The expat teaching life has been so good to me and has allowed to do and achieve things way beyond what I could have ever imagined as a secondary school teacher working and barely surviving in the UK.

I’ll always be grateful to expat life for meeting many of my best lifelong friends from all around the world, who I honestly would have never met otherwise. I am also thankful to expat living for helping me achieve financial empowerment earlier than most. I have also relished the opportunity to teach local Qatari and Emirati students and learn more about their cultures.

However, life always has its ups and downs, so my expat experience has definitely had its challenges. Here are my top and I’d love to hear from you and see if you’ve had a similar experience or not!

  1. Struggling with my appearance.  I’ve definitely felt the pressure of looking a certain way and it’s safe to say that Dubai exacerbates my insecurities on a daily basis. My tendency to equate my self-worth with my weight and physical appearance is something I am constantly trying to overcome and I love role models like Lizzo, who preach important messages about body positivity and self- love. I was about 7kgs lighter when I lived in Doha but I didn’t achieve this through healthy means; hence why I try to exercise rather than focus exclusively on my diet.
  2. Trusting other expats on face value. As an expat, when someone else tells me something, I believe them. I don’t interrogate them to prove they’re being truthful. I’m very honest so I naively assume everyone else is. Sadly, I’ve found out the hard way that others lie or “omit the truth/ full story” (aka lying in my books!), so I do hold back a bit when it comes to fully trusting others out here. Like I said in No.1, many of us suffer with insecurities out here or have moved abroad to escape issues at home, which can sometimes manifest itself in exaggerating the truth or a superficial kind of friendship.
  3. Dating. On paper, the expat dating scene appears thriving and a certain aspect of it probably is! However, long-term prospects seem few and far in between. As a 33-year-old female expat, I’m aware that I won’t appear in the age range on dating apps for men who are my age and older. There may also some cultural issues when dating expats from other countries too. I have heard of great expat couples having their happy ever after abroad too, so I live in hope!
  4. Thinking about returning to my non- expat life. The expat life has so many advantages that I do wonder if I could ever go back to normal life, where it rains and I pay tax. The truth is I went back to the UK for a year after my stint in Qatar but I missed expat living too much, so I moved back to Dubai. In my heart, I know Dubai isn’t forever but I still worry about slotting back into life at home, especially when so many of my childhood friends are moving in with their partners, getting married, and having babies. I know I don’t want to be that person who only comes home twice a year, but at the same time, what will life back home look like for me? I guess there’s only one way to find out… 

I’d love to hear what you think of my post- has it been the same or different for you? Have your challenges changed, depending on your expat location? Single male expat teachers, do you face the same challenges? Let me know on the Empowering Expat Teachers FB group… 💚