I would eventually apply for and be offered a job in another country let alone have the guts to move myself and my family to another country that we had only visited for a few weeks 13 years before. As I searched the Dutch version of Indeed.com, I found a one year position in orthopaedics, the specialty I have been working in, in Holland. On somewhat of a whim I decided to submit my resume, even though I could only decipher what I thought was a one year commitment, the fact that the position was in orthopaedics, and the subspecialty of orthopaedics it involved. The rest of the details were in Dutch, a language I am not familiar with. That was enough information for me, and later that night my resume was emailed to the surgeon listed as the job contact. Surprisingly to myself, I did hear back from a very nice surgeon who told me that though I met all the qualifications for the position, they felt that there may be an issue with the language barrier.
Over the next few months I would occasionally look for international jobs again in my field. We were home visiting my parents in eastern Washington around Christmas when I found the position that I would later apply for, be offered, and accept. My husband, dad, and I went to an English pub for a beer one night and my dad stated that he would likely never get to Europe, a desire that he has always had. That night, searching again on Indeed.com, this time the UK version, I found a position in orthopaedics as a Senior PA in Trauma and Orthopaedics in the region of Kent. I remember searching for the town of Margate on Wikipedia. This appeared to be a quaint little town that many years ago had been a tourist destination for the Brits, but was now replaced by warmer locations in the Mediterranean as Holiday locations. Over the next few weeks I contemplated applying for the position, and ended up submitting my application after checking to make sure that Americans were welcome to apply. After a 1:30 AM interview via Skype a few weeks later, my enthusiasm for orthopaedics was renewed. However, a week or so later I was told that I had not been offered the position. This was fairly disappointing for me, given that as I had advanced through each step in the application process I had to ask myself, and discuss with my husband, whether this was an opportunity we would be interested in pursuing were it offered to us. Up until now, when applying for a job, I would cautiously be optimistic but careful not to be too set on a position prior to a formal offer. Several things can factor in to whether a candidate will be offered a position, not all of which are under the control of the candidate. However, this job was different in that at each step of the process my husband and I would reevaluate and discuss whether we would actually consider moving ourselves and our children to a different country thousands of miles and 8 time zones away, advancing to the next step in the application process. That type of discussion lends itself towards developing an attachment to a situation, in our case moving to the UK. I found myself wandering around on Google Earth to get a sense of the town, and searching for flats online. Thus it can be understood why initially being told I had not been offered the position was quite upsetting.
This became a roller coaster ride, however, when a little over a week later I received an email offering me the position. After more discussion, a morning researching the costs of living in the UK and whether we could afford to live on the much lower salary I would receive in the UK, as well as telling our parents that we were planning to move halfway across the world, my family and I decided to accept the position promising an exciting adventure. This job, an 18 month commitment, will hopefully allow us to live a bit more simply, travel around Europe, and spend more time together as a family.
Over the past 3 months we have worked on downsizing our house, obtained passports for the children (twice!), obtained visas, sold a car, and secured temporary housing. In addition, we researched the logistics of getting four people, along with our bikes, from Olympia, WA to Kent, UK. And that is how, two weeks from today, we will be carless in Kent.