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What to Expect with Expat Kids Abroad

Family LifePost Category - Family LifeFamily Life

You can take the child out of Dubai, but can you take Dubai out of the child? Apparently not, as these stories about my own expat children and those of my friends display – and if you’re heading away this summer, it’s definitely worth a read! Happy travelling!


Some things just don’t impress…
When we travelled back to the UK in April, I took my three-year-old son to the local garden centre for a morning out. This sounds boring, but it’s actually quite a nice morning out, with play areas, a coffee shop, a packed toy department to browse, and a pet department to visit small fluffy or scaled animals. But on entering the pet department, my son scanned the fish tanks, looked totally unimpressed, and declared in his loudest shout: ‘WHERE ARE THE SHARKS!’ I was the only one that laughed…

Life can be a bit baffling…
One of my friends told me that she usually valet parks to do her food shopping at Mall of the Emirates – mainly out of a fear of denting the car in the car park, but also because of the convenience. So when she took her daughter overseas and parked outside the nearest supermarket to stock the cupboards, the 10-year-old was totally perplexed and exclaimed loudly: “Mummy! THIS IS SILLY! Why don’t we just valet?”

Cold Weather

The weather can be challenging…
One of my friends is from Scotland, where the thermometer can plunge to well below the temperatures of Ski Dubai – so when she flew both of her children home in winter, she knew they were going to be shocked. However, she didn’t expect to have two children hysterically crying before they even left the airport, sobbing ‘Mummy! It’s like the fridge!’ as she desperately scrabbled around in the suitcases to find extra layers and people stood around them staring.


Short-haul flights just don’t cut it…
Two friends gave me stories about taking short flights on budget airlines when travelling overseas. The first told me that her three children nearly cried when she boarded the plane and they didn’t have TV’s built into the seat backs. The eldest spat: “Why didn’t we just fly Emirates?!” as she loaded the bags into the overhead locker and felt her face turn a embarrassed shade of strawberry. The second friend told me that they usually collect enough air miles to upgrade to business class on their annual holiday – so when they took a short internal flight on their trip overseas, their three-year old spent a good 10 minutes searching for the button to lie her seat flat, before grumbling the entire flight about the seat being broken.


The weather can be disappointing…
Last summer, I took my son to a big toyshop near to my parents’ house on a sunny afternoon and told him he could pick something to play with in the garden (I was thinking along the lines of a paddling pool or water shooter). He spent a good 30 minutes browsing the aisles with nothing taking his fancy, before spotting a display of umbrellas and dashing over to grab one. I have never seen him so excited about any toy in his life – and he spent the whole afternoon walking around the garden willing it to rain. It didn’t and he cried.

Family units aren’t always the same…
A friend told me that her 6-year old went to play date with some family friends last summer. The kids were all playing happily and the mums were chatting over cups of coffee, when a mature lady walked into the room. Her son spotted the lady, met his mum’s eye and asked: “is she their maid?” She had to discreetly explain it was the children’s grandmother, while wishing the ground would swallow her up.

Different Scenery

The scenery is different…
My son has been known to shout some interesting things from the back seat of the car when we are overseas. My parents live in the countryside and we passed a field of yellow flowers, to which he shouted: “Mummy! Look! The beach!” And then there’s every time we pass an old stone church and he shouts: “OH WOW! A CASTLE!” But my favourite is when we pass a field of cows or sheep – and he nearly explodes with excitement at the sight. After all, a tank of sharks might be the norm to a Dubai child – but give them a field of cows and they won’t quite believe their eyes. Exotic animals at their finest.

Featured image sourced via Pinterest

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