Thursday, December 01, 2011

Our HHE has arrived!

I think the title says it all.
After over three months, our complete shipment of Household Effects arrived at our doorstep yesterday. This is the stuff that Tim packed up in late August, but I hadn't seen it since March when I left for FSI. So - are we excited to have our belongings with us?

Yes and no.

Yes - 60 more pounds of clumping cat litter arrived, plus all our kitchen stuff. I guess I should put those things in opposite order, but our lovely empty kitchen is now packed full. I was enjoying the free space in the kitchen after living with a "galley kitchen" for nearly 14 years (Tim called it a "one-butt kitchen" and swatted at me with a dish towel when I came in while he was cooking dinner). At least we now have more than four plates, four forks, four glasses etc... We also received our music collection, favorite prints for the white-on-white walls and a vacuum that doesn't suck - or that does suck - well, you know what I mean.

No - After having lived without these things since March, I'd grown quite used to being without them. The free space is wonderful and not having to dig through stuff in cupboards or drawers to find whatever it is that I'm looking for is a luxury. Also, many of the things feel like they're attached to a different life. Especially the clothes suited for a different climate, different work environment, different pastimes and hobbies.

We received about 60 boxes from the nice moving company. Not a thing was broken, not even scratched. Three champagne flutes and over a dozen glasses of all styles arrived in perfect shape; it was quite the testament to well-planned boxes and liberal amounts of tan packing paper. I know others have horror stories, but I'd like to add this happy ending to the mix to let people know it is possible.

If we may add a word or two of advice to those choosing "to bring or not to bring":
Don't bring.

This is just one couple's opinion, but I've heard it from others as well. To start, you will have to wait anywhere from 3-12 months for your things to arrive, depending if you stay at FSI for lengthy training or not, and by that time you will have acclimated to not living with these things. They may feel like interlopers in your new life, not quite fitting in and possibly cramping your new style.

What about the things that are very meaningful, irreplaceable even, that you don't want to be without? My coworker who just left Libya with only two suitcases lost all her belongings, including family photos and momentoes from her children's growing up. Her things are still in the house where she was living, or at least that's where they were left when she had to immediately evacuate. Who knows who has their hands on them now. If something is irreplaceable, you may want to consider not bringing it for fear of losing or damaging it in transit or in the event of an evacuation. It's not something we like to think of, but it happens.

So here we are, boxes mostly unpacked, kitchen cupboards stuffed ("Why do two people need 20 coffee mugs?") and clothes shoved into drawers where many of them will sit unworn for the next two years. We're already researching charity options for some of it.

If you're on a hiring register now, or if you're awaiting your clearances in the hopes of heading to FSI in the near future, may I suggest that you start garage-saleing, eBaying, Craig's Listing and giving to charity as much as you can stomach. Trim your sails now and enjoy the flavor of your new life when you get to your first post.

Just remember to pack extra cat litter - it's expensive out here!


  1. Wow sorry to hear it took so long for your HHE. I gotta say it only took 5 weeks for our HHE and 6 for our car. From what I hear thats pretty average for Moscow. We will have to remember to put in extra clumping cat litter and tall kitchen garbage bags. Can't quite seem to find quality garbage bags here. I am glad we got our winter stuff before it starts to get cold here.

  2. I agree with you 100% about not bringing too much! While I was happy to receive my HHE, I really had become accustomed to doing without a lot of it. I purged loads of stuff in the year prior to joining...and still feel that I have too much.

  3. 6 weeks to Moscow for the car... wow. Our truck has arrived; I've seen it and I've even driven it (about 200 yards), but alas it will sit on the embassy grounds for another few weeks until the plates arrive. It also arrived in perfect condition, I should add. Yellow Flower - you're headed to a totally different climate next. Time to revise the wardrobe again?