First marriage test: moving to a foreign country.

All systems are go for moving to San Francisco. Our E3 visas were approved last Wednesday.

Moving to a foreign country is stressful. My husband and I have done it twice before. While they were both good personal development opportunities, neither attempt was particularly successful.

Plus, this will be the first time we do it as a married couple. Marriage makes certain immigration processes more simple, particularly in the US (which doesn’t recognise de facto relationships for visa purposes). Whether marriage adds to the stress of moving countries, I’m not sure.

On the Holmes and Rahe stress scale marriage is worth 50 “life change units” (LCUs). Change in living conditions is worth 25 LCUs, while change in residence is worth 20. There isn’t a score for move to a new country, culture, & society, but there should be. I’d put it at about 199 LCUs, meaning that anyone who moves country is at least at a “moderate risk of illness”.

Our first attempt at living overseas resulted in illness. We both contracted chicken pox for the first time in our lives. Despite our mothers’ vigilant attempts to help us catch chicken pox as children (when it is supposed to be less dangerous) neither of us had ever caught it before. One of us got off lightly, but the other spent quite a few painful days taking baths and wearing an improvised muumuu.

Moving overseas for the second time resulted in multiple illnesses. We both contracted glandular fever (or “mono” as it is known in our soon-to-be adopted country). We also caught giardia and numerous other nasties. Trips to the international medical centre became a family tradition.

Obviously the illnesses you get from moving to a new country might have less to do with stress and more to do with the fact that you are being exposed to new germs and less stringent sanitation standards. But I’m convinced that stress has at least something to do with it.

It is hard living in a new country. You have to drive on the wrong side of the road. Even though you rarely eat Tim Tams and Vegemite at home you suddenly have daily cravings that simply cannot be satisfied at your local cafe. People say cantaloupe when they mean rockmelon.


All of this makes me wary for our next international move. Particularly with the extra life change units we’ve just accumulated by getting married.


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