July, 2012—Cha Jones, ContributingAuthor
Recently ayoung lady in our Women of Color Living Abroad FaceBook Group posted this comment/question,
"Living abroadis a wonderful and fulfilling experience and I'm so glad to have traveled andlived outside of my home country. Making the most of years I hope to get out ofmy life. For those who've yet to be married and start a family (and have plansto do so), how have you re-evaluated your plans in terms of living abroadeither long-term or short term? I've concludedthat while I love traveling and have enjoyed my experience living abroad, I'dmuch rather meet my partner and start a family in my own country, and then dosome traveling together to share the experience. Whether I live abroadlong-term again as wife and mother has yet to be determined, but for thosewomen who're married and/or have kids and are living abroad, what's your story?”
So,I thought that I would take a moment and interview the very first couple to be on WOCLA, Curtis andMichelle Howe, who are living and working abroad in the UAE, but are originally from London England.
After readingabout Curtis and Michelle I would love to hear your comments about travelingwith a spouse, having a relationship while traveling, and/or your thoughts on movinghome to establish a relationship even if you still love living abroad.
Interview with Curtis and MichelleHowe
Where are the two of you from?
We are both from London,England
How did youmeet?
Weattended the same church
What do youdo professionally?
Michelle-Iam an Elementary School Teacher
Curtis-Iam a Project Manager in the Oil & Gas Sector
In whichcountry and city are the two of currently living?
Where wereyou living before you moved to Abu Dhabi?
Weboth were living in London, England where we are from.
How longhave you been in Abu Dhabi?
Wehave only been in Abu Dhabi for 18 months
What othercountries have you lived in prior to moving to Abu Dhabi? Michelle-Ihave only lived in my native city and country, London, England
Curtis-Ihave lived in London, England as well as Canada
If you don’tmind how old are you?
Curtis-I am 38 Michelle- Iam 33
If you don’tmind, what is your religious faith? Has your faith ever played a role in yourlifestyle (good or bad) while living in Abu Dhabi?Weare Christians. Through prayer and faithwe have been able to transition ourselves into the unfamiliar and move intoGod’s purpose for our lives in Abu Dhabi.
What was thereason that you moved to Abu Dhabi? (If for work please explain the process andwhat you do) Michelle-I moved here because I wanted to gain international experience of teachingabroad and widen my travel opportunities. I was recruited through teachaway.comand currently teach English to Emirati students.
Curtis-I have always been fascinated by Arabic culture and The Middle East.
What was thebiggest thing that you had to adjust to when you first moved to Abu Dhabi?
Thebiggest thing about moving here would have to be not expecting things to bedone when you want them to happen. Patience is the key!
Michelle,what is the worst thing about living abroad for you?
Missingfamily occasions in London.
Curtis, whatis the worst thing about living abroad for you?
Beingable to run in the middle of the day because its cooler.
What is thebest thing about living in Abu Dhabi?
Theglorious sunshine! The Corniche beach feels like I’m permanently on holiday!
Is race everan issue?
Curtis-Iam being constantly regarded as Sudanese or South African. When the locals findout I’m Western, personal attention becomes better.
Was thereever a time where you had to be apart? If so, for how long and what was thatlike?
WhenCurtis had to go away on business, we soon realized that being together is anessential part of survival in a strange land.
Consideringthat the two of you are married, is there anything that you would tell singlestraveling along to help them if they do desire to be married?
Continueto explore life’s possibilities, travel and have fun. It’san old cliché-but love WILL find you!
Curtis, Ican imagine that living in Abu Dhabi as a man is much different for you, thanit is for Michelle? Are there anycultural differences that would leave you concerned for Michelle or her safety?
Ihave no concerns for Michelle’s safety whatsoever because the crime rate isextremely low here.
Michelle, isit difficult being a woman in a male dominated Muslim country? If, so why orwhy not?
Thereis a current drive here for local women to be in the workplace and have aprofession which is encouraging to see compared to other Islamic countries.
Do you thinkliving abroad together as a couple has helped your relationship? If so, in whatway has it helped?
Definitely!As a couple you learn to rely upon each other as you only have each other.There are no distractions from well-meaning family members.
Do you planon having a family?
Nowe don’t plan on having a family.
What otherplaces other countries would you consider living in?
A growingnumber of young Blacks are moving overseas to work and many of themare single, what do you think is the best thing about having your spouse withyou on this adventure? Havinga spouse with you while moving overseas amounts to travelling with your bestfriend and sharing lifetime experiences. We aim to be a blessing to others.
If you were singlewhat in your life would be different?
Michelle: Nothing. I am happy with my life.
Curtis: I would date Michelle sooner than I did!
The bigquestion many singles who are traveling overseas alone are faced with is datingand some, I would imagine more women, ponder on going home to find asignificant other. Now, I know that you two are married, but what advice wouldyou have for those who want to be married, but also want to travel and see theworld? Iknow a few friends who have taken a leap of faith and travelled abroad and havemet their significant other! They are currently planning weddings! Love canalso be found outside of the State or country you are presently living in.
What advicewould you give other Black couples who may want to consider livingabroad, but have their fears? Weencourage others to look outside of the box and explore new opportunities madeavailable to them. Living abroad does come with its challenges and low times,but in the long run it opens your eyes to new opportunities and dreams thatgoes beyond your comfort zone.
“The brave man is not he who does not feelafraid, but he who conquers that fear.” ― Nelson Mandela.
Curtis, canyou take a moment speak to young black men who may not even be consideringliving abroad? What would you tell them about that could change their lives? Youshould be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. Trust in God, bedeliberate and afraid of nothing.
Michelle,what would be your advice to young black women who may want to live abroad, butare scared they may be forfeiting a chance for a relationship?
Youonly have one life to live-live it to the fullest!!