Bonjour pitchouns, sorry for the lack of posts. Despite what it looks like, I did come back from Hong Kong eventually. I've actually been back for a month but life has been upside down and now that I found a balance, I thought it would be a good time to share what I learned in Dubai in 3 years. These turmoil periods always make me think and when I finally settle somewhere with my cup of latte and a cookie, I like to reflect on the whole experience and write down my lessons.
My grandparents were expats, my parents were expats, I am an expat, it's part of who I am, but I finally found my limit: 6 houses within a year, this is too much. I had no idea when I moved to Dubai that I would adopt the Bedouin lifestyle, this isn't really what I was going for. But things happen and you just have to adapt. I have friends who like their cosy houses, I do too, but I am lucky to have been used to packing, unpacking, travelling light and moving often. I learned how to make a home early and quickly, I have a couple of things, silly little things that I need around me to feel at home, like landmarks: my morning mug, the Fortnum and Mason tin where I keep my coffee, a couple of prints that I like and one or two hats. As long as these are around, I'm comfortable. This is how I roll.
Now about Dubai. Friends back home always say that Dubai is bling-bling and glamorous and has a lot of attitude, well I think Dubai gave me a couple of lessons of humility:
1- Coming here as an expat, you discover you are in competition with people who are as capable as you are and will work for half your salary.
2- Speaking fluent English is not an exploit, Filipinos and Indians are much better than you are. This is a special message for my French "compatriotes".
3- I can confirm that I am more of a pot luck normal expat gal', rather than a boozy brunch or yacht: I love spending my day with friends but I like to remember it...
4- Filtering is key. Don't follow every piece of advice you hear. People build their own world according to their own needs and personality. Listen but filter: as much as I understand the importance of marketing oneself, not everybody has it in them to attend 4 events a night, keep mingling and manage to look fabulous by 45 degrees, and that's ok.
5- Know your friends. I've met amazing people here. People I can call in the middle of the night and will drop everything to come and get me if I need them to. I'm extremely grateful to have them in my life.
6- Surprisingly, I've learned to lower my standards in Dubai. You would think that it would be the opposite but no: with the cost of life rising tremendously every year and the salaries not following, I actually live less comfortably than I did in Paris. I'm absolutely fine and happy where I am but Dubai is not as comfortable as you'd think.
7- Keep an eye on your bank account. Dubai isn't what it used to be 10 years ago, life is expensive and expat contracts are rare. Young expats come here, enjoy the expensive lifestyle, the beach, trainers, sun, boozy brunches, and forget why they came here in the first place. Saving is not as common as in Europe. Because it feels like you're on holiday, it's easy to spend much more than you normally would, and you wake up one day, all your friends have put money down for houses and flats while you were sipping champagne on a boat and, there is a weird feeling that you've missed the boat. Dubai is full of Peter Pans, it's not a bad thing, just a fact.
8- I love the fact that Dubai is a place where you can still create, there is space for new ideas, everything hasn't been done yet. But I've seen so many people with ideas who get caught up in Dubai social whirlwind and end up postponing their plans. Making space to get things done and keeping yourself in check is important. At least to me.
That's a little insight into what has been going on in my head lately. I'm sure you all have your own expat experience, and I absolutely love mine, but I like the idea of being real.
So this is what my Dubai is like.