Dubai Post 70: Being an Expat
As I was surfing the web last week, I came across an article that could not have captured my experience of an expat in a better light. Read it for yourself but I will basically give you my two cents and relate it to my past few months in Dubai.
The author’s article revolves around a concept that is within every ex-expat. Whether you have been abroad for a few months or many years, there will always be the fear of life having gone on at home without you. For me, I am not a veteran ex-pat, I have been here for a mere few months and would consider myself a rookie.
However, even though it has been a few short months, I have missed a number of events:
-My sister’s 21st birthday
-My other sister’s high school graduation
-My girlfriend’s first half marathon
-A trip to Atlantic City that I planned with my best friends from home
-Of course the hardest being the passing of my grandmother
I know some of these are insignificant in nature but the longer you stay an ex-pat, the more and more events you will miss back home. I was talking to a close friend the other day about living in another country. We were discussing the feasibility of being able to do it for not just months but years. He mentioned at some point, you become the person who is always missing out. It is truly the trade-off that every ex-pat pays for in order to experience their amazing journey abroad.
Life most surely goes on without you back home. For me, I picked up and left Chicago studying for my CFA exam in the 40 degree temps of April. When I go home in a few weeks, I feel like I should be heading back to the library in jeans weather. However, that is not the case. All of my friends will be at the beach partying, CFA free. Just as the author states, life went on without me without a blink of the eye.
Yet, if you were to ask me if I went back in time would I do it again? Would I give up these few months at home? 100 times over and over my answer would be yes. I have spoken to people who have been ex-pats for years and their answer is the same. It all comes down to the experience that you simply cannot get in your home country.
You learn things about yourself that you never knew. You gain independence. What used to be routine, such as grocery shopping, will now turn into satisfaction. You accept the fact that you will need to role with the punches. Life will not always be easy, especially coming from an American. Your highs will be magnified as will your lows.
So my suggestion to anyone reading this is try it for yourself if you have not already. It does not have to be now but sometime in the future. Work a year or two abroad. Get to the edge of your comfort zone and step over that line. Life will go on without you at home but that is fine, because you will be living. You will be eating food, meeting people, and exploring new lands that you could never dream of.
Yes you will get lonely. But that is nothing a good book or a playlist on your iPod cannot fix. I fully intend on working abroad again. Whether that is in two years or 40 years, Dubai or Florence, I will do it. I know the experiences I will gain will be worth it and my home in the U.S. will always be there.
**Full Disclosure- I fully intend on moving back to Chicago in two weeks.