I didn’t want to be an expat

Expat life.  It’s a difficult one to explain, choosing to leave your family, your friends and your country to go and live somewhere else.  Through choice.  Somewhere where you may not speak the language, practice the religion, eat the food.  Somewhere you’ve always wanted to go or somewhere you haven’t.

I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I didn’t want to be an expat.  I didn’t want to leave my London bubble and head to the unknown with my 6 month old baby.  I didn’t want to leave old friends or new.  I didn’t want to leave behind my career.  In short I just didn’t want to be an expat.

The problem is though is that all marriage is a compromise, a partnership, equal, for as much as I didn’t want to go digging my heels in, my husband did want to go.  A battle of wills.  A thousand back and forth conversations.  A massive pros and cons list drawn up and discussed.  Points awarded to pros, to cons.  Weighting out the decision.

The decision made.  Though to be fair the decision to go was made at the point I encouraged the interview.  We were going, to a place I had never been or ever had any intention of going too.  And I still didn’t want to.

I had the worst attitude about it.  I buried my head in the sand and ignored the fact that preparations were going on all around me.

Our possessions being packed up into a container, nope, still not happening to us.

didn't want to be an expat

Closing bank accounts, redirecting post, nope, still not happening to us.

Saying goodbye to new friends, see you later to old friends.  Promises of visits home and trips to your new life.  Still not happening.

The nomadic existance before you leave a country, floating from hotel room, to imposing on friends and family.  Still not real.  We were still not leaving the country.

Except we were.  And we did.

Blindsided falling into a new life, I look back now and my naivety astounds me.  A couple of half hearted posts on a random baby forum that was generally filled with mums from the UK or US.  A chance email making me a couple of fantastic friends for life, through pure luck.  What I didn’t realise was the importance of researching a place before we arrived, seeing what was available for me, the mum groups that were out there, the friendships waiting to be made.

I muddled along for the first week.   It didn’t take me long to realise the importance of friendships, of reaching out.  So I did.  I put myself out there.  I drove the length and breadth of Dubai.  I said yes to any invitation going.  I asked people to come for coffee.  I made cake.  I made friends.  We hosted drinks parties that continued once the babies were in bed.  I settled into my expat life.

I loved my expat life.  I relished in it.  I loved meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, learning about new religions.  Yes, the coming and going of friends was difficult to deal with.  But the lifestyle we enjoyed, the people we met, the place, the experience were worth it.

Then after 3 years it was our time to say goodbye.  To leave behind cherished friendships, friendships I didn’t know how to say goodbye too.  To leave the sandpit.  To once again pick up the nomadic lifestyle living between two countries, possessions shipped, hotel living, invading my mums house.  No home of our own.  Floating between our expat life and our UK life.

Except the thing is, once you’ve been an expat you have that itch.  One that isn’t quite satisfied living in your mums house, or your home town.  One that craves once again to be abroad, to experience expat life, to see new places, eat new foods.  The expat itch if you will.  One that demands scratching, one that needs more than a holiday in the sun to be satisfied.

An itch.  Desperately needing to be scratched.

And it’s this itch that sees us on our new chapter.  A chapter taking us abroad once again.  Taking us back to the Middle East.  Taking us to Qatar.

Yes.  Once again we are emigrating, leaving UK life behind for desert.  A little bit wiser, a little bit more well travelled, a little bit more used to expat lifestyle.

The difference is that this time I’m excited to start our new life, to see all that Doha has to offer.  I know that there will be new friendships waiting to be made, new adventures to be had.  This time though I’ll be sad to say goodbye to all our family and friends in the UK I know that there is a new chapter waiting for us in Qatar, one which I am ready to embrace with an open mind and heart.

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28 Comments

  1. August 2, 2016 / 6:35 am

    All the best Laura with the new life in DOHA 🙂

  2. August 2, 2016 / 7:36 am

    Oh wow!!! Big news!!!
    Will be very exciting for you all I’m sure Laura.
    I hope preparations go well and you enjoy every moment this time.
    You’re very brave.xx
    Gemma Nuttall recently posted…(Not so) Happy CampersMy Profile

    • Laura
      Author
      August 7, 2016 / 8:20 am

      I *should* be packing now. I’m not but I should be!

  3. August 2, 2016 / 9:19 am

    I can relate to this as I’m an expat living in Denmark. I haven’t fully adjusted and I’ve been here a year. It’s only now that I have a baby that I’m starting to really feel the need to integrate. I’m working on it slowly. It’s good to be excited and I’m glad you’re more at peace with leaving this time. 🙂
    Sarah – Mum & Mor recently posted…5 Danish Words That Make Me LaughMy Profile

    • Laura
      Author
      August 7, 2016 / 8:20 am

      We always worked on the idea that it would take us the first year to settle in properly and start to make friends. Then the rest of the time is for really living and knowing the place. It’s tough at first and I’m excited and apprehensive at the same time!

  4. August 2, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    Ooh this is exciting news! I don’t know much about Doha but I wish you all the best and hope you all settle into your new expat life quickly.
    Laura: Adventures with J recently posted…Mummy TagMy Profile

    • Laura
      Author
      August 7, 2016 / 8:19 am

      Thank you! Excited to go now, just waiting for the green light to book the flights eeeeeep!

  5. August 3, 2016 / 12:14 am

    I’m so glad you’re looking forward to your next chapter. You’ll all have an amazing time and I do envy you your expat lifestyle, it’s something I hope for in the future.
    Nat.x
    Plutonium Sox recently posted…A developing love of booksMy Profile

    • Laura
      Author
      August 3, 2016 / 5:49 pm

      Ooh anywhere in particular you fancy Nat? I can’t wait to start and get my feet under the table, we’ve been a long time in limbo this time. X

  6. August 4, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Wow that was a quick repatriation 🙂 Good luck in Qatar!

  7. August 7, 2016 / 5:20 am

    It’s great to hear your experience – denial and dislike that turned into an enjoyable adventure. Enjoy your new adventure!

    • Laura
      Author
      August 7, 2016 / 8:32 am

      Thank you! It’s really opened my eyes to what being positive does to an experience.

  8. August 9, 2016 / 6:51 am

    I am happy that in the end, you were happy in Dubai. When I clicked on the post , I thought ‘oh no! Let me see why’. Iknow what you mean about leaving your family and everything you love. For me, it was easy to leave France. Where I am from, there was nothing for me. I never regretted it and do not wish to come back to France. Maybe one day? But I never looked back. Actually, I ran away from where I come from LOL. Good luck with the new life. It sounds very different but very exciting. The expat life is the ONE! #TwinklyTuesday

  9. August 9, 2016 / 6:53 am

    From one expat to another – good luck 🙂 We recently moved to Dubai too… and have considered Qatar! Looking forward to reading about your new life!

  10. August 9, 2016 / 10:49 am

    Good Luck in Doha #TwinklyTuesday

    • Laura
      Author
      August 9, 2016 / 11:22 am

      Thank you, we have a date now so it’s time to get excited!

  11. August 9, 2016 / 10:50 am

    I know the ex-pat itch very well! It’s addictive. Wewe’rein Portugal but now in Spain and don’t know if we will go back Family and friends will always visit and keep in touch. Nothing much changes in the UK but how fantastic to live somewhere different and let our kids experience different cultures. Good luck in Qatar

    • Laura
      Author
      August 9, 2016 / 11:23 am

      Thank you – and good luck to you as well! How do you find the language barrier or do you speak Spanish and Portuguese? We are at the point that we don’t know when we will come back either!

  12. August 9, 2016 / 12:24 pm

    Such a wonderful post, I lived in China for 2 years then Italy for another year, finally home now, it is so true, the fear when you arrive but then the itch when you’re back. Because you realise life is so much richer when you travel, when you’ve really lived abroad. It IS life changing and even though it’s beyond difficult at times it leaves you with this amazing strength to face pretty much anything.
    Love your story, got ya on twitter now, would love to read more/ get in contact.
    Wishing you a wonderful summer! #Twinklytuesday

  13. August 9, 2016 / 6:27 pm

    I’m glad the expat life grew on you and you’re not enjoying it. I was scared to try and refused to. Maybe I’m missing out. 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

  14. August 9, 2016 / 9:00 pm

    My husband and I often talk about moving abroad as we both have that itch but so far the right opportunity hasn’t arisen but once (if!) it does then I’ll be sure to do my research, thank you. Best of luck in Doha – sounds very exciting! #TwinklyTuesday
    Emma recently posted…A Family Day Out at BBC Countryfile LiveMy Profile

  15. August 14, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    I still can’t believe you are going again! We only just got you back hehe! So glad that I got to actually meet you at Britmums before you disappear again! It’s so exciting though and I can’t wait to follow your on your journey back to the desert! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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