Well what can I say? It’s not been the easiest month. Every move I go through the four stages of culture shock at varying degrees of intensity and speed. I think when you can draw parallelism to your own culture you move through the phases a lot quicker. This is as far away from my own culture as I could possibly get and I’ve moved through the honeymoon stage at lightening speed and slammed into stage two, ANXIETY!!!
This expat posting is a little different from your usual setup. I was FIFO (fly in fly out) wife back when we lived in Australia and was used to not having my husband around. It was a lot easier having a support network of friends and family who spoke the same language as you and most conveniently were part of the same society and culture you were born and raised in. Here in Oman my husband lives a couple of hours south, four days a week and the boys and I live in Muscat. As capable as I am of doing most things by myself there are those moment when you know your husband would do not a better job per se, but achieve what you did in a quarter of the time when you are living in a patriarchal society.
The first few weeks I thought I was doing a super job. I had found a house in a week, a record for me. Managed to master driving on the left hand side of the road without swiping off any side mirrors, navigated my way around without the assistance of google maps (it doesn’t work here) and set up a camp style house in the absence of our shipping container. By camp style I mean mattresses on the floor, plastic cutlery, hand washing clothes, no internet and butts for chairs.
It all came crashing down when hormones decided to highjack my expat high and I realised hand washing clothes, no gas to cook dinner and being stuck indoors with two children in the middle of an Arabian summer was not so amazing. I’m pretty sure I’ve developed separation anxiety from having no Netflix and with Eid Al Adha declared next week the chances of connecting to the rest of the world and having a soft cushion to rest my sore butt are looking slim.
My building manager, Marloo, can say a few things in English. Yes, no, open and wash car. Google translate has thus far failed in relaying any requests for gas or where the trash goes and Marloo’s exceptional charade skills are wasted on me. Just to top off the whinging and whining the suffocating heat and modest dress code makes me feel that wearing a long dress is almost necessary, much to my great disappointment. And yes, I knew all of this before I came but it doesn’t make it any easier. My dog, Winston, arrived in the middle of all of this. He travelled the farthest continually. 17.5hrs to Dubai and then 1.5hrs onto Muscat. The vet said he was suffering from anxiety, and who could blame him??? I wonder if dogs go through culture shock? I’m not sure he went through the honeymoon stage though.
You’re probably thinking jeez, first world problems much? Pull yourself together women! And you’re right. Everything seems so menial and an unnecessary precursor for tears and anxiety. But seriously, you try being run off the road five times in a week and being so bad at charades you can’t order gas, this expat gig can be tough sometimes! So what have I done to fix it? Well I’m glad you asked. I’ve done what any Crossfitting lover would do! I’ve joined my local CrossFit. I had to sell my first child to afford it but doing so has allowed me to go five days a week. It might seem a bit excessive but slogging it out in the 46 degree heat has abated the tears and best of all….its an entire hour where I don’t have to wear a dress!!
As I move into my second month I’m feeling a bit more of a Kristie:2 Muscat:1 kind of vibe. I know there will be more ups and downs to come but I think I’m slowly creeping into the adjustment phase.