Sunday, October 27, 2013

THE ABU DHABI EXPERIENCE, the Beginning in a Special Series of blog posts

I am starting a special series of blog posts that particularly addresses living in Abu Dhabi – the ups and down of every day life and especially the cultural aspects of living in the Middle East.  My son’s girlfriend Caitlyn, a student at Valdosta State University, recently asked me to participate in a school project that focuses on cultural diversity.  Since she has visited us in the UAE and found the culture interesting, she chose to make this her topic as she has an “insider” view of what it is really like to live here. 

I am extremely happy she asked me to be a part of her project because I am always eager to talk about my experiences here because they are so positive.  Everyone thinks living here is a negative experience in an oppressive society, and I enjoy the opportunity to tell others living here is not what they imagine. 

I invited Caitlyn to take a look at my blog, if she hadn’t already, in an effort to give her more insight (which she really already has) or use as a reference tool.  She promptly sent me a list of questions to start our discussion.  As I read through them, I had an epiphany.   Why not use these discussions as fodder for my blog postings?  Her questions really get to the root of what it is like living as an expat in a strange land.  I’m always looking for something to write about and keep me posting----something I fail miserably at--- so I decided to make this project a series of discussions based on the questions Caitlyn asks me. 

While there are a few ---and I mean only a few----downsides to living in Abu Dhabi, I rarely talk about them because it defeats the purpose of having a blog promoting expat living in the Middle East.  However, I will give an honest assessment of my experiences---good and bad.  I make an effort to look at all the good things associated with living in a foreign land and make the best of things.  Even in my homeland, all is not perfect only different.  Everyone is not nice, everything is not just right, everyone does not speak English (any more), and some people are short-sighted.  I emphasis the word different because that is all it is.  Not the same.  Something new.  Yes, challenging at times (and maybe more often than not to some), but I have adjusted.  Everyone does eventually, some taking longer than others.  My adjustment period to a new place is about six months.  I begin to feel comfortable and know my way around “knowing the lay of the land” so to speak. 

My mantra is this when taking on a new country:  Go with no expectations.  Then everything will exceed your expectations.  By this I mean, do not expect too much and you will not be blindsided.  Then, most things will be a positive experience.  It’s simple. 

You would be surprised at how not simple people find this idea.  I believe if you arrive expecting to dislike a place, you will.  Plain and simple.  I have seen it over and over as we have traveled and lived in other countries.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

So, as I explore and dwell on the questions Caitlyn puts forth, some of my readers might be surprised at the quality of life, others not so much.   Read and form an opinion.  And I really, really hope it is a good one. 

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