When I moved back to Italy in the middle of March, I was sure I would be back to the UK after the Easter holidays. As time passed and I realised I wouldn’t go back to Southampton for months, I had to organise my life abroad from home. In this article, I will discuss what my steps were to make sure I arranged everything I needed without being on site.
One skill most valued by employers is organisation. People living abroad are most likely to develop it, as there are lots of situations that require them to think fast and efficiently. While you would normally get it during years of training, this ability has been further enhanced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ll use my experience as an example.
In March 2020, after the pandemic broke out throughout the world, I went back to my home country. However, when I realised I still had all my belongings in the UK and with no chance of going back before September, I had to find a strategy quickly. Time is of the utmost importance in these circumstances. As June approached, I searched the alternatives I had. With the UK imposing a 14-day quarantine for everyone coming from abroad-and my current accommodation not keen on having quarantined students-travelling was not an option.
My next step was to ask the University of Southampton for a company that could pack and store my belongings. After talking with the company the University sends their students to, it did not impress me. The aspects that struck me the most was them asking for the credit card details and the security code. Although I’m sure no one would steal my data, it’s still not safe to send via e-mail the complete details of a credit card. As a result, I kept looking and ultimately had to ask one of my dad’s ex-colleagues to come to my aid.
I found a company that packs and stores people’s belongings. But there are some tips I would like to share with you on how to make this process most effective.
The worst thing to do in these cases is to get overwhelmed by emotions. Although that could be the first reaction to all your frustration, it only slows down your organisation. This was my first response, especially in the beginning. I did not understand where to start from and this was the biggest obstacle for me.
However, as soon as you realise there is no reason to panic-and it makes matters even worse-you will become more aware of what you need to do and how you can achieve it. Whenever you feel you are going overboard or you do not have enough time, just stop for a minute and breathe.
Prepare in advance
The only time you may panic is if you left everything for the last minute. To avoid going into a frenzy, you need to prepare with as much advance as possible. Let’s take my experience as an example.
My current tenancy in Southampton ends in the middle of July. While I would have left the apartment right after the exam period, I was already in Italy. And with all my belongings still in my room. Most lettings agencies and student halls have a strict policy for vacating your room. In my case, the accommodation I live in takes money from your deposit if you leave something inside after the contract ends. On top of that, they charge you money to dispose-throw in the bin-your own belongings. Although I might not agree with this approach, I had my hands tied.
Because of all this craziness, I began to prepare early. I started enquiring for prices in May and had it all figured it out by the first week of June. This not only allowed me to enjoy the summer sooner, but it also avoided the hustle of having to run against time to ensure I was on track with my contract.
If you don’t have as much time as I had, read again the first point in this list. There is always a solution. Remember, you can also talk with your landlord and make them reflect on the situation. It’s more probable they will make allowances for you if you are honest with them and talk about your issues, than just forcing them to come out of their way for you.
Don’t stop at the first obstacle
Once you get started in your quest to vacate your apartment, problems seem to arise from every corner. In my case, I had to talk with a series of university staff before getting to the one who could give me the information I was looking for, i.e. a company that packs and stores people’s belongings. After that, I had to search for other options, as the contact provided did not impress me from a security level.
When you try to organise your life abroad from your home country, you might experience more issues compared to those who are doing the same in loco. This is something you need to keep in mind not only for the current world situation but also for the future. You might need to be at home for whatever reason and still have to manage your life abroad. Obstacles will get in your way, no matter how much you try to avoid them. What’s important in these instances is to keep working towards fixing your problems.
Look around for different options
As I said above, I realised I needed to find a different solution from the one pointed out by the university. The first step I took was to look on the internet and see what companies offered packing and moving my belongings from my room to a storage unit. Depending on your contract, you might not need to find a storage for your personal effects, but finding a packing company is more difficult than it seems.
Most packing companies seem to require you to give them an exact list of your things. This is almost impossible to do, especially when you have your entire life stuffed in a bedroom. If I could show you the small space on the contract where they want you to give them a precise description of everything you own, you would be as puzzled as I was. I couldn’t be on site during the moving and couldn’t give them the exact list they wanted, so I needed to find a company who could be more elastic in this aspect.
In my case, I had already booked a storage unit before finding the packing company. However, when the packing company offered to not only pack and move my stuff but also to store it with them, I used their services for everything I needed.
What I mean by this is: don’t stop at the first hit you find on your research engine. Send around several queries and find the company that best suits your needs before settling for one.
Don’t be afraid of refusing someone’s offer
Once your queried companies come back with an offer, you need to sift through them. Every company is different, and thus may or may not be suited for your needs.
There are companies who come at you strongly and seem too insistent in offering their services. Some are too expensive and ask for an inflated price because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whenever you feel a company suits you, you need to find the courage to refuse their offers. Don’t be afraid of saying you have already found a better option, or you just don’t think their services are right for you.
I had to query 4 or 5 different companies before finding the right one for me. And I had to say no to all the others. Although I would have preferred to find the perfect match on the first try, this was not the case and I had to deal with the discomfort of having to turn down offers. As long as you refuse their offer politely, you are not doing anything wrong.
Although you can encounter many obstacles while trying to organise your life abroad from home, the steps I underlined should get you through more easily. Organisation is not only important in your private life but also for your career. Even though it’s sometimes difficult to get things together while, it’s important not to panic and think ahead, so you can avoid the hustle of having to plan in a rush.