LIFE OF AN EXPAT: Desert Dweller

When considering a move to a new City, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there.   

I am technically an expat, but I'd prefer to call an immigrant, as unglamorous as it sounds. There are expat groups, forums and magazines and nights out all so you can keep meeting other people who can’t quite deal with the fact they’re not still back home.

A year ago, if you saw my mother’s horrified reaction to my decision to quit my job, give up my apartment, apply for a UAE visa and leave Asia alone, you would probably think I was throwing my life away. The fact that Middle East as you heard is quite a dangerous place.

In February 2014, I solo travelled, ventured to Dubai and live as a tourist and now as an expat. Being in your own in a country that's unfamiliar to you is totally liberating and risky. To some, the decision to leave your own country means you are writing off the clean career path set before you, wasting your hard-earned degree and deciding instead to spend the rest of your life bumming on the beach somewhere. It turns out; there was indeed a significant amount of bumming on beaches. 

To move to another country for good or spend long periods of traveling independently takes an impressive degree of self-confidence. The world is a big place, and you quickly find that there is no definitive right or wrong path. During my trip I meet a lot of people and I say goodbye to eight of them going in eight different directions. In this journey, I discovered a lot about myself. 

It's been almost a year now since I moved to Dubai, and having lived here - I can assure you that exotic and enticing doesn’t remain an asset for long, especially when you’re trying to figure out where to buy meat that isn’t chicken or lamb, or goat because you’re living in an Islamic country. I had tough times in my first two weeks of stay and it turned out into a nightmare. I ended up asking myself whether do I really understand what it means to live abroad and treat another country as my home and not just a place to hang out for a few weeks on vacation.

Living abroad will likely require getting used to a different language being the “norm”; to different social and cultural rules and assumptions about correct behaviour. For instance, asking your neighbours to turn down the music at 3-am may simply earn you a look of amused pity. The unbearable voice and nuisance you get from your boss and for not eating and drinking on the streets during ramadan, looks like you’re also suffering from their fasting. It might sounds really unpleasant but you to get used to it at the end of the day.

After running and travelling through different cultures, meeting a wide range of people in a new country, I've learned just how powerful I am, and that my limitations extend far beyond where I may think. I also learned the most important lesson in challenging myself: “You never know until you try.” How can you say for sure that you don’t like eating live octopus unless you try it? You become brave enough to be uncomfortable, and you know you have the ability to learn and adapt to whatever challenge you’re faced with. You've learned that the worst thing that can happen is you fail, and when you do, it’s really not that bad. I guess moving to Dubai isn't a bad choice after all.  

To speak another language is invaluable, but to be able to understand another culture that you've experienced firsthand is to truly communicate. Living and traveling abroad is a challenge that forces your perspective away from the narrative you've know your entire life. You quickly realize that the rest of the world is not the desolate and scary place that it is made out to be. People all over the world have the same type of hope, dreams and even struggles as the rest of us.

Whatever the reasons behind why I moved here, I find it a fascinating place with a unique personality all of its own, giving you a chance to live a surprisingly different life from your current one.

No comments:

Post a Comment