Diary of an Expat: Around The World in 48 Hours

48 hours.

In 48 hours, my life changed so drastically, it’s actually a bit challenging to articulate. Growing up I always prided myself on being the type of person who always had her sh*t together – this was definitely not one of those times.

In 48 hours I was suddenly thrust out of my comfort zone. From living a bona fide college existence in small town Savannah, Georgia (my home for 5 years) into that one era that all parents, college professors, and mentors try their best to prepare you for – The real world.

We all know that change is inevitable. However when you know for a fact that your life is about to do a complete 180, well that, friends, is a whole other story.

It was just days before our college graduation and I received a job offer via LinkedIn for a position as a Public Relations Executive in Dubai.  I was over the moon! Although I had never visited, Dubai had been a dream for years- something about living in a futuristic city rising from the desert, a place where anything is possible! But that’s the thing about dreams; you should really be careful what you wish for.

Naturally, I started celebrating before I even finished reading the email but reality soon set in. Like most things in life, there was a catch; and the company needed me to start ASAP- as in, 2 days. Of course there was that small issue of me being a hemisphere away, and on the way to my last college class ever; but I promised them that they would see me in the office first thing Sunday morning (Sunday = Monday in Dubai). This impulsive promise also meant that I now could no longer attend my graduation ceremony as I had already accepted the job (something that breaks my heart up to this day)

Although I was heartbroken to miss my graduation ceremony, I was definitely relieved that I would be skipping that unemployed college grad phase (something I feared dreadfully).

That was that. I had 48 hours to journey across the world and start a new life alone in a city where I knew no one and nothing and still had a few minor kinks to work out like “Where would I live?  What does one wear to work in Dubai? Would I have to start covering up?”

Equipped with only a job, I was about to make a giant leap and the nausea, panic and second guessing soon set in. “Am I really ready for this?” I thought over and over as I hurriedly packed 5 years into two suitcases. I didn’t have a second to waste.

From Savannah I headed to New York for a day and attempted to get my sh*t together one last time. Put on a clock and a budget, I somehow managed to score some appropriate work attire and book myself into a cost-effective hotel apartment in Dubai, at least I’d have a place to stay while I sorted out the rest of my life.

The next 24 hours was a blur of airports, long haul flights and navigating through different time zones. Upon my eventual arrival at DXB, I was thrilled to learn that one of my bags was being held hostage in Bahrain, (thanks Gulf Air), and would not reach me for another 2 days. At that point, I was too exhausted to care and had approximately T-4 hours until my first day on the job – Keep the bag for all I care!

When most people envision Dubai, the very image of that dazzling desert oasis rising from the sands is the one that immediately comes to mind. What appeared before me as I arrived at my hotel apartment and exited the taxi was definitely not that. “This is Dubai?” I thought. The area resembled more of a Chinatown district than a modern city. Later on that day I learned that I was actually living in the HOOD… of course. No wonder it was so cheap!

When you move to another country on your own, you rely on the kindness of complete strangers to help you along the way. Whether it was the hotel maid helping me with my laundry or the taxi driver giving me city tips, the simplest things turn into the longest ordeals and it is truly the most vulnerable feeling.

Intriguingly it didn’t take much to reawaken my excitement amid the exhaustion. After a long shower and a cup of tea, I was ready to embark on my first day of work… And that in itself was an adventure of its own.

Moral: It only takes one experience for you to realize how much is exactly possible!

Stay tuned for more!


Kim Seelochan is a Dubai based Film Publicist for Warner Bros. Pictures obsessed with all things movies and fitness. She’s a Trinidad native who is still trying to master the art of adulting. Follow her online @kimseelochan.

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