A huge thank you to Expat Panda for tagging us in your Expat Tag blog post (you can read Expat Panda’s post here). The Expat Tag aims to raise awareness of expat experiences of different cultures through a series of lifestyle questions – we were more than happy to share our expat life in Dubai.
Where were you born, where did you grow up and where do you currently live?
I was born in East London, UK and lived my whole pre-expat life in the same area – I even studied and worked in East London too lol! I currently live in Dubai, UAE and have done so for the last 15 months.
Ayaan was born in Mandeville, Jamaica. He moved to South London when he was a kid and lived there until we got married – he then became an East London man (he’ll kill me for saying that 😂). Ayaan moved to Dubai a couple of months before me so he’s been here for 17 months!
What made you leave your home country?
Moving to Dubai and exploring the rest of the world has always been something I’ve wanted to do, however we were just waiting for the right opportunity. Unfortunately, the right opportunity came under sad circumstances. During a holiday to Dubai in 2014 I went into labour early and we sadly had to bury our son in Dubai, a few days later. The heart-wrenching feeling of leaving our baby in another country, along with the disgusting NHS medical treatment I got back in the UK, meant I knew it wouldn’t be long before we were back in Dubai. Also in terms of lifestyle – Dubai definitely has more to offer us than London!
What type of reactions do you get when you meet new people and tell them where you are from?
A lot of people assume I’m either from Dubai or other Arabian countries so when I tell them I’m from the UK or of Indian origin they seem a little confused. Here is how a typical conversation goes –
Of course these are people who have never been to the UK so it really does make an interesting topic of conversation – especially when they then look at Ayaan and wonder how he fits into the picture lol! People in Dubai are so welcoming and love finding out about other cultures so you’ll have this kind of conversation a lot! – I love it! Also we can’t help but teach a bit of London cockney slang to some of the workers we meet 🙈
What was the easiest/ hardest part in adjusting to your new country?
Easiest part – Meeting people. People are overly friendly here compared to London and I’ve met so many people from all walks of life. I’d also say you find expats are quite open and you’ll probably find out more about people living the expat life than you would from people you’ve known for a while back home.
Hardest part – When you realise the lives of your friends and family are moving on without you in it – e.g. missing key events and having to see photos and videos AFTER the life changing event are constant reminders that you’re not an active part of their lives.
Are there any images, words or sounds that sum up the expat experience you’ve had so far?
Your favourite food or drink from your new country?
One thing you’ll learn about Dubai is that they have A LOT of food – it’s a foodie heaven, however a lot of the restaurants aren’t from Dubai or the Middle East so I’ll keep this strictly to local food/drink – I am obsessed with these two….
What’s the one thing you said ‘yes’ to in your new city that you wouldn’t say ‘yes’ to back home?
Giving my number out to people I’ve only just met lol. It sounds strange but here it’s quite a normal thing and I’ve made some amazing friends in the most random places just by a short conversation and exchange of numbers. In the UK if someone asked for my number after one conversation I’d think the person was strange and run a mile lol!
Are there any cultural norms/ phrases in your new country that you cannot stand?
It’s difficult to adjust to different administrative systems. We’re so used to the UK systems that coming to Dubai we really struggled in the first year to understand or get used to the way things are processed here. Generally any government related offices finish earlier than normal working hours and the systems here aren’t as advanced as others so getting things done take a long time unless you know people or are a person of authority/influence.
What do you enjoy doing most in your new country?
Just living. Being in Dubai has given me experiences and opportunities I would have never got back in the UK both personally and professionally. I love being less restricted as no I longer work for someone, I love being able to go near the water and let my thoughts float away with the waves, and I absolutely love that we can go for a drive and experience totally different surroundings – city life, desert and mountains all in a few hours!
Do you think you will ever move home for good?
I do believe you should never say never to anything – however for now moving back to the UK is definitely not an option. We have so many more travel plans that I can’t see us being content with living in the UK.
Okay now the questions are done I’d like to put forward a few blogs that I love as I would love to read their answers to The Expat Tag – (please do check their blogs out and share the love)
romaingijsensblog.wordpress.com – Learnt so much about life in China!
ispyprettyplaces.com – Has a wealth of expat experiences to share.
thewilsonsofoz.com – A fun and interesting blog from a expat family of 4.
adventuresofajerseygirlblog.wordpress.com – An honest expat blogger sharing her life in Kuwait
Hope you guys are able to take part – look forward to reading your answers!