How moving abroad is exactly like preparing for the apocalypse

It's the end of the world as we know it!

It’s the end of the world as we know it!

(Cue the eerie music.) That’s right, moving abroad is EXACTLY like preparing for the end of the world. And here’s why:

1. You start to go a little crazy with anticipation

It all started when the moving company came over to our Minneapolis apartment to take inventory of our household goods. The surveyor moved about the apartment ticking off boxes from her long list. Couch – check. Dining room table – check. Queen bed – double check. This went on for about half an hour as she went room to room and it all seemed very standard, so I didn’t think anything of it. When she came to the end, she asked me a pointed question, “Are you going to stock up on toilet paper before we come back for the move? Most people bring extra essentials.” Suddenly, I was overcome with panic. Am I even prepared for this move?? If I forgot the “essentials,” how am I going to survive??

2. You begin to hoard supplies

Then the hoarding began. I went off to the store to purchase an extra large package of toilet paper, but I didn’t stop there. I grabbed paper towels, shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, anything I could think of that would survive the trip overseas. I brought my spoils home and took stock of what I had. It still didn’t seem like enough.

What if I can’t find jeans in Germany? Better buy some more. What if I can’t find Asian spices? Better pack those too. In fact, better to pack ALL the spices, just to be safe. What about batteries? Sure, I only use about two AA batteries per year to power my cordless mouse, so I better buy this box of 36! (True story.) How is our first aid kit? Does it have what we need? We could probably use more bandages and pain relievers. What about prescriptions? Lousy insurance only lets me have one month at a time, but contacts – I’ll buy a three year supply!

I don’t know how this irrational thinking spiraled out of control, but I swear there were rational thoughts initially. I know the majority of things are available in Europe, especially if you know where to look. But as Craig was going to be moving into our apartment on his own, I saw it as my wifely duty to make the transition as easy as possible for him. The move was going to be stressful, so why not have toilet paper on hand so he didn’t have to make a trip to the supermarket on top of everything else he was doing?

With a lot of the other stuff, it was just preference. In my many years as a consumer I have tried several different brands of products and have settled on a few that I really like. I was not looking forward to starting this all over again in another country, so I just bought as much as I could.  (That’s not crazy, right?)

3. You learn new survival skills

I was feeling pretty secure on the non-perishable goods, but there were also perishable goods I would miss. Hummus. I wasn’t sure if it would be available in Germany, so I taught myself to make my own. Salsa. I had heard that Mexican specialty foods are hard to come by, so I pinned some salsa recipes. Lip balm? I don’t know why, but I recently made home-made lip balm just to prove that I could do it if I needed. It’s like a modern girl’s survival skill, I guess. (The balm is delicious and very easy, by the way.)

With the foods, of course I’m excited to indulge in the local cuisine, but I have some real anxiety over the thought of future me lamenting the foods of my native country (you know, like hummus, salsa, and curry 😉 )

Then there are the actual essential survival skills – learning about the language and culture. Lately I’ve been spending more hours than I can really afford perusing blogs, buzzfeed, and remote corners of the internet trying to learn as much as I can about German culture. On my breaks, I do language lessons with Duolingo, youtube sessions with Katja at Deutsch für Euch, or activities out of my German language book. At least I know these will come in handy!

4. You have a looming count-down in your head

Ever since I found out we were moving to Germany, I have been preparing. Just like the apocalypse preppers, I have been preparing for MONTHS, and yet the end STILL hasn’t arrived. Well, readers, I have news for you…

The end is near! 


Just this week I received official notice that I will be moving to Germany in the middle of June!!! May the ominous countdown begin!

OK, so unlike the apocalypse, this is actually happy news! Stay tuned for more updates on my move! And may the rate of my telling of embarrassing stories for your amusement vastly increase!

Until then, enjoy these ridiculous bloopers from the “photoshoot” I had trying to capture the perfect image for this post. Many thanks to my labmate, Louis, and Sonja from Breadcrumbs Guide for helping out! (They’re good people.) I promise no inflatable animals or lab supplies were harmed in the making of this:


Just me hanging out in my apocalypse shelter.


Don’t eat me!


Take that, shark!


Save the toilet paper!


…his graduated cylinder is bigger than mine.


Passersby saw we were up to no good.


It was all just way too silly to handle.

What could you not live without if you were moving abroad? Leave a comment below! Or, you know, just discuss the utter weirdness of this post. Your choice. 

14 thoughts on “How moving abroad is exactly like preparing for the apocalypse

  1. Amelia says:

    I so get this.
    We are moving to Mexico in July, but instead of packing it all we are getting rid of everything that doesn’t fit in a suitcase. Multiply that times 4 (me, husband, 2 little girls!) I’ve been counting down for more than a year, and now that it’s getting close it doesn’t seem real.

    There have been lots of “what if they don’t have this in Mexico?” moments here too. My nice big umbrella. Legos. Dawn dish soap. It’s the little things. Unfortunately we won’t have room to pack all the just-in-case items or I would be hoarding too!

    It’s always interesting to see how other expats deal with the move, the changes, the new culture. I can’t wait to see what adventures lie ahead-for both of us!


    • beckymarkovitz says:

      Thanks for sharing, Amelia! That’s kind of the crazy element of the hoarding – after I collect it all, how am I supposed to get it there?? A lot of the big stuff has already been shipped, but I’m really hoping my suitcases aren’t overweight because of the extra contact solution I pack haha. Good Luck with the move! I’ll follow along 🙂


  2. kalmba13 says:

    First, this was hilarious. Second, you’re not alone, I’m in the hoarding phase too! Except mines more along the lines of “what new supplies do I need for us and two animals to live happily in an apartment” since we come from a house with fenced in back yard. And personal care products too I suppose. We heard a lot of those are difficult to find in China, or expensive due to import. Good luck on your move!


  3. Steven Patterson says:

    Uh, air conditioning. I cannot sleep when its hot. I’ve lived in the western US for 58 years. I’m planning to move to Leipzig next fall. I have made a friend in Leipzig. He is planning to come here to California next September as he is an avid train fan – an American train fan. He is helping me with German and I help with English. Mexican food will also be a bad one.


  4. Steven Patterson says:

    Oh, BTW. I really like your blog. It’s great. humorous and informative. Love your examples! The more I know about German culture and laws, the better prepared I’ll be.


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