Tuesday, 18 October 2016
As we enter our third month in Abu Dhabi, we are settling into our new home. It's nearly empty and as I set my cup down on the table, the sound echoes throughout the living room. Compared to our apartment in Norway, this place is palatial. We have gone from one bathroom with only a shower to four bathrooms (five, if you count the maid's room) and three bathtubs. Our housing decision was difficult as we flip-flopped back and forth between options almost hourly but in the end, easy won out. We've had a stressful 2016 and the community we chose is quiet, gated, very family friendly, green and lovely. Jasper's nursery school is less than a five minute drive; it takes Joe twenty minutes to drive to work and while we're in the suburbs, in ten minutes, we can be in the centre of it all on the Corniche.
My days are spent either waiting on delivery or maintenance men or trying to find furniture to fill the voids. While I'm happy to be putting our suitcases away, it's a lot of work to get settled, not to mention, expensive. Prohibitively so. Our sea freight has arrived in the UAE and awaits its day with customs officials. It is mostly filled with all of the things Jasper has outgrown but there's something about the arrival of one's things that makes a home feel like home - a reminder that we're planting our feet for awhile.
Jasper has been battling a nasty virus that has had us visiting doctor's offices more times than he's been in his entire life. It's events like these that take the shine off the newly expatriated. Navigating a new system in a foreign country and feeling mostly alone while doing it is harrowing. The homesickness for Norway was quite intense during those times - wishing I didn't have to worry about doctor bills and private clinics and that I'd have the support of my friends nearby. I still have a hard time flipping through my camera roll to photos of our old home. I haven't reached a pleasant nostalgia yet - it's still just sad.
Abu Dhabi is growing on us. The weather has cooled by at least ten degrees and we're slowly acclimatizing and feeling more comfortable. I've been navigating the roads and the traffic confidently and Jasper has learned a few 'car words' we wish he'd forget but have taken up residence in his daily vocabulary. We have our first visitors arriving next week - Joe's cousin and her husband are stopping by on their way to Nepal from Zimbabwe. We hope we'll have a bed in place for them and I'm not sure we'll be the most knowledgeable hosts yet but we're excited to see familiar faces and to explore the city with them.
All in all, we're doing well. There are days where I feel at home and others where I'm flailing and frustrated - only normal when you've found yourself on a new continent.