For those of you who didn’t already know, when I was quite young my dad was relocated for work. My family and I packed our entire lives and moved across the world to Dubai – a few years before it turned into the glitzy oasis you’ve probably heard of today.
Long story short: it was awesome.
Actual story: it was such a big part of my life, and I think about the impact it had on my upbringing quite a lot. Am I a better person because of it? Or do I take some things for granted more?
The truth is, those years are some of the most important in your life, and they affect the person you turn into greatly. For me, living abroad was the single most influential thing in my life, an experience that has taught be so much.
If you’re like me, and have also been lucky enough to experience the expat life, I’m sure you can relate to at least one of these:
1. I learnt that you can make friends ANYWHERE
Many people spend their lives in the comfort of the same area with the same group of people – and there is nothing wrong with this, because I wanted this too.
When I got told we were moving away, not only was I confused but I was scared. What if no one likes me? What if I don’t like them?
Being literally stuck in the middle of a random school with people I had never met before taught me that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, people are funny, interesting, kind and – if you’re lucky – some will stick around for a long, long time. 🙂
2. I learnt to appreciate different cultures
I think that meeting so many new people and seeing the way they live their lives has had a positive impact on my personality. ***Don’t want to blow my own trumpet too much here*** but I’d like to think I am very open minded, and culturally aware. I am more appreciative of the things I have, and more aware of things I don’t have.
LIFE EXPERIENCE: If anything, the people I met in these years, taught me more than most of my teachers did in school (except you Mr Curtis, you rock 🙂 🙂 ).
3. I learnt the value of learning a new language
I don’t really regret much in life (no, not even some of my tattoos), however one thing I seriously regret is not continuing to learn Arabic when I returned to the UK. Admittedly, it takes up time, money and – obviously – effort, but I still could have tried harder to continue my studies. Only now do I realise what an invaluable skill it would be 😦
4. I learnt geography
This is pretty self-explanatory, but if we’re talking lessons – I know my way around a map.
5. I got bitten by the travel bug
While the UK may seem to be a centre of Europe, with opportunities to visit amazing places in the continent, Dubai was in the centre of the Middle East and ASIA.
So many fascinating countries were right on our doorstep, and luckily my parents grasped the opportunities to visit while we could afford the short flights! My most memorable trips include Thailand, and our regular holidays to swim in the rock pools of Oman.
Seeing the parts of the world that seem so far away from me now, has made me realise how much more there is to see.
6. I learnt that you can be a foreigner in your own country
Even though I spent some younger years in the UK before moving abroad, the majority of my teenage years and some pretty important childhood ones were spent away – and returning made me realise how much I had missed.
People talked about music, TV shows and experiences that I had no idea about. Honestly, I still don’t understand the Dr. Who hype, I can’t sing along to JLS, and I’ve never seen an episode of Big Brother.
For example, I agree that Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging is HILARIOUS – but I sadly don’t relate to it at all (it has educated me however, both on what life was like as a tween in the UK, and why you should not shave your eyebrows EVER).
Those awkward teenage years still exist in Dubai – check out the side-eye and the pouting!!! ROFL ❤ xoxox :L
7. I learnt that ‘where are you from?’ is hard to answer
I cannot stress this one enough. Do you mean where I was born? Where I grew up? Where I live now? I’m not too sure myself, sorry. I can sit you down and tell you my life story? Or I’ve written a blog post about it if you’re interested??
Basically – I struggle identifying or regarding any place as ‘home’.
8. I learnt how to make friends easily
If anyone knows me well, they know that I love – and am confident – meeting new people, but this was once quite the opposite. My younger self was very anxious – one of my primary school teachers even told my mum once that I was ‘too sensitive’. She was a scaaaaarrrrry woman.
But my confidence quite literally skyrocketed when I moved abroad. I went from being the quiet, shy girl in my class, to being pretty loud and arguably gobby. Some may say these are negative side affects 😛
9. I learnt that there is literally SO MUCH OUT THERE
The world is literally so big – and staying in one corner is quite frankly pointless.
So there we have it: 9 things I learnt from growing up in the UAE. I hope that even if you didn’t learn something from this, you at least found it mildly interesting to make it this far. 🙂
I understand that I am extremely lucky to have experienced the things I have. If it wasn’t for my dad’s job, I wouldn’t have had half of these opportunities or visited half the places I have. I think about the years I spent here daily and I can promise that I never take any of it for granted, ever, ever, ever.
Have you lived abroad? I would love to hear if you agree with anything I mentioned – let me know in the comments 😀
Thanks again for reading, and happy February wow
Holly X X X
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