Today, FIVE years ago, we landed in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Honestly? I can’t believe we are still here. Not that I want to be somewhere else right now but when I look back at what I was thinking when we first set foot here, it’s unbelievable. We thought our stint would be short, like a year or so but we’re five years now – if we were a fruit tree, our trunk would be big, strong, sturdy and we have bore fruits already!
Five years. That long in a foreign country. Our daughter was three when we came here and now she’s eight years old so it’s official to say that she has spent more time here than her birth country (Japan).
As we turn another year in Dubai, I flip through our photo albums and reminisce the years.
2007: Pristine (3 years old) and me 5 days after we landed in Dubai:
You could see she’s fresh from Japan – still doing that peace/victory sign! I am holding a city guide book here as we explore the neighborhood looking for a nursery school. Pristine had been in daycare since she was 20 months old so she’s not used to spending the day cooped in the four walls of the house.
She was looking for friends!
2008: Taken at a hotel in Abu Dhabi when we visited the neighboring Emirate
Pristine has grown to love the place. We found a school to put her in and while she had to struggle with a new language (she only spoke Japanese when we came here), she learned really fast and became the most sociable girl in school!
2009: A random picture of the two of us, just to show how tall she has become.
2010: Outside the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi
2011: The world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa on the background.
We have said our goodbyes to some fellow expat friends, most of them spent 3 years here and have declared they are done and want to move on. When we said we’re turning 5 years, they ask, how many years more? Hmmm, truth be told, I don’t know. We have not gotten tired of the desert life, just yet.
As for me, who has lived in Japan as a student and an expat for 10 years, adjustment was hard at first. I had lots of frustrations, disappointments and moments of piss at work, about the law, public transportation, etc – especially if I start to compare Dubai and Japan. But I’ve read somewhere that the first rule of an expat is to leave your culture behind and adopt that of your host country, or at least try to. And I did which made things easier for me.
Not perfect but easier.
So what other reasons made us stick around longer? A follow up post is brewing…
If you’re an expat reading this, how many years are you in your host country?