This week’s post is another one in the Expat Wisdom series! I started this project on my blog to share out expat stories from this global community, and this week I’m excited to share the story of a fellow expat living in Dubai. I hope you enjoy reading the story of Navine, from CoffeeWithAnExpat!
It has been 18yrs since we started our expatriate journey. Our first move was to Amiens, France – it was the first time for us to go to Europe and live in a country with a different language and culture. Little did we know that this was just a stepping stone to a future of multiple international moves, constantly packing up our lives and unpacking it again to start over.
18yrs, 4 children, 7 countries, 14 houses and months in hotels / temporary accommodation…certainly not how I imagined my life to be.
Relocating definitely has its challenges; uprooting an entire family and moving to a new country where most of the time we know no-one, a different language is spoken and are being introduced to a new culture. Having to re-establish and set up a home, settle children into school and ensure their wellbeing and emotions are stable, making friends (don’t get me started on that one!), learn to communicate, stay sane, have the confidence to get out there and build another new life; this can be hard… it can be a real challenge. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that you have no control over, the trick is to be aware that it’s going to happen and be prepared to not let it drag you down. While expat life may look and sound very glamorous (and it is in many ways), what many people don’t realise is that most expats deal with loneliness and depression. Relocation can have an impact on your relationship, you may not adapt to your new environment, you will feel lonely, you will need to step out of your comfort zone to make a new life…these are some realistic challenges to be aware of. From experience, you need to be open to change, be open to different cultures, different languages that you may need to learn and different foods! But it’s not all doom and gloom 😉
Embracing and respecting culture is a conscious choice. I have met people who reject it and make their expat life a very negative experience because they could not (willingly or unwillingly, who knows) adapt to change. They spend their time complaining about one thing or another because it is different from what they are used to. On the other hand, there are those who really embrace it and I have loved seeing them flourish and enjoy what their experience has offered them.
What an opportunity to broaden your knowledge and experience, to see a part of the world through living instead of visiting – it’s a completely different experience!
Open your eyes and embrace the environment that you are in, absorb the sounds and smells, embrace and respect the different cultures of where you live and learn from!
If you are relocating as an expat and you are fortunate enough to live within an expat community it makes it easier to meet and make friends as they are in the same situation as yourself. Moving into an established community where people have their network of friends and family can prove to be a little more challenging – it just means you need to make more effort to meet people and make friends!
There are a lot of positive and negative aspects to relocating the way I have…..it is exciting and enriching, traveling to other countries and cities, the sound of different languages, to be able to learn about and integrate into different cultures and religions is priceless. Again, it is also challenging and emotional, the actual move, finding a home, closing and opening accounts, schools, healthcare, starting over and making friends. We have made many mistakes along the way, struggled quite a bit but we have learned and grown from these challenges.
Moving to a country has become like moving to a house down the road for us. Will we ever have a place to call home?
You know what? I’m loving the fact that we have multiple homes, each place we have lived in has left its mark, memories etched into our minds, life long friends.
Home is where I make it – not somewhere I go back to.