My Dubai Journey

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28 April 2021

#MyDubai Journey

And How I'm Navigating in One of the Best Cities in the World

In the post Buy That Ticket. Really. I am giving a glimpse of how I decided to move to Dubai while living in Berlin. Bought a one-way ticket, sold my furniture, gave a lot of stuff away for free, and said GoodBye to almost 5 years of living between germans. 

Within this article, I will share the story of #mydubai journey from the beginning until the present time.

I landed in the UAE on April 18, 2015. I was so excited about it that I couldn’t sleep the nights before and remember telling everyone, I am finally moving to Dubai!!!” Yaaay!!! And I had that sweet feeling “I did it, everything is possible” … and it was :) Now that I am writing about it I am going through a rainbow of emotions. I have a stupid smile on my face and goosebumps all over. 

Living in Dubai

My first 8 months were a mix of connecting with the people I already knew here (this was not difficult as most of them were from the salsa community), meeting new people, going out probably five times per week, dancing salsa, dealing with a job that turned out to be the worst job I have ever had in my entire life, being already part of a group of people that some I already knew from Romania, having my first Dubai crush disappointment and my first Tinder dating experience, ending the year by witnessing on December 31st how The Address Downtown Hotel was burning until five am.

What an epic year! Really. 

I ended 2015 by quitting my impossible job, moving out from my first shared accommodation in the sandpit, and I started January 2016 with a brand new job working for one of the best companies I ever did and sharing an apartment with one of the girls from our group.

 

People celebrating in Dubai

2016 was an unforgettable year. Filled with glamorous parties, yachts, dates, shopping, traveling, ladies’ nights, brunches, clubs, private parties held in villas and apartments. I was invited everywhere, I had my girls’ squad, making money and organizing events for big brands like Chalhoub, McLaren, or Hugo Boss. OH yeah, I was living the good life I was craving for while I was in Germany. Felt like it was Sex and The City – Dubai Edition. 

Oh, dear sweet 2016!

Sex and The City

And then 2017 came, and in January, I figured that the company I was working with would close in the next few months. At the same time, I was dating a Jordanian guy who moved to another country shortly after the company news came.

So a few months later, in April, I found myself completely lost: no job, the guy I liked was gone (gone with some drama included in the package – how else lol) and a lot of crap happening in our group of friends. And the cherry on the cake also turned out that the girl I was living with and to which all I did was being nice and caring did a lot of shitty things behind my back. That was when I said: “I can’t fix myself anymore”, and I started my first sessions of therapy with a therapist from Romania. All on Skype. And it was the best choice I ever made. In Romanian, we say “she took me out of the s*** I felt I was slowly drawing in”

Therapy became an important chapter of my life. Because of this, I will have a dedicated article where I will explain a little more why it helps and why most of us need it.

Moving on – being jobless, I was using my savings to pay the rent and other bills. At the same time, I was applying for a job, but nothing seemed to happen. My flatmate moved back to Romania, and it was much better as our relationship became very dramatic. That’s when I decided I am done sharing. If I am not in a couple, I will leave alone even if I have to allocate a bigger budget for the rent and expenses.

The good part is that my savings were ok. 

As a side thing, my advice is: whatever you do wherever you live, save money. Save Save Save. Because you never know, and 2020 showed us that if we have no savings, we are screwed. But this is another story. 

Eventually, therapy started to work, I was feeling better. I was working on myself and trying to fix the issues in my life. I found a job and began to work on August 1st in a hospitality company in DIFC.

Well, girlfriends, this was the 2nd worst job I had in my life :))) Good package with benefits and paid on time, but I was leaving from there crying … literally crying like it was the end of the world.. I’ll detail in another post, and I am sure many of you can relate to that.

This job lasted for 3 months and when they told me “We don’t want you” I said “Thank you, I don’t want you either” and I knew afterward it would be bad as I would struggle again with money. But I had to let it go for the sake of my mental health.

The next 3 months were ok in terms of not being alone and having many friends around me supporting me really being there for me, but I felt very vulnerable as I had to watch every penny that I spent. 

It was the end of 2017.

In February 2018, when I was at the end of my financial rope, I finally found a very nice job in a retail real estate company. They hired me right away for a very good salary. Unfortunately, when I thought things started to fall into place again, 3 months later, they told me they can’t pay me anymore. What to do. I left.

So here I was again – jobless – the third time in a year. I was scared. 

It was May 2018. I was living alone in a very nice apartment behind MOE, paying a high rent by myself. While I was looking for another job, I started freelancing and bought my own events license, and I was helping one of my friends manage his business. So I was kind of surviving with a few savings from my last job and some income coming in from my small projects and my friend’s business. 

Of course, I had to reduce my expenses a lot, and this lasted until the end of 2019.

I had to cut it out: entertainment, parties, shopping, traveling, and many other essentials. It was painful.

And I have to be honest: I had some rough ones. I had 35 DHS in my pocket one week. I had another week where I debated if I should buy another pair of Zara flip-flops for only 200 DHS. I didn’t until Mihaela, one of my BFF’s gave me 1000 DHS to get whatever I need … I am not crying when I think about it; I just say Thank you 🙂

Yeah, sometimes I was coming home and crying for 2 hours, doubting myself and wondering why nobody needed me. It was harsh. 

At the same time, I was very focused on finding a steady job, something safe that could cover all my bills. 

I could have asked the help of my family, and they would have, but I knew they would get worried sick, so I didn’t want to put anything on their shoulders as my expectation from me was that I am old enough to get my s*** together. 

October came, and my tourist visa was expiring. I was in this situation for 6 months now, and I started to feel desperate. Having a residency visa is the most basic document that allows you to live here for those who don’t stay in Dubai.

I started to create scenarios in my head that it would be ok to go back to Romania and find myself there again. That desperate I was and with my hopes almost lost.

In parallel, I was recently dating one of the best men I ever did in my life. So to make things even “spicier,” he lost his job and had to move back to Europe.

My safety belt was that one of my best friends that were part of our group and the one I was managing his business. He came one day to me and gave me the company documents and told me, “Go to Tasheel in Barsha Mall” and do your own damn visa. Good Luck. P.S He also gave me money to pay for it. 

After other adventures, I had my visa and medical insurance in less than 2 months.

God Bless him and his heart!

2019 I had a residency visa valid for 2 years, but I was still jobless, still freelancing, not having enough money, and of course wondering what I am doing with my life. The cherry on the cake was that in March, I realized that no matter what magic I did, I won’t be able to cover my rent anymore, and I told the same friend. His answer was again very simple – “You will move in with me until you find something because right now, this is your only option”.

Skyscrapers in Dubai Marina

I lived with him for almost 1 year. He took care of me and never asked for anything in return. In December 2019, I finally found the job that I currently have, and things started to fall in place once again: I moved back alone, I covered all my financial gaps, paid my debt, got back into the social scene, recovered my wardrobe (hehe yeah), and most damn important – I survived 2020 when a lot of other people lost their jobs. 

2021 – Nowadays, what I do is work in a branding agency as a project manager. I write for this fabulous blog that I wanted to start for over 10 years, travel, date, and live happily in #myDubai together with my tribe of amazing people. 

As a closing note – what people say here really upsets me – “You can’t find real people in Dubai,” “You can’t build friendships”, “Everyone is so fake”, etc. 

FALSE FALSE FALSE. Nothing can be further from the truth. I will tell you something: if it was not for the people around me here, I would not be in Dubai anymore, and I would not call this place HOME. My tribe is not just people from my community, meaning from my country as I don’t care about hanging out only with Romanians. Yes, I do have a lot of them around me, especially girls because it happened. But otherwise, I have friends here from everywhere.

When I was going through the rough times from 2017 to 2019 and had less money to go out, I swear five days out of seven per week, I had people in the house for breakfast, lunch, or dinner for sleepovers, etc. I was never alone. I never felt alone for a moment. I never felt abandoned or not taken care of.

On the contrary, there was always someone that I could count on no matter what. Walla. (Really in Arabic)

Yes, I am a friendly and social person, and maybe I was also lucky, but I really believe that Dubai is a place where we are here for each other. And let’s face it. Fake shitty people are everywhere.

Another thing that I hear is “yeah, but Dubai is like a train station”. People come for a while, and they leave after. Some they do indeed, but I know so so so many people that leave here for so many years and they bought houses here as well. Even the ones they say for years they will relocate they never do. Because Dubai knows how to keep you hooked with its multitude of benefits. 

If you enjoyed reading, I would love hearing your own #myDubai journey 🙂

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