Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Dark Side of Expat Life?

A couple of days ago in the International Herald Tribune, there was an article titled "The Dark Side of the Expat Life".   I was kind of shocked to read such a headline because in my 15 or 16 years of living outside the US, I have never realized there was a dark side to this life I have chosen.

The article says, "This dislocation — psychic as well as geographic — comes with inevitable lonelinesses, small and large…Expat life has a dark side: getting stuck in limbo, neither here nor there."  One expat from Seoul noted how "they have watched as peers back home married, had children, bought houses, advanced in their careers. Meanwhile, most of us here in Seoul find ourselves living Peter Pan-like existences. I’m entering middle age with nothing tangible to show for it.  Except wonderful, rich memories, sure. But the future looms."

This paints a very dreadful picture of the hardships of those of us who live abroad.  I'll tell you a secret…its no different than living anywhere else.  Yes, there are differences sometimes in culture or language, but in the grand scheme of things it is not always that different.

Maybe it is a matter of the glass being half empty or half full.  My cup runneth over.  If anything, we are incredibly fortunate to live this life.  I feel this way in Dubai and did in Turkey as well.  

Yes, we are further away from family, but you do not totally miss out on everything as the article suggests.  And as for the "watching your friends get married, have children, buy houses, get promotions"… many would do the same back home, and perhaps compare themselves even more.  Why compare?  Everyone's journey is different, no?

For sure if you do not like where you are, then move.  If you choose to stay, then embrace that.  It is well worth it.

I used to wonder what my son would think.  Where would he think he is from.  Will he be scarred for life? Confused? Not feel that he has a home?  That hasn't happened either.  The first time I asked him where he was from, his answer was "Istanbul, Texas".  That is something I never anticipated, but it is the best possible answer for a cross-cultural child that is growing up in neither of his parents' home countries.  

Where is home?  Currently, it is Dubai.  Will that always be the case?  Probably not.  Where would we move next?  Who knows.  

Sometimes uncertainty is okay.  Embrace that and enjoy the ride.  You'll get there eventually.

White Storks migrating across the Dardanelles in Turkey.  They travel from Nothern Europe
as far as South Africa every year.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Burj Khalifa

As usual, its that time of year again... busy.  We are in the last days of "spring" in Dubai.  It is warming up here during the day.  Today I saw what I am sure will be the first of many car thermometers on Facebook - it was 40C.  I do not mind and will take it over snow and ice any day.

I haven't been taking many pictures for a few weeks, except the occasional screen shot at work!  I was going through some files and came across these from a visit to the top of the Burj Khalifa.

When they built it, it seemed to take forever for the windows to arrive.  It was rumored to be late.  However, after seeing it at different times of day, I think it was worth the wait.  It reflects color and light beautifully at all times of day.

Burj Khalifa towers over the "tall" buildings of Dubai

Burj Khalifa

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Zighy Bay

Musandam, Oman is part of Oman, but separated from the rest of the country geographically by the UAE.  It is the strategic tip of the penninsula at the Strait of Horumz.  Visited by many, it is easily accessible from the UAE - about a 1.5 hour drive from Dubai.  Although close, the landscape changes quickly as you head to Fujeriah to cross border and the Mountains of Hajar.  

Zighy Bay used to only be accessible by boat until the Six Senses came to town - well, there really wasn't much of a town there.  It was a very small fishing bay where locals still fish today.  

The resort is made with as much local material as possible.  The rooms for example, use local rocks, trees and other finds for everything from walls to lamps.  As much food as possible is grown locally.  This includes all salad ingredients from the organic garden on the property.  

We were there only two nights, so barely had the chance to unwind.  However, it did not take long to not want to leave our isolated ocean-front property.  

I think my son summed up our experience best as he wanted to move there from the first day.  The kids club had a certified teacher, so he had a well thought out plan.  There were many times he told me he did not want to leave - as we packed, as we got in the car, on the drive home, before he went to sleep when we got home.  I thought maybe he would come to terms with it by morning as there was no mention of it at breakfast before school.  However, as we walked from the car to school he said, "You know mommy, I really did not want to leave that place".... in all honesty, neither did I.

No cars - walking or biking only.

Zighy Bay's Organic Garden

A full moon by the sea