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Jo: anexpatabroad

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Abu Dhabi makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Abu Dhabi, etc.

My name is Jo Brett and I write ‘anexpatabroad’, a blog about being a British expat living in the UAE. I have three grown up children and I moved to Abu Dhabi on a permanent basis five years ago.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

It was something I always wanted to do but the decider was when my best friend here in Abu Dhabi returned to the UK permanently with her family and it left a gapping hole in my day-to-day life.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

One of my favorite blog posts is a recent one called ‘Pinch Punch’ about my anniversary of being here five years and my ‘Housewife’ status.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Abu Dhabi differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

I had a gentle introduction after a year of my husband being here while the children and I were in the UK so they could finish vital parts of their education (GCSE’s, A Levels etc.). We came many times to visit over the year and set up the villa but nothing can prepare you for the actual reality of living here on a full-time basis with the driving, paperwork and general culture shock!

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Abu Dhabi? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

I would have not had the year apart as it makes the transition so much harder and I would have lived in a different location initially. If I had known we would have been here for five years or more I would have shipped all my belongings/furniture as I miss the stuff that’s in storage in the UK.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

One of my favorite’s lost in translation moments is the misspelt/mispronunciation of my name. You would think ‘Jo’ would be so easy but whether it’s in person or making a restaurant reservation it usually gets translated wrong and the best one was at a restaurant where ‘Jo’ was translated as ‘Charlie’, go figure!

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Abu Dhabi?

  • Research the area you want to live in carefully and don’t rush into any decisions as it makes a huge impact on your happiness especially if you are the one at home when everyone else is at work/school.
  • If you have younger children consider employing a maid as you will miss your extended family and this helps ease the burden and gives the opportunity to have a social life.
  • If you plan to stay any length of time ship your worldly possessions so you can enjoy them.
  • *An extra tip would be if you are British and have children, try and get them into a school with a British curriculum so should you need to return their education is not too disrupted.

How is the expat community in Abu Dhabi? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

The expat community is actually very small, as everyone seems to know everyone. There are lots of likeminded people and lots of Facebook groups so you can connect with people. Blogs help too with ideas and advice.

How would you summarize your expat life in Abu Dhabi in a single, catchy sentence?

‘Non-stop fun in the Sun’

Antoine Mariaux

"Thanks to InterNations, I've received very useful tips about the Emirates and expat life in Abu Dhabi."

Maria Loura

"The idea to connect expatriates in Abu Dhabi is just fantastic! Have been looking for such a platform for a long time."

Global Expat Guide