Abu Dhabi Attraction
Written on December 26, 2013
So why apply to teach in Abu Dhabi? I’d be lying if I said the tax-free money didn’t tempt me. It’s a pretty sweet financial deal. It’s also a perfect place to travel from, and with all of their vacation days (and that paycheck) I’d have time and money to see parts of the world I’d never be able to see on my American salary.
BUT, I have to live and teach there, while my family goes on with their lives here. It’s a two-year contract, so I better make sure my reasons for wanting to go are deeper than money and travel. I’ve read the horror stories. I could end up in a crappy apartment infested with roaches while teaching in a school where I’m resented by the local staff, administration and students (which truly would be the worst, well I guess there’s always worse, but let’s not go there). I could have a nervous breakdown in my rented Peugot because I’m stuck in the inner circle of the roundabout from hell, while everyone else zips around me at 100 miles per hour (I’ve heard driving there is insane). I could go postal on the Internet guy whose a week late arriving at my apartment only to tell me he’ll need to get another guy to come out who will also not know what to do (see expat teachers I HAVE been reading your blogs). There’s a lot that could and will go wrong, so what makes this still appealing?
- I’m in awe of their government’s dedication to educational reform. What they’re trying to do is truly amazing. It’s beyond expensive, and I’m sure to many it seems like a billionaire’s pipe dream that will never come true. On paper it does what so many of us in the U.S.claim to be doing, plus it financially rewards its teachers for attempting to do it (well its foreign ones; I honestly don’t know what native teachers make). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally aware that what’s on paper and what happens in reality are two different things, but by golly (how’s that for using more g-rated language) it IS on paper, with paper backed by gold (I guess I should say oil). They mean business with this.
- I’ve always been a ‘new’ project starter. Every job I have ever had has lead me into leading/launching something new — in many cases something I proposed (which isn’t the case here, but I’m totally cool with being one of the spokes in someone else’s wheel). How incredibly cool would it be to be part of something as big as education reform in a country so completely different from my own? Would I be able to bring any of this back to my own corner of the world?
- UAE’s history: This country is younger than I am! I’m fascinated by what I’m learning about it, but because I’m a newbie to its history/culture I won’t embarrass myself by writing about what I think I know. I do know its people are incredibly patriotic, and that by all means regardless of whether or not I get the job, I have to experience National Day at least once in my life.
- If I’m going to grow and try something new it should be in a Muslim country. While I’m fairly certain the only bad girls of the burka I’m going to find are the expat ones, I’d like to learn more about the women behind the perceived masks. I’d like to see how they see the world, and, well, learn from it. It’s time for me to take my westerner’s veil off and experience life from the other side of the world.
- Last but certainly not least, I’ve read that 85 to 90 percent of the population is expat. When the non-homeness of it all gets to me (and it will — how could being so far away from everything I know and love not be a sore spot?) there will be others to turn to for help. There will be people there who get me and my retarded ways, and I there’s. Plus, on the really tough days, I could put my expat liquor license to use and buy a bottle of wine to enjoy in my apartment with the spray nozzle thingy next to the toilet (something every expat blog has pictures of, and I hope to one day show off my own sassy sprayer).
Another plus to all of this is my family totally supports me. They know I’m not abandoning them, nor they me (um, they might actually like the idea of Mom being so far away for a while). We’re already dreaming about their visits and trips we could all take together — now mind you I haven’t even had the in-person interview yet, so it’s all just fun-time daydreaming for now.
And, on that note, I need to get back to the reality of my today. There’s a stack of documentary scripts I need to read and assess for my very stressed, American students who’ll be graduating into their real worlds in just a few, fast-moving months. Oh how I’ll love and miss those little buggers as well.