company wants to have tea with my family as part of an international interview

A reader writes:

I’m going on a final interview in another country next week, and they’re flying out my whole family so we can decide together if we want to expatriate. They’ve been very accommodating and have been wooing me, which I appreciate.

My problem is this: we’re taking a red-eye, overnight, from the west coast to Europe. I got an email today asking me and my family (my partner and our two children) to meet for tea in the late afternoon. My questions:

– Is it weird that they want to meet my partner and children?

– I’m worried that my children may not be well-behaved due to jet lag; our meeting is late afternoon local time but early morning on the west coast, and they will have been up all “night.” Do I warn the interviewer? Do I try to force my strong-willed kids to nap in the middle of the day, despite the fact it’s bad for jet lag?

– How do I prep children for their parent’s interview?

My initial reaction after reading this letter was “just say your kids will be napping after the red eye or have touristy plans with their dad,” but then I realized that I really have no expertise on this. I also realized that I know someone who does have a ton of expertise on this — Suzanne Lucas of Evil HR Lady. Suzanne, in addition to being a friend and mentor and the person who inspired me to start Ask a Manager, moved from the U.S. to Switzerland with her husband and kids a few years ago and knows all about international relocations. Here’s our conversation.

Me: My initial reaction was that she should say her kids will be napping or that they are doing something touristy with their dad, but then I wondered if this isn’t really supposed to be optional and they’re all expected to make an appearance. What’s your take?

Suzanne: It’s a little weird to want to meet everyone, but it’s not super weird. Why? Because when you’re offering someone a job in a new country, you really have to make sure the whole family is happy. In theory, you just ask the candidate, “Everyone excited about this?” but it’s a great idea to bring the spouse and sometimes kids out to the new place.

If an expat relocation fails, it’s not likely to be because of the job, it’s likely to be because of the family. I’ve been living the expat life for seven years now, as a trailing spouse. That means my husband got the expat job and I followed. We love it here, but I’ve seen plenty of jobs fail because the spouse didn’t like it. I’ve seen families return to their home country in under six months because the spouse just couldn’t handle it. I’ve seen people lose a hundred grand in relocation costs in order to get back home. I’ve seen families broken up where the expat person stays and the spouse and kids return home.

Moving to a new country is hard. If you’re going to any reasonably sized city there will be an expat group and lots of English speakers, and an international school for the kids. But, there won’t be a Target or a Walmart, or a decent place to get shoes at a reasonable cost. Sure, you read about those Hollywood stars who go to Paris to shop, but they come with huge bank accounts. You’ll find everything smaller and more expensive in Europe. For instance, we sold our 3700-square-foot home in Pennsylvania, and live in a 900-square-foot apartment. Part of that is simply choice–we like to spend our money on travel–but part is that 3700-square-foot homes just don’t exist in Switzerland and if they did, they’d be so expensive we’d never be able to get one.

Some people can not handle this at all. They can’t handle learning a new language or figuring out new customs. I was with a fellow expat wife when she got angry that the gas station attendant didn’t speak English. I pointed out that maybe she should learn German and she replied that if they had good customer service they’d only hire people who spoke English. Okey-dokey, you’re not fitting in here at all.

So, this company obviously understands the importance of keeping the family happy. They wouldn’t go to this expense with the idea of interrogating your children before making you a job offer. It’s probably more of a “we’ll sell the whole family on this!” However, if they want to have tea with your whole family on the same day as you land in Europe, that’s nuts. My kids don’t sleep on flights, and are complete disaster cases whenever we land in Europe from U.S. trips. (They do better going West than East, as most people do.)

So, what I would do is say, “Everyone is really excited about getting a chance to see the city and we’d love to have tea together, but can we make it at the end of the week when we’ve had a chance to adjust to the time change?” If they hold firm, well, a nice warning of “Everyone will be a jet-lagged mess, but we’ll see you at 4:00!”

I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are toddlers, well, I’d advise you to leave them home with grandma anyway. Toddlers on a plane. Shudder. Jet-lagged toddlers are even worse, but that’s up to you. And up to grandma, if one is available.

Me: That’s super helpful. What do you think they’re hoping to gain by having the kids at the tea? Do you think they’re trying to sell the kids on the area (if the kids are old enough for that), or is it more like general hospitality, or ….? I get the sense that the letter-writer is worried a bit that her kids and spouse will be being judged in some way, and I assume that’s not the employer’s intention, but what’s your take?

Suzanne: I’m guessing it’s general hospitality for the kids, but I think they may be legitimately concerned about the spouse not liking it and wanting to make sure he wants to move. International relo is really expensive. Really expensive. Ours cost over $100,000. Even with repayment agreements, it’s a huge risk.

I’m making assumptions here–but since the letter-writer is female, I’d assume a male partner, although it could be a female partner (and really, it’s Europe, no one cares), but male trailing spouses are rarer than female ones and it can be really hard for men to adjust to being the trailing spouse.

It’s hard for women, but for generations there have been wives clubs and such, with little for men. That’s changing, of course. I wrote an article on it a while ago, and interviewed a bunch of men about their challenges.

If the spouse is going to be looking for a job, they’ll often offer job hunting assistance, so they may want to talk with the partner about that.

I can’t imagine they care about the kids, probably just being nice and realizing that they can’t have the partner come in and leave the kids alone in the hotel.

I’m guessing though!

Me: That makes sense. Thank you, Suzanne! Everyone should go read Suzanne’s blog now, and send her all your questions about international relocations.

{ 219 comments… read them below }

  1. Leatherwings*

    Depending on how old the kids are, you could try to get a nanny and have just the spouse do the tea? That way you don’t have to be panicked about crying toddlers or cranky preteens. I think there are agencies you can look at to get a reputable nanny for an afternoon.

    1. Queen Gertrude*

      Also, depending on the hotel, they may have babysitting services or have access to them via a concierge. I have no personal experience with them (or know how much they cost) but I had a friend who told me that she used this service while traveling Europe with her family on nights when her and her husband wanted adult time. Specifically in Paris for some odd reason ;)

  2. OP*

    As further explanation – my kids are 13 and 7, and the tea is actually in a place that’s kind of a quiet amusement park – Tivoli Gardens, in Copenhagen. The interviewer is taking us there for tea, we’re talking a bit, and then they’re leaving us to “enjoy the park,” so leaving the kids at home would be rude. I think this is a kindness on their part, which I appreciate (Tivoli is what the kids are most looking forward to!), but the timing is just so rough.

    A lot of this advice is excellent though, thank you! And apparently I’ve been under-estimating moving costs by two thirds, eeeesh.

    1. LQ*

      I’m not really sure about the park but would it be possible for the kids to go off and enjoy the park after initial introductions and a little bite to eat? (Sorry if I’m wrong about this but I know at 13 my mom would have let me go off and be in charge of my little sister. Not entirely sure what would be appropriate now.) So if “tea” is an hour and a half then the kids are there for 15 minutes and then go to do or see whatever and you meet up with them at a later point and a predetermined spot?

      1. Phoebe*

        I don’t think I’d feel comfortable at all leaving my kids to their own devices in a city we’ve never been to before – even if I were nearby. I think your best option is to ask for them to reschedule. Surely they’ll understand that it was a long and arduous trip and you need time to recharge and refresh before meeting with them, especially in the context of an interview. If not, then you’ve learned something valuable about your prospective employer.

    2. Nanani*

      If the kids are school aged, then maybe part of the package will include schools, language instruction, and other specific things.

      It really sounds like the best solution would be to change the time because of jet lag, though.

      And yes, it’s EXPENSIVE. The costs never stop.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I feel like an idiot, but the cost of international relocation never really occurred to me. Why is it so expensive? Like, what costs am I not thinking of?

        1. OhNo*

          I am also very curious. I’m trying to think of what could possibly rack up that much in relocation expenses, but keep coming up blank!

          1. spek*

            Most companies recruiting foreigners have to employ a relocation specialist or use an outside agency, which is very expensive. Even things you would assume to be simple like opening a bank account or starting electric service and satellite TV are next to impossible unless you have help – and that’s in countries that speak English – even more cumbersome in a foreign language. So you have to have a dedicated specialist/translator on call, at least for a few weeks, even if you are reasonably fluent, and that costs…

        2. My 2 Cents*

          Usually the company will ensure your house sells in the U.S., so they pay the realtor costs (5-10%) and if the house doesn’t sell within X amount of time will buy the house outright. That’s probably not a huge problem right now in this good economy, but still a consideration. Then there are the costs of moving the family: A family of 4 means 4 airline tickets to the new home, plus shipping all of their stuff over to the new locations is THOUSANDS of dollars. Next, and usually biggest, are the equalization costs. School is free in the U.S. but costs $20,000 a year in new country, the company pays for that. Taxes are almost always higher in new country than in the U.S. so the company pays the difference between what the employee would pay in the U.S. and what they have to pay in new country. Lots of times you are double taxed, you pay taxes in new country and U.S. (In the U.S. you can exclude about $100,000 in foreign income from taxes, but if you are moving someone overseas they are usually making A LOT more than $100k per year) so they cover all of the additional taxes for you. Cost of living in new country is significantly more expensive in new country so your pay is raised by tens of thousands per year to ensure you have a similar lifestyle to what you had back in the U.S. Most companies pay for you and your family to travel back to the U.S. once or twice a year to see family and maintain contacts, so 4 more airline tickets. And then when they assignment is over they have to move you back to the U.S. again.

          It’s VERY expensive.

          1. Office Plant*

            Yes, but only if you own a house and a car and have kids. If you’re single, have no kids, don’t have a lot of stuff, and rent, it’s not that expensive.

            1. BananaPants*

              In my experience it’s unusual for a company to be willing to relocate someone as an expat very early in their career, and the older/more experiences someone is, the more likely that at least one of those things (home ownership, being partnered, having children) would apply. Many countries – including the US – have requirements for work visas and permits for expats to enter and work there, requiring that they be in a management or experienced technical role.

              We’re just not sending 24 year olds a year or two out of university off to be expats, we’re sending people in their 30s and 40s with at least a decade or two of work experience and specialized skillsets that warrant sending them to live somewhere else for several years. Within my organization, expats have all been homeowners, most were married, and one or two have had minor children that obviously went with them.

          2. KH*

            Attempting to match living standards can get very, very expensive in many countries. I worked and lived in Japan for most of my career. I was a local hire though – hired on to the company as a very junior employee and worked my way up. I worked with expects from Europe/US and they were taken care of very nicely. They always had huge (by Japanese standard) houses or apartments close in to the city center which had rents in excess of $10,000 per month. People with similar income would not live in such places; only very high level Japanese executives can live like that.

            Japan is actually a relatively affordable place to live — if you live like a upper middle class JAPANESE person would live. It only gets expensive when you try to live like an upper middle class AMERICAN while being in Japan.

        3. Oryx*

          Some of it has to do with how much you’re taking with you and where you’re going. Moving from the US and Canada? You can easily throw it into a U-Haul and drive like a cross-country move. But if you’re going across the ocean, packing and moving takes transportation logistics to a new level. Do ship your furniture or just buy new stuff when you get there? (Or attempt to find a furnished apartment). Same with all the general *stuff* you need on a daily basis.

        4. Jennifer M.*

          Things that may be included in an international relocation package (based primarily on Dept of State Standard Regs – so basically what they give their staff). Airfare. A 3rd suitcase per person. Hotel until you find an apartment/house (for US gov’t it is a certain percentage of the hotel cost plus a percentage of the standard Meals & Incidentals portion of that city’s per diem rate). 100-250 lbs per person of air freight (State Dept has a graduated amount) – 250 lbs is a box about the size of a lateral 2 drawer file cabinet – usually enough for clothes, shoes, and some linens. Air freight usually arrives within 1-3 weeks and generally won’t ship until you have a permanent address. 7,200-18,000 lbs of ocean freight (when these regs were originally written, 18K lbs was a 4 bedroom house). This can take 6-8 weeks to arrive plus customs clearance. Storage of stuff that you aren’t bringing (for the DSSR storage is 18,000 lbs minus whatever you sent in ocean freight so total surface/ocean shipment plus storage equals 18,000 lbs). Packers/movers to take care of all this. Warehousing of stuff in the US while waiting for a shipping address. Potentially shipment of a personally owned vehicle. Long term visas for everyone. Work permits for employee and spouse. Potentially some hotel in the US if there is a gap between when you have to vacate your home and when you get on a plane to travel. If you have a new born, there can also be a separate layette shipment.

          1. Jennifer M.*

            Also, relocation packages will often include tuition at the local American School which would be 10s of thousands a year. And there may be periodic trips home.

            1. AnotherHRPro*

              That generally isn’t part of the relo package, but is part of the expat compensation package. Schooling, transportation, annual trips back to the states, tax assistance, etc.

          2. the gold digger*

            Shipping the pets and keeping them in quarantine. Our cat had to stay in quarantine for a month when we moved back to the States from Panama. We would go visit him and he turned his back on his. He thought we had abandoned him.

              1. the gold digger*

                I have a friend who moved to the UK and another who moved to Belgium (both to get married and, presumably, to stay). They gave their cats away rather than put them through quarantine.

                1. Liz*

                  That’s not automatically the case any more. Check out the Pet Passport scheme. Basically, make sure they’re up to date with all required vaccinations (*especially* rabies) for a year and they should be fine.

                  /says the woman who moved UK-USA with 3 cats

                2. Vanesa*

                  Oh no! Do they always have to stay in quarantine? Why would they rather give them up than put them in quarantine? I just didn’t know the quarantine was bad enough to give them up =/

                3. irritable vowel*

                  Liz is correct – in some countries, at least, the quarantine requirements for pets have been greatly relaxed in the past 10-20 years.

                4. Anna*

                  My friend is in the UK for six months and took her dog. I think he got there last Thursday and she should be reunited with him tomorrow because of the pet passport. Which I love the idea of. A little puppy passport!

                5. Lowercase holly*

                  A friend just relocated to Estonia and her cat got through with no wait it sounds like.

                6. BananaPants*

                  We’ve had several expats and some brought their pets but the majority had them go live with extended family in the US for various reasons. Putting an elderly pet through quarantine (even a reduced quarantine) is stressful and not all countries/areas have solid Western veterinary care available for household pets with chronic health issues.

                  Countries also have rules about bringing in and registering pets. For example, in China, large dogs can’t live in certain areas, some breeds can’t be imported at all, and an expat can only bring in one dog per adult with a work permit. The expat’s home country may also require a long quarantine period on the return journey when the expat comes back.

              2. The Well Traveled Cat*

                I moved from the US to South American and then to Asia. My cat is now more well-traveled than most people I know and did not have to be quarantined at all. I took her as a carry on and put her under the seat in front of me. She was not happy about it (especially the 30 hour flight/layover combo to Asia), but has adjusted well.

                On the other hand it was very expensive–extra vet bills and USDA certifications, a fee on every flight and having to book tickets with a different airline that cost almost double to find one with a pet policy that allowed cats in the cabin. My company did not pay this part of the relocation costs.

                I consider it worth every penny. Whether or not I can take my cat with me is one of my deal-breaker questions when looking at new locations.

              3. aelle*

                I relocated with my dog from South Korea to Europe. Quarantine does not necessarily mean “locked in a cage for x months”, in many cases and if you plan in advance you can go through quarantine living normally in your country of origin. In my case, my dog had to get vaccine boosters 100+ days before departure, blood draw and a rabies titer 90 days before departure (it’s expensive though, because they send the blood to Brussels), deworming and a certificate to that effect from the vet 2 days before, and a medical examination by the vet in the week before to confirm he hadn’t developed symptoms of rabies since the titer. For many island countries the process takes 6 months rather than 3.

                I used the services of a vet who specialized in international relocation and she helped me navigate the whole paperwork thing with minimal pain for both me and my pup.

              1. the gold digger*

                Yes, but it took a while. Poor kitty! We couldn’t even touch him when he was in quarantine. He had to stay in his cage. We would talk to him and eventually, he would turn around, but then he would cry and cry and cry when we left.

            1. Me2*

              I took two cats to Germany and brought back three cats three years later. They flew with us both ways, we just had to follow incoming country’s regulations regarding vaccinations and vet clearances. No quarantine any more in many countries.

        5. Tess McGill*

          Before we even left the US, everyone had to get new government passports and living VISAs. All costs were reimbursed, but we came out of pocket $1,700.00 right up front.

          In the first month, we spent over $10,000.00:

          $2,550.00 hotel for 11 days (while waiting on housing; we had two rooms for our family);
          $708.00 for rental car for 13 days;
          $303.00 for gas;
          $713.00 on eating out;
          $2,100.00 withdrawn in cash
          $106.00 on foreign transaction fees until we got UK bank accounts established;
          $3,200.00 for a second car (first car was provided by the job);

          Does not include $700 spent on school uniforms (required) or school supplies (we moved just before school started); Does not include cable & phone installation, security deposit on the house, utilities set up, new cell phone set up, a 220/240V television, 13 new lamps and 8 lamp shades to cover the bulbs hanging from the ceilings. And if we’d had a pet, anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 to transport properly.

          Our package included school tuition (but not at an American school — at a private British school); we only came out-of-pocket for uniforms, field trips (not just any field trips — field trips to France! Nuts!) and school lunches. Airfare and household goods shipment was included. We flew out of Dulles and arrived in the UK at 7am. We were allowed 4 suitcases per person. I can’t sleep on planes, even with alcohol and medication, so I was pretty useless until 3pm that afternoon. Travel back to the U.S. at any time was not included; that was on us. We did receive a cost of living allowance each month, based upon the current exchange rate. The exchange rate was about £1.00 = $1.58, and it went as high as £1.00 = $1.78 during our time there. That was NOT in our favor at all.

          Our advance baggage (1,500 pounds) arrived just over 2 weeks after we arrived. Our household baggage arrived 6 weeks after we arrive, after clearing customs. We did not ship a vehicle.

          I was never bored. Not for one second. There was so much to see and do. I devoured travel books, city guides, off-the-beaten-path books, dining guides and walking guides like no one’s business. I planned day trips every week. If friends couldn’t go with me, I didn’t hesitate to go and explore on my own. Rick Steves became my new BFF. I was willing to go anywhere and experience anything new. After years of being a homebody, I was suddenly up for any adventure. (I even shocked myself at times). I needed to see it all. My bucket list had 3 different categories and was a mile long.

          We saved every penny and travelled as much as we could. Despite the cost, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Also, one of my best friends lives in Viborg, Denmark and I hope to visit someday (we both lived in the UK at the same time). If everything fits and feels right for you OP (and the $$ is right too), go for it! For me personally, it was the best adventure of my life. I hope your family will experience the same joy. Good Luck!

        6. Nanani*

          As others have said, you pretty much HAVE to hire some kind of agency because, unless you’re able to fit literally everything in a couple suitcases, your stuff will be arriving separately than your flight/boat. That means tons of extra paperwork and mandatory insurance.
          Then there’s the logistics of finding housing and such. You have to get an agent to do it in your stead at one end or the other, possibly both, because you can’t be in two places at once (signing leases, showing up to drop off and collect keys, open and close accounts, etc).
          There can also be residency papers and laws such that you can’t open the accounts, buy the home, etc in the new country until you have your residency papers done, which further adds to the need for an agent to handle things for you until that’s done.

          Then there’s the costs of moving that would apply domestically as well, like deposits on housing and utilities, buying new items you didn’t previously need (like if you’re moving to a bigger house or just to a new type of housing) or had to leave behind (e.g., shipping a bed is a huge expense because of the size and weight, so you buy a new one at the new home, but either way it’s expensive).

          It adds up FAST.

          This is based on my overseas relocation and experience and may not apply for international moves within a smaller region or between closely-knit countries, like within the EU.

          1. Anonhippopotamus*

            I suppose it depends where you’re going but you DO NOT necessarily need an agency, all you need is a company that will do your visa for you. It’s not that difficult. My husband and I relocated from Canada to Hong Kong last year. We took 2 suitcases each and shipped 120 pounds in boxes by boat (arrived 2 months later). We left all of our furniture behind and put stuff we weren’t taking into storage.

            My company put us up in a serviced apartment for a month but we were on our own after that.

            Setting up a bank account is not rocket science – you walk in with your passport and some documents. Getting an apartment isn’t hard either – you look at a few and make a decision.
            There is an IKEA in Hong Kong, as well as a website where you can buy furniture and stuff second hand off other expats – we had our apartment set up in no time.
            Obviously my company handled our visas but we went all by our grown-up selves to get our ID cards done once we had the visas.
            Our cat was even all set to come, had his permit and everything but didn’t end up coming for reasons that I won’t bore you with.

            Yes, an international move has a lot of moving pieces and you need to tie up a lot of loose ends, and we don’t have children and everyone in Hong Kong speaks English, which both change a lot, but it doesn’t have to be that expensive. We invested no more than $2K on our move. My company spent about 6K for the hotel, flight and visas.

    3. Allison Mary*

      I’m so jealous. I would love to live in Copenhagen! I think I saw somewhere that Copenhagen is rated as the happiest city in the world – if I recall correctly.

    4. Bwmn*

      Where I work, a large London-based office recently relocated to Copenhagen – and for a number of the former London staff that made the move, I know it’s been tougher than they originally thought. Obviously it ranges, but I do think that the idea of including the whole family is really important. I know one mom there and whenever she has a trip to London, she brings an empty suitcase just to stock up on books for her kids.

      Anything specific to Copenhagen aside, all of my expat experience, for the traveling partner what I’ve seen as the most common problem has been spousal boredom. So I definitely understand the notion of wanting whole family buy in.

      Also, while I think that pre-empting being groggy and a little out of it is very fair – I could also see this offer being perhaps a misguided goodwill gesture? It’s often believed that one of the best ways to deal with jet lag is to not go to sleep when you first land. And being somewhere “active” could give the kids enough energy to perhaps forget some of the sleepies so that they’re ready to go to bed at a normal bedtime. While I definitely wouldn’t want to do this in a job interview context, I can see them perhaps thinking this is nice?

      1. Aella*

        If anyone had asked my mother for her honest opinions during our eighteen months as ex pats, it would probably have been a babble of “We have to have two maids to take the toddler to nursery, and the seven year old hates everything and either runs off to the library or hides under her desk, which is better than when she stopped reading as a form of protest, but– and it’s so hot! I see Husband when his secretary sends him home for lunch, though, and I have the internet.” (Hong Kong)

        So, Copenhagen is apparently very nice as a city, but I am very glad you’re bringing the family out to test waters.

        1. Bwmn*

          I worked in Jerusalem for a while, and I’d meet some new arrival spouses who would ask about volunteer/work opportunities. Admittedly, it was common to nod, give a few suggestions, and then assume – if it was a following wife – that she’d get pregnant soon. And this was 5 years ago, not 25. So for better or worse, I do think that there just remain issues around what a partner does/do the children like school/etc. At the end of the day, there are just some basics that make an experience for a family positive or negative.

          1. Aella*

            Yeah. My father had the time of his life, but they have indicated that, if they’d known how thoroughly I would be thrown off balance, and how much my mother would hate it, they probably wouldn’t have done it.

            My sister, otoh, loved it. She was an adorable toddler who everyone cooed over.

            1. Honeybee*

              Yeah, when I first interviewed for my current job I was asked if I wanted to be considered for a position they had in the UK as well. If it was me by myself, I would have said yes in a heartbeat – it was always my dream to live and work abroad for some period of time. But I knew that my husband would hate it, so I declined. (Ended up that the client we supported in the UK closed down less than a year later, and the person they eventually hired to take that position got moved back to the U.S. just a few weeks ago.)

      2. Former Border's Refugee*

        If the timing is like my previously flights to Europe, they’ll land mid to late morning, which will give them enough time for a power nap (no more than an hour, or things get weird) and a groggy but enjoyable time at Tivoli. An hour’s nap took the edge off for me, and allowed me to function until a reasonable bedtime, local time.

        1. MillersSpring*

          Agreed. If you’re arriving to the hotel around 8:30 a.m., get a confirmed room for the night before. Then you can sleep for two-three hours and have a shower before venturing out mid-afternoon. Then by 10 pm you’re really exhausted and maybe can wake up close to a normal time.

          1. Library Director*

            Yes. This is our routine for European trips. One trip to Paris we arrived at 6:30 am, checked in and slept for 3 hours. A shower and breakfast and we were ready to go for the day. This includes lots of trips with our sons. We always found it easier flying east. After a nap excitement carries us through until evening.

      3. MK*

        Why would anyone lug a suitcase full of books around? I have books delivered from the UK all the time, and I live at a much longer distance from London than Denmark.

        1. Bwmn*

          No clue – but it was definitely a comment that stuck out.

          I think that in general moving an entire office from one city to another will always result in a number of complaints, regardless of the city,because not everyone who’d applied for their jobs when they were in London had necessarily ever thought about working in Copenhagen. On the flip side, a company recruiting staff to work in Copenhagen is just dealing with that.

        2. KH*

          Probably because it’s cheaper than buying them from some place that would ship them internationally, and the shipping cost.

      4. Anonhippopotamus*

        This would have been a non-issue when the UK was part of the EU, but usually when one person in the family has an employment visa, the dependent visa allows the trailing spouse to also get a job.

        My husband followed me to Hong Kong for my job, within 2 months he had a job in his field.

    5. KHB*

      Oooohhhh, I just got home from a vacation in Copenhagen, and it is so beautiful. Lucky you.

      The fact that the tea is at Tivoli is all the more reason to try to postpone it until later in the week when the kids will have had more of a chance to recover from their jet lag. It’s hard to enjoy a place when you’re struggling to keep your eyes open.

    6. Turtle Candle*

      No advice here, but I visited Tivoli as a kid (around 8?) and LOVED it. I hope your children are able to enjoy.

        1. GeekyDuck*

          I was just there over the summer as part of visiting my in-laws just across the strait, and it’s amazing! It’s everything you wish Disneyland could be and isn’t.

      1. WG*

        I want to second this – my husband and I spent a few days in Copenhagen a few years ago before sailing on a cruise and spent a whole wonderful day at Tivoli. It was a beautiful place and should be a neat experience for your children/family to see.

    7. Artemesia*

      I would try your hardest to change the time. The kids are not going to enjoy Tivoli on jet lag day either. Even a day later is so much better. And while I have let my kids as youngish teens be independent in a place like this, not in a brand new country on jet lag day before they have learned the ways of the place.

    8. afiendishthingy*

      As a kid I loved the book “Number the Stars”, which took place in Denmark during the Holocaust. I remember the little girl narrator’s description of Tivoli made it sound amazing and I really wanted to go.

      1. Honeybee*

        I love that book, too! I read it as a kid. I was (and still am) fascinated with literature about people’s experiences during World War II. But honestly I don’t remember that part, which makes me think it’s time for a reread!

    9. Violet Fox*

      I’ve been to Tivoli a fair few times since, I’m not actually hugely far from it (different country but still, my neck of the woods so to speak), and honestly take the kids. It’s in the middle of the city, but not huge-huge, which plenty of real places to eat, as well as to stop and rest and just watch amusements.

      Tivoli is a lot of fun for adults, as well, and the Christmas market in it in winter is a lot of fun too.

      Moving costs really depend a lot also on where you are moving, and how much you are moving.

      Denmark is very family friendly in general, and very big on work life balance, so for the company I would assume it would be natural for them to make sure that your whole family is okay and comfortable with the move.

      Copenhagen in general, pure love for the place from me.

    10. Annoy-Mouse*

      Tivoli Gardens are absolutely lovely! And speaking from fairly recent experience of the place, there is one fairly quiet cafe/food place very near the centre of the park (close, if I remember correctly, to a pretty large patch of grass, can’t miss it) that your husband/kids could retreat to on the off-chance that you can’t rearrange the meeting, and they do start “acting up” at all. It’s generally a pretty chilled out place anyway- we were there when it was busy and it still never felt super packed/ high intensity, except right next to the rides. So hopefully over-stimulation might not be as much of an issue as it could be at Disney, for example.

      Good luck OP! And do enjoy Copenhagen, it’s a really beautiful city :)

    11. Melody*

      I wanted to give you a take on Tivoli Gardens–I just went there this past summer with my family (US). It’s an amusement park with fair-type rides, stages for concerts, a ton of restaurants, the whole nine-yards. It was really fun (I’m in my late 20s and my brother who is still a teen). It’s also really expensive…so be ready for tickets for rides costing a lot. Or you can get an unlimited pass for about $30 USD. The shops and restaurants take credit/debit card, but also make sure if you have a chip card you have a PIN number as well even if it’s a credit card (just call the issuer and tell them you need a PIN number as you’re going to Europe.)

    12. FTW*

      Since the move is something that impacts the whole family, I’ve seen companies do this to create a forum for the family to ask questions, not just the interviewee.

      I would look at it as not just hospitality for the family, but also an opportunity for the family to assess the opportunity. The partner may have his/her family there as well.

    13. Little Mermaid*

      OP, make sure that the company finds you a flat. And not just for three months. If not for your entire stay, then at least for a year. Flat hunting in CPH is an absolute nightmare. Seriously. It will be on of the most horrible things you ever experience – so let the company do it. And let them take over the ridiculous costs (like, in general one has to pay 7 months with the first payment – 3 months deposit, 3 months pre-paid rent and the 1st month – a lot if you consider that a small 1-bedroom easily costs 1,300 Euros/month).

      If you’re sure that you won’t stay for more than 2 or 3 years, don’t bother with more than basic Danish. Enjoy the time by experiencing the country and traveling in Europe. Danish is very hard for native English speakers, and you’ll feel like you wasted your time (different story, if you have long-term plans) as EVERYONE speaks English to some extend.

      Get some holidays in your contract for the first year. The system here is, that you earn your (generous) holidays for the next year – which means you won’t have any in your first year. You can of course take off without pay – but considering that you’re a family of four on one salary (at lest in the beginning, I guess), make sure that you have at least a few paid days in there. This always takes foreigners by surprise.

      Also, company car! You pay 150% taxes on cars in Denmark when you buy them – talk with the company about the options. Though in the city I’d always only use bikes or public transport.

      Danes are lovely but will seem cold and rude (they aren’t, but to you it will feel like that). Personal space is important and genarally people won’t approach you first. Also, it takes a long time to make friends with Danes (there’s a reason – it’s not because they’re all assholes). So your circle will mainly consist of other foreigners and maybe a Dane here and there (a Danish spouse, someone, who used to be an expat, etc.). One important thing: don’t surround yourself with people, who do nothing but complaining. Everything that’s wrong in their lives is DK’s fault. People like that forget that they also would have problems at home and they will make you unhappy too (I’m not saying you can’t criticize things – that’s normal. But some people turn it into a sport).

      Also, remember that when you start work and the kids start school, your partner will be the only one, who doesn’t automatically has a social circle. He’ll be busy with organizing stuff in the beginning, but suddenly he’ll feel lonely and useless. This often is extremely hard for the partner that tags along. There’s loads of MeetUp groups though, so they might help (for god’s sake – stay away from Larry – he’s in every single one of them and a dick).

      Oh, and remember to have fun it’s great!

      Greetings from a foreigner, who’s lived in DK for the past 14 years.

      1. Little Mermaid*

        Oh, and insist on a contract! I’ve seen several Americans, who came here without a finalized contract (even though they worked for a big, international company) and it didn’t turn out too well.

        1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

          A contract on paper in several copies!!
          That you have to physically sign and get their signature on.

          And for goodness’ sake, read over the terms carefully. What happens if you quit? If they want to fire you? Is there a probationary period? A quarantine if you quit?
          Will you owe them money for the relocation?

          You NEED to get a CPR-number (personnummer) as soon as you move there. It’s like your social security number only much more widely used. if it’s anything like Sweden (which it is), you are… completely lost without it.

    14. babblemouth*

      I relocated to Denmark last year – not Copenhagen though, but maybe some of this could be helpful:
      – most Danes speak English, even when they say they don’t (they’re being very modest, not deliberately unhelpful);
      – the biggest culture shock for Americans moving there is how high taxes are. Give it a shot though! You get a lot for what you pay for, and there’s a reason Danes are often at the top of the list for happiest people in the world;
      – watch out for depression in winter due to lack of sunlight. It sneaks up on you;
      – Danes aren’t very outgoing people – you need to be proactive to build a network. If your kids end up going to an international school, the parents network will be a giant help.

      Good luck!

    15. M-C*

      Actually, Tivoli is a very kid-friendly, tourist-attracting kind of place, the Mecca of unconventional bohemian behavior up there. And 4pm is the best, brightest time for US-direction jet-lag. Tea is also usually a shorter and less involved affair than European dinners. So it sounds to me like the employer is bending over backwards to make the meeting a pleasant experience for everyone. You might try to negotiate for a later day, but most likely this one was chosen because of other schedule constraints and you won’t get a better choice.

      Evil HR Lady is entirely right about the family being the main cause of failed expat relocations. Denmark is also a very family-friendly sort of place (all kinds of families) and they appreciate the stability that a happy home can give to an employee. So making an effort to let your children know what kind of cool place they might look forward to seems totally in keeping with their approach.

      But it’s also time for a frank talk with the kids – this -is- an interview, and giving way to the level of crankiness, whining, and rude behavior that’s generally accepted in US children isn’t going to go over very well. If you want this venture to be a success, your kids are going to have to adapt gracefully to different standards of behavior. They should be demonstrating this right from the start..

    16. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Ah Tivoli – yeah, thats REALLY quiet – most of the rides are pretty small so I hope the kids aren’t expecting Busch Gardens!

      This question makes a lot more sense now as in Scandinavia there is a lot of emphasis on children and the family, so for the employer to want to meet them or to take them into account is absolutely in line with cultural norms there. Initially I thought this was for the UK and thought it was odd they wanted to meet the kids!

  3. Pwyll*

    My two favorite workplace bloggers in the same place! Huzzah!

    Having no international experience, my immediate reaction is what’s captured in the last part: They know the kids are coming, and know they can’t exactly invite the two adults to tea and leave the children unattended, and so have extended the invitation to the entire family. Without knowing more, I imagine this is less an evaluation and more about ensuring the family will be comfortable in their hopefully soon-to-be home.

    1. KarenD*

      Double huzzah! Often, when I am reading one blog, I imagine what the other will say :) So it’s great having both in one spot.

    2. SouthernLadybug*

      I know! And Ask Prudence had Ask A Manager as a guest recently. Worlds colliding in a wonderful way.

  4. YRH*

    I used to do physician recruitment work at an isolated rural hospital in the US. Whenever we brought out a physician for a site visit, we offered for them to bring the whole family and planned the visit accordingly. Even though it wasn’t quite as extreme as moving abroad, we wanted to give families a chance to make sure it was a good fit for everyone since it was a community that was most likely very different from where they were moving from and wanted to do our best to gauge long-term fit. It seemed to be relatively well received and we got a couple of really great hires this way.

    1. Beancounter in Texas*

      That’s comforting to know. Coming from country living as a child to city living as adult was an adjustment. City water tasted so soapy to me and I couldn’t sleep for all the noise. Now I go home and the water tastes nasty, like I’m literally drinking rocks (hard well water) and my ears ring from the silence.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        The last time I visited my parents in my home “town” (population 113) I was totally creeped out at night! Like, what’s that, an owl? What’s that rustling in the trees? THIS IS TERRIFYING, I SHOULD BE LISTENING TO SIRENS AND PEOPLE SCREAMING AT EACH OTHER.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          I had a similar experience! It’s funny how things like traffic become white noise after a while, such that when you don’t have them around, all the other night noises sound really loud and alarming.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I had the opposite experience when moving from TinyTown and then isolated farm with Ex to Current City. OMG IT WAS SO LOUD. And it’s relatively quiet here at night!

            Now I can’t stand it when I’m somewhere really quiet. I sleep with a fan anyway, but I’m used to at least a little noise. Even a large city doesn’t bother me, whereas back then, it would have made me nuts.

        2. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

          Another country kid turned city adult here, laughing aloud on the bus. Though my parents did the opposite – they’re both from the city and moved out to the boonies for my dad’s job – and considering that the sound of someone walking anywhere in their large house often wakes him up I have no idea how he survived.

    2. many bells down*

      Yes, we relocated to another state and the company has a policy of paying to fly spouses out too. Because they want to be certain the family will like it there. I think it’s a sound policy; we ended up accepting the offer very quickly because of it.

    3. Stephanie*

      Actually, my dad said they did that for a couple of senior execs (just spouses, I believe) at his old company who were considering moving out to Phoenix. Granted, these were like super duper senior folks and this was done on rare occasions. He said they had some people move out to Phoenix from other parts of the country and not be quite prepared for the cultural and climate differences.

  5. OP*

    Also: my partner presents as male, but mostly works from home and is excited about the chance to travel Europe more cheaply.

        1. finman*

          My wife and I traveled to 7 cities in Brazil and 2 in Argentina when she followed me to Sao Paulo for 10 months. We had 2 trips we didn’t even get to make due to timing. Really get out and explore on weekends if possible.

        2. Chinook*

          I honestly took a job in Japan so somebody would pay me to travel. Others came home with a chunk of change and I came home with a chunk of memories. Best money I ever spent was visiting all the islands and taking weekend trips around Hokkaido. The best way to spend your time as an expat is definitely travelling.

      1. zora.dee*

        Totally!! My parents took a job in Saudi Arabia 90% for the travel opportunities. It was amazing.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        My best friend is currently working/studying abroad in France for her PhD. I wish she were enjoying it more; she’s been feeling homesick and she’s been there since January.
        I worked/studied abroad in London for half a year and it was one of the best times in my life. I miss it terribly. I loved all the traveling I did and wish I did more of it! Germany and Portugal were my favorites. Europe has such a special place in my heart. I’m hoping to further my career there.

    1. M-C*

      The Danes will be totally cool what you and your partner present as, are, want to be or do :-).. You’re going to the best place in the world for that not to be any sort of worry. Nobody will bat an eyelash or even ask any sort of question.

  6. March*

    Timezones are rough – there’s only a couple hours difference between here and Europe, and I was so physically exhausted after my red eye flight to Europe that I was shaking.

    Do you have a hotel when you arrive, OP? If so, you could check in and everyone could get a few hours shut-eye before the tea, it might help refresh everyone enough that you’ll be more comfortable. It may not be good for jetlag, but hopefully you can all get to bed at a reasonable hour that night and adjust accordingly (Admittedly, I’m speaking from one trip’s worth of personal experience, so it may be worth taking with a grain of salt).

    1. OP*

      This is definitely what I’m leaning towards— our hotel is ready about an hour after we land, so it’s just enough time to exit the airport and grab a snack. Then we can take a couple hours’ nap and head to tea… although part of me worries if waking my kids up in the middle of what would have been their “night” sleep might make things worse.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Interestingly, I would say that your kids are old enough to be asked how they want you to handle this. Do they want to see if it can be done later in the week? Or do they want to figure out strategies so they won’t be too tired, even though their bodies will still feel like it’s the middle of the night?

        Even if it turns out that you can’t postpone until later in the week, knowing that you tried will likely get you better efforts and buy-in from the kids about trying to manage not being so tired, etc.

      2. KR*

        I am not sure about your kids, but I feel like 13 and 7 are old enough to say, “We’re meeting with people who want to hire Mom to work, so it’s very important that you behave at the tea even if you’re tired.” To prepare them, you could play recordings of people speaking with Danish accents so that they can understand the interviewers.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yes, please do this.

          I was the ‘kid’ (at 14) in a whole-family interview like this, but my parents decided not to tell me that it was an interview, and it was conversational enough that I didn’t pick up on it. I was so confused, and felt kind of slighted that the adults were basically having a conversation I was being cut out of. Like I was supposed to be there but be totally silent and non-interactive.

          1. afiendishthingy*

            Oh man, that sounds super disorienting! Do you know why they didn’t tell you it was an interview?

          2. Jake*

            At 14 that would have been enough to put me in an extremely sour mood. I’d have understood once they explained it was an interview, but the whole time I was there everybody would easily notice I was angry.

        2. OP*

          I’ve explained to them that it’s an interview and that it’s important to behave, but my 13 year old is on the autism spectrum (mostly difficult to tell, except when – surprise! – she’s very hungry or tired), and my 7 year old is a little too precocious for her own good (before my first day of work at this job, she said goodbye by saying “Have a good day at work, mommy, and don’t get fired! We don’t want you to get fired.”).

          My nightmare scenario is the 13 year old loudly proclaiming how tired she is to me while the 7 year old asks when they can go on the rides every five minutes, or says something like “Don’t fire my mom, okay?” or “Mommy’s boss right now is so mean.”

          They’re both so excited about Tivoli, and unable to really plan ahead for how they will feel, that they’d say they want to go right away regardless.

          1. Is it Friday Yet?*

            I’d have a back up plan if things go south and just blame the jet lag which is a perfectly acceptable explanation in my book.

          2. Office Plant*

            The jet lag could almost be a good thing, though. If they say or do anything embarassing, you have an excuse.

          3. M-C*

            Mm.. That complicates matters a bit. How about you repeat the ‘interview’ part, and set the 13 year old to research desirable interviewing behavior on AAM before the trip, and perhaps coach the 7 year old a bit? And maybe some Evil HR reading about cultural differences, especially about kids interrupting adult conversations with their loudly proclaimed needs? It might all be better integrated if not coming directly from you, and it might fly better if it’s presented as a game?

    2. Chickaletta*

      Definitely check in to the hotel first. Get showers and change clothes, that will make a huge difference. In fact I’d make sure the carry-on luggage has these things just in case the checked bags are delayed.

      I’ve never traveled overseas with my child, so I don’t have much advice other than to give them a heads up about your plans once you arrive in Copenhagen so that you can manage their expectations. Also build it up positively. For example, instead of saying, “You’ll be really tired but I’ll buy you a treat if you behave,” (which implies that it’s going to suck, so the kid starts to dread it and acts accordingly), say, “Hey! As soon as we land we’ll get to see our hotel and then an amusement park! Doesn’t that sound awesome?!” The 13 year old might see through this, but the younger one might buy in.

      1. Bwmn*

        I totally agree with this. I fly to Copenhagen somewhat regularly for work, and while it’s from the East Coast, my primary aim is to check into the hotel and shower and then do whatever I can to stay awake until at least 9pm that first night. For me, the risk of going to sleep is that there will just be no waking me at a good time. Sort of like taking a nap at 8pm thinking “of course I’ll wake up refreshed to go out later”.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I agree with this, too. If you can, call the hotel the day before and ask if you can get early check in or confirm that a room will be available for you. Showers, quick nap will do a lot to make you feel better. I used to have this lounge pass thing and after a night in cattle, it was amazing to get up, have a shower in the AC arrivals lounge at Heathrow, get some breakfast, check e-mail. So much better considering I had a 4 hour train trip ahead of me.

        Turn in early that night and get up at a “normal” morning time the next day, which may be necessary because if there’s breakfast included with your room, it will be over at a set time.

        If you can, get some sleep on the plane. Ear plugs, travel pillow for your neck, check into getting some Melatonin or sleep aids. Take off your shoes, bring warm slippers (my feet swell on planes). You can also get some No Jet Lag stuff from travel shops (I’ve never used it but other people swear by it). Every flight I’ve ever taken to Europe has been an overnight and it is essential to get some sleep — at least for me, I’m a complete wreck if I’m up all night.

        And good luck! It sounds like an amazing opportunity!

        1. the gold digger*

          If you have never taken Melatonin before, I would suggest you try it before the trip. I have used it twice* and both times, it has not let me sleep. I now understand the saying about feeling like you are going to jump out of your skin. Never again.

          * The second time was 19 years after the first time. I thought maybe I had taken too large a dose or something. Nope. It just does not agree with me.

          1. Rana*

            Yup, ditto about things like Benadryl. My parents found out the hard way that Benadryl is the opposite of a sedative for me during one flight in my early childhood…

      3. Parenthetically*

        Couldn’t agree more with change-of-clothes-in-carryon advice. It’s saved me many times! Also make sure you have deodorant, toothbrushes/paste, hair stuff, etc., in the carryon. A fresh, non-plane-tasting meal and a shower and change of clothes is always what makes me feel human and ready to power through a few more hours.

  7. LawBee*

    all I have to say is I wish I had a job that wanted to send me overseas… it sounds lovely. (Yes, complicated but – sigh…)

    1. OP*

      I’m EXTREMELY lucky— they already flew me out once, by myself, and I fell in love with the place.

        1. GeekyDuck*

          My in laws live just south of Malmo. If they were just a hair further out, we’d move to Copenhagen in a heartbeat. Stockholm is a little pricey for us, Malmo is too close, and I love the region so much.

      1. stevenz*

        It’s good to see the whites of their eyes before making such a big commitment. And Copenhagen is a truly wonderful city. But good luck with Danish!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Hell, me too. I’m so jealous. Because of the stupid math LD, I will probably NEVER have a job like this, unless I’m going on a book tour because my work is wildly popular overseas (hahahaha oh that’s rich). Or I marry a European. Or someone who is going overseas for a job.

      Spousal boredom would not be a problem for me. If I can’t or don’t have to work, I can get a LOT of writing done!

      1. Anonhippopotamus*

        Not sure what you’re situation is, but teaching English is a common way to live abroad. South Korea in particular loves hiring Westerners (read: White people) to go teach English. Not sure if you need a BEd or not though.

  8. silvertech*

    I’m in the process of moving to Switzerland (from a neighbouring country though, not the US), and just the other day I thought I could compare notes with Evil HR Lady about expat life here :) (I’ve been following, and enjoying, her blog for a while).

    OP, good luck for your upcoming interview!

  9. J*

    I was very grateful when my husband’s job flew us out to Japan as part of the interviewing process for a promotion. While the idea of moving to Japan was enticing–though neither of us speaks Japanese–once we landed in-country and started talking through the logistics, it became very apparent that it was going to be extremely challenging.

    We weren’t moving to somewhere with lots of English-speakers. It was going to be in a smaller city several hours away from anyplace well-known internationally. We could cope with the small homes, but not being able to find familiar foods in the grocery store was going to be a strain. Aside from the fact that some days you just want familiar foods, I didn’t know how to cook the vast majority of the foods in the store. I couldn’t read the labels, or speak enough of the language to ask someone there. I’m also not terribly comfortable behind the wheel of a car; combined with the fact that Japan drives on the other side of the road, that had all the hallmarks of a disaster waiting to happen.

    Ultimately, the deal fell apart, and I was enormously relieved that it did. We’d have done it, but I’m not sure our marriage would have survived the acclimation period.

    1. Charlotte*

      When I was a child, my family moved from the US to Japan, and it was really, really challenging. Looking back on it as an adult, I think it was a really great experience, but none of us trailing family (mother and kids) wanted to go at the time. Times were different I guess, since they just interviewed my father, and my father managed to convince my mother to do the move. We kids were just along for the ride. The food and transportation stories we have from those three years are now really fun to recall, but not so much fun at the time. My mom went to great lengths just to find a whole chicken she could roast at home; she even would bring back boxes of American non-sticky rice from her trips to the States since we hated sticky rice back then.

      1. J*

        We took an entire two hour detour to a department store to find an oven that would be big enough to cook a pizza! The Japanese just don’t use ovens like we do in their cooking, so none of the homes had one (or even space for one). It sounds like something you’d make fun of people on House Hunters International for complaining about, but it was definitely A Concern.

        I grew up overseas–military brat–so I didn’t think it’d be such a big deal to make the move, but this was a lot to try to wrap my arms around. (Not to mention that I’d have given up my job to be a stay-at-home spouse since a work visa would apparently be a difficult thing for me to get.)

        1. the gold digger*

          Me, too (military brat), but I discovered when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile that it is very different to live on the economy than to live on a US military base with other Americans and an American library and an American movie theater and the commissary and Sunday school and all the other things you are used to as an American. I went through serious culture shock my first few months in Chile.

      2. many bells down*

        When I was about 12 or 13, my father’s employer really wanted to send him to take a position in Saudi Arabia. I think part of the reason it never happened was that he adamantly refused to have his children (probably mostly me, his daughter) live there. I remember “boarding school in France” being discussed as an option but I don’t think the company was willing to pay for it.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        I was sent to China by my company–not even for that long, but at one point a couple months in my desire to just have a peanut butter sandwich without any fuss was so strong it made me weep. Food-homesickness is very real!

    2. Lucie in the Sky*

      This happens a surprising lot. I spent 8 years in Japan (Although I was a local hire after I went to college there) a ton of the Expats I knew had a lot of problems like you listed. One of my friends parents had spent YEARS in Thailand no problem, but when his father got transferred to Japan the wife and kid hated it and ended up leaving and going back to the states.

      Heck, they even were provided with a Giant apartment (literally the only other people living in it were high ranking embassy folks) and I was always jealous when I went over there for their full size American Oven / Fridge / Washer Dryer etc…

    3. AshleyH*

      My husband and I moved from our mid-sized Midwestern city to a small town on the East coast for his work and THAT was a difficult adjustment – you’d be surprised how many foods you think are “normal” until you get outside of your region – I can’t imagine moving to Japan. It’d be exciting and interesting, that’s for sure, but incredibly difficult.

      For what it’s worth, we lasted two years on the East coast until we moved back to a (different) Midwestern city and could not be happier. We like our new city more than our original one, actually!

      1. PABJ*

        I live in Japan. I work at the library on an American military base near Tokyo. I try to live more Japanese style, but I do like the ease of access to American food when I want it. Overall, I really enjoy living in Japan! Of course, there are challenges, but mostly it’s been good. Having some knowledge of the language definitely helps.

    4. Artemesia*

      Today there are phones that literally will read the labels for you. We were in an apartment in Russia for a couple of weeks last year (realize that is nothing like long term relocation) but our phones let us buy stuff that was unfamiliar and know what it was. Japan’s cuisine is different e.g. a couple of dozen different kinds of tofu you are supposed to be able to distinguish and prepare) but I think at this point some of the electronic toys we have like our phones that read and translate even languages with different alphabets make travel to very different places easier.

      1. Chinook*

        About Japanese food (which I love) – learn from my mistake during my first week. There is a bean, natto, which, when baked in a bun, looks very much like chocolate chips or, when used as filling, chunky chocolate. Unfortunately, they do not taste like chocolate and make someone going through culture shock very, very sad. On the plus side, the first word I chose to learn in Japanese by site was chocolate. :)

      2. J*

        This was only three years ago, so those phones/apps may have existed then. But that calls to mind the overwhelming prospect of figuring out how to sign up for cell service. I’m still not sure how Japanese cell plans work.

        The one positive thing we got out of it was that the possible move led to the discovery of a local US school that taught Japanese via immersion. Our daughter spent two happy years there, long after the move was no longer a possibility.

  10. Bend & Snap*

    Wow…an interview right after an international flight, with kids, is aggressive! I hope they’ll bump it back a bit.

    1. OhNo*

      I hope it’s not a formal interview – from the OP’s post above, it sounds like that part already happened. But still, meeting with everyone just a few hours after they got off a plane does seems a bit aggressive.

      If the goal is to get the family’s buy-in for a big move, you’d think they would give everyone a chance to wander around the city and see it before going for the sales pitch.

  11. Jiffy*

    I love Copenhagen (although it is more expensive than NYC, I think!!) and I wish you luck OP!!
    Extra bonus points to the kids if they greet the interviewers with a friendly “Hej!” and then scamper off to enjoy the park.

    1. Jo*

      Protip: “Hej” is pronounced just like ‘Hi.” So say it exactly like you would back home and you’ll be fine.

      Also, I haven’t been back in ten years but I spent a semester in Copenhagen during college and other commenters are right on the money about it being beautiful, safe, easy to navigate, and outrageously expensive. You’ll love it there and your family should find it an easier adjustment than some other places would be (apparently like Japan, according to commenters above).

  12. MegaMoose, Esq.*

    Awesome and interesting advice! My immediate American impulse was “OMG how is this appropriate!?” but reading the advice and comments, it actually makes a lot of sense (in particular meeting the spouse).

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      That was my reaction too! My employer has no business asking about my family/living situation, but I can see how it’s (slightly) more acceptable in this case.

      1. OP*

        Oh man, the whole experience has been completely the opposite of American hiring practices. The CEO directly asked me questions like:

        – Do you own or rent?
        – How big is your house?
        – How long is your commute?
        – How much does your partner contribute to your household income?
        – How old are your kids?
        – What does your spouse do for a living?
        – Are you married or just living together? Living together for how long?

        I realized later it was so they could put together an offer that best approximates my current quality of life, but it was incredibly jarring at first.

        1. Venus Supreme*

          That is the total opposite of my first boss in NYC. An employee accidentally forwarded me an e-mail exchange between my then-boss and a few higher-ups discussing my salary negotiations. The conversation was along the lines of: “we can lowball her because this is ostensibly her first job, maybe we don’t have to pay her health insurance, why is she asking about vacation and PTO, etc.”

          What different cultures there are in the world! Half of my family lives in Europe. I get a glimpse of their way of life when we visit each other once a year. I’m so excited for you and your family, OP. I can’t wait to hear how the “trip-terview” (trip interview) goes.

          1. Artemesia*

            In the US every benefit is a ‘gift’ wrested from the boss who should keep all the marbles, especially if you are a woman or are not in a strong bargaining position. Every European I meet is astounded at the total lack of regard for quality of life in the US workplace. A couple of days ago an acquaintance from Oz was discussing his travel strategy and commented that they ‘only get 4 weeks of vacation’ — he was shocked when I told him that 2 weeks was quite standard in the US and that it is not at all unusual for entry level jobs to have no vacation or a week of vacation.

  13. Jubilance*

    I have no advice, but this is all fascinating to me. My husband and I would love to expatriate for a few years, if either of us got the chance. Best of luck to you OP! Hopefully you can either move the tea back, or your family can at least catch a nap and freshen up at your hotel.

  14. C Average*

    On a couple of occasions, I’ve had to get off an international flight and proceed straight to an important meeting where anything less than my A game would’ve been unacceptable. I don’t have any no-fail tips to offer, especially if the kids aren’t experienced international travelers. You kind of just have to power through. If they’ve ever had to power through something physically exhausting, it helps to actually think about that thing. It reinforces the idea that this, too, shall pass, and takes you out of the moment a little bit.

    Weirdly, my best preparation for these experiences was probably running the Hood to Coast relay race every year. You’re exhausted, you’re cranky, nothing sounds good to eat or drink, you want to take a shower and go to bed (except that even the shower part seems exhausting), but you have to get out of the van and run! Because letting your team down isn’t an option. But you know it’s going to be wonderful to have it over, and that keeps you going. I very much took this mindset into those meetings. “Just keep moving, keep talking, arrange your face into an alert expression, focus focus focus, smile, interact, in just two hours you get to go back to the hotel and sleep for ten hours.”

  15. Schmitt (in Germany)*

    I fly from Germany to the US and back about once a year. My flights on the European end always land ass-early in the morning – like 7 AM, so 8 once I’m home – and the best strategy for me has been to sleep until noon, then get up and stay up until as near normal as I can.

  16. Case of the Mondays*

    I know one ex-pat where the kids were “judged” on the interview but it was a unique circumstance. Part of the ex-pat package involved the kids having to attend a fancy private school that had a lot of strict rules. They were in part assessing whether the kids would be accepted (and not later kicked out) from the fancy private school. It was one of the few places with an English language option and home school wasn’t really done back then.

  17. Parenthetically*

    “International relo is really expensive. Really expensive. Ours cost over $100,000.”

    OK… I’ve had two friends in the last several years move to Australia, and another friend and her spouse and two kids move to France, and their moving costs were all under $10,000. I am genuinely so curious as to how a person would rack up ten times that!

    1. Stephanie*

      If the candidate owns a house, that can drive up costs a lot. Some relo packages will assist with selling the house or help out if the house is sold at a loss. Plus, visas and all that…

        1. Stephanie*

          Just spitballing ideas. No clue, tbh. But I know visas can get more complicated and costly once you start talking about long-term or permanent white-collar work. A grad school classmate who worked abroad was telling me as well that taxes can be a big cost center too depending one where you’re coming from and working.

        2. Mreasy*

          Work visas are generally several thousand dollars plus agency fees, depending on country & timeline (at least the type I deal with).

          1. stevenz*

            Fees vary a lot by country. Check their websites, they’re all there. It can get expensive when you hire companies that supposedly “handle the process for you.” Some of these are scams, others don’t do a damn thing that you can’t do yourself, and they charge a lot. First look at the country’s immigration website to understand the process. Or, first, ask if the company you will work for will sponsor, i.e., expedite, you through the process.

            Look at expat websites too that have forums or chats where you can interact with people who have made the move. They are a wealth of knowledge. I’m sure there are at least a few for Denmark.

    2. Government Worker*

      International companies paying to relocate someone for a job will do things differently than a family choosing to go on their own. My mother-in-law’s move included the kind of movers that pack and unpack your stuff for you, shipping a bunch of their furniture halfway around the world, paying for an apartment for the time between when they sold their house and when they actually moved, business-class flights for the whole family (plus a set number of coach flights back home during the expat time, like once a year), assistance with buying and selling cars, etc. I think language lessons for the family might have been part of the deal, too, and help enrolling my sister-in-law in the international school (my wife was already in college at the time).

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          I was confused by Suzanne’s description — I thought she meant that her family paid $100,000 to make the move. It’s much more understandable as a cost to the company.

      1. Tau*

        And suddenly I understand why one of my first memories involves being driven from JFK airport to mid-Connecticut in a limousine. I’ve puzzled over this for a while – why on earth would we have been in a limousine for a four-hour journey? Surely my parents would never have paid for such over-the-top luxury? As part of my dad’s relocation package, it makes a lot more sense.

        1. Sarianna*

          It can actually be less expensive to take a limo than a taxi to/from the airport, depending on how far out in the suburbs you are!

    3. Jane*

      Thanks. Yeah. If you’re relocating an entire US lifestyle including appliances, furniture, household goods; US food and kitchen; private school for kids; etc etc. That’s expensive, and if that’s what you need to make the move work and you can afford it or the company will pay, great.

      But you can also relocate with a pair of suitcases, as I have about 6 times now, without a family in tow, to cities in Europe and Africa. These places all have food, shelter, language classes, and other basic needs. It’s really about how much you’re able and willing to adapt and integrate. If you have family, it’s about how willing and able they are to adapt and integrate, and how safe and good it is for them to do so (young kids would do great in a European public school with a little extra language help for a year, for example, whereas older ones or those in a place without good public schools may need private international school fees that are as high as private liberal arts colleges in the US).

      This isn’t a values statement, but it is a reminder that not all international jobs pay eye-popping figures for your move, and also, not everyone needs to bring the lifestyle with them when they move.

      1. Jane*

        To get really specific, my international NGO job will pay a $2000 relocation fees for 2+ year jobs. In dangerous places, they’ll also pay your housing in the new city.

        There are international corporations who fork out money as described above, but there are also plenty of international careers that don’t. Au pairs also do international relocations, for example.

        1. OP*

          Yes. If we decide to move, we’re planning on putting the kids in public schools (they have a one-year intensive Danish program for foreigners), and putting most of our stuff in storage – only bringing our clothes and expensive electronics. If we don’t find a furnished place to live, we’ll replace our stuff at Ikea – it’s still cheaper than shipping. Visa fees are paid for by the company. My estimates for the four of us to move is around $30,000 USD – and a lot of that is lost wages (taking a month off to pack, and since they only pay once a month, going another month without pay when I start work).

      2. AcademiaNut*

        My jaw has been dropping at the descriptions of relocation packages!

        I work in East Asia in an academic job (I work for a local government research institute), a job that requires a PhD. My relocation package was one-way airfare for one person, plus help getting an apartment. I paid to ship some books and personal effects (no furniture), and a hotel for a week while finding a place to live.

        The international school thing is a big problem for colleagues with kids. There are several international schools in town – Japanese, European and American. The fees aren’t bad by US private school standards, but you can’t afford them on a government salary. So there’s a big decision when the kids are about 6 – do you plan to stick it out, put the kids in public school, and hire help to help them with their homework because there’s no equivalent to ESL programs, or do you move back to your home country.

    4. Sandy*

      There are a TON of costs that add up super-quickly for an international move (for work).

      A few that we recently paid:

      -early-cancellation fees for cellphones and cable
      -hookup fees for the above
      -tuition deposits or daycare fees
      -pet shipping
      -pet vaccines
      -work visas (way pricier than tourist ones!)
      -visa photos
      -furniture damage
      -extra bag on flights
      -flights
      -pre-departure medical
      -vaccines
      -damage to property thanks to tenants
      -movers
      -tips for movers
      -cleaning

      The thing is, these costs accumulate whether your company is paying for them or not- either they are paying them or you are.

      Major international companies often may most or all of them to entice you to move, international NGOs often pay less since it’s viewed as part of the “mission” (but not always)

      1. Sandy*

        Oh! I forgot two!

        Customs fees were a fortune (150% of the assessed value of the car, whether we imported it directly or bought locally)

        SPICES. We had to replace our entire spice cabinet since you can’t import food products back. I think that was the hardest, rationally or irrationally…

        1. Collarbone High*

          I’ve done two international moves (and back) in the past decade and my spice cabinet and pantry still haven’t recovered. You don’t realize how expensive spices and staples are until you have to buy all of them at once.

          1. Collarbone High*

            Related … this is why I like to give Target gift cards when people are collecting supplies for disaster victims. My former apartment was damaged in a fire and the complex gave us large Target gift cards, which was a huge help because everything in my cabinets was ruined by smoke and water. Having to buy all new toilet paper, cleaning supplies, towels, pantry items etc. really added up and that’s not the kind of thing people usually donate.

          2. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I just moved (domestically) and forgot how expensive it is to replace spices. Although as my roommate put it, my food “actually tastes good”, so I suppose it’s worth it in the long haul.

    5. stevenz*

      Yeah, the $100,000 thing struck me too. It depends on how you count, though.

      There are certain costs for getting there: (Guesses)
      Plane fare x 4. @$1500/person = $6000. (Shouldn’t be that much.)
      Container with worldly goods. Not as expensive as you might think. Get a few estimates from movers. (Check consumer websites for reviews on movers for international moves, or expat online forums to see who has had good experiences and bad.) Guess: Long Beach – Copenhagen = $15,000 for a full container. (Cost me several thousand less than that Chicago – Auckland) (I’m guessing you’re in California, but it won’t make any difference in cost no matter where on the west coast you are.)
      Pets: Transport, medical costs, permits, pet expediter service, quarantine at that end. A couple thousand.
      Car: It might pay to take your car rather than buying one there. Check European regs. (Don’t laugh. A lot people do this.) Possible savings.
      Visa x 4, inc. medical reports, etc., say $1000 each = $4000.
      Winter clothes!
      Costs related to waiting for your container to get there which could be months. Best to get a furnished apartment. Then there could be customs fees at that end.
      Temporary housing, which the company should cover.

      The unwind costs:
      Potential loss on the house. (Or maybe don’t sell it at all in case you want to go back.)
      Loss on any goods that you sell, like all your 110v appliances.
      Loss on currency conversion. (I recommend maintaining a US bank account and credit card.)
      Probably other things, like non-refundable school fees or something.
      Or sell everything to save on shipping, and buy new stuff when you get there.

      In any event, it doesn’t add up to $100,000 and the company will cover a lot or all of that. !!!Get their relocation expense offer in writing.!!!

      It is *a lot* to think about and once you pull the trigger, all of your energy will be focused on getting to the moment your plane leaves. I’ve done it twice and it’s a bear, but it worked both times. Of course, you can go ahead of the others and let your husband worry about the details back home, and that way you can start the job earlier than if you all go together, and get to know your way around.

      Anyway, the purpose of all this, other than amusement for myself, is that it won’t be $100,000 unless you take a bath on your house.

      1. Non-Prophet*

        Re: the estimate for $100k in relocation costs. I think a significant portion of the relocation cost could be realtor fees, right? If you’re selling a house in order to relocate internationally, it’s not unthinkable that the realtor’s commission would be $50k+, depending on the type of property you’re selling (for instance, 3-6% realtor’s commission on a $1M+ property would not be unusual on either the U.S. West Coast or East Coast). I’m not saying this is true for the OP, just offering a scenario where it would be completely reasonable to see $100k+ in total relo costs.

  18. Stephanie*

    Not much to contribute, but I found this whole discussion of expat relocation really interesting!

  19. Allie*

    For what it is worth, I remember being taken out to lunches and similar when my Dad was interviewing for jobs in different parts of the US. It was usually only one lunch out of the weekend. (I am talking 80s/90s for time frame). It all feels a little arcane now, but I can see why they would do it for this situation, especially with paying for a pricey relocation. I do think they are feeling out the partner more than the kids.

  20. Beancounter in Texas*

    I lived as a trailing spouse expat in the Abu Dhabi, UAE for 22 months, in 2000-2002. In retrospect, I was stressed my entire time there from culture shock. While I read about expat life in the UAE and I intellectually knew what to expect, I found it very much like Alice in Wonderland where lots of things didn’t make sense and I felt lost.

    I wish I had found expat communities online to ask questions and had an opportunity to visit for a week beforehand, to trial living there. I regret not learning more of the language before I arrived. (I began studies after.) It felt weird celebrating a holiday when it was just another day for the rest of the country, particularly without family. I felt out of place to suddenly find the whole city shut down for a holiday I wasn’t expecting. I’m an introvert, but I wish I had really worked to find other American expats my age. I just didn’t know how to begin. I wish I had traveled more, but I was too hung up on daily life stress to believe getting away would help.

    On the upswing, I realized that a lot of people have it way worse than I do and how relatively high my standard of living really is. I found the adhan (Muslim call to prayer) delightful and I miss hearing it. Shopping at 10pm on a Wednesday night was a lot of fun (as the malls stayed open until midnight) and the food was unbelievably good. Learning to use the metric system was fun and I prefer round-abouts now instead of intersections. (Except American round-abouts, which seem to screw up the rules and render them more of a hazard.)

    It is an adventure! I wish y’all the best!

    1. Annby*

      I wonder if some parts of your experience was different from ours because it happened 10-15 years earlier. My spouse just finished a 3-year stint in Abu Dhabi. He speaks Arabic (as a second language, after English) and was always complaining that he didn’t have anyone to speak it with! I also found the multi-lane Emirati roundabouts terrifying and am glad they don’t have too many of those here. :)

      The day-to-day exhaustion of finding out that things simply don’t work/happen the way you expect them to is real, though.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        Some of those “WTF” moments made for excellent fodder back home, such as the sales Carrefour would have. I’d find three large boxes of Cheerios bound to a paring knife (free knife w/cereal), a free carton of cigarettes taped to three very large containers of salt, or large ketchup bottles bundled with free birthday candles.

        Also, how Miracle Whip was unavailable anywhere but Spinney’s, and when they sold out, they wouldn’t get another shipment for about six weeks. Word would spread like wildfire through the American expats, “Spinney’s has Miracle Whip!”

        Also, something I just learned to roll with was the naming convention of the streets. There would be an old name that was used before street signs, the official name and number on the street signs, and a third name that often described the road if you understood the context, e.g. New Airport Road. Rarely was the official name the name used by residents. It was usually the old name or the third name, and on occasion, the number of the road. Normally only new arrivals referenced roads by number. That was stressful at first, because nobody sets you down and tells you How Things Are before you start asking for directions to places. You just have to learn the old names and third names by word of mouth because all of the maps have the official names. One road changed names by the block for three or four blocks in downtown Abu Dhabi, both officially and historically.

    2. zora.dee*

      Wow, awesome to see other Middle East expats here!
      My family lived in Saudi Arabia for 5 years in the early 80s, and it was definitely weird, especially for my mom. But it was also an incredible experience, and we are all so glad we did it.

      I still remember the Call to Prayer, and the “Prayer Time” breaks on the tv channels, haha. So cool to know there are others out there!

    3. AGirlCalledFriday*

      I taught at a public school in the UAE for a short time before my international school in Japan. It’s really hard to understand or appreciate culture shock – which I believe is on another level entirely once you get away from western countries – until you are experiencing it. It hits everyone differently. I have some incredible memories and it’s amazing what you leave remembering. The call to prayer, the mint lemonade, the gorgeous abayas…it’s so nice to see other UAE expats here. :)

  21. Nancypie*

    I think the amusement park is the optimal first day activity. There is is no need to think clearly or focus, and being outdoors and active helps with jet lag. The kids should try to sleep on the plane as much as possible and then I really recommend freshening up and not sleeping for best adjustment. Caveat – I haven’t done this with my kids but it works really well for me to combat jet lag.
    I also think arrival day is the optimal day for the kids to not be expected to interact much and it’s expected that they’d be tired (so there would be low expectations of them at the tea).

  22. Chocolate Teapot*

    “I’m making assumptions here–but since the letter-writer is female, I’d assume a male partner, although it could be a female partner (and really, it’s Europe, no one cares), but male trailing spouses are rarer than female ones and it can be really hard for men to adjust to being the trailing spouse.”

    In my experience, it is true that trailing husbands/boyfriends are much rarer. From the few I have encountered, they tend to be freelancers or work remotely and have some sort of business network to keep in contact. The (more common) trailing wife/girlfriend often doesn’t work and may very well be a stay at home mum who joins one of the various expatriate women’s associations

    But back to the questions, I think delaying the interview would be a good idea. Not only is there jetlag to contend with, but what if the flight is delayed and all the stress related to that?

    Oh, and the Tivoli is great fun!

  23. Sandy*

    YES! An AAM post about my life!

    (I am irrationally excited about this post, probably because I fee like that crazy AAM poster who’s like “but just quitting is not that simple! I’ll have to pay back 60,000 USD in moving coats!)

    This company sounds like they are very familiar with the relocation process, which is a big plus. They are probably motivated by:

    a) wanting to make sure your family has something to DO on Day 1 (yes the kids will be tired, but the flip side I’ve seen is leaving the family to figure their own way out in a strange country while jetlagged while the potential employee sits in meetings all day)

    b) wanting to introduce you to the city (they are selling YOU on trying to move there)

    and

    C) wanting to introduce you to others at the company (perhaps with kids of a similar age) so that if you do decide to accept, you are more comfortable with the move (you have someone to bounce packing questions off of, your kids know at least one or two people in their new home/school/neighbourhood, etc)

    If nothing else, it should help keep everybody from napping after arrival, which should help ease jet lag for the rest of the trip…

  24. Jake*

    I had (and ended up working for) a company that took my wife and I out to dinner after an interview that was in Mississippi while I was relocating from Kentucky. The idea was that they wanted to sell my wife on the area. It didn’t work at all, as it made my wife less excited about the area. I ended up taking a position with the same company, but in Pennsylvania instead.

    I didn’t think it was that weird at the time, but if that happened now, I’d do a double take. It is funny how our interpretations of social/work norms changes throughout our lives and careers.

  25. Elizabeth West*

    This is all very interesting! I’d like to do this, but it probably won’t happen without some divine intervention. :P

    Just out of curiosity, if a small but important miracle WERE to happen, would it be better to learn German or French? That’s something I could do right now even without knowing the future; might be fun in any case. I could learn both but one at a time, of course. I have a smattering of French but only curse words in German, haha.

    1. Lemon Zinger*

      I think German is very easy to learn if your first language is English. There are a lot of patterns in common, and it’s more “logical” for me than Spanish (and by association, French).

    2. Vanesa*

      Yeah, this is my dream come true too haha

      I say learn German first and then French haha. I just finished DuoLingo for German and am now adding French. I know that DuoLingo doesn’t make you fluent, but you can at get a basic understanding and add other materials – such as videos on YouTube – check out Easy German!

    3. vpc*

      Depends on where you want to go; my French gets me most of Africa and parts of southeast Asia in addition to France, Switzerland, and Canada, plus some exotic French colonies (Martinique in the Caribbean, Ile de Reunion off the coast of Madagascar, French Polynesia in the middle of the Pacific…)

      German gets me Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, plus some really rare holdovers of the colonial empire – Germany had almost no colonial empire.

      1. vpc*

        Plus, French is one of the seven official languages of the UN agencies (well, six plus unofficially Portuguese) and German is not — meaning LOTS of international workers pick it up as a second, third, or fourth language.

        The others are English, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, BTW.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Spanish would be better if I wanted to stay here. BUT I DON’T. I do have a little bit of that as well (very little, and it’s Latin American, not European). I could learn that next.

    4. babblemouth*

      That depends on where you’d like to go, but also sometimes what industry. Some of them do tend to have majorities in some countries over others – for instance, if you’re in luxury goods, I’d go for French, but into banking, I’d go for German. That’s not a perfect split, of course, and there are definitely large French international banks, and you’ll certainly find some German luxury brands, but the general trend is there.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, banking is out. Math LD. I can’t even do the job I’m doing now, in tech services for the financial industry. Unless it’s document-based and not spreadsheet-based, I’m doomed.

        French it is!
        I already have a little base to build on, so it might be easier.

  26. Aunt Vixen*

    I’m late to the party, but here to endorse the idea that a shower and a change and an hour and a half (=one REM cycle) of sleep can do a world of good after a red-eye flight. Says the Vixen who just this March got off a plane in Copenhagen at 8am and had a meeting at noon. (Mind you I’d only flown from the US east coast. But still. Shower, clean clothes, nap on top of the covers with the lights on and the phone alarm set, and I was right on time for the afternoon and had no trouble pushing through until actual bedtime that night.)

    We lived abroad for a year when I was 11 and it was probably the single formative experience (positive!) of my life. I hope if it turns out to be something you all want that it ends up being a marvelous time for your family.

    1. Daisy Steiner*

      Good point about napping on top of the covers!! A short sleep can be great in that situation, but don’t make it a ‘nighttime’ sleep or you’ll never manage to unglue yourself from the sheets no matter how loud your alarm is.

  27. zora.dee*

    Kid Traveling advice from my parents:
    Drug ’em.

    Sort of kidding, but we moved overseas when I was 4, and did lots of long-haul flights for 5 years, and my parents would always crush up half a dramamine for each kid, in a little spoonful of jelly or applesauce. And then we would pass out. Especially on red eyes. And I’m still SUPER happy about it, because I have been Pavlovian conditioned to sleep on every airplane, every time. The minute we hit altitude, and the engine noise levels out, I am out. I love it.

    Also, consider asking for a babysitter recommendation from the company or the hotel. My parents used to every once in a while leave us at the hotel with a babysitter and go have a nice dinner when we were traveling. Large companies and hotels often have agencies they work with, with vetted babysitters so that you can trust they’ll be okay for a few hours. Definitely look into it, if not for during tea, then you might want a chance for a dinner at another point in the trip.

    But I agree with all the advice above, even if the kids slept on the flight, I would still try to push the tea to another day. I as an adult would not be at my best, I can’t imagine trying to keep it together as a kid!

    But good luck and have a great trip!

    1. Cherith Ponsonby*

      Kid Traveling advice from my parents:
      Drug ’em.

      Yes! But make sure the drugs interact well with the kids.

      (This advice brought to you by one-year-old Cherith, who had an idiosyncratic reaction to Vallergan on a long-haul flight between Australia and the UK and reportedly screamed the entire time. I would like to apologise retroactively to everyone else on that flight.)

    2. Searching*

      Do test any drug on the kids beforehand! When my brother gave my little niece a test dose, she started goose-stepping through the house singing “I can do the can-can” at the top of her lungs. (Needless to say, the drug was not used on the plane).

  28. Brian*

    I adore blog posts like this where Alison realizes that she can learn something about the topic at hand, and then shares that learning experience with us. This is the only website I have read consistently, every day, for the past 4 years; it’s because of moments like this. I don’t have a professional mentor, but this website feels like everything I would want from the experience if I did. And it has felt that way every. single. day.

  29. LeRainDrop*

    Wow, this all sounds very exciting to me! I agree with Suzanne’s advice on how to ask if it’s possible to reschedule the tea/Tivoli day until later in the week. Even as a grown-up, I’m pretty sure I’d have a tough time with that quick schedule from landing to hotel to the interview. Would you please email an update to Alison after you take this trip and your family makes a decision? I would love to hear how it all went!

    1. OP*

      I definitely will! We leave Thursday – the job is mine if I want it (we’ve already been through contract negotiation), but this trip is (as many assumed) about making sure the move is a good fit for my partner and kids. If they sign off, away we go! :)

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        Have fun! I hope you all enjoy it!

        The area just around Tivoli is very crowded and lots of people (all the tourists) so just… prepare your kid on the autism spectrum for that, if they’re not used to it. And have a backup plan! There are lots of cafées and places like that around but since it’s so touristy it’s usually busy and loud.

  30. Office Plant*

    I have to say this sounds exciting. Tivoli is awesome. Your family will probably love it.

  31. stevenz*

    I’m tempted to suggest that you give the kids a little more credit. Of course, you know them and I don’t. But they may rise to the occasion, and their little radars may pick up some things that yours don’t. (It is also possible that Tivoli will be an enormous distraction while they’re at the interview.) As for the timing, I think you should just do it, see it as something to get through, and crash afterwards. I don’t recommend sleeping beforehand, though I can’t speak for what would work best for kids; they may be *more* resilient, not less. I’ve never used melatonin for jet lag but a lot of people swear by it.

    A note on relocating far away. I relocated from the US to New Zealand, though only me and the cat, and such a move represents a major change to one’s perspective. I’m in the absolute middle of nowhere on a small island so it isn’t like being in one of the world’s nicest cities – Copenhagen – within a few hours of the rest of Europe. But you will be very far away from the west coast of the US which means that a quick trip home for Christmas, or something like that, becomes very impractical and you may feel isolated from everyone you know there. (It helps that you’ll get a fair amount of vacation time being in Europe.)

    Having said all that, I highly recommend working overseas for a while. It’s a unique experience, best to have when you’re young. You’ll learn a lot and the kids will profit in the long run.

  32. Artemesia*

    What a wonderful opportunity for your family. I had a friend who 25 years ago got a one year visiting professorship in France; he was a noted researcher in his field and didn’t at that time speak French beyond a few phrases. He had a wife and two very small daughters. They never came back. They raised their kids in France and are now retired (mandatory retirement at 65 but the university arranged to keep him on 6 months longer than usual to qualify him for a full pension). His wife now has a chronic illness that they simply couldn’t afford to deal with in the US so even if they wanted to return they can’t now. They loved it; their kids loved it. One of their daughters now lives in the US and the other in Europe.

  33. LaScozzese*

    No specific advice on your situation OP, but I’m an expat living in Italy myself (been here for 8 years now) so if you want any advice on settling in or anything (I’m sure the company will help with the practical side of things) just let me know via the comments! I don’t know how to give you my direct contact without publishing it for the world to see, otherwise I’d be more than happy to answer any questions… In any case best of luck, Italy is crazy, chaotic and beautiful… I adore it!

    1. LaScozzese*

      Hang on ignore that… I totally misunderstood where you were relocating too because of the mention of Tivoli! No advice regarding Denmark I’m afraid, but I have been told it’s lovely. Apologies for the misunderstanding, I still haven’t had my coffee and it shows…

  34. Anna*

    OP I’m so very happy for you. I made the move to Germany 4 years ago and wouldn’t trade any of the experiences for a thing. I read up-thread that you are going to enroll your kids in an intensive course. Excellent plan. Children (even older children) pick up languages so quickly and having some basic skills will improve your experiences 10 fold. If your spouse is able to take even 3 months off and do an intensive course I would really recommend it. That would make a big difference in your quality of life. Otherwise there is no chance to really integrate and it changes your experience in a lot of ways. Even if you don’t master the language, putting the effort will pay itself back in a lot of ways. The local people really appreciate that.

    Like the Evil HR lady said, avoid other expats who are resistant to integration. This is good life advice in general; avoid people who view differences as negative. Denmark is a beautiful country, that prioritizes the good of the group over the good of the individual and there are many wonderful things to be learned from the Dutch. Plus they are all so tall and good looking ;)

    Take advantage of all the travel and culture ahead for you all! Its going to be wonderful. All the best!

  35. Maria*

    I would never get hired if my spouse had to be interviewed! I’m a corporate drone married to a hippie.

  36. Poppy*

    My biggest advice is to stay hydrated on the flight (drinking lots of water, the occasional sinus rinse, and eye drops), bring ear plugs, and also to change your watch to your destination’s local time right after the plane takes off. It’s a little mental trick, but it does make it easier to rest/sleep if every time you look at your watch it shows 3am instead of 7pm. Once I land in Europe I also do my very best to stay moderately active, maybe some light sightseeing, and soak up as much natural light as possible to reset my natural clock.
    Also, the best US-to-Europe flights have been the two where I managed to grab a few seats in a row where I could lay down and really sleep. It’s a rare situation, but glorious when it happens!

  37. Adam's Off Ox*

    OP should read “The Almost Nearly Perfect People” by Michael Booth; it’s all about the Scandinavian character and the longest section is on Denmark!

  38. All Hail Queen Sally*

    I spent three wonderful years (1980 – 1983) living and working in The Hague, Netherlands. It was an absolutely wonderful experience. It helps to have a good sense of humor when living overseas. Like when I went into a cheese shop and asked for 500 kilograms of cheese. While there I learned a lot about the metric system! I still keep in touch with some of my Dutch friends.

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