With Beverley Burgess –
Hi, my name is Beverley and my life as an expat began on March 9, 2007 when I left Christchurch airport in New Zealand bound for a nursing job in Doha, Qatar.
This was not something I had ever thought other than when my daughter was living in Sydney.
I was 49 years old, my job situation had changed, really just in name only but also eventually a salary drop would be coming.
A Manager I had previously worked with had become the Director of Nursing at a brand new hospital being built in Qatar, so with some prodding from staff I wrote to him enquiring about a job there and 5 months later there I was flying away from my family and life as I had known it.
The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” was alive and well and we can use it to our advantage sometimes.
I was planning on staying for 5 years, given that was the length of time they would allow, well 12 years later I am still here!
Adapting to a totally different culture and lifestyle took a little time, but I coped a lot better than many others because I accepted that I wasn’t in NZ any more. I understood that everything was done in a totally different way and I was willing to make new friends, accept differences, and accept things that couldn’t be changed.
Now I had less than 5 days rain per year, sun every day, dust storms, apparently no road rules, shops and malls open till 11 – 12 pm, but often closed from 12 midday till 4pm, men dressed in white “dresses”, women all in black, parking on the footpaths and people walking on the roads, along with using your car horn outside small neighbourhood shops to get the shopkeeper to come out and serve you.
The great things – NO TAX, accommodation totally provided, return ticket to home yearly and multiple cultural opportunities.
I was living a wonderful lifestyle that I would never have dreamed of back home, I had money to spend, I was just “Beverley”, no one’s daughter, mother, sister and so I was able to find me again.
The first few years I was able to save well, have a social life as full as I wanted it to be, travel to countries I would never have thought about going to.
After a couple of years my daughter popped in on her way to the UK and stayed for 4 years.
She was into a more holistic lifestyle, doing yoga, eating healthy, taking time for herself. It was through her that I came to know of Nicole van Hattem. She had taken one of Nicole’s green smoothie challenges and had some contact about Aloe Vera Forever Living products.
Then in 2010 a few events in my life changed things for me especially in the financial area. I still loved the life, but it wasn’t quite as easy. I was following Nicole via Facebook, did a green smoothie challenge and decided that I needed to really try to change my lifestyle.
I found a lot of what Nicole was sharing, along with the group of experts she was gathering was resonating within me and eventually last year I decided I WAS WORTH the cost of a 1 on 1 membership. This has been the turning point in my journey towards a holistic healthy life.
It’s not easy, but with her support and coaching I am starting to face the future with different eyes, accepting that perhaps the vision I had
of the future has changed and perhaps I will eventually have to return to NZ for retirement.
The accountability she has with me is awesome, she is kind but stays on track and calls me out when I need it.
I have recently joined the gym and I am changing my eating patterns and choices.
I am accepting that changing plans does not mean that I have failed and that I won’t achieve them, just perhaps on a revised timeline.
I have started keeping a daily record – not journaling in a deep therapeutic way but even so I am finding it enables me to think about that day, my thoughts and feelings and how perhaps I could have done things differently.
Recently in our sessions we have been talking about letting go – of stuff in my case – freeing space – physically in the apartment and in my mind. It truly is freeing and uplifting.
Just achieving a couple of small goals has lifted my mood in many spheres.
One aspect of expat life and especially if you have no family with you like me, is what happens to my things if something happened to me? This is also helping me face this too. Nicole recommended that I watch the documentary The Minimalists, which I did. I can’t say that I will ever get as scaled back as they have but who knows.
I recently found out that when I go back to NZ, I have to live there for 5 years before I can apply for the old age pension (and that is close!). My end of service bonus won’t cover that whole length of time, so I have set some short- and medium-term goals for saving to help make that transition better.
My spiritual journey has perhaps been the biggest change of all. I was very involved in my church when I left NZ and even though the government in Qatar is very open towards other religions, I wasn’t able to connect with a church here.
I confess that I knew practically nothing about Islam before I came here and because I didn’t want to offend patients and staff I was always watching, listening, asking questions and reading. In 2012, I took the step and reverted to Islam and it was a very peaceful and completing step for me spiritually. So, in my spiritual life I am trying to learn as much as I can now because I know that despite there being Muslims & masjids(mosques) in NZ, it will be a huge change. I won’t hear the call to prayer 5 times a day, eat out and not know that it’s halal and not have the whole country observe the Ramadan fasting together.
I know if it’s Allah’s path for me to go back to NZ, he will place other Muslims around me, after all he did bring me here in the first place.
So, in many ways my journey is just starting – a healthier more holistic journey, one that will keep me in good health in all areas of life for my future.
Thanks, Nicole, for being there with me on this journey and thanks to the power of the internet that we can all be in widely separated countries, but still be face to face. Thanks also to the experts in the group who share their wisdom in so many ways.