I have had many conversations with the desert girls, over the last few weeks. Whilst the conversations are varied, I made an observation. During these chats, I saw that the manifestation of emotions, showed itself in different ways to different people. How they coped, how they responded was all so different, even if the scenario was similar. This got me thinking, that whilst there are definitive emotional stages to this journey, was I right to think, there are in fact definitive expat types?Of course, I’m about to enter into the realms of a very broad, simplistic summary of the personas I’ve come across. Obviously there are many others, obviously this is grossly dramatic for entertainment but they most certainly exist on some level. So dear reader, have you come across them? Love them or hate them? and of course more amusingly,
which are you?!
Like a new puppy, they bound into the expat social circle with both enthusiasm and trepidation. At this stage you’ve never lived abroad, you have no real clue what is going to happen, other than that you were given this “amazing opportunity” and thought, why not let’s live the dream! Of course for the newbie expat it truly is a rollercoaster of emotions, so much to navigate and probably one of the biggest life adjustments you will every make. I have known those that flourish with this new lease of life and go for it full throttle, for others it can simply be a step too far. I think deep down we can see those that are made for it and those that struggle, but if you are lucky enough to be part of a community upon arrival, able to hunt down your tribe, it helps so much with the transition. Remember, you maybe a newbie now but there’s always someone newer.
Oh nothing phases this one! They’ve been on a nomadic journey for years, some even as kids, so this life is fully engrained. They roll into town with confidence and immediate stability, just adding their new location to the list. They are the go to for newbies, for that seasoned advice and stories of weird and wonderful homes gone by. Running from wars, eating chicken feet, being snowed in for a month, not meeting one single English-speaking person for a whole year and a few drunken embassy stories to boot. I love the directness of these women, their strength and ultimately their capacity to move around the world holding families together and making it look like a piece of cake……which we all know it’s not.
Yes we’ve all known one, c’mon there are out there, Mean Girl mummy. She is the self appointed Queen B, lording her views over everyone, holding court with her followers and the “in crowd” creator. This is the women that will happily have a conversation with you one day and then blank you the next, because there is someone far more interesting in the room or whose husband is of equal level at work. Oh yes I’m serious this has happened! The expat wife mafia, they think they hold the power and that its everyone’s dream to infiltrate their stepford bubble. Well I have news for you, I avoid you like the plague, and can spot your fake sincerity, handbag and smile a mile off lady!
Paula Abdul sang it, they live it…it’s “2 steps forward and 2 steps back!” The grass is always greener on the other side right? Well let’s be honest in the desert everywhere is quite literally greener! But no, seriously they don’t ever really let go of their home country, comparing everything in their past life with their new. This never allows them to fully experience what’s in front of them, existing not experiencing. Perhaps deep down they never wanted to come abroad, perhaps they are trying to keep up the facade of the perfect life abroad to those back home, but ultimately pine for that life once more. Sure we all look at Facebook memories, thinking wow that was a great night or wow how has that been 6 years, but with a sentimental and reflective smile, we move on. For the Paula, this gets shared 100 times on every social media platform, sending them into a spiral of homesickness and grieving the life that was. Don’t be Paula ladies, be Elsa and let it go!
The Fear Monger
God I hate this person. They do nothing but go head first into all the negatives, whenever they meet someone new. I have witnessed these people railroad a “welcome” coffee with all the things they hate about their host country. They literally going off on a blind rant, listing every frustration, pet hate, all in front of a newbie caught in headlights. Yes, of course we want to give people a real view of life abroad but also let them make up their own minds. Do not influence them with your twisted views. I know in these scenarios I’m the happy go lucky, chatter box that will try to pull it back, to all things cheerful and issue crucial information (like hairdressers) because we don’t let them smell the fear.
I have certainly come across this person, especially whilst in the desert. It doesn’t matter how many years they have been on their journey or a newly appointed expat, they simply question everything. They never just go with the flow, but instead find something, however small, to dissect and query. Why can’t I wear what I want? Why do they insist on this amount of paperwork? Why do I have to constantly deal with people who don’t understand, that this isn’t the way the rest of the world do it?
Why? Why? Why?
Because you chose this life, because this new country is welcoming you to make it home, because the new and different is the beauty of this life. Sometimes questioning, is just as damaging as being consistently negative. Whilst your busy in your head, asking yourself these things, the people around may very well have the same frustrations or experiences but they are seeing it as part of their story, rather than making it their sole narrative.
I don’t mean this person goes around hugging everyone, although I am a hugger. I love this person. I think I am this person. Every step of the way on my journey I have tried to embrace everything. It’s my first tip to anyone that’s considering a life abroad. Each location that you may come across will have its own nuances, things to adapt to, but go with it. Embrace the local customs, eat where the locals eat, explore your surroundings to its full potential. Will it always work out? No. You may try something once and think I’m not doing that again, but you tried it. I get that its very easy to fall into our expat bubbles, especially in Kuwait. I often catch myself thinking am I just living a carbon copy life of every other expat here? Sometimes yes, but I also like to think that I live it to it’s fullest and have grown to love my host country and all its quirks.