My expat journey started in January 2011, 2 years on and I was still struggling to make friends, find my place in a new country and reinvent myself. Finally life started to settle down and then at the end of year 3, the kids having left home, just hubby and I with a cat and a dog, life started to be normal again. I still couldn't work but I'd established a network, I had friends, a social life, my volunteering was now a full time occupation. I felt I finally had something to contribute in life, I belonged.
Then in our 4th year, a visit to Dubai in January 2014, we were asked to consider another move. My first thought was 'No, I don't want to go, I'm not ready to up sticks and leave again, start over we knew South Africa wasn't going to be our forever home, but after fighting so hard to make things work I really didn't want it to come to an end just yet.
My biggest fear with relocating again was how I was going to meet people. I'm more established now on facebook and twitter and have connected with expats far and wide. This time with the move I made connections prior to moving, joined expat groups online, did more research on the country and unlike the first move had 2 visits prior to moving where I could explore, search for housing and generally get a feel of what would be my new home for how many years we are here for.
I met up with a group of expat ladies last week from all over the UK, I met one of them on social media though a project I'm taking part in called #Project365. I link up everyday with @theboyandme on twitter who runs the link. I take photo prompts from @Britmums #Snaphappybritmums and #fmsphotoaday. I've also added in my own hashtag #onedailypositive.
It has been my life saver. It motivates me. I plan the week in advance of where I'm going and what I'm doing to be able to take a photo that meets the challenges. I look for the positives in the day. It gives me a focus. It is also helping with fighting the depression as it makes life easier when you have friends and something to look forward to each week.
Of course in Dubai, unlike South Africa, I can travel and move around freely, I bump into people who say hello and smile and I don't think that they're looking at me as potential victim anymore.
I've met other expats before of course and I've joined many other groups, both online and face to face, but it hasn't been my thing. It's been too competitive, too unreal, too cliquey. This lot made me laugh, made me feel welcome, shared their expat experiences and then invited me to meet them again for coffee, shopping and lunches.
I wrote this post a while ago after a string of disastrous expat meet ups. Do you identify with they type of expat you are?