Am I lucky to be living the life I am right now? I don’t know If lucky is the right word.
I have recently been back to visit my family for two weeks and along the way met some friends, many of whom I haven’t seen since I left 2 years ago.
What makes this visit different, was the conversations I had with my parents, my cousins, my friends.
They often start with asking how Im doing away from home, what Im doing and then of how lucky they think I am to be away.
It made me wonder, what is it that makes them think that I am lucky?
Some said the freedom, the freedom to live the life I want, the way I want without the interference of others. Some said I was lucky to be away from a society they were all tired off, the gossip, the expectations and mostly the many demands of life back home.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do feel blessed and grateful for the life I am living here in England, though life here comes at a price.
It isn’t all snowflakes and afternoon tea, or strolls in the park and endless shopping sprees.
When you are stripped off everything that ever made you comfortable, your lifestyle, your friends, your home, you are starting anew. The older you get the harder it becomes to adjust to a new way of life, or so I believe.
When you were once nestled in the comfort of a house you lived in for a lifetime, with everything that you need catered for, with family and friends a drive away and a blossoming career you are only starting to build, it isn’t so easy to let go of it all and start afresh,
I had to learn to take care of myself, my husband and my son. No one gave me any advice before I left, and I don’t recall anyone giving me a book titled “How to survive in a new environment for dummies” either.
My husband, who lived abroad for years, was accustomed to life and that helped me get by when I first arrived here.
Because there is more to the ideal image we all have of what it is like living abroad. Here is the truth of the matter ..
There is registering with the police, there is signing tenancy agreements and internet contracts. There is registering with a GP too and waiting months for a Dr’s appointment. Not to mention carrying a week’s worth of grocery’s home where there is laundry, ironing and cooking waiting for you. There is mopping bathrooms, changing bedsheets and cleaning a rusty kitchen oven. You might enjoy it on a holiday, but once it becomes a chore that is when sh*t becomes real .. haha!
There is a phase of homesickness and often loneliness. Especially when you are living away from big cities where they tend to be multicultural and diverse, where you have a better chance of meeting people of your own kind. There is worry, of what will happen if something goes wrong, who are you to call if one of us or both of us (my husband and I) are unwell, what happens to my son if I i fall ill or my husband was busy, there is also the small matter of who to put down as Rashed’s emergency contact if we his parents are out of reach … as bizarre as it might sound, these are thoughts I often dwell on.
There is the feeling that often brings you down when you realise your life is on pause until further notice. Because you’re not meant to settle down here. Your career is on pause, your dreams and goals too. The only thing you can do is adjust the route of your career or dream and focus on building your skills. Like learning a new language, reading and applying for short courses.
Then there are other worries, racism, abuse and theft. You start worrying and over-worrying when you have the news on and hear another terrorist attack happening, because you know the next day means a backlash will take place. There are times when being sensitive is not an option, you have to swallow your fear, hold back your tears and hide your weakness.
There are times when you have to adjust or learn to adjust to things that would otherwise make you feel self-conscious.
Like walking into a gym with a hijab or asking the yoga instructor if the yoga class is a domain reserved for women only 😀
If there is one thing I am lucky to have learned being here is, adjustment. I now know how to adjust to whatever life throws at me and live. I no longer care how others look at me in both England and the UAE, I no longer have to accept and live by the unwritten rules and demands of society. In this transitional phase of my life, I am slowly but surely becoming a stronger, confident more determined version of myself. At times, it feels though I have no choice but to become all the latter.
Unless you live it, you will never know what it is like to be a “Foreigner”
To my friends who will soon know, to my friends who might never know,