Dear Diary: Why I left Dubai and Was it a Good or Bad Decision?

My first entry in what feels like a year (nearly has been) because my life has been super chaotic. It has taken me months to pen this letter to you. Let me first tell you, that your support over the past 5 years has been so very much appreciated, you will never know how happy you made me!

I changed my blog name from “Mommy in Dubai” to “Urban Foxes” because…we MOVED. We no longer live in Dubai. GULP! My blog has been a place to release my feelings, be creative and come up with an insane journal I can share with my children when they are older! We sure created a collection of some amazing times we had over the last few years! “The dust has settled” and I now plan on getting right back into it, just like I used to while living in Dubai. The strangest thing I am actually writing this post FROM Dubai! (we are here on a short 1 week holiday while the kids are off school).

(For those of you that don’t already know)

Where did I move you must be asking yourselves?! I have moved to Vienna (Austria) with Ruby & Nate. It was a very spur of the moment decision! I did not have time to inform many, mainly the neighbors/friends on my street that I was leaving! I literally packed my suitcase and LEFT! ALL my personal belongings are still in UAE until we get settled.

I found my life to be very isolated in Dubai and could not cope anymore. Honestly, could NOT cope one day more!  Ask me today how I feel about my move…well you will just have to keep reading.  

At the TIME,  I felt it was a very unrealistic environment to raise my children in. Don’t get me wrong; we made many great memories while living in UAE, however,  with every good comes a bad. No immediate family nearby. Friends become family; who often came and went as Dubai is a transient place. No proper daycare/creche system unless you want to pay the price of a car every year! Public transport is practically non existent and driving, a bloody NIGHTMARE. I feared for my life every single day driving to do errands and take Ruby to school. The tail gating, flashing of lights, people trying to run me off the road…it was an EVERY day occurrence. And I found it got worse in the last year. My anxiety would sky rocket each time I entered a car. I hated the feeling of being so afraid and uncertain if I would arrive alive (PLUS my children) each and every day.  Additionally, the LACK of respect and care towards the environment and mother nature = disgraceful

Okay,  so as you can see, the major forces to drive me to move out of the UAE was yes 1) the drivers and 2) the environment.

Finally, I never felt like I ‘fit in’. Some expats flock to Dubai who originate from small towns. Probably never had much before they moved to the desert and now suddenly living the life of Riley. Constant brunches, parties non stop, shopping sprees on a weekly basis. That life was never for me.  I am who I am through and through! From the time I moved to Dubai when I was 21 until now, at the age of 31! You can’t tell me dragging a ‘nanny’ around to the malls and to blogging events is a normal thing? Sorry, I can never relate to this.  Some people dress their ‘nannies’ in these ridiculous maid outfits and have them parade around the grocery store and malls pushing strollers, carrying bags…All I can say to that is WTF! Lastly, the blogging competition in UAE was starting to get to me. I thought I had created a honest this is me and my family blog; in the end I felt it did not matter how much time I invested into my blog and making appearances at events it did nothing for me. Never seemed to get me anywhere. I believe I did not portray a rich enough fake lifestyle?! Towards the end, I started to curb my blog posts and public appearances, even slacking on Instagram. I felt like I was never a right fit. What would rattle my bones…it always seemed to be about where I lived! Numerous women would say some condescending comments to me. I would feel embarrassed, humiliated and did not want to socialize. Little do many know…but I bought and fully paid off a 4 bedroom Emaar home (by the age of 29) in an Emirate outside of Dubai (GASP! I know…not Dubai). I never flaunted this, nor shared with many in my life. Maybe I am opening up now because I just need to vent!  I was so hurt when these women would tell me things like “you must live there because rent is cheap!” with pity/grin on their face and move slowly away from me like I was contagious. I wish if only I had the balls to speak up to them then; instead I am using this blog post to do that NOW! I always had this complex that many women wouldn’t be my friend because I was too simple, too caring, too HONEST.  It hurt and still hurts when I reflect on it.  There were times (one woman in particular) would be following me on Instagram, the next day unfollowing me and not inviting me to events. And that painful time last year when it was Mother’s Day and ALL the Mommy bloggers were sent these beautiful gift baskets from a big PR firm. Even bloggers who had just started out with less than a 100 followers received one. I was the ONLY one they ignored. “It’s OK” I kept telling myself… but it hurt and I cried because of how mean people can be. 

I now raise my children in a “normal” civilization! NO nannies running into the public toilet with a diaper bag and spraying the washroom with air freshener for their ‘madam’ or little ‘princess’. Laugh or be puzzled, but I swear this was a sight I saw! I’ll bite my tongue there and stop because I could write a novel!

My anxiety was overtaking my life in Dubai. I thought it was something I could cure in Vienna. I thought I would be happier.

 I now live in a beautiful district in an old early 1900’s apartment building. It overlooks the famous Donau Canal that runs through Vienna. The children both attend incredibly wonderful schools (with a waiting list of 5 years) and speak fluent German (hello translators for Mommy!). We go to the museum’s most weekends, the children get to see their grandmother/aunt/cousin/great grandmothers etc, historical castles and landmarks (the city is brimming with culture), long walks in the fresh air. But…something is…missing.

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I have struggled for nearly half a year trying to obtain an Austrian Visa. It has been VERY trying. I had to complete a German course (beginner level! I think it will be YEARS until I can converse fully in German!), spent tons of euros on insurance, translating documents and the list goes on and on and on… I have a hard time communicating because…I do not speak German. I have to take pictures of everything and send them to my husband or mother-in-law. This can be tricky when it comes to homework…thankfully the school assists her with homework after school.

(you can follow my journey via instagram @urbanfoxes)

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I miss the sunshine…Vitamin D, how it feels so good on my skin compared to grey skies and bitter cold mornings. Indian food! Letting Ruby & Nate bike/run/play outside until the sun would be setting down. Our chickens. Yes my beautiful chickens that people laughed at me for. But they brought so much joy and now all celebrities as raising chickens!

The other day I had a faint whiff of oud (I could not stand this smell before) but it flooded my mind with memories. It made me feel “home” again.

I can’t say I have an answer for you of what life will be like when you return back to your home country OR a foreign country. What I can say…is that both Ruby & Nate were born in Dubai. This is their “home”. This is what they know. The climate, the food, the culture…it’s where they feel “comfortable”. Most of all, their father is here.

It’s very hard to set up life in Vienna knowing what I have left behind. 6 months ago I could not leave Dubai fast enough, but now…the memories and feelings are trickling back… Dare I say… I miss it. Mainly because Ruby & Nate will utter the most painful words to me at least once a week “IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT WE HAD TO MOVE HERE”. We miss Daddy, we miss our old house, gymnastics at Aspire, we miss our old school, we miss our friends, the beach, the sun…

Maybe my journey in Vienna has been harder than expected. The first week of school Nate sliced his ear open, Ruby had Scarlet fever, the kids have been sick 24/7 with the change of weather, it took me nearly 5 months to secure an apartment (because of all the restrictions, waiting lists, you name it), still no visa for me, a struggle with the language… I don’t know WHERE I feel more accepted.

I get message after message on Instagram with questions like “are you happy now?”, “is life better outside of Dubai”? Thank you for caring.

As I try to find my footing and live a more healthy/balanced lifestyle, it all seems to be crashing down on me. My patience is shorter, I get upset and find myself crying more than I would like to simply because the children are not easy to raise while the other parent is in another country. I always seem to be the “bad cop” which results in angry children who do not want to listen me. I feel helpless. I feel out of place. I feel like I miss home. But where IS my home? I felt the same when I moved to UAE 10 years ago, but 10 years on it feels like home. Will it be the same for me in Austria? I am a lost soul. Always trying to do what is best for my children, to give them the best life they can possibly have.

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Dubai will always be a safe and great place to raise a young family. The children stay innocent longer. Have I done the right thing to set them up for adulthood in what is rated as one of the best cities in the world though? They say children are resilient and can adapt better than we expect. I don’t have the answer to ANY of these questions, I am still trying to figure it all out myself. All I can say…is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

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5 Comments on Dear Diary: Why I left Dubai and Was it a Good or Bad Decision?

  1. Paula
    February 9, 2018 at 4:01 am (2 weeks ago)

    Aww Corrine! I am sure that the decision you made for you and the kids is the best one you could have made – there is no right or wrong, just what works for you best at the time. I am sure that soon you will really start to settle and find your little corner where you do fit in! I can so relate to how you felt in Dubai, I’ve had much the same where if you do not live in the “it” community or go to the latest Brunch it apparently reflects on you as a person – how is that even a thing in this day and age 😮 When you’re next here for a visit, please give me a shout – i’d love to meet up for coffee!

  2. Abigail
    February 9, 2018 at 5:17 am (2 weeks ago)

    I have been including you in my prayers, that you will find the place you and your family will feel most at home wherever it may be. You are one of the most genuine Mommy bloggers I have met and followed here in the UAE.

  3. Mayssam Mahmoud
    February 9, 2018 at 7:07 am (2 weeks ago)

    I am sure you did what it needed to be done for your precious children.
    Wishing you all the best with your new adventure.

  4. Priscilla
    February 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm (2 weeks ago)

    Corinne, that is so brave of you. You are definitely the strongest mom i know, who moved to a new country and starting from scratch. You remind me very much of my mom. She left Dubai with the same feelings that the place wasn’t right for us. As much as I was happy to return to Dubai years later with my husband and have our child there, i’ve never felt such intenses loneliness and discrimination while I was there.
    It is difficult in London as well but there is so much culture, history and nature that i’m positive we have chosen the right place for our child to be raised in. I wish you all the luck, courage and strength and take on whatever difficulties come your way. And if you ever stop by London I would love to meet you. Upu seem like my kinda person.

  5. Grace Fujimaki
    February 10, 2018 at 7:03 am (2 weeks ago)

    Hi Corinne, I can feel the emotions that you must have felt while writing this. And because I have known you having met you a few times in the UAE. You are such a deep person and should not apologize for being too honest and raw. There are only very few people like that now. Moving to a different country is hard enough but WITH KIDS, I must say, it’s harder. And then you have the visa and the language problems too. It sounds so overwhelming. As you know, we have left the UAE as well and though I had job offers in new places (which was exciting), choosing to move to Japan where we have family and there is no language and visa issues for all of us was the easiest choice. If I was alone, I could venture to new places but with kids needing to be placed in new schools, etc, I did not have the confidence I could do it. It was brave of you to choose to live in Austria (a place I so love!
    If you’re back in Austria while reading this comment, I hope somehow it becomes easier for you. Whatever decision you need to make, trust your instincts that it will be the best for your family.Take care and I wish you all the best.

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