Almost 2 years ago I packed my suitcase and took a one way ticket to Dubai, It was then the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. Living with parents my whole life, I never experienced the thrill and the excitement of living on my own, even in college I used to come back home from campus every weekend. At 27, I was ready (and dying) to see the world, explore new cultures and trying expatriation was a start for me.
So I left Casablanca, my parents, my friends, my culture to live alone in a new country 8 hours away. My pre-travel excitement turned into loneliness and fear I couldn’t stand sometimes. Reflecting on the past 2 years, which was for me the ideal first milestone where I can call Dubai home. The past 2 years also taught me few lessons not only about others but about myself as well.
– I learned how to translate countries’ names to actual people, especially countries that are very far from Morocco. I’ll explain. When I used to live in Morocco, I never associated countries like Sri Lanka, Uzbekistan, Philippines or Mauritius to the people living in those countries, because I never met them before, for me these countries were landscapes and places to travel to. But when you meet someone from Sri Lanka or India the country name you hear or the map you check out online somehow becomes real.
– I learned how important my culture and traditions are. They say, you never know what you have until it’s gone, and It applies here. When I was in Morocco, I used to take my culture and traditions for granted, they even used to annoy me sometimes. Since I came here, people want to know about my country and the more you explain your culture to people (proudly) the more you realize how unique and special it is and It applies to any other country.
– I learned to create a new comfort zone from a bunch of uncomfortable moments. Uncomfortable is the best way to describe your life as an expat. You’re “forced” to meet new people and do things you haven’t done before (remember to not forget to pay your bills for instance). When you move abroad you lose the comfort of old friendships and familiar places, and you start creating your own comfort in this country; new routines, habits..
– I learned to embrace the difference. I travel a lot, so I get my share of different cultures. But It’s totally different when you live in a country where all cultures live together, with a tolerance and a respect I haven’t seen before. At work you get to celebrate Diwali and Holi with Indian community, you are entitled to have your secret Santa with Christians, and everyone shares your Iftar in Ramadan even if they’re not fasting. Living in this melting pot made me open my mind even more and embrace all these differences that became second nature.
– I learned how to make new friends. Back home, all my friendships are from school or college, I never realized how difficult it is to make new friends until I had to make friends at 27 (or die alone from boredom, you choose). We as adults, are very selective when it comes to friendships; we don’t want to hang out with people just to hang out, without having anything in common to talk about. In addition to all of that, add the cultural and language differences that makes it even harder.
Bottom line, living and working abroad gave me experiences I never thought I would ever live. I’m so grateful for the good and the bad ones, because hey make being away from my friends and family totally worth it.
Cheers to the places we yet have to go to!