Following on from my previous blog – receiving a phone-call to say your dad has had a mild heart attack is possibly the worst thing any expat can face – it brings up so many emotions, mainly upset, regret and guilt.
One thing I discovered from sharing the last blog is that so many fellow expats have their own personal worries and concerns with living far away from loved ones; some shared how hard it is expanding their family abroad without the love and support of their families, others explained how they dealt with those horrible telephone calls – making me realise I wasn’t the only one to ever experience this emotional roller-coaster.
So what helped me cope during that horrific week? I went back to basics and asked myself the following – why did hubby and I decide to leave London and why did we move to Dubai? The answer to this is we didn’t leave to hurt anyone or to let anyone down, in fact we left so we could create a better life for ourselves, and in the future give our parents the opportunity to explore the world with us when they retire. Living in Dubai is a positive move for us and it’s important to remember why we chose the expat life when unfortunate incidents occur. So I’d like to share with you all some of the best parts of expat life!
Self Discovery – Leaving everything you are familiar with is one of the hardest things for anyone to do – however, once you make your first expat move you tend to go on a little journey of self discovery. One great thing about moving to a new country means you can essentially start from scratch – you can build a new life and make the changes you’ve always wanted to make – building a new you!
Travel Bug – After that first move to a new country, you’ll most likely have the urge to explore the world. Becoming an expat means you realise how much there is out there in the world to experience and you can’t settle in one place permanently. As much as people complain about new systems and a new way of life – we love the fruits of our labour once we’ve accomplished all those tedious administrative visa and residency tasks! There is something about expat life that makes you hungry to see the world – hence my bucket list (click here to see where I’m itching to go).
Cultural Norms – Expat life will quickly teach you that no two cities are the same – meaning cultural norms can vary within the same country. For example, the number of times Arab women kiss on the cheek or the way people from different areas wear traditional clothing. It’s all a learning curve which will enrich your expat life!
Making friends – Living an expat life means you will meet people from all over the world who could possibly become some of your best friends ever! Your fellow expats will quickly become like family – celebrating your special moments with you and picking you up during your tough times. Not to mention how many great people you will meet through social media – blogging, Instagram and Twitter are just some of the platforms where I’ve connected with some amazing expats around the world!
Educating others – You will find yourself correcting others when they make assumptions about countries you have lived in. It’s like you almost become defensive about the country (if it’s been a good experience of course lol). I find myself regularly answering silly questions about life in Dubai as a woman, as an interracial couple, or things like whether people get locked up for breathing lol 😂 – slight exaggeration I know but the amount of silly questions we get makes me see how uneducated the world can be without us expat bloggers!
Storytelling – You become a great storyteller as an expat – you will experience some of the most amazing things that you may never have tried living in your home country. This will leave you with great stories to share and inspire others. I love hearing/reading stories from fellow expats about the adventures they’ve been on – also I love the fact that we will have the best memories to share with our children in shaa Allah!
Food – Do I even need to explain this one?? Just by being in Dubai I have had people from all walks of life share their ethnic food with me – things I would have never tried back home! Food is a big way to show love and an even bigger way to share culture – for example, I’ve noticed how expats from South Asia are so proud to share their versions of the traditional dish biryani, or Arabs and their multiple versions of the famous sweet cheese dish Kunafa. Expat life gives you that first hand experience of tasting local foods made the traditional way – you can’t get that back home!
Visiting Home – Coming home is like a breath of fresh air! You reconnect with people you most likely took for granted living there, and the time you spend with family is so much more special! It gives us time to show appreciation for one another and you find out the people who you can call friends no matter how far you travel. You get to experience your home city/country in the eyes of an outsider and it really does give you a different kind of appreciation for where you grew up/lived.
So there you have it, our best points about living the expat life! It might not be easy leaving loved ones behind, but the benefits of expat life does make it that bit easier to go out and explore the world.
If you do ever feel like you’re going through a difficult time as an expat – just remember why you took that first step into expat life!