1) Pack your life in two suitcases
Okay, fine. Three. We payed the whopping extra $200 for two extra bags. This is not an easy task I tell you! Packing literally everything we need for the next year (maybe more) of our lives... stressful. We made it work though. Tips: roll your clothes. They fit better. Use every single ounce that you are allowed on that plane. WEIGH YOUR BAGS TO CHECK. Use those baggage cart things at the airport. You might feel like people are judging you for having so much stuff, but you will feel more awkward trying to lug around three suitcases and a backpack without it.
2) Settle in for a long plane ride
After our adventures this summer I feel like I could fly around the world three times and it wouldn't phase me. Things that help though: Spend the money and buy a donut pillow. It's worth it. Get a good book. Or two, or three. Fly an airline with personal TVs on the back of your seat. Just watch a couple movies, a season of Suits, and you are there! Wear whatever you freaking want on that plane. (I know some people have strong opinions about looking classy when you travel. Me? Forget that. Wear sweats and your nikes. Crazy pants and a t-shirt. Whatever is comfortable. 14 hours is a LONG TIME to be sitting in a dress.)
3) Research Research Research
I feel like we could have done this a little more thoroughly. I mean, they speak English in England but pretty much everything else is different from America. They drive on the left side of the road. They call underwear pants. Yeah... we've made that mistake a couple times. They don't tip at restaurants. The list could go on and on. Luckily, we've made some really great friends who have showed us the ropes. If we hadn't we would be struggling.
4) Find a network
Whether this is through your job, community, church, or neighborhood, having a network of people is huge. We found this through our church. The people here have been amazing. We had someone to pick us up from the airport, somewhere to stay until we got on our feet, and even a personal chauffeur to drive us around at first. Seriously... what a HUGE help. We've already been over to a ward member's house for dinner, and made tons of friends. It's so nice to have a support group in a place that is so foreign.
5) Find a home
Whew! This one was a doozy! We have been looking online for months for a place to live before we even got here. We felt uncomfortable with wiring money oversees for a place we hadn't even seen yet though. We decided to just look when we got here. Ho-ly Cow. The market in Birmingham this time of year is crazy. A property would come on the market and 9 people would see it and want it that same day. Just be patient and resilient. Keep making appointments and when you see one you want do what you have to to get it. Since Austin is a student and I am technically unemployed we had to pay more money upfront for the rent. It was a bit of a pain, but if it meant we could have a place to live, we were in. We have finally found something and move in tomorrow! YES!
6) Find a job
Lucky for me, my visa allows me to work. I don't really have much to say on this topic since I am still unemployed! They use CVs here not resumes though. I'm applying all over the place so hopefully I'll find something soon.
7) Eat the food
Chocolate. British chocolate is $. There are little shops everywhere with fun new food. We love to walk around the city center and try new things. Food is actually not as expensive as I would have thought. It helps that we are in Birmingham and not London. I would say you can find lunch for $6-8, and a nice dinner for $10-15. It's pretty reasonable.
8) Explore and ask questions
Honestly, you kind of have to wing it for a while. We've done lots of walking around the city just to explore. We ask questions when we have them and almost always people are willing to help. We're excited to be here and look forward to learning more as we grow.
We haven't taken many pictures yet, but here are a few.