The start of the year usually ushers in a wave of new expats to the region, I was once of them. I get the buzz and thrill of being in a new city, new job, and new environment. But as the initial excitement wears off, the reality of leaving familiarity, home comforts, and routines start to poke through. There’s something about knowing the back routes of an area, the not-so-popular- but delicious food spots, where to get the best discounts and not having these little things that can make
Whether you have come alone, with a partner, family, or friends we hope these tips will contribute to an easier and more enriching transition.
1. Adjust Your Expectations
The UAE is a dynamic and diverse melting pot, full of exciting opportunities for those seeking a fresh start and the potential to create a fulfilling life, that’s why most of us moved, right? A sticky truth to digest is that our reality might fall short of what we expected. When this happens it’s natural to feel disappointed, frustration and sometimes regret. If you find yourself in this space, take a moment to reflect on your expectations, are they too rigid? Too high? Too optimistic? Or premature – especially if you have just made the move. The reality is there is no ‘set time to find your feet’ or ‘fully settle’.
Take away some of that pressure and reframe your expectations. Base them on a more realistic understanding of the situation and allow yourself time to find your rhythm and pace.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Say Yes
You’ve made the move, so the status quo, or life as you knew it has changed. Whilst comparing the life you have now to what you had at home could bring a sense of comfort and continuity, ask yourself if this actually helpful? For most the answer will probably be no. Despite the reason you moved, dwelling on what you left behind can hinder you integrating into your new environment and keep you from establishing new connections. Give yourself permission to embrace the new, by keeping an open mind. Say yes to the potential for new experiences, to networking events, social invitations, community meet-ups and new adventures.
3. Balance Existing Relationships Whilst Pursing New Connections
Of course, creating new connections is a priority, these fresh relationships add spice and colour to our lives. However, it’s important that you do not overlook your current relationships it’s possible to keep your long-distance bonds strong; friends and family back home are your roots and can still form an integral part of your support system.
The fact that most people in the UAE are expats, there is a strong desire to form connections and relationships. This is beneficial, as I have experienced most people to be friendly and open to connect.
Do not be afraid to initiate conversations with people around you – expats and locals. The cultural diversity within the UAE, means meeting people from all walks of life and backgrounds. This is such a beautiful way to enrich your perspective, brighten your life whilst expanding your social circle.
Remember that building friendships takes time, so be patient and focus on building genuine connections.
4. Know Where You Are
Get acquainted with your new city by exploring. Why not start by taking a stroll (without a map) through your neighbourhood, getting ‘lost’ can help you discover quirky and interesting places to eat, shop and relax. Walking or driving around to get a feel of your area can help you with connecting and integrating into the community. Make it a point to know where essential services are – this includes your local grocery story, hospital, gym/sports clubs, place of worship. Familiarity with the local surroundings can helps you navigate the area with confidence, but also fosters a sense of safety and belonging.
5. Be Bold to Evolve
The UAE is amazing in that it advocates innovation and change, creating the opportunity to allow you the freedom to evolve. There is a plethora of communities and groups that you can access to experiment with new habits, explore hidden passions, and adopt a version of yourself that aligns more closely with your aspirations and desires. Relocation offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, to challenge limiting beliefs and to explore different aspects of your personality, and
Remember, change and adjusting to a new environment takes time. The initial discomfort is a natural part of the process, be patient with yourself and give yourself the grace to adapt at your own pace.
Written by: Dr Bisi Laniyan