I truly put on a brave face to my family and friends, and mostly to all the new people I met. I had always had a place amongst my friends at home, but in my new environment surrounded by people from all cultures, countries and walks of life I was lost, all I wanted to do was keep my little family unit safe and together until we found our feet.
When we arrived back at home, I was overjoyed to be back with family and friends, in my element to be in the environment I loved the most and to have all the cultural comforts that I had so longed to have for the years we were away.
Now, being back for 6 months I reminisce about the things back in my expat life that I miss. And there are quite a few.
1. The Friends we left behind. After almost five years in the Middle East we made a wonderful group of friends, and although the children’s friends came in and out of their lives, they have a network of international friends scattered around the world.
2. The most unexpected opportunity to cross paths with a multitude of extraordinary people from different parts of the world, giving us incite into cultures and religions we would never have otherwise learned about and with whom we have an inseparable bond, as only expats know.
3. A family unit. When you become an expat, your family is your anchor and ours became so much closer with everyone having to pull their weight and help out. There is no support system, no family to leave the kids with when the situation arises. You have to rely on each other, something we learned as expats and continue to do back in our home country.
4. The Villa and all its perks. There is a perk to having a tennis court, swimming pool and playground for the children right on your doorstep. There was a full maintenance team to take care of any problems that arose in the villa itself, from light bulb changes to air conditioner cleaning. I miss the maintenance.
5. International travel. We had travelled before we became expats, being where we were afforded us more time (two month summer holidays) and more money to allow us to travel to places we had never considered before. I found this was true for many expats, who had never left their home country until their expat assignment.
6. Cultural Events. We were exposed to a multitude of cultural events from countries such the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, as well as Europe, USA, Canada, etc etc, these included Food Festivals, Film Festivals – the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Music Concerts – from classic to international pop stars and DJ’s, Sports Events – International football games, cycling, tennis, motor boat and bike racing, just to name a few. All at reasonable prices.
I do miss the expat lifestyle now that we are back at home, and when we were on our assignment I missed home. Advice that should be dispensed to expats going on their first assignment is to enjoy the moments that are afforded you, put all your experiences whether at home or abroad in a basket and take it with you wherever you go.
So what do you miss from your expat experience?
Denise is an Expat and Marketing Manager at http://www.xpatulator.com/ a website that provides cost of living index information and calculates what you need to earn in a different location to compensate for cost of living, hardship, and exchange rate differences.