I have spent a lot of time talking to expat partners, about the decisions they have made and the paths they walk. We have discussed challenges – dependence and independence, the importance of making informed decisions, negotiating an identity on the move and dealing with local labor laws, visa regulations and the cursed ‘not allowed to work’ stamp. My personal favorite is the agonizing process of choosing your ‘profession’ when filling in papers.
As an expat partner moving on a so-called ‘dependency visa’, what am I? Anthropologist – I trained as one and I identify as one, but I haven’t worked as one for a very long time. Writer – I write, but my writing doesn’t pay the family bills, so does it count? Teacher – I am a qualified teacher, I teach an English class and I love it, but it’s a volunteer, informal position. Housewife – I just can’t. Not even ironically.
What strikes me though, again and again, is how full of resources and agency expat partners are. We don’t pour a cup of tea (or gin and tonic, as the stereotype goes) and accept whatever status we’ve been given in our current location. We unpack, make new friends, find our way and get on with things. We try to overcome our challenges. We negotiate what can and what can’t be done. We find solutions. We move forwards.
We discover new occupations; we carve out niches for ourselves. We are the agents of change.
Through the process of establishing this blog, we reached out to a number of expat partners in Oman – trailblazers, who have made brave choices for themselves and their families. We feature them here to show that expat partners in Oman are a varied bunch, walking different paths and contributing towards a new understanding of who and what an ‘expat partner’ is.
Today, we publish our interview with trailblazer Heather Duncan, founder of the blog The Duncan Adventures.
Stay tuned for more stories on expat partners in Oman this week.