When we moved to Dubai in August last year, I decided I was going to try my best to get out of my comfort zone. I’m a creature of habit, a homebody and a little shy. I already knew a few people in Dubai which made the move easier but I wanted to also make sure that I put myself out there and made a concerted effort to meet new people.

It took me 5 months, but today, I pushed myself and got right out of my comfort zone. Yesterday I saw a post on an expat forum about the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong. A lady commented that she had just started a new Mahjong group in Dubai. Without overthinking or trying to talk myself out of it, I messaged the lady and less than 24 hours later I was sitting in a strangers villa learning how to play the game.



I had such a great morning, I discovered a new game which quite frankly is highly addictive, I even won a round! I met a group of expat women that I know I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet in my normal social circle but most of all I had fun. I loved today so much that in my diary you’ll now see that Monday’s are blocked out for Mahjong. Mahjong is a game I’ve always thought was such an expat thing to do, especially for older expat women, but I was always curious about the game. Yes, I was the youngest player there today, but I had more in common with these ladies than I thought I would have. We’ve all been the new girl in town and we’ve all had to adapt to new cities and cultures.

So if you’re new to a city and are trying to make new friends, or if you’ve been in your expat location for a while but feel life is a little stale then go ahead and search out a new activity. The best place to start are local Facebook groups and expat pages. Put yourself out there, jump out of your comfort zone and give it a go. You’ve got nothing to lose right? Today I walked away with a few new words in my vocabulary like pung, kong and chow but more importantly I walked away proud of myself for trying something new and meeting new people. I also walked away not really caring what other people think about expat women and what we do all day. I was the epitome of an expat lady today and I loved it…although there wasn’t one G&T in sight!

Sarah Derrig is a seasoned expat from Australia who has spent the last 11 years living in the UAE, Qatar and back to the UAE