When the end is in sight

When the end is in sight -our family walking down a sand dune

You might not know this, but Mr Wanderlust was born in France. My first international move was when I was 3 months old.

We were both Third Culture Kids

For a third of our lives we’ve both lived outside of the UK. We have a Thing who was born abroad and the other Thing has never known anything other than expat life. 

And now we are about to move.


The call came while we were on holiday. 

It’s been a call we’ve been preparing for for a number of weeks. The discussions had been getting more and more real but neither of us dared to believe it.

Until there’s concrete news, you can’t believe anything. There have been “discussions” before but they came to nothing. We were carefully managing our own expectations and those of everyone else. Wepromised neither that we were staying nor that we were leaving.

Just in case.

I’m not the superstitious sort but I found myself doing things to jinx and unjinx everything! I’d put up pictures while booking holidays and give away old clothes while making plans for September.

I didn’t want to jinx the decision either way.

But then the call came and everything changed

By the time I publish this, everyone who needs to know will know. (I hope!!! I am sorry if you are reading this and didn’t know!)  

But as I write the only people who know are the four of us.

The little family unit that we call home.

Because home is not a place when you’re a third culture family. It’s where you’re all together.

It feels like our little secret.

It’s our piece of news that’s exciting but not yet real but telling people will make it real. 

As I write this

As I write this, I’m on a plane.

My head is already whirling with the logistics of a move I didn’t quite believe would come. I’m desperate to get back and start getting on top of all there is to do.

There are the logistics of leaving. 

The more immediate logistics include organising a reconnaissance trip, telling people, notifying school and figuring out how on earth to get the dog there. In the longer term they include arranging the packers, sorting out our house now filled with 4 years of stuff we were too lazy to purge, selling cars, closing bank accounts…

And, worst of all worsts, saying goodbye

As I write this

I’m thinking about leaving but I’m simultaneously thinking about the logistics of arriving. We’ll need to find schools and somewhere to live. We have to think about setting up electricity and phone and internet. About registering with doctors and dentists and vets.

We need to find a favourite coffee shop and the nicest restaurants. As we go along we’ll discover the quickest way from A to B and decide if we need a car. 

As I write this

I know it’s not just about logistics.

We might be ready to leave but my heart hurts to leave a place we love and people we love. 

As I write this

I don’t know how I will tell our family and friends at home that we’re moving even further away. That although we have chosen this life, that missing them is something that never gets easier

I don’t know how we will tell our friends in Doha that we have been converted from the stayers to the leavers. That they will leave for the summer and come back to find us gone. 

That I will watch as we all subconsciously try (and fail) to detach ourselves from each other to make the inevitable less sad.

As I write this

I think about the end of an era. We arrived with 2 tiny children who are tiny no more.

When we leave this place, we will leave behind a place of innocence where my babies became children. A bubble where they were sheltered from almost everything. A bubble where we watched them grow and learn. Where we got to give them a childhood we could never have given them at home. Or almost anywhere else for that matter. 

This was where they started to discover their identities and got their first tastes of freedom that will be snatched away when we leave this bubble.This was where they learned to ride bikes and made their first real friends. Friends who I hope they will remember for the rest of their lives.

This was where we felt welcomed into a school community and felt at home. Where I left my children in the care of other people and knew they would be in safe hands.

This was where I arrived wondering if I would make friends and where I will leave knowing I’ve made true friends for life

Distance and time matter less in the expat world. They have to.  

As I write this

I think about the place we are going and I’m already excited for the next adventure. At the start of the year I counted back and realised I’ve already lived in this house longer than I have lived in any house since I left home at 18.

I’m excited to discover a new city. I’m looking forward to new travel opportunities and to learn about new cultures.

I’m scared and excited at the same time about meeting new people and making new friends however that may be.

About realising I’m the new girl again and figuring out who this new me will be.

Hoping, praying, that I will find my tribe. Knowing that somehow it will all be ok.


Because this is me.

This is us.

This is our family.

This is what we know.

This is our life.

When the end is in sight - - our family stood at the top of a sand dune with our arms in the air
Emma Morrell
Emma Morrell

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  1. Suzanne
    14 May 2019 / 19:05

    Oh Emma I’m crying now having read this… We can all relate in so many ways but the words you write about leaving people behind and being the newbie again it’s the hardest part of the life as an expat that everyone thinks is all roses and champagne.xxxx

    • 19 April 2020 / 09:27

      Miss you gorgoeus xx

  2. Najla
    14 May 2019 / 20:09

    Emma, this was such a heartfelt, honest to goodness, keeping it real read. It’s probably one of my most favourite things about you and we’ve never met 🙂 You never sound like you write just for how it should sound, but more for how it should feel.
    While I can’t relate to the constant moving ! I can relate to much more and I wish you a less anxious transition from here to there .
    Looking forward to reading more about this, in weeks ahead. And also can’t wait for exciting new posts about the adventure ahead ❤️

    • 19 April 2020 / 09:27

      Thanks so much Najla. Miss you xx

  3. 15 May 2019 / 21:05

    How exciting but emotionally to pay-turvy for you. I can identify with lots of the sentiments you write about. I hope the balance of logistics and goodbyes goes as smoothly as possible for you can can’t wait to see where you’re off to!

    • 19 April 2020 / 09:26

      Thanks so much – the support has been amazing