I have lived abroad for a little over 5 years now and I have finally made the decision to move back home – permanently. I made this same decision a year and a half ago, however, I never actually pulled the trigger and committed to it. I made the announcement I was coming home, tested the waters, but then got cold feet and bailed on the idea. Of course my family and friends back home were disappointed, but I also knew that I had to do what was right for me and at that moment in my life, I just wasn’t ready to go back.
I made the decision again to move back home in April of this year, however, I didn’t actually announce it and resign until July. I wanted to be sure that I was confident in my decision and avoid being “the boy who cried wolf” but once I gave my notice at work, everything set in – I AM officially moving back home.
Why I am Moving
I am often asked why I decided to move home. Well, I will be completely honest and there are several reasons. First, I want to start saving money and life in Dubai sure ain’t cheap (Shocker? Probably not.). Sure I could cut back on my spending, social habits, and travel lifestyle but life here is just too tempting to go big, or go home. So yup, it’s time to go home. Another reason is that I basically haven’t existed in the U.S. for the last 5 years. When I want to apply for a credit card and they want to verify my employment history or previous addresses, well, I don’t really have any of that. I moved abroad still pursuing higher education and therefore I have never had a “big-girl” job that would be of historical relevance while residing in the U.S. The final reason I am moving home carries the most weight of all… I want a family.
I always dreamed of falling in love and having a family at a young age, and although this did not happen as I originally planned, I am thankful that this is how it happened since I have had other major life-changing moments: obtaining two master’s degrees, living in Monaco, living in Dubai, globetrotting to over 44 stunning countries, the blessing of making friends from all walks of life, and grasping spontaneity when it arose. My life over the last decade did not go as I whatsoever imagined (I mean, I never thought I would be in THIS place of my life right now!), but at the same time, I am utterly grateful that my plan failed. My life has been so blessed, unique, and fulfilling – I feel incredibly full thinking of all that I have accomplished and experienced. I grin knowing that some of my life’s greatest moments have yet to come.
Dating in Dubai is a whole other topic (it’s a total disaster) – and ironically enough I’ve been planning weddings here – but after 3 years, I have yet to find anyone of emotional significance who I could seriously date. At 29 years old, I am ready to start prioritizing my future family. Obviously I cannot force this to happen, or really even search for it since that lessens the odds of allowing things to naturally happen, however, I look at my move home as aligning my chances to meet someone who wants the same things as I do. I’m ready.
Living an expatriate life is something that cannot be understood by many. Unless you’ve backpacked aimlessly for a decent period of time or actually lived abroad, you may not understand what I am about to say…
I am American. I will ALWAYS be American, however, I also consider myself a bit of a mutt. Life outside of the U.S. has obviously changed me, shaped me, and influenced me. People say my accent has changed. My taste for foods has acquired to new things and delicacies. My perspective is no longer domestic; I look at things with a global viewpoint, taking into consideration all of the stories of the beautiful people that I have met along my journey. The things I have experienced through the last five years of my amazing voyage make me wonder if my life back home will be stimulating enough for me. Of course I hope so, which is why I have committed to make this big move, but only time will tell.
As I have lived the expatriate life, I now have to repatriate and adjust to life back home. Obviously when I was gone, the world didn’t stop. My family and friends carried on with their lives, getting married, buying homes, having babies, and making memories together that I missed out on. Naturally, being absent from all of these moments in their lives is a sacrifice that I had to make. For my friends who have had to repatriate and moved back home, they have told me not to expect people to go out of their way and accommodate my new, permanent presence. People will obviously be happy that I am home, welcome me back, but that excitement will quickly wear off and I will have to adjust to my “new-normal” without all of the hype.
When I first moved abroad, I obviously experienced culture-shock; both when I moved to Monaco and again when I moved to Dubai. Anytime when you’re in a new environment for a long period of time you eventually adjust and that’s exactly what I did. After three years in Dubai, in the Middle East, this has become my normal. Shawarma has naturally become a favorite meal of mine, I often am telling people “yalla” and “inshallah”, and strangers and friends alike are now referred to as “habibti” and “habibi.” Now I will need to process myself through “reverse-culture shock” (yes, this is a real, legit thing) and adjust back to being a full-time American. It’s the adjustment period where you’re not sure where exactly feels like home and you just don’t fit in. I am definitely not an alien, but after moving home, I assume I will temporarily feel like one since I’ve basically missed out on five years of being immersed in American Culture. I mean, I have not kept up with the Kardashians, have zero idea as to who’s been on Dancing with the Stars, missed all major sporting events, and have not watched American news or TV… and arriving home a few days after they announce who will be our next President will probably be a chaotic time, no matter who wins. Perfect timing, ha!
Aside from my fears, there is obviously a huge amount of excitement building up within me as the day nears when I will get on my one-way flight home. That day will be tough; absolutely bittersweet to say the least as I say goodbye to my closest friends but look forward to reuniting with my family and friends back home. I have so many mixed emotions going on inside of my head and heart.
I am excited to finally be present for family events that I have missed out on (this will be my first Thanksgiving home in 6 years!). I am excited to finally be present for big moments in my friends’ lives like engagement parties, bachelorette parties, baby showers, and so on. I am excited to be the “fun aunt” and run around playing with the little ones. I am excited to be present in the daily lives of my elderly family members as age is slowly creeping up on them. I definitely don’t want to miss the last moments in their lives, whenever they may be.
I am excited to finally explore my own country. I am tired of meeting people abroad from other countries who tell me how much they “love Boston” or how “beautiful San Francisco is”, yet I can’t relate because I have never been there. So perhaps I won’t be geographically close to other countries that I have yet to roam through, but there will be other beautiful places that I will soon discover within my own borders.
I am excited to finally establish myself. Yes, I have somewhat lived a gypsy-inspired life but at the same time, I am reaching thirty and have almost zero assets to my name. I don’t own a car; I don’t own any furniture or anything of substantial value besides a computer – heck, in a few weeks I probably won’t even own a hair dryer if my luggage is too heavy to move! I am ready to start making a real life and creating a home for myself. I dream of where I will live, what type of home I will have, how I will decorate it, and what I will name my dog that will be running around it.
My life thus far has been so amazing and blessed, but life’s greatest blessings are yet to come.
Ah, the million dollar question that everyone is asking me! Well, for once in my life – I don’t have a plan. Yup, you read that right. No plan. All I know is I have a one-way ticket booked home on November 17th and I will live with my dad in Orlando until who knows what my next move is. I am not sure what I will do for work but I do know that I want to enjoy being home, take my time adjusting, and relish in the upcoming festive season and holidays. Plus, not many companies will be hiring until after the New Year and thankfully I won’t be pressed to find a job ASAP since I will be living at home. I do have a project that I plan to pursue once I am back, which if all goes well, I won’t need to look for a job and can hopefully work fulltime with that but there is always a risk (details will come later but I believe in jinxing good things and I don’t want that to happen).
What I do hope is that my family and friends back home who think this move isn’t that big of a deal besides packing up a few bags and getting on a plane, will realize that this will be a hard time for me. I am saying goodbye to my life abroad, to some of the most amazing friends, and something that’s been my “normal” for a good bit of time. I need support, I need encouragement, and I need to be checked on. Please don’t forget that I moved home. Please invite me out and try to incorporate me into your normal so that it can soon, hopefully, become mine again too.