An Expat’s Summer: packing up for the year

The end of the school year and the beginning of summer break usually brings a torrent of emotions and a heck of a lot of packing boxes and suitcases for any expat.

For us expats, people who live outside of their home countries, summer usually means either moving to a new location or taking a trip back home. At the beginning of each summer, I usually say goodbye to some school friends who are moving abroad and to my home, Dubai, for a few months.

Unlike most other people, being an expat in Dubai means closing the book for a couple of months during summer. Most people leave the city and head home to visit their families or to embark on their own adventures. Sometimes this can feel very isolating, and usually, for the first few days of summer vacation I feel like a part of me is gone. It’s a ghostly feeling which I’m sure any expat can relate to, almost as if your expat life is stored away in packing boxes until you return at the end of summer. Personally, over summer I adjust to a completely different time zone, schedule, and way of living from my regular life in Dubai; and I’m sure the change is more drastic for others.

While the expat life is thrilling and full of excitement, it sometimes really does feel like the chapter closes at the beginning of summer when most expats return home. How do we switch from one routine to another? How do we switch from one time zone to another? How do we switch from one language to another? It’s like we’re in limbo, not really belonging anywhere for a couple of months until our fellow expats return to where we live. How do we juggle these two worlds and close the chapter of this year? That’s what I hope to share with you in this post. Like any high school student, I spend my year dreaming about summer break, but it is hard to say goodbye to Dubai for the whole of summer break. Here’s how I deal with it…

Saying goodbyes: the reality of expat life, however much we love it, is the goodbyes we say at the end of each year. People move around and new people join us, but it’s important to say a proper goodbye – or as I prefer to say, see you later. It’s hard to do, but from what I’ve learned from experience, it’s never really a complete goodbye, there will always be ways to keep in touch and opportunities to see each other again in the future.

Doing the last…: though we’re not moving anywhere, being away from home for almost three months is quite a long time. Before I leave Dubai for the summer I like to do my favorite things one last time. (a bit dramatic I know, but I miss them when I’m not in Dubai!) Perhaps it’s the last lunch with my friends or the last stop at my favorite tea shop with my family, I do something I love doing which is unique to my life in Dubai.

Making plans: I usually don’t see my school friends for almost three months as we all head back home to visit our families, which means we have to find other ways to keep in touch. Sometimes it’s hard because we’re all in different time zones, but making plans and arrangements to stay in touch before leaving home makes it easier.

Embracing the new: we all love our homes. We think that where we live is the best place in the world. But being away for a long time means that there’s no point pining for our homes; it’s not going to change anything! Embrace the change and enjoy your time away, because we all need a little change in our life once in a while.

Do some reflecting: cliché, I know! But, being away from the norm for a long period of time can be a really good breather. It gives us time to think about everything that has happened in the past year; what we are proud of, and what we want to improve on for next year.

Having our expat lives stored in packing boxes until we return home and closing that chapter of our lives for the summer is not always a bad thing. Sure, it can sometimes feel like a part of us is gone, but part of the exciting expat life is adapting quickly. While one part of our life is on hold for a few months, we get to experience a whole world of something new in the meantime. What about you, even if you’re not an expat, have you ever experienced the change at the beginning of summer? Have you ever felt like the summer brings a whole new change in your lifestyle? (and not just because you get to sleep in!) Let me know what you think in the comments

See you next week!

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