Wow

I am in shock. People have been reading my ramblings! What?!

Hello to my followers and those who have ‘liked’ my posts.

I write this all straight out of my head, no filter, on my iPhone, letter by letter. And people read it! Wowzers.

I feel like most of the time I want to write when I’m down about living here, but I should just be more honest. It doesn’t totally suck. I promise.

The expat life is not glamorous like many think. It’s just life. Day in and day out just life. Routine and generally not exciting. It’s not “sexy” to hear a British accent all the time. (It never was for me). Black cabs are no longer quaint. Red telephone booths are disgusting and get pissed in like once an hour.

What’s so different being in the UK rather than the USA? Everything and nothing at the same time.
-My extended family is not close to me. I cannot drive to them. It takes no less than 16 hours and £3000 to see them.
-Drive thru banking. OMG it rains here like, every day!
-Super size Coke. Some times no less than 42oz of sheer delight will do!
-Lemonaide, Rootbeer, Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream. Sadness.
-Driving without wacky depth perception problems.
I could go on. For days. I’ll spare you.
But the normal life persists as well.
-Taking the kids to school, PTA, after school swimming lessons.
-Housework, bills, taxes, etc.
-Best friends to share life’s ups & downs
-Gym work outs, naps, grocery shopping
-Loving the hubby, hating the hubby, repeat.
Some things just don’t change no matter what country you are in.

So fellow expats, do you have a love/hate relationship with your adopted country or have you made it your forever home? I’d love to know!

Until my next rambling session. . .

10 years is looming

It’s 2014. Where has the time gone? Honestly. Where?! This June marks my 10 year anniversary in England. How has it gone so fast and why (why, God, why) am I still here? I am making the best of it because I have no other choice right now.

I have decided over the past few months to stop telling inquisitive strangers why I live here and not America. I just tell them I’m on vacation. It is so irritating every single time I go out to be reminded that I am not in ‘my home’. I am lucky to be a white American though. At least people ask why I choose to stay rather than tell me I don’t belong here and I should just go back home. I do feel grateful for that because cannot be easy for my Asian or African friends.

As we open 2014 I’m excited for the new year. Life is a lot better this year than last and I’m ready to be more positive. I’m letting go of a lot of things, people, needs, desires, but clinging to my truths.

It’s only January but I’m ready for summer. I need to get home. I need to be with my family and a few friends that remain in my home town. I feel as though, sometimes, I’m wishing my life away. Always looking for the next big trip. It would be easier if I had an unlimited cash supply as well as time. Not easy to strike a balance when where you have to be and where you want to be are not even remotely equal.

The job search continues. There has been quite a lot of interest from the Jeddah hospital that H interviewed with in May (I think it was May!). The whole process has ticked on in what I can only assume to be Saudi style. The original offer was lower than we were prepared to accept so we left it. Then over the summer a few emails were exchanged but nothing really happened. H went for Hajj in October and when he came back after 4 weeks he swore up and down that he didn’t want to go back except for Umrah or Hajj again. He didn’t like it. It was hot and busy and backward. Then, he got a phone call from the director of the ER in Jeddah asking him to send some new references to his secretary. The offer went up and low and behold, H is back on the Saudi bandwagon. The new references have been sent off to the secretary in Jeddah. Let’s wait oh, 3 months and see if there is a reply. I’m not holding my breath but I’m not officially discounting it either. The job is still open for applications on the internet so I guess it hasn’t been filled. Who knows.

I wish I could know for sure that I’d love Saudi, UAE, or Qatar. I feel as though I will tolerate it more because I am choosing to pick up my life and move for good. I didn’t intentionally move to England for the long haul. I came with a plan; 12 weeks then back to Michigan for my Junior year of college. Then the plan change slightly. Stay in the UK for 1-2 years until H got a residency in the US. But that never happened. Then the USMLE ran out; then… 10 years have passed. I’m not supposed to be here. I feel like if/when we leave I will feel the whole range of emotions from elated to grief but I hope that once settled I will hit the ground running. There is so much pressure to get a job here once all your kids are in school full time. Why do I need to explain myself or situation to anyone? I don’t want or even have a desire to work. There is so much to do at home as well as after school. Plus, I just spent the last 9 years with kids at home full time, I need a bit of me time; I have sacrificed enough of myself. Time to reclaim my identity as a woman, wife, and friend. At least in Saudi I have no need to explain my lack of job or burning desire to be a lady of leisure housewife.

Only time will tell and we will wait for the right offer.

Again…

There was a new doctor at the hospital H works at, guess where he is from?

Saudi Arabia, you got it.

He took H’s CV with him when he went on a trip home. Last weekend H had another interview, but for a hospital in Jeddah. It went well, the offer is coming on Monday. The good news is the interviewers weren’t racist. At least to his face! Gives me a bit more hope in humanity!!

I don’t know what to think about all of this. It feels like a roller coster. I don’t think the offer will be what he wants so I shouldn’t stress about it.

What I do know is that leaving (of it ever happens!) will be harder than I expected. I have full insight into this as my very good friend moved to Canada on Tuesday. It was heart wrenching. Saying goodbye was so much harder this time than it was when I left America.

I left the US with full intentions of going “home” within 2-5 years. So it wasn’t goodbye, just see you soon. Now, 9 years later there is no way my husband will ever move there and that leaves me with a huge hole in my heart and an aching in my soul.

Will I ever stop searching for “home”?

Lets see what Monday brings.

Deep Sigh…

Every time I think about H’s interview I get more and more angry.

They liked him, there is a job opening…

BUT

The Saudi men representing the hospital have seriously offended H. They told him the pay package the recruiter had sent him was for “full British” candidates. Since he was not “full British” he would be payed significantly less as would be the benefit package. Never mind the fact that H is UK trained & qualified or that he is a BRITISH CITIZEN, or even he is a fellow muslim, he is not white and that’s what they want.

Why?!! Why do people think it is OK to treat someone like that? What does his race have to do with his ability to do the job?

I am sad for him. He does not deserve to be spoken to like that.

Saudi is completely off the cards now. I am happy that we are not entertaining the idea of Saudi any more.

The search continues…

Nervous

Today is Thursday, its merely hours now until the interview and I am nervous. I am nervous about how it will go, what the outcome will be, and how it will all impact my life.

There is only one word: inshallah. What is meant to be will happen. I need to accept that.

I spoke to a friend today and she had said that her husband’s colleague (both are GPs) had been for an interview for a hospital in Qatar. They asked him if he spoke Arabic (which he did not) and that they were only looking for a doctor who could speak both Arabic and English fluently. I cannot understand why they interviewed this man. What a waste of time for both parties.

My husband is actually working with a Saudi and he has said that the visa process actually takes like 9 months. Nothing like playing the waiting game!

I’m sure that even after all the interviews have finished we won’t hear if H was successful or not for a long time.

I am nervous. I am ready for a change. Inshallah.

Vacation

Our first week of the USA vacation is behind us. We have had a very relaxing time at my husband’s sisters house in New Jersey. The kids have been playing with their cousins and playing Just Dance 4 nonstop. Fun times all around.

We all love the USA (no one more than myself!) the kids are calm here and H loves to eat out in America (who doesn’t?!) I so wish we could live here again, its almost bittersweet being here. Being in my land and knowing I have to go back to rainy old England. Never mind, I’m going to make the best of it!

Tomorrow is our last full day here in NJ then we are off to Orlando, FL for 2 weeks!! I am so so so excited because we didn’t tell the kids we were going to Florida and Disney, they are going to love us! I am ready for some sunshine in a bad way.

H hasn’t mentioned the interview once since we’ve been here. I find that shocking. So he must be relaxed. I, on the other hand have it on my mind. Ugh. Must. Not. Think. About. It.

Oh! I almost forgot the biggest news of the trip!! Zacky lost his first tooth on Thursday (the first night we were here). The tooth fairy came and brought him a one dollar bill which was more impressive than a one pound coin. Very fun and a bit sad for this mama, my baby is growing up!

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On the airplane.

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Tooth is gone!

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Having fun!

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Batman playing iPad

Interview Set

I stopped obsessing about this whole moving issue about a week ago. I will go so far to say that I forgot about the short listing that H got in February. I got busy, which turned out to be a good thing.

But now, the interview date has been set and travel arrangements have been made… H is confident going into all of this. I am scared shitlessmore cautious. Alhumdulillah, H is an amazing doctor and has gotten every job he has interviewed for in the last 5 years, I am outrageously proud of him, but as much as I HATE living in the UK right now, I am wishing, wondering, debating if I really want to drop everything and move to the desert.

I have started to evaluate my friendships very closely and find out why I love my girlfriends so much. The reflection is in large part to my first really good friends impending move back to her home, Canada. I feel really jealous happy for her. But she was the first mom friend I made. We have had almost 6 years of daily life struggles, laughs, and lunches. We went from being mothers of one daughter each to mothers of 3. I am going to miss her desperately.

With this friend going and experiencing these feelings of losing someone who has been my family when I had no one close by, I wonder if I am ready to do the same thing. Doing what is best for my family is my first priority, but I often wonder the impact I’d leave on those women who I have chosen to make my family while I have lived in the UK. Am I ready to give up everything I have built for myself? I hope so maybe.

I need to remember 2 things in this emotional roller coster:
1. Allah is the best planners.
2. Don’t get so worked up about it.

I do realize that if (inshallah) we do move to Saudi, I will be living a very similar life. My day to day on paper would be almost identical, minus the school run. There will be a lot of expat women to meet and forge friendships with, lunch dates to be had, and plenty of time at the gym.

Only time will tell. There is more than a month until the interview so its best that I forget about it again. Otherwise I’ll re-read expat blog in its entirety again! Thank God I have an Easter trip to the USA to keep my worries at bay, I so need this trip!
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Having enough of England

This week has been irritating.  England is wearing thin on me.  I’ve been here too long.  I have not adjusted to the culture here and honestly, I don’t want to. 

Four things this week have tipped me over the edge:

1.  “Do your kids look half-cast?” 

First of all OMG! Who says that? My children are not ‘half-cast’ and we are NOT living in 1945, it is NOT ok to say that to someone.  My beautiful children are half Asian Indian, half White American.  They have a beautiful olive skin, amazing brown eyes, and the most luscious medium brown locks a child could have.  My children will forever be more beautiful that you, you horrible woman with bleach blond hair and pasty white – too much fake tan skin.  I forever hate you and your parents who taught you that is ok to speak so rudely and think so backwards. 

 

2.  “You have to accept the fact that your kids are British.”

Um, no, I don’t.  As an aquantince of mine you cannot dictate my children’s nationality, which is American.  We are living in Britian, we are NOT British.  We will not live here forever.  Considering the fact that all of our close friends here are not from here and the majority of them are either American or Cananadian they are growing up with a North American culture and not a British one.

 

3.  “We’ll get those children speaking properly.” 

Again, WE ARE NOT BRITISH, therefore, we will not speak British English, or say things like vit-a-min.  Its vite-a-min.  We don’t add the letter U where it does not belong.  My name is MOMMY not MUMMY and if you ask my 5 year old to write that in a card he won’t.  We throw things in the garbage not the bin, and for Gods sake toffee is only ONE kind of food!

 

4.  Apparently the MET office changed the first day of Spring to March 1 in 2006.  WHY?!?! Because its ‘easier to remember’. 

That is so stupid I just have no comment with out swearing, I’ll leave you to ponder that.

 

We are still waiting on the interview date for the job in Riyadh, its supposed to be in April sometime.  The sooner the better, I need a change.  There have been emails from other recruiters regarding jobs in the UAE, which is my first choice but I’m not hopeful for any of those right now.  

 

Trying to keep my spirits up this week and try not to speak to any idiots as well.   

We have got an interview!

Well we have passed one hurdle in our Arabian quest! H has been short listed for a great hospital in Riyadh! Inshallah he will be successful.

My first concern is the sample package offer that has been attached in the email. The pay rate is acceptable but (!) the education allowance is only 20,000SR per year for 2 children. This is not acceptable at all. The American school is close to 79,000SR a year per child and the British school is around 68,000SR a year per child. Add on the fact that we have 3 children. SR 40k a year has to be a joke.

If (inshallah) H got this job it would be at exactly the right time. By the time the paperwork was processed the school year would be done and H could do his probation period while the kids and I spent the summer in Michigan. Then start school on time in Saudi.

It all feels quite exciting today. Lets see how the interview goes and leave the rest to God.

Looking for a new adventure

As an American living in the United Kingdom, I have never felt at home here. I have been living in England for almost 9 years.

Milestones have come and gone in my time here and as each one passes I tell myself, I am settled here, this is my home. But, it is not. And it never has.

In nine years I have:
-turned 21
-got married
-had Sophia
-bought a house
-graduated from university
-bought another house
-had Zack
-turned 25
-got my UK driving licence
-had Zain
-kids started school
-bought another house
-and God knows what else

and the entire time I have struggled to find my place here. The longer I stay the more I realize two things:
1. England will never be my home.
2. I’m not sure I can readjust to American life.

So where does that leave me? Looking. Looking for something new, somewhere else.

My husband and I always talk about moving. We have explored the idea of Australia, and when the job offer came, we turned it down. Lets wait a few years. We looked into Sweden, but taxes were quite high. The USA is always on the table but my Husband doesn’t want to retrain for the same job he has done for 15 years. (Boo!) Canada! Yes! Lets go to Canada! It’s like America but better! Hubs thinks its too cold. (Are you kidding me!) UAE, what could be better? The best of Islam, halal McDonalds, and great shopping to boot. Yes, we’ve found our new home. Job offer was excellent, we were ready. But in the end it wasn’t meant to be. I was sad. I knew I had to stay longer in England.

Now in February 2013, I am presented with another idea. Saudi Arabia. Hmm. How do I feel about this? This isn’t just a Muslim country, this is the Muslim country! While I do want my kids growing up with a strong Islamic foundation would this be too much? What about me? Can a white girl from Michigan cope in Saudi Arabia?! Well, I think I can but only God knows for sure.

It’s all just speculation right now but agencies have been contacted and jobs applied for. It’s a matter of time to find out whether or not my husband has what they want or not.

In the mean time I’ve been reading what I can on life for women, schools, hospital life, etc. As far as I can tell my life there would be very similar to what is here. Me being at home full time looking after the family and house. Spending my days at the gym or salon it with girlfriends. Can’t beat that, right? I wouldn’t mind a maid or a driver and take the whole lady of leisure to a new level. Might be nice.

I know how my parents would feel about all of this and all of their concerns are justified and right. But life is an adventure only to be lived once. Gone are the days of living in closed communities because travel was expensive, or difficult, or just not something that was done. Where the farthest you went was Green Bay or Chicago at a stretch.

I need to see the world. God has given me the opportunity to travel and I will take it. I want to debunk any myths about Islam and its culture. Fox News and the likes spin it so its something scary and mysterious. It’s none of those things, 25% of the worlds population is Muslim. 1 in 4 people. That is amazing. Subhanallah.

So lets see what the future holds for Saudi and my family. Inshallah, it’s good for us.