Today is Thanksgiving in Canada and it’s the first time in 5 years that I’ve been here to celebrate it. This has been a rollercoaster year for my family. Repatriation has and still does bring its highs and lows.
But today I’m focusing on the positive and thinking of what I’m truly thankful for. One of the best things about our travels has been the opportunity to meet so many different people; people of different nationalities, different religions, and from all walks of life. They’ve opened my eyes, broadened my mind and shown me generosity and kindness beyond measure.
The students who used to come to my apartment in Baku to practise their English are now all working, some are married and all have realized their ambition to travel. Last year I was able to return to visit and they were so generous with their hospitality. I’ve lost touch with the sweet young Egyptian woman who taught me Arabic in Cairo, and also the lovely Korean lady who invited a small group of us to her home to enjoy traditional home cooking. But I’m doing a better job of keeping in touch with my most recent friends from Dubai, most of whom are fellow expats, some also now repatriating or moving on to new adventures.
The internet, still in its infancy when we first headed overseas, has probably changed the lives of expats as much as any other group. Email, Facebook, online chat and forums are now essential tools we can’t imagine living without. My computer is my window on the world.
And so as I sit down to my turkey dinner later today, I will raise a toast to absent friends. Maybe I’ll see them again, maybe I won’t, but they continue to enrich my life and I am thankful for them.