Friday, September 17, 2010


For now, I have decided to continue to post simultaneously what I post in here was my last submission and I am sure more will be posted in the coming days...Don't worry, this will not become an advice column for people who want to move to Dubai :)

So many of you reading this are thinking to move to Dubai. A little nervous, anxious, not sure what to expect? It’s a good place, you’ll be fine. Yes, as you’ve probably heard, it gets a little hot in the summer, but that’s okay you’ll be inside. Some of you will be working or you will go home and visit family anyway, which are often the cultural norms of Dubai. As one who works, honestly, I don’t mind it that much.

I know coming from Turkey that seems difficult because life takes place indoors and outdoors – it does in Dubai as well, but just in different months. While many countries are freezing cold in December and January, we are at the beach or elsewhere enjoying the outdoors. I think the trade-off is well worth it. I really only find June through September hot. That means eight months of weather with a lot of potential.

And hot is relative anyway. We were just back in Istanbul a few weeks ago. Wow, it was pretty hot. And no air conditioning in most places makes it almost unbearable for some. When out for a Bosphorus walk we found ourselves taking shelter in the cool rooms of the Sabanci Museum (which is lovely if you haven’t been).

My biggest piece of advice I can offer if you have moved here, or have moved anywhere new – be open to your new place and situation. Embrace it.

I’ve lived away from my home country for maybe 13 or 14 years now. There is one thing that I have observed consistently with people I meet who are unhappy in their new environment – They expect it to be exactly like their home country. Don’t fall into that trap. If you come here expecting Dubai to be like the place you have just moved from, you’ll be terribly disappointed and unhappy.

I was reminded of this on my trip where we also spent a few days with a good friend in Berlin, who we actually met in Istanbul. She had several friends and neighbors over one night and at one point I was listening to the women talk. They were all complaining about their difficulties managing children and families, and then at one point one of them actually said, “We give up so much for our husbands to have this lifestyle”.

Now not all of them were housewives, but they were sure quick to jump on that wagon and agree. As these were my friend’s friends and in some cases colleagues, or colleagues wives I remained silent. Which if you knew me, is not always easy. But really, this is the same mantra I hear often from unhappy people regardless of what country they are from. They are often focused on what they give up or what the place is not.

Yes, you will get homesick and miss things about your country you never thought you would. I honestly never missed the US too much when I moved to Istanbul, but when I left Turkey my heart ached for it, so I can only imagine how much deeper a Turk might miss it. But in those times try not to focus on what you have left behind, look also at what you are gaining. There is so much potential.

You may have moved alone or with family. Regardless, you probably had some, if not all, part in that decision and wanted to try something new. So enjoy the experience.

Fortunately we now have email, skype, video conferencing and all other amazing means of communication we did not have when I first moved. While not the same as being there, staying in touch has never been easier.

So not that you asked for it, but my advice is to embrace your new experience. As a result you will learn about new cultures, places and people, and you might be pleasantly surprised that you may also learn a lot about yourself in the process. I know I have and continue to do so. For these reasons, I am happy to live as an expat.

No comments: