5 things the experienced expat in me is guilty of
September 6th, 2017
1. Glorifying the country where I was previously living
Guilty. I didn’t use to do that a lot back in Luxembourg or Maastricht (although I occasionally missed all things Portuguese) but this is something that I’ve become quite an expert at here in Dubai (haven’t we all). A couple days after moving to the sandpit the (adjusted) quote couldn’t be more true “we are not in Europe anymore”. I have been guilty of complaints like the following: “In Europe there is fast internet”. “In Europe the sky is blue”. “In Europe there is trees and plans outside”. “In Europe you don’t need to repeat your request 3 times so that people understand you”. “In Europe there are parks everywhere”. “In Europe you can run outside all year.” Guilty, as an expat in Dubai I tend to look at my former continent with rose colored glasses.
The funny thing is that I forget tiny bad details about Europe (of course, I can only speak for the countries I have lived in) like, a small glass of fresh orange juice is super expensive, toilets tend to stink, there is no valet parking, on Sundays most things are closed, you don’t have restaurants / supermarkets / food delivery available 24h/7, and the list goes on… but of course as soon as we miss a place we forget the bad things and only remember the good ones.
2. Hesitating between going home for summer holidays or going somewhere else (Thailand anyone?)
Guilty. When you leave far from home, you miss your family and friends, and they miss you right? So of course everyone is impatiently waiting for that 2-3 week holiday where you can spend some quality time together and catch up. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as unlimited vacation days yet, so the duration of trips is limited. I recently had to decide to shorten my summer and Christmas trips to Europe so that I could travel one week to Sri Lanka. I felt a bit guilty because not going would have allowed me to spend more time in Portugal and Luxembourg, however living in Dubai opens de door to so many trips that one cannot resist! And travelling for the weekend only will not cut it.
Am I the only one who struggles with this? I am already dreading next year’s summer holidays where I will have to decide whether to travel to Europe or not.
3. Meticulously scheduling Skype calls
Guilty. First of all, let’s get this out of the way, I hate Skyping during the week! Since I have moved to Dubai have I had Skype calls shorter than 30 minutes? Of course not! Being the (over?) organized person that I am, I have an after-work evening routine: (1) crash in the sofa for 20 minutes, (2) wash the breakfast dishes, (3) cook, (4) shower, (5) eat in front of random tv, (6) watch tv show / read book, (7) bedtime. So, as per my routine, between the moment I eat and the moment I start my tv show / book there is a window of 1h/1h30 where I can Skype.
So I do tend to schedule calls with my family and friends (sometimes back to back which truly is a bad idea), in order to be able to talk to everyone. Only a few privileged ones get to randomly call me whenever they feel like it (and with them there’s no controlling the length of the call). For the others you missed your slot? Too bad, let´s talk this weekend then because I am busy now… which leads me to…
4. Ignoring Skype calls
Guilty. Okay I love my family. I love my friends. And I love catching up with them. But sometimes in the evening I am just exhausted. Or I had a terrible day at work and don’t feel like talking. Or I just started watching game of thrones earlier than planned so unless someone is dying then no, I don’t want to talk to you at that moment. I feel guilty about this because I know that it sucks (I suck) and that people just want to catch up with me, which I want too of course… but during the week there is so little time in the evening and time difference makes it even worse!!! 2h/3h seems like nothing but it makes a huge difference because when most of my friends are out of work and available to Skype I am selfishly ready to have me-time and after 22h I just don’t want to talk to anyone…
5. Wanting to return home and move further abroad at the same time
Guilty. Many times I have daydreamed about going back to Portugal, living in a cute apartment in the city center of Lisbon, buying food from local markets only, walking around the city during the weekends, enjoy cheap foods and drinks, etc… It’s been established that I idealize Portugal so please let’s not think about how realistic this would be.
I think that my mom dreams about the day I will return to Portugal too. What she doesn’t know – or pretends she doesn’t – is that I also daydream about being an expat in Singapore. Or Australia. Or Canada. How do I explain to her that once you’ve got the expat bug it’s not easy to get read of it? How do I explain that I would have no problem in moving to a time zone 8h/9h ahead? How exciting would it be to move to a completely new country, discovering a new world, a new culture, a new language? She would probably reply “time to settle down filha”. I guess she just needs to accept that as an expat I could go home next year or I could go in 5 years… who knows?
Are you guilty of any of the above crimes? Comment below! You’re not? Then please don’t judge me… 😀