InterNations Featured Blog
Lynda: Longhorns and Camels
Out of all the answers the blogs and bloggers we have featured have given us, Lynda’s reply on why she began her blog, Longhorns and Camels, stood out quite a bit. We hadn’t thought of the possibility of showing your recounts of expat life to your kids one day! Lynda also gave us some further insight on her life abroad in Dubai.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Dubai, etc.
My name is Lynda and I am originally from Houston, Texas, USA. My family and I moved here for of my husband’s job in November 2010. This is my first time being out of the US (or even Texas!) for longer than 6 months. In my previous life (before having kids) I was a high school social studies teacher.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I was reluctant to start a blog at first because it seemed a little self-indulgent. But friends and family were curious about what our lives were like here and I really wanted to share our experiences without having to send a lot of emails. Now that I’ve been blogging for over a year, I’m really happy that I have a record of this experience, especially for my children when they get older.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I am fascinated by “old Dubai” and anything having to do with the more traditional side of the city, so my favorite entries are about those things. For instance, posts about the souks or the entry describing my experience at an Emirati wedding.
I also love to travel so anything in that category is a favorite of mine.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Dubai differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
I expected the cultural differences related to gender roles and religion to be the most “shocking.” But as it turns out, those things often feel quite removed from your day-to-day experience in Dubai as a western expat. The most surprising thing for me has been the level of service that is available here and the contrast of the struggling laborers with flagrant displays of wealth.
Surprisingly, one of the things I have had the hardest time with is getting used to the landscape and weather. I really miss big oak trees and thunderstorms!
Overall, I thought the transition to living in Dubai was quite easy, relative to what I think most international moves would be like. Of course the fact that everyone speaks English helps immensely.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Dubai? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
No, I don’t think I was fully prepared, but really, is that possible? I suggest reading the books about moving to Dubai (like the Dubai Explorer book and @ Home in Dubai: Getting Connected Online and on the Ground) and joining a few expat forums. Having done this myself, I felt like the “look and feel” of Dubai was pretty much as I expected. That’s not to suggest that we didn’t experience some issues in getting settled in though.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
When we first moved here, my sons were 2 and 3 years old and I was a little caught off-guard by the attention people lavish on them. People LOVE children here and they are not afraid to show it! I recently took them to the fish souk and market workers were popping out of every corner, anxious to take pictures with them or show them their biggest catch, bloodiest fish head, or sharpest teeth. My boys were a little skittish at first and even had a bout of crying when one of the workers chased my little guy with big shark jaws! My focus on fish buying quickly went out the window as I tried to referee between the well-intentioned workers and my overwhelmed children. But my kids eventually became more comfortable and I have some pictures of them with workers where they look like they have just been reunited with their favorite uncle. It was really endearing the way the market vendors wanted to entertain and hug them; I got the feeling that maybe they were missing their own children.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Dubai?
- Keep an open mind
- Make time to take advantage of traveling around the area (wish I could do more of this myself)
- Be careful on the crazy roads!
How is the expat community in Dubai? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Since the vast majority of the population is made up of expats, everyone can empathize with what you are experiencing. It’s been super easy to meet people here in a way that I don’t think happens in many other places. The only down side is that when you make friends, there is a good chance they will be leaving at some point – it’s a very transient population.
How would you summarize your expat life in Dubai in a single, catchy sentence?
Catchy? I’m not too good at catchy. I would say that like any city, Dubai has its challenges and not-so-flattering side, but overall, living here has been an eye-opening, positive experience that I feel lucky to have had.