Apologies for the radio silence, there seems to have been a little blogging drought in the desert. Whilst the prospect of writing wasn’t a chore, I definitely wasn’t in the mood to put this post out there. I have always wanted this blog to be an honest one and at times there have been some posts that have come easier than others, but I have never shied away from it. What I have learnt over the past month, is that there was something I wanted to write about, but I didn’t know how it would be perceived or if I actually wanted to vocalise it out loud. So here we are, I guess I am ready and after a few conversations with the desert girls, my feelings on this matter are not exclusive to this Jersey Girl.
Our decision to be expats was ours alone. We didn’t run it past anyone. It was something we did for ourselves, to fulfil our lives and to build a future we wanted. The obvious counter affect of this decision, is that it does impact other people, but whilst we can be sympathetic to them, definitely consider them in the decision-making, ultimately its our call and what worked for us.
So our expat adventures began and family became further away. The element of distance is inevitable, so everyone becomes more conscious of it, communication increases, trying to just maintain the status quo. It works. Im not going to lie, my communication and relationship with my mum definitely improved when I moved away. I was doing something for me, which in turn made me happier, which in turn allows people to truly see you and ultimately everyone rubs along side each other a hell of a lot better.
Advantage number 1 for our first expat move, was that we were a few hours from London and therefore could be back in Jersey by lunch time of the same day. Win win for everyone keeping in touch and allowing for spontaneous trips home, for special occasions and family get together. Advantage number 2, we moved to Prague. Everyone, wanted to visit there. They got a cheap flight, free accommodation, got to hang out with us and get to explore one of Europe’s must see cities. Win win. If we’re not in Jersey, they come to us. So over 4 years, there wasn’t a 3 month period where we weren’t seeing people and sharing our adventures.
But then a bump in the road. We moved to Kuwait. Ok, whilst Hubby was excited to return to the Middle East and I couldn’t wait to see what he loved about it, of course there was nerves of the unknown. None of my family came out and said
Oh my god, why!?
In fact I think I had less resistance to that move, than I did with the first one. Perhaps the first expat move was such a shock and “so unlike me”, that by the time Kuwait entered the mix, they could see this was the path we were on and I was making a success of it. So our first trip home, Christmas 2014, we filled everyone in on our desert life and how much we loved it. They seemed to relax, but there was definitely still a reservation. They seemed shocked that we liked it. Kuwait was (and is to many people ) the unknown, a Gulf war statistic, one of the hottest places on earth and in the middle of some of the most volatile Arab countries. But hey apart from that, it’s all good!
It’s very hard to get people over that initial perception and rightly or wrongly, people are still nervous about visiting a Muslim country, the western ignorance kicking in. So whilst we were loving it, it was a hard sell back home. Now I will admit perhaps because this was initially a 2 year plan, I didn’t push the conversations about visiting. Also I did make it very clear that this isn’t a tourist destination, so there is very few things to “do” if you are looking for a fun packed trip, so maybe my down playing had an affect. I pushed it to the back of my mind, we had family weddings, new babies and annual Christmas’ pulling us back to loved ones and so they became comfortable, time went by and soon our next move was up for negotiation.
My regular readers will know that saga (Same but different ) and when people heard of our new UAE location they couldn’t be more excited, all clambering to be the first to visit, eagerly awaiting the moving date confirmation. I won’t lie this was a huge pro on the list, when we drew everything up, we knew it would make a difference. So when things quickly changed and we reversed our decision, they all seemed disappointed. Now this just made me feel angry, hurt and frustrated. No sympathy for the stress or the process we’d gone through to get to that choice. It became clear that people only seemed interested when we live in a “must see” location and that actually viewing our life abroad was secondary. Am I not a “must see” ?
I guess my self-preservation kicked in the first few years, I pretended it didn’t matter, it was always going to be short-term, so why make a fuss. Now we are staying for the foreseeable, it’s a little sad that we could be here for 8 years in total and no one has witnessed it. Whilst I don’t need validation, it would be nice to share our memories with loved ones. Would it be a fun packed, thrill a minute trip? No. Would it be daunting for them? Yes I’m sure. Will it be hot? Erm yes. Would I bring small children? probably not, but that doesn’t mean it has to be dismissed (told you it was a hard sell!) I think as expats we often have a tougher exterior than most, we roll with the punches and adapt frequently,
however occasionally we lets our walls down and get a little bruised.
There are many of my friends that frequently have people visit them. Parents coming out to see their grand children and to just spend time together in this little quirky corner of the gulf. I have to say that whilst most were nervous their first time, they have all grown to like it and look forward to their trips. It set their mind at rest, seeing how their sons and daughters have made a life here, meeting the infamous desert family members and once over the fact they can’t have a glass of something, enjoy it. I do think, us being childless makes a difference, there is no pull to keep children in their lives and the assumption that because there are kids the other end, that will always pull us back. This is true but I cant help but think that’s a little unfair and puts a lot of pressure on us to keep everything going, emotionally and financially.
The fact of the matter is, I have come to the realisation that Kuwait isn’t a place people want to come and to be honest I wouldn’t either in other circumstances. I also know the fact we’ve lived here for 4 years and could easily be here another 4, means it’s not terrible. All of us here are happy to flow along on our expat journey, we will still love every minute of our life here but for a split second, we wish we could share it.