Abu Dhabi

14 Struggles You Experience As A New Abu Dhabi Expat

"Inshallah" = "Not today, man."

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People move locations every day and experience culture shock, but coming from a small town in Alabama, moving to one of the most rapidly growing cities in the world came with both its joys and hardships. One of the ways my family and I coped with the newness of Middle Eastern city life was to find the humor in every "unique" situation. To this day, we enjoy sitting around and laughing together about all the wonderful mishaps and wrong turns we took during our transition period.

1. You thought you might crash and die your first time on Sheikh Zayed Bridge 

Really, a fear factor is involved in most Abu Dhabi driving situations. You can make your own lane, stop signs are just suggestions, and you better not sit at a traffic light for more than 0.4 seconds or you'll get the honk of shame.

2. The person sitting beside you in class could be from Lebanon or Michigan, and sometimes, it's hard to tell 

Because Abu Dhabi is such a vast melting pot of races and ethnicities, definitive cultural lines are often blurry which is a great thing until the 15 year-old boy with the dark skin, full beard, and SWEDISH accent throws you off mid-conversation.

3. You didn't know serious soccer was until someone nearly smacked you for not knowing who Omar Abdulrahman is 

Jerseys, jerseys everywhere. I don't know the last thing about sports, but these people don't play when it comes to soccer, both recreationally and professionally. It's a passion you've got to admire.

4. Having a bidet in your bathroom really freaked you out for the first couple of weeks 

If you don't know what I'm talking about, just Google it. You'll understand.

5. The sights and sounds of the city can be overwhelming at first 

Huge buildings + bright lights + many different languages being spoken at the same time + crazy traffic = the occasional meltdown

6. Navigating your first concert there was like being in a loud, colorful sauna with 5,000 of your friends 

So many cool people in one place! So......many.....people!

7. "Giving directions" really means "naming every landmark from point A to point B" 

This is how directions are communicated to everyone, including taxi drivers, friends, strangers, and emergency services. This is partly because a lot of Western expats can't pronounce the street names anyway.

8. People back home told you to watch out for all the "weapons" you might encounter 

With the way adults (who had never been to Abu Dhabi) talked to me about Abu Dhabi, I thought bazookas were going to be a much bigger problem than they were. Many people, but especially Americans, hear "Middle East" and get very anxious. But Abu Dhabi is actually one of the safest cities in the world! I could take a taxi alone at 1AM across town and not feel the least bit anxious about it!

9. You almost needed an intervention for your shawarma addiction 

It didn't help that there was a shawarma place within walking distance of everywhere.

10. The Call to Prayer scared you half to death the first time you heard it over a loudspeaker in a public setting 

"Is this the rapture? Is this a pop song? Should I follow all these people?"

11. When people hear you're moving to Abu Dhabi, they assume you're ridiculously wealthy  

Most expats don't have the gold toilets, sports cars and huge parties that people imagine when they think of Abu Dhabi or Dubai. We do come in contact with those things though, and it's hard not to feel totally out of place when it happens. But, at the end of the day, what you have or what you don't isn't what's important; it's enjoying the culturally diverse experience.

12. 110 degrees is too hot to do anything 

This is especially true if you have thick or curly hair. You're basically walking around with a wool blanket on your head, and it's not comfortable. This is when all those summer scarves you bought at the souk come in handy. While it may seem counterintuitive, multiple thin layers can actually help protect your skin from intense sun exposure which is important if you burn easily.

13. You quickly learn that "Inshallah" means "it probably won't happen, but if it does, it won't be any time soon. 

"Inshallah" is an Arabic phrase meaning "God willing", but many people use it as a "maybe, maybe not" response to plans. Abu Dhabi runs on its own schedule, and all well-educated residents know that nothing almost nothing will happen on time.

14. You couldn't shake the feeling of being in a movie for at least the first few months 

"How would Vin Diesel react in this situation?"

I hope this encourages anyone about to embark on a new journey. Don't worry, even if things don't go as planned, it will still enhance your world view and you can laugh about it later.

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.

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My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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I Wonder If You'd Be Proud of Me

Or if you even think of me at all.

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I wonder if you'd be proud of me.

My first thought when I wake up in the morning is whether or not you still think of me. I think about if I am wearing the right outfit if I were to see you that day. I think about if I am saying the right thing for you to want to want me again.

Throughout my day, I think about whether or not you're happy. I wonder if the feeling in my heart of missing who I thought you were is making its way to you. Sometimes I think about what I did to make you hate me as much as you do.

Sometimes when things get really hard, I think about picking up the phone to call you. Time keeps passing from the last time I saw you and during that time I've painted a picture of you that would probably only disappoint me in the end. Your phone number still sits in my phone and I go to your contact, wanting to call, but knowing that at the other end is not the person I used to know.

I wonder if you watch me. I wonder if the posts I make, pictures I post, and articles I write are viewed by you and whether or not you care to even search my name. I wonder if you ask people about me or if you care to know the person I am today.

Without you, I have changed. It has been two years and though time will only continue moving on without you, I wonder what would have happened if I didn't make the choices I made to make you react in the way you have.

When the sun shines bright on the flowers blooming around campus, I think of your jokes and sarcastic wit. When the rain pours from the sky and keeps me imprisoned within the walls of a building, I think of ways I felt imprisoned by you. When clouds form shapes in the sky that I can make stories out of, I think of the way life could've been.

Sometimes I write to you. They are the letters I can never send because I have to remind myself that though we knew each other once, you do not know me anymore. The picture in my mind of who you are now is someone who'd love me with open arms, but I know that there's no truth in that. It's only my wishful thinking out to break my heart once more.

I wonder if you hear me when I try talking to you. I wonder if the words I tell God are making their way to you as you go on living the life we always talked about when times get tough. I wonder if you're talking to God about me.

As I watch the sunset, I think about the last moment I was with you. As that chapter ended, I was only wishfully thinking that walking away would save me from further pain. In the end, I don't know about how life would've been different had it not happened.

When my picture of you gets too bright and I share it with others, I am reminded of reality. The screaming, crying, pushing, shoving, and hitting touches my skin once more in the form of flashbacks that push me further down into the depths of a depression. I am reminded of the hundreds of suicidal thoughts and letters that I've written once before.

No matter what, my heart still yearns for a hug. A hug where I can bury myself into your body and feel safe. A hug where I forget every worry in my mind and focus solely on the love.

I wonder if you'd still love me if I changed myself to be the person you've always wanted me to be. I wonder if you'd forgive me for walking away, even if it was for me to change to be a better person. I wonder if you'll ever even read this.

Days like today, I want to go back in time. I sit on the benches around campus and look up at the sky, down at the cars passing by, and listen to life move on all around me as I remain stuck. I hear people talking, see them laughing, and wonder if there's any way I could one day feel as alive as they do.

The truth is that I was never enough for you. No matter how much I changed, kept notes of what you liked so I could be like that, or just kept my head down and moved silently, nothing was ever enough.

No matter what, though, I still yearn to be loved in the way that I picture you should've loved me. Closure does not exist. You were the ones who were supposed to hold me down. But now I am nothing to you...I was always nothing to you.

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