This past weekend, Saturday May 21st to be exact, marked the two-year anniversary of my move to Bahrain. TWO WHOLE YEARS. The date isn’t in my calendar, so I sort of forgot. I knew the move date was around May in 2014, sometime towards the end of the month. Mild boredom and curiosity got the better of me on Friday night, so I searched my blog to remind myself. Good thing I keep track of those important things somewhere.
What has two years of being an expat in Bahrain taught me?
That living in a country that’s different from the one you previously spent your whole life in, isn’t actually that hard. You make it work by just getting on with it. Granted, it has been a fairly easy move for me to make. What with me working from home for the same company I was working with while in the UK. One of the main spoken and written languages being English here in Bahrain. And having Anish already here. There was still a small adjustment period – getting used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road, training myself to stop converting the price of everything to the pound (something I’m still a bit guilty of) and generally getting used to a different lifestyle.
It’s curious. If and when trips are planned back to the UK, the question I’m most asked is if I’m excited to be going back home. The voice inside my head is doing that weird confused dog head tilt thing and thinking, “but I am home”. I wonder, do any other expats do this as well? As I said last year, Bahrain definitely feels like home now. Though, that’s probably more to do with the life that I’ve created for myself here, rather than due to the amount of time I’ve been living here. I really understand how home is more than just a geographical location. Home is where I feel at home. With my person. With the memories that we’ve created here. The experiences.
And that’s what we have to hold on to. Living the expat life is tough. Being so connected to those you left behind via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and yet not. You’re not in their lives anymore. So you have to fill it with new experiences. Experiences that enrich your life in other ways. And new people.
Oh people. The expat life can be cruel. I’ve already written about one of the hard lessons about expat life. But it was only in the last year where I’ve felt it the most. Maybe because in the last year we made actual friends. And many of whom are expats. Which means having to say goodbye to them when they inevitably leave. (Bahrain is a very transitory country.) Earlier this month I bid a very sad farewell to people who became family to me over the past two years. And as I write these words, tears begin to fill my eyes. BUT they’re on their own journey as well. And we were all part of each others lives at one point in time. And it was awesome. Beyond awesome. And I’m so glad we got to spend this little bit of time together. Now I’ve got an excuse to go explore another country.
Above all, two years of living in Bahrain has taught me that I can do this. That it’s not that hard. Maybe a little scary at first, but easy enough to overcome. Like last year, I still can’t say what the next move is. Or where it’ll be. Or when it’ll be. I know I’ll be ready for it.
One final thing I’ve learnt after two years in Bahrain is that its never-ending obsession with burgers is, well, never-ending.
PS. I’ve joined that thing called Snapchat. I’m still figuring it out and wondering how I’m actually going to use it. But if you’d like to follow along with my learning, I’m jaina.mistry over there.
I really love this Jaina! I’ve never been an expat myself, but I felt many of the same feelings by moving to the other side of our country and away from everyone and everything we knew. I love that you’ve really made Bahrain your home though, which is something I never let myself fully do. It opens up a whole new world for you that some people never let themselves step into, which moves beyond simply loving a place, but making it your own. Congrats on two years! I’m excited to see what your third year brings you 🙂
USA is such a huge country, you can definitely have the same feelings when you move from one side to the other. I think you probably moved as many miles as I did! I think I almost felt like I had no choice but to make it a home or suffer from eternal home sickness. What helped massively was having some sort of support system already here.
Nervous, excited and full of anticipation for the third year 😀
Don’t you just love these milestones? It will help you remember your life, I promise. Sometimes we go through life without any interruptions or big events and then it all becomes a blur. When you move or become an expat, the time is remembered and marked.
I’m coming up on 1 year in Cambo and I can’t believe how the time has flown!
Yeah, the $$$ thing. I figure if you make pounds then you are okay to convert everything. If, however, you make the local currency, it doesn’t make sense to convert. That’s my rule, at least. 😛 And since I now make USD and live in a USD country, I don’t have to convert. Well, except when I use Cambodian Riel. 1000 riel = .25 cents.
Congrats on making it this far! xxoo
Half tempted to stick some of these milestones in my calendar so I don’t forget them. You’re right, it’s so easy to go through life and have it all blur into one big moosh. If that’s a word I can use!
1 year already? That’s awesome! You should do something to celebrate 😉
See, it’s confusing. My salary is in £s, OH’s is in Bahraini Dinars. So inevitably there still has to be some converting if I’m using my credit card or whatever. It’s still fun to convert super cheap meals to £s and boast about it to friends and family over WhatsApp though.
Easy, young grasshopper, easy. Do not brag too much over cheaper prices 😛
LOL totally! Bet you have some things much cheaper than me here 😉 Mostly pork. Man, I miss pork! It’s way too expensive here for me to entertain it sometimes.
Ohhh, yeah, we got swine and cheap beer by the boatloads…
What I wouldn’t do for a bit of pig, cooked whichever way, and a nice cool, cheap beer. Right now. In the middle of the day. Yes.
I can relate to everything you’ve said here. I also just said goodbye to some very dear expat friends in Joburg and it’s sooooo hard. Also, I’m still converting rand to dollars (and celsius to fahrenheit) and it’s been six years for me. Some old habits really die hard 🙂
PS: Great pics!
Wow, six years is epic! Joburg must be well and truly your home now.
It’s so crazy you’ve been there for 2 years now, feels like yesterday you moved! What an adventure you’ve had and long may it continue!
I actually don’t really know what it’s like to be an expat (weird I know), even though I’ve lived different places. I think it’s because I never lived in my country of origin until much later and still didn’t feel completely at home there when we did move there. I’ve learned though that I can make my “home” anywhere, just as long as I’m around the people I love. And I can always make new friends. 🙂
Being an “expat” is a strange sort of label to have, tbh. I think living in Bahrain you’re either a Bahraini or an expat. There are SO many people living here who’ve come from all over. So you easily land yourself the label as expat once you move here.
Home really is anywhere – it’s a feeling, not a location.
It’s nice you have the SO and have made friends. And you don’t also have to get used to a new job. But sad you have to say bye to other expats.
Jaina, this was such a lovely post and an insight into expat life. I’ve lived in the same place my whole life but often consider moving – I felt like you really articulated what it’s like creating a new home and life for yourself. Happy two years of Bahrain! x
Thanks Laila. From the little experience that I’ve had, I would say if the opportunity arises, go for it. You’ll learn so many things you never knew you needed to learn.
It has really been two years??? WOW! I remember when you first shared that you were going there.
So nice to read this. My boyfriend and I often think about living abroad, and I know it would be hard to leave everyone I know here, I’ve already left home twice before and have made wonderful connections with new people along the way while also holding on tightly to my friends and family back home. In the end, it’s all about life experiences and finding what truly makes you happy. <3
That’s exactly what it’s all about. And sometimes you don’t know what truly makes you happy until you’re doing it. The world is a lot smaller than it used to be. Since moving abroad, my eyes have definitely been opened to new possibilities.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Amanda 🙂
Two years already? I’d say that like it’s flown by, and in a way it has, but it also feels like you and Bahrain have been together for much longer. What is the obsession with burgers? Or am I better off not knowing? 😉
I like what you said about home, too. I feel like my ‘home’ is still out there, yet to be discovered, if that even makes sense. I could totally see myself living the expat life at some point in the future.
Have a feeling it’s been “me and Bahrain” since my OH moved out here. Even then that’s only one extra year, but it’s strange how long or short it can be to make a place feel like a home.
“I feel like my ‘home’ is still out there, yet to be discovered”
I LOVE this – i love that you still want to discover it. I never thought I’d have a place that wasn’t London feel like home. And now I’m itching to find out if there’s somewhere else I can call home.
Oh and the burger thing? I don’t even….
I have an earnest desire to travel and see the world but, as soon as I’m gone for a few days, I get this terrible home sickness no matter where I am or how much fun I’m having. It’s great to hear that your expat life is treating you well, particularly because you’ve ventured a “long way from home”. I wanted to comment because of the photos you’ve posted. Love them! The sunset one is particularly striking – perfect composition and lovely colours but it’s the minimal linear edges of your street and corridor views that are most interesting. Each providing a bit more about the character of your new home in subtle ways.
Your comment made me smile, Dan! Can definitely relate to the homesickness feeling. A few days into recent holiday in Vietnam – a stunningly, amazingly, beautiful place – I was missing home cooked food! I guess we all miss home comforts, wherever they may be.
And thank you for the lovely comments on the photos. Hope to bring you a picture of Bahrain that can give you some idea of what the country is like. Though… everyone has their own views on it 🙂
I know so little about Bahrain!
So did I when I first arrived here. Still learning as each day goes by 🙂