Wow, the past 4 days have been crazy busy for us. For the first time since moving to Abu Dhabi, we have family members from the US here visiting. I must admit I've always been a little jealous of other expats that I've seen showing around visiting family members. It isn't uncommon for grandparents from European countries to make the trip to the UAE to visit with their kids and grandchildren, but for Americans it isn't as common.
When we made the decision to move, my parent-in-laws stated that since we were moving their grandkids 7500 miles away they would more than likely end up making the journey to see them(and us) at some point. Well, this past Thursday "Granny" and "PopPop" arrived in the UAE, and we have been on the go ever since.
Although this is the first family visit, we have had friends from the US visit us. One of the cool things about having visitors is we get to be tour guides, and we get to do some of the more touristy things here that we don't normally do all the time. So, their vacation becomes our vacation as well.
Luckily, my in-laws are here for longer than past guests, so we don't have to jam in the sites of both Abu Dhabi and Dubai in just a few days. We've also been able to just give them a taste of our daily life here, so they now have a better understanding of the differences we've had to adjust to in our new life abroad. For an expat, having someone back in your home country understand the changes you are dealing with and adjusting to is huge. I often find myself talking to other expats about how family and friends in our home countries just don't understand this unique place we now call home.
I actually started this blog as a way to try to relay my expat experience to friends and family in the US. I wanted people to understand the magnitude of the changes we've adapted to, both good and bad. Still, I think reading about it doesn't compare to experiencing this place first hand. As I suspected, our visitors have already made note of some of the things I have shared here on my blog, like the abundance of people that try to assist you while shopping here. My mother-in-law noted that there are so many people trying to help you in stores, it's like you're tripping over them. They've also been a witness to what a pain grocery shopping can be here, and a few of the things that make an American or western expat ask "Why?" or "What were they thinking?".
My father-in-law got a taste of one of the unique things here when he went into a bathroom at a local mall......or so he thought. Just like in the states, he looked for the symbol of a man on the door and went in. He was a little befuddled when an Arabic gentleman in the bathroom told him he had to take his shoes off before going in any further. It seems he stepped into a men's room, but this men's room was a men's PRAYER room. PRICELESS! We all got a really good laugh out of that one.
So for the next couple of weeks, I may be sharing more of the tourist attractions of the UAE with you as opposed to the daily expat life. Perhaps it may convince more of our friends and family to make the journey to this side of the world.