Another year is about to start so we get the most generic of questions from family and friends back home,
“You’re still there?”
We’re about to welcome another year in Dubai. Didn’t we come here and intend to stay for a few years? You know, just to test the waters? (As of this writing, it’s our 10th summer in Dubai).
All our furniture except for the white goods (fridge and washing machine) were all second-hand when we bought them seven years ago. We’ll only stay for a while so what’s the point of buying all new? But somewhere along the way, home had become the here and now, Dubai.
“How many more years?”
I thought to myself – after all these years and we still don’t have the answer. A few more years.
Because the more time we spend here, the roots have gone deeper and it seems that moving back home is not as straightforward as it should be.
Japan. We’ve lived there before, how hard can it be? But we do know how hard it can be because the more adjusted an expat is outside of his country, the harder he falls once he repatriates. Once the excitement of homecoming recedes and the steady stream of well-wishers tapers off, reverse culture shock happens.
I should know, I’ve been there. Somewhat.
When I was 19 and studying abroad, I made some of the most significant friendships in my life. I met my husband and formed great friendships in school and later on, at work while there. After living in Japan for 10 years, going back to the Philippines even only for month-long vacations felt strange. It’s like I’ve known the place and the people all my life but then don’t know it at all. Somewhat disconnected with the used to be familiar things. New streets, new malls, that slower pace of life. Everything seems to be different. My former friends were busy with work, their own lives that it was very difficult to gather them all together, in one place. I was back home yet feeling strangely alien to the place. I get so excited when the plane lands but itching to leave only after a few days. (I don’t know if my other five expat siblings all feel the same)