Prologue

For years I’ve had had a tick against ‘Would be interested in International Assignments’ on my internal profile at work. It didn’t seem to be that difficult to check a box, and when I first was asked to complete the form I pretty much went through and ticked every box there was to tick. “Yes. Tick. I’d be interested in an international secondment to Uganda” – even though a: I was far too junior to be considered for an assignment to Uganda; and b: Jaguar Land Rover doesn’t have any business operations in Uganda. What the hell. Let’s see what comes of it.

Incredibly, nothing came of it. So over the subsequent few years I went about putting down some roots. I bought a house. Met a beautiful woman. Bought a house with her. Started buying all the essentials you need to feel fully accomplished in a place like the UK. Like fitted wardrobes, a subscription to at least two Wine plans and display cabinets for my collection of commemorative plates. I knew the name of our postman, I knew which parts of my garden were too shady for lavender and even volunteered to be a school governor.  Everything was falling into place.

Having just spent a bunch of money putting down some lovely new burnt oak vinyl flooring in our conservatory, I was talking to my boss at work in our last meeting before I broke up for the christmas holidays.

“How are you Matt?”

“Fine actually. Just spent a bunch of money putting down some lovely new burnt oak vinyl flooring in our conservatory.”

“Sounds good.”

“Yeah, but I feel like a need a new challenge”

“Professionally or personally?”

“Both”

“Do you want to go and work in China?”

“-”

“….”

“-”

“Well? It is on your internal profile”

I had a job that I really enjoyed, but had been in it long enough to start to think about what I might do next. But I hadn’t quite expected that to be it and there were loads of decisions we’d need to make to make it work; Would Emma be up for it? Could we integrate into a new culture with a new language? And how would Jerry* take the news? *Jerry was the postman whose name I had learnt. So to cut a long story short (which I need to do because I’ve wasted so much space detailing that conversation about wooden flooring), we sorted out all those problems and decided to go.

Emma and I thought it would be good for us to chronicle our thoughts and experiences as we go through this process. We don’t know what will be bloggable, and some of it may not interest everyone; but we’ll do our best to share with you as much as possible.