Home is where you hang your heart. That is what they say. Nowadays it takes .4 seconds to Google search thousands of way to display this saying. Etsy and Pinterest both are loaded with so many variations of this quote painted on distressed wooden slabs or all crafted up in some sort of kitschy design. For me, no matter how you dress it up, I always found this thought a bit…meh.
As expats we all left our home countries for a number of reasons. For most it was for a better job opportunity, a new adventure, and a new start all played a part in the decision process. However it happened, you ended up here in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. A vibrant city containing all of the modernities you would expect in a growing international city. Large homes, excellent education, beautiful beaches, exquisite hotels, Abu Dhabi has the best of everything – even the sunrise and sunset has the power to stop you in your tracks even for a few moments of the day. Residents come all parts of the globe to work here. We are exposed to various cultures whilst living harmoniously in a modern Islamic society. It is a wonderful lifestyle (expensive…yes but manageable – otherwise no expats would be here).
It does get too hot here during the summer, especially if you have children to entertain. In the spring, most people are looking toward the summer escape. This often leads to the question being asked, “Are you going home this summer?”
All of my children were born here in the UAE, our little AmeriBrit kids. The longer we stay, I often wonder what sort of impact this will have on my children’s own cultural identity? Will they be able to adapt when it is time to move home. Which home country will we settle in – US or UK? Will their perspective of society be unrealistic if we have to move back? How will they adjust? Will they make friends? The list goes on and on but I think these are all just normal concerns we all ask ourselves as parents – no matter where you are from or currently living.
Because residency in the UAE depends on having employment, you never know for sure how long your stay will last in the UAE. Maybe 2 years, maybe 10…there are some people who have managed 20 years. I have been here nearly 7 years already. How long will I stay? Who knows. My husband and I will continue parenting the best way we know how. We continue with our own cultural traditions here. Yes, we celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, go Trick or Treating on Halloween, basically any tradition we want to keep going from our own countries can be celebrated freely here in UAE.
Home. Just out of curiousity I asked my 5 year old son, “Are you going home this summer?” “No,” He responded with a big smile on his face, looking at me curiously waiting for some sort of punchline. “Why not? Why aren’t you going home?” I asked him. “Mom, you are crazy! We ARE home! I’m going to NY this summer.” And with that he bounced off back to his toys. So this may not be home the way my husband and I think of home, but to my kids – right now – this IS home.