Many people become expats for many reasons, whether it is for the hopes of a better future for their kids, for more money, more fame, or driven out of war.
Some, like me, have been expats because our parents were expats, and then, were re-expated from the foreign country we got to call second home, to make a third home in another country. Typically, by definition, the foreign country we expats live in should be, at least marginally, financially better.
Having lived in Saudi Arabia most of my childhood years (except early childhood), I have grown accustomed to the Saudi way of living and grew up as such, despite the fact that we mingled with other expats from Syria. The schools were male only; cafes have a male section and a family section (like any other place); the streets were roamed by bored male hormonal teens and young men who frequently went on espionage missions whenever there were girls packed in a car being driven to a mall. My weekends were spent avoiding these car chases, and, when I grew up, to making them (lol), or would be spent in some expat-friendly place that served as a “free zone” for all expats to mingle, make out, sunbathe, etc without the scrutiny of the Saudi government.
Expated again to Dubai, where I studied and now working, I have become to observe how prolonged expatism has affected the life of us expats. I am sure most of you expats will agree that, when you go back home, although you love it and it loves you and you miss all friends and family, for some reason or another, you can’t see yourself living there (not now, at least), working there or even befriending people there long enough before you discover how simple or inferior they are to your superior expat status.
Then you go back to the foreign country you are becoming to call home, and you tell yourself “my God, those people are so backward! How can they live!”
I will tell you how they can live.
They’re probably living and enjoying life more than us expats.
Because we raised the bar too high.
That’s right. Our exposure to the outer world has opened up to a multitude of cultures, traditions, and lifestyles, as well as a higher standard of living and better services. You can call in the grocery store and they’d deliver. Internet is a standard. There is more than one movie outlet, lots of cafes, lots of brands, cars, companies, businesses. You can do anything over the phone or internet. And, people, hopefully, are more open minded, have heard of something dating and, if you’re in Dubai, the major source of entertainment is in bars, night clubs and party houses, unless you’re “one of them people” who like to hang out in movies, cafes or malls (like me).
The bar is raised too high. Our expat expectations have often become unrealistic. We want to fill our role of being expats by being rich and superficially happy.
Here I am, working in a great international company. I have a car, a nice house, a great TV, high end PC and lots of ridiculous game consoles and books and an assortment of feathers. I am financially stable. But I am not happy. Because I don’t find myself. All these things are, ultimately, meaningless. My bars are so ridiculously high it may take a mini God to achieve them.
Alternatively, my friends and neighbours in Syria have so low of expectations and goals, it is almost depressing. But for them it isn’t, not entirely. They are not financially better off… but, from their goal of X Syrian Pounds, they posses part of it. From my goals of more than a hundred times that, I barely achieved a percent. They’re getting married, they’re enjoying their lives. I am trying my best to live in an absurdly competitive environment I may get a stroke. Finding a decent girl here to date, let aloe marry, is as likely as finding a komodo dragon in the arctic.
It is our fault – expats – that we set our goals so high, that we do not enjoy our lives and spend it in constant stress and turmoil. Then we die off, most probably in a hospital or a car accident, not in our homes, between our modest friends and families, in our modest homes, our ideals, and values.