Expats are Like Cats

Expats are like cats

While visiting with my expat friends in Ras Al Khaimah they suddenly became worried because they could not find their cat. Even though I am a cat lover, cat hidingI did not understand the concern because they were in a closed environment, which meant the cat could not get out and was just hiding. Another expat friend with a small child explained their little boy was having a hard time adjusting and his sleep routine was off. It was then I realized how much I had in common with the cat and the little boy. I too was having a hard time adjusting

Like the cat, I just wanted to find a safe, warm, comfortable place where I could curl up and hide. Unlike the little boy, I did not have parents to shop for furniture, make arrangements for deliveries, and decorate the house all while preparing to start a new job. Unlike the cat and the little boy, I understand I am in one of the adjustment phases while acclimating to a new environment. Just two months ago, while sitting in my very comfortable home of fifteen years, I explained to my husband that we would have a difficult time while adjusting to our new home in the UAE. But, that intellectual discussion did not begin to capture the reality.

Duck out of water is the best description of my current state. I am an urban dweller living in a suburban desert. I am a westerner living in the middle-east. I am everything opposite. A twelve hour plane ride took me light years away from my reality. mcdonaldsThe most familiar things are the local McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts. Who knew that one day my heart would be soothed by the sight of the golden arches or the taste of an overly sweet donut.

Intellectually, I know I will adjust, but like the cat and the little boy.… I want to go into hiding while my parents take care of everything.

12 thoughts on “Expats are Like Cats

  1. Great to hear from you, Aleta. As you know, cats always land on their feet…take a deep breath and smile. Best, Hanna

  2. It’s certainly nice to hear from you. I hope that things get better for you soon. It must be tough for a Westerner to adjust to the Muslin culture. I’ve heard that the attitiudes towards Wsterners in the UAR and turning towards the negative. Please be careful.

    How is Clay doing, is he teaching also or just being a man of leisure?

    • Intellectually, I know that things will get better, but this has been the toughest thing I’ve done in many years. It has been non-stop for the last 2 weeks. The heat has been exhausting (110 degrees) while setting up a large 3-bedroom apartment and prepping courses.

      Actually, today was the first day that I could begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have living room and bedroom furniture and the washer was finally delivered today. The icing on the cake is that the temperature dropped to around 100 degrees 🙂

      Even though it’s been tough, I am so glad I stretched to do this. Can’t wait to begin teaching next week.

  3. Hey there – sorry the landing has been tough, but you’re a tough cookie and I know you’ll settle in soon enough. Congrats to you on such a bold and courageous move. See quote below:

    “Every day I live I am more convinced that the waste of life lies in the love we have not given, the powers we have not used, the selfish prudence that will risk nothing and which, shirking pain, misses happiness as well.” (Mary Cholmondeley, England 1859 – 1925).

    Congrats to you for going for it, even knowing in advance that it was going to be a tough assignment.

    Best, Barb

  4. The quote from Cholmondeley is right on target. Complacency was seriously settling in and I desperately needed to see what else I could give.

  5. OH Aleta, we have been thinking about you daily. Can’t you just feel all the positive love and energy coming your way? Of course adjusting is a challenge and adjusting is all so ralative. Why some people find it a feat to leave the house for a moment. I drove to Annapolis last weekend all by myself to visit a friend and guess what my eyes did not give out as I expected and I actually made the round trip without incident. Now I feel like a big girl again and I am motivated to conquer the world. So watch out, you may find me at your doorstep in a minute.
    Just know that you both are loved (make this a chant).

  6. You are still here even when you are there. I wonder if there is any part of you that thinks you have to have some adjustment issues. I’m reading a book that talks about how uncomfortable doing something outside your comfort zone can feel. Maybe it’s discomfort coming off as misadjustment. But space abhors a vacuum. As you flow into the vacuum of the discomfort, you will expand to the new comfort level and never be able to fit your old size again. Isn’t that wonderful?

    You are sharing all of your gifts and going to where you are called to do that.


    • I was so comfortable that moving into this new world was bound to be very uncomfortable. But, really glad I stepped out of my box. Can’t wait to pass through the discomfort on the way to a new comfortable place.

  7. I have no idea what my URL is but I am delighted to hear from you. I predict that within 90 days all or most of your anxieties will have vanished and you will be surprised to look back on the comments above. I hope you received the card I sent just before you left. The woman who led the tour I took to South Africa in 2007 is leading a group to Dubai next March and I may very well go. I’ll keep you posted.


    • One of the reasons I am journaling is so I can look back on this journey. I am absolutely certain that all anxieties will dissipate over time. In fact, I am beginning to feel the edges of comfort.

  8. On top of everything else you are experiencing I hope this doesn’t send you into overload but…we got your e-mail and read your blog! Yes Aleta, your adventures are sending ripples across the world as you drag us into technology. Glad you and Clay arrived safely and are getting settled in. Hopefully I can adjust to this blogging thing as you adjust to the UAE.

  9. Okay Dr. Wilson; time for an update. How is the settling in coming? What are your students like? Nay other brand new expats to compare notes with? Have you discovered any arab dishes to compete with the golden arches fare?

    State-side the red state folks are trying to beat the daylights out of our president, the economy continues to offer little relief from the high unemployment numbers, etc. I’m sure CNN is keeping you abreast.

    Give my regards to Clay and send us a fresh posting when you get a minute.


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