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.
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.