Well well well, I did it. I survived 6 months in Dubai. Does time fly or what!?!  In light of the what I would like to call a celebration, I decided to interview myself for you… And share some photo’s throughout my journey.

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: Tell us about your experience.

A: Short version – my experience in Dubai has been a stressful, exciting, and an educational trip.  Nothing has happened the way I thought it would, which is the beauty of being alive I suppose.

I came looking for a job and about 5 months later I finally landed one in Real Estate. The job search in Dubai is much different than that in the States, which was stupidly unexpected. I feel like being a visitor in Dubai was something I was and being a contributing resident working in Dubai is what I am now.  I’m looking forward to experiencing Dubai this way.

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: What made you decide to go?

A: The decision started because I had coworkers, friends, family (and random people I ease dropped in on their conversations) around me that were unhappy in their jobs.

Because you spend at least 40 hours a week at your job, if you’re unhappy in it you’re probably unhappy in your life as well. This was torture for me to watch.  Even worse for me to feel myself falling into the same path. I had to get out. Do something wildly different. And I was at the right age to do it. Now or never.

I decided to flee to Dubai because I knew people from the region and heard positive differences. I think my first preference was Latin America pero no hablo espanol.

Not speaking Spanish and a not so bustling economy pushed me to look elsewhere. In Dubai, most people get away with speaking English, there’s a supposedly good economy, and I know a few familiar faces. Off I went!

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: Did you encounter any resistance to your idea of going abroad alone? How did you respond to this?

A: Ummmmmmmm YES. haha! Worst part. And I’m stubborn – so those poor people who resisted the idea had no chance. I haven’t been one to pay much attention to resistance.  I go with my gut, and my gut was already in Dubai.

I responded to the resistance in different ways. For the a**holes that were trying to be mean and discouraging, I did nothing. They’re unhappy people I don’t want to deal with anyway & was happy to be rid of them. Toodles.

For friends that were going to miss our adventures together and wanting me to stay <– This was sad. I felt the most guilt leaving them.

Them as in about 2 people. Let’s not try faking popular.  I can probably count my friends on one hand. But that’s what makes them so special to me. Like family.  The best I could do was explain I’m going to a great vacation spot, come visit me. That worked.

And for my beautiful parents. I understood the resistance.

I was already sad and without their support made me more sad. But I knew I would regret not going abroad and explained that to them. The more they could see how much I wanted it, the more they had to accept and support the decision.  Plus, they got the blessing of looking after my child. What’s better than that gift 😉

For everyone, I just explained “IT’S NOT FOREVER!”

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: What was the most rewarding part about your travel experience?

A: LEARNING! I knew I would learn and grow, but not this much. I met people from parts of the Earth that I barley knew existed. I would have never previously imagined this for myself.  I had the opportunity to travel to Amsterdam and Portugal, both showing me such unique variations of life.

Not to mention how much I learned about myself. WOW.  I don’t even know how to put this into words. Hmmmm, when you have these crazy big challenges in your face and you’re trying hard to stick to your honesty, values, and beliefs. This is/was tough. But also, pushes me out of my comfort zone. Challenges me.  Which then helps me grow and shine like a beautiful, big, bright, flower 🙂 I wish I could be a pretty flower.

Anyway, I can honestly say my brain absorbed more in this 6 months than I’ve learned the past 5 years combined.  I love it. I’m obsessed with that.

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Q: What was the most challenging part?

A: A job. Holy smokes, it took me forever to find a place to work that I felt suited me. I’m still not 100% sure I’m comfortable.  I suppose a job search is hard anywhere, even when you’re looking in the States, but the struggle of finding a job + adjusting to a new country created a difficult mix.

Then the being half way across the planet from my family and friends is challenging, among so many other things. Womp womp.

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: Did the experience of going abroad by yourself meet your expectations? Did it surprise you? In what way?

A: I’m going to go one specific route for this one. I think I could go a lot of different directions with the question but to keep things interesting, I’ll go for the honest, first thing that comes to mind. The people.

I think I expected more from people.

I don’t know why, maybe the “Minnesota nice” in me, but I think I expected to come to Dubai with all these other expat’s and work together to create a friendly community where we share and love and work as one.

Unfortunately, this expectation was not met.

I can’t say other people are assholes and want to be mean to everyone they meet. Grrrrrrrrr! But I think their version of kind and friendly is different than the version I’m used to and was hoping for.

This is one thing I miss about the States.  Especially Minnesota, they rock at it.  Here, a lot of people’s version of friendly and kindness requires me to have thick skin.  {Thank God I’m such a solider 😉 }

[I’ll say this… Ain’t nothin wrong with being kind to EVERYONE. So keep doing that if you are, paahlease.]

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Q: Anything you wish you’d have done differently before the trip to prepare?

A: Save more money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Holy crap is Dubai expensive. Seriously expensive. You think you’re rich in The States? Come to Dubai for a week. Period.

Q: Did you experience loneliness? How did you cope with it?

A: Yep, everyday all day. Ha! Not really. But I didn’t think I would literally feel as far away as I feel. Like, I AM across the planet.

I can’t talk to my family all day anymore or call them whenever I want. The time change is about half a day. The best way I cope with this is staying busy!  Time is flying by so I don’t have too much time to sit around being sad.

Talking to anyone that likes to talk about the States is another thing that somehow makes me feel better.  I think because the conversations remind me The United States still exists. It’s still over there working it’s booty off.

American Expat Living in Dubai, UAE

Q: Do you think you’re a different person now? In what way did this experience change you?

Yep. Like I said earlier, all the things I’ve learned has changed the way I think.

I just had a conversation with a co-worker that was from Turkey but lived in California for 26 years. She said, “You don’t really appreciate the States until you’re gone right? Sometimes, I just want to walk outside and go for a hike in the woods. In the States you don’t even think twice about those little things.”

She nailed it.

I now appreciate the States and what it offered me.

Such as: calling my mom at 12:00pm, 1:15pm, 2:00pm, 6:35pm, 6:45pm or whenever I want. I appreciate crazy, wild, out of control people and that America accepts them for who they are. I appreciate minimum wage requirements, even if it’s not as high as some American’s would like. I appreciate drive thru coffee. I appreciate gas stations in The States for more reasons than one.

I could go on forever.

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Q: Did you feel truly unsafe at any point? Do you think a man would have felt unsafe in the same situation, or was it gender-based? How did you manage your own personal safety during your trip?

A: I think anyone is really safe here. Dubai is killing it at safety.  No pun intended. I truly am never scared. I think the only people scared in Dubai are the criminals, because if they get caught God help them.

American Expat Living in Dubai

Q: Any advice you’d like to share with other women who are considering a trip?

A: I had one friend that recently went abroad tell me right before I left: “Katie. It’s gonna be really hard. Like SO hard. I still think you should go, but be ready cuz it’s not easy. You’ll want to come home. Be prepared. It’s no walk in the park.”

I remember thinking yeah, yeah, yeah, ok whatever. Hard for you maybe, but I’m a champion, hear me roar!

Now I find myself wanting to answer this question the exact same way. Be prepared, it will be hard.

But do it.

Then save money. Be confident. Make plans but know they won’t follow through that way. Be mentally and emotionally prepared. Go with the flow.  It’s going to be hard. But it’s going to be worth it.  And it’s okay. It’s all going to be okay.

Everything happens exactly how it’s supposed to happen. Believe that.

American Expat Living in Dubai

Amsterdam

 

Xx

 

+ 1 Year Later: Here

+ Surviving as an Expat: Here

+ Dubai Must-Do’s: Here & Here

+ Dubai What to Wear: Here

 

What to wear for Dubai Vacay:

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