Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Dubai, etc.
I am Joy Caasi and people call me Jhoysi. I grew up in a town called Quezon City in the Philippines. Quezon City has been my home for 26 years until I relocated to the beautiful island of Boracay to work as travel agent. I stayed there for a year and decided to fly to Dubai in December 2013.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I started blogging in 2011 when I was still working in the internet industry in the Philippines. My HR manager (and mentor) encouraged me to get a domain name. I’m very keen in discovering hole-in-the-wall places, eateries, and bargains so I decided to document and share them online.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Most of my posts are travel related or thrift ideas and my favorite sections of my blog are those on the Middle East and Island Life.
Island Life is one of the sections where I have shared my life as an island girl. I’ve worked and stayed in Boracay for just a year and I’ve been to different hotel accommodations within the island (I take pictures for our company website as a side job). There are some hidden hotels and undiscovered places on the island that I have posted online and got a lot of positive feedback from random readers.
When I moved to Dubai, I continued documenting my thrift travels which you can find in the Middle East section. One of my favorite posts is How Far Can Your Fifty Dirhams Go. We all know that Dubai is known for beautiful and towering architectural infrastructure but I found another beauty in the streets of Al Qouz Industrial area where culture and art lives. Another favorite post is I Have Been To Kish Island For 3 Days and 2 Nights. It’s one experience that moved my soul and I would like to go back to this island just to explore the whole place.
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 was exposed to different nationalities as early as 2007 working in the call center industry. I have also lived on an island where the population of expats and tourists are more than the locals so culture differentiation is not new to me. I’m open to explore Dubai’s diverse community and learn about other people’s culture and way of living.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Dubai? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I believe I came in prepared. Living independently in the Philippines helped me cope up with Dubai’s fast-paced environment. I have relatives who lived in Dubai for more than 5 years already and surprisingly, they thought I’ve been here since forever! I go places and wander in the streets of the city like a tourist in my own home during my days off. Dubai is not different from Quezon City or Manila. In a span of 5months, I’ve visited places my relatives have never been before which I find quite odd.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
Being an Asian, I’m always mistaken for Chinese, Malaysian, or Korean (maybe it’s my eyes, I really don’t know!). There’s this one time I rode a taxi cab and told the Pakistani driver to take me to the nearest Metro Station. He asked if I’m Chinese and I said no. He immediately greeted, “Anyeong hasaeyo” which I find really funny and asked “How’s it going in Korea”. Even the Asian lady living next to our apartment asked if I’m a tourist when we both got into the elevator.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Dubai?
How is the expat community in Dubai? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
Finding like-minded people is very easy. The community of expats in Dubai is socially active on different social media platforms you can easily connect with them and share thoughts. On Facebook groups, Meetup events, forums, hashtags, photos, etc. Language is a barrier sometimes but there’s always Google translate and online dictionaries to help you out.
How would you summarize your expat life in Dubai in a single, catchy sentence?
Being an expat in Dubai opened my senses to a lot of possibilities and difficulties, and it’s not a bad thing – it’s liberating.