Andrea is living the Expatosaurus Life and can offer plenty of advice for anyone considering moving overseas. After bouncing around to several different countries, she’s had quite the serial expat life journey! Learn from a seasoned moving pro and see what life is like when you bounce from country to country.
Starting the Expatosaurus Life
I was brought up in a small town just outside of Belfast, Northern Ireland. I always loved traveling from a young age and decided, at the age of 21, that I wanted to see and experience more of the world.
A colleague I worked with in Belfast International Airport suggested I become a flight attendant and live in Dubai, as that is what she had done and loved it.
I didn’t know anything about Dubai except it was in the Middle East. But Emirates Airlines were recruiting and coming to Dublin so I decided to apply and give it a chance. I successfully passed the 2 days of interviews and flew out to Dubai one month later to start my new life.
Starting an expat life meant I had to learn a lot of new things, including the rules and traditions in Dubai. I didn’t know anything about Islam so, in our training, we learned basic Arabic phrases and about the local customs in the UAE. People dress more conservatively and public affection is a big no-no.
I also learned about Ramadan and how it is forbidden to eat or drink in public during the day, including chewing gum. There was a lot to take in! But the last thing you want to do is offend someone, so you respect and follow the rules.
It didn’t take me long to learn and I actually really enjoyed researching and asking questions. I also had friends from all over the world, which was so interesting. It opened up a whole new world for me!
Living the Expatosaurus Life
I lived in Dubai for 4 years, Qatar for 6 months, and then Abu Dhabi for 7 years, where I met my American husband. My son was born in Abu Dhabi and we really enjoyed the lifestyle there. It was very different for me going from flying to 4 different countries in 1 week, to being a stay at home mum. Luckily, my husband enjoyed travel as much as myself and we went everywhere we could possibly go when he had time off!
In 2017, we decided to move to Florida as we felt it was time for a change and we wanted a new experience. We lived 25 minutes from Disneyworld and would go almost every weekend. The Kennedy Space Center was also nearby, which my son enjoyed. We learned so much through this awesome experience. He’s inspired to be an astronaut now and even got to meet one!
But, after living in one of the safest countries in the world for 13 years, it was a huge reality check in Florida and it was difficult to adapt to a different environment initially.
Serial Expat Life Continues
We just moved to Australia recently and I absolutely love it! The people, the food, the beautiful beaches, it has been extremely easy to adapt for the entire family! We will be here for a few years before bouncing to our next country. We also just got back from a trip to Fiji as we are so close.
Being an expat has had its pros and cons. You get to learn so much and meet so many different people from all walks of life. It becomes addictive and very hard to settle in one place. You always want to see what’s next.
The cons would be packing up every few years, meeting new friends, and not being near family. We don’t have grandparents around the corner to help with our son or to have a date night. You miss out on special occasions and get-togethers.But the pros outweigh the cons and you spend quality time with those special people when you see them again. It has made me a stronger person and definitely more knowledgeable.
If you are thinking of becoming an expat, I say go for it! It is a life-changing experience.