Monthly Archives: August 2014

She works hard for her money … well, not yet

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So, I got paid … on the first day of “work.”  That purty little picture above is of my furniture allowance.  Yep, I’m buying couches and appliances with 1,000 bills.  Didn’t know this was on my to-do list of living, but ta da!  Check that one off.

Tomorrow night I will have been here a week, and it feels like forever ago since I left my old home — not because it’s boring or horrible, but because there has just been so much stuff packed into these days.  OMG it’s overwhelming.

I’ve gone through orientation, set up my local bank account, gotten the keys to my apartment, got my local cell phone number, went on a road trip with my new neighbors and friends (seriously awesome people!), gone through medicals, got my fingerprints done and picture taken for my Emirates ID (which will prove I’m here legally), gone shopping (OMG there is such a thing as too much shopping), and, well, a whole bunch of other stuff.

Because I’m also suffering from jet lag — it’s a beast — my wee brain isn’t going to do my time here justice.  I’m pooped, and, amazingly, still awake.  No matter how tired I am when I go to bed, I wake up at 2 a.m.  Since tomorrow is a real day off (although none of my work-related stuff has been more than a few hours each day)  I’m breaking down and taking a PM tylenol to, hopefully, sleep a full 8 hours.

I’ll post pics to help recap the week, but here’s what’s popping up (for now) as my highlights:

  • Same, same but different.  This phrase says it best.  There are sooooo many American chain stores and restaurants here that it almost feels like home (except for the Arabic written above or below the English). When it comes to food I’m all about trying something different, so I haven’t eaten much from the chains, but what I have had tastes better. I’m thinking because it’s minus the hormones/preservatives we put into our food — or it could just be the dust in the air has changed my taste buds.  
  • English every where!  I could totally get by here without ever learning a word of Arabic.  That’s not what I’m going to do, but I could.  Because there are so many immigrants (it still cracks me up that I am now a foreigner), English is what’s used during most transactions — it’s, apparently, the easiest go-to words.  It’s not funny (but it is) to see two people, neither fluent in English (and in some cases down to knowing like three phrases), bartering or attempting some sort of financial transaction in a language that does not feel good on their tongues.  I could sit in a mall for hours and just watch the many ways in which people figure out how to communicate with each other.
  • That said, it aint funny when you’re trying to get your own official business accomplished.  Then it’s just plain frustrating, but you continue to smile and play your game of charades until you think you’re understood, but usually you’re not.  Eventually, like two or three days later, you finally completed your task.  
  • Your manner of speaking quickly changes. Today, I accidentally mimicked my sales person’s accent.  We both just looked at each other and then burst out laughing.  I also find myself saying things like “we go to bank now.”  But, shhh, don’t tell my employer since I’m an English teacher.
  • Modesty versus oppression.  The more I interact with the variety of women who are covered the more I see how free and beautiful they feel, and how they see us as the unlucky ones.  Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone.  There are many souls who do not feel free or see me as unlucky, but this practice of covering isn’t this constraining thing I once thought it was.  I find myself walking straighter around women here. They are so poised and graceful. 
  • We all just want to fit in.  Making friends here is so easy, and everyone is so darned interesting.  I guess because we’ve left our loved ones we’re quickly grouping up.  For now we teachers are the new high school students, except in our case there are no bullies or uncool kids — well, maybe there are, but I haven’t met them yet.  It’s still early. I’m sure we’ll all lose it at one point or the other.  Hopefully, our new friends will help us pull it together again.  I guess the point of this bullet is never have I met so many strangers from so many different places and felt that I belonged with them, and they with me.  does that make sense?  It’s a very good thing.
  • Abu Dhabi vs Al Ain.  On Tuesday I learned that I wasn’t getting a hi-rise, modern apartment in Abu Dhabi.  I got Al Ain, and I wasn’t placed in one of their large complexes with sleek floor plans and amenities galore.  I was kinda, sorta bummed. I reminded myself that this is what I signed up for.  I knew I might not get what I thought I wanted, and when i didn’t I felt a little robbed (I wanted my own beach and lazy river and all that good stuff).  Then, I teamed up with four others and took a drive up to Al Ain.  I love my apartment, and I really like what I saw of Al Ain.  It reminds me of an old western town (like in northern Arizona or Colorado), except with Middle Eastern flair.  I’m too tired (and amazed I wrote as much as I did!) to explain it right, but I think Al Ain is the perfect fit for me.  Plus, Dubai is only an hour’s drive away; Abu Dhabi is an hour and a half.  I have free places to stay, so the beach and city fix is still totally doable on the weekends.  Yay me!

There’s so much more I could tell you about, but I really am tired (and haven’t even popped a tylenol yet), so here’s a bunch of pictures to show off some of what I see or do (again none of it does the experience justice).

Some of the night view walking the grounds near my hotel:

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Some day shots.

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Grocery shopping is going to be a blast.  Just look at the size of that shrimp!  So many choices, so little time.  The stores are humungous — totally makes super Walmarts look like 7-11s.  

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Furniture shopping is also quite diverse.  There’s a lot of extravagance, like the bed below which has rhine stones and LED lights on the side, or the matching thrones.  There’s something for everyone in every price range — including my need, after years of raising children and the pets that go with them, to buy white chaise lounges.

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and, yes, I bought the couch with chaise as well as the stand-alone chaise.  And, yes, I know it’s crazy to buy white, but I am so giddy over it.  CANNOT wait to read a book while sipping one of the amazing teas here in those bad boys.

And last, but not least, a few shots of my vacant apartment, which needs a good cleaning.  Sooo looking forward to making it my nest — with two bedrooms and two bathrooms it’s one heck of a nest for just me.  Future visitors start booking your tickets now.  I don’t know what colors or what bed I’m getting for your room, but it’ll be comfy.

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that last pic, above the SUV, is of my balcony.  I totally plan on sipping my coffee there while listening to the morning call to prayer, which is truly a lovely thing to hear.  I don’t know what the guy is singing, but it comes from the heart.

Tomorrow, for the first time, I get to spend the entire day as a tourist.  No shopping for my apartment or signing forms or calling people I don’t understand.  I believe we’re starting out the day sipping gold-laced coffee at Emirate’s Palace, which I can actually see from my hotel window.   I’ll try to get some good pictures to show off next time.

I hope this gives you all a taste of what it’s like.  I wish I could also attach the sounds and smells and photos of the people (but I can’t do that without their permission).  Good night (well for me; for you it’s good day)!

I’m here!

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After 26 hours of traveling I made it.  After three hours of deep sleep I’m wide awake in my comfy bed at the Intercontinental.  I should still be sleeping because I’m going to need to be well rested.  There’s a lot to do and see today!  OMG I’m in Abu Dhabi!  The hotel is lovely, and I swear it smells like heaven —- lemon tree leaves mixed in with rose petals mixed in with decadence.

At check in we were greeted with a tray full of juices.  I nabbed the mint lemon, my new favorite drink.  The flight was long, and while I slept here and there, I mostly listened to the woman behind me sing or the baby across the aisle scream — that child was part Banshee.  All I know is I am glad to be off that plane!

I’m also looking forward to my first breakfast in Abu Dhabi.  Hahaha breakfast on the plane was actually a dinner (because while it was morning to us it actually was dinner time in Abu Dhabi).

I had fun with Michelle during my 9-hour layover, and we ran around the terminal acting like the silly little fools we love to be.  I’m so glad we had that time together.  Being here is quite amazing, and I’m sure I’ll have lots to tell you, but for now I’ll just throw up some photos of the hotel (they’re not great since I’m still learning how to use my new phone).

2014-08-15 04.43.36  Monica:  I completely forgot to pull out the pink flamingo when Michelle and I were goofing around.  BUT, I did remember to take a pic with my new carryon (broke the old one at the airport), so here’s the little guy on my bed after a very long flight.  He’ll get to see more stuff today.  Oh what trouble will he, wait She, get into?

10434310_10204689593903640_5953188696708374561_nMiche and me drinking Kettle One mint lemonades.  LOVED our bartender.

2014-08-15 22.46.28 Checking in with a glass of mint lemonade

2014-08-16 09.30.41 Looking down at the breakfast buffet 2014-08-16 09.31.47 the lobby near the pool2014-08-16 09.35.13 2014-08-16 09.35.20  I am soo going in this today or tomorrow, and, yes there is a pool bar.

2014-08-16 09.30.02 view from the lounge where our breakfast is served.  The yacht club and its boats is to the left of those bushes.

 

I know these aren’t great, but it’s what I have for you right now.  As soon as my friends finish showering, I’ll be out and about and seeing this place called Abu Dhabi!  Oh, and the wall of humidity is something else.  I know hot, but when we left the airport last night I realized I don’t know wet hot.  Apparently, I do sweat — a lot!

Paperwork never ends…

Okay, so it seems I’m spending most of my Monday on hold. You see about a month ago I called my financial institutions to check wire transfer fees, etc. — you know all the make-sure-my-money-is-good stuff. Today, I’m calling to get swift codes and whatnot, and holy hell it seems what person A told me is now different from person B, so I have to switch around the way I was going to bank.

It’s all good I’m getting it worked out (and if my credit union person B is correct there is now no incoming international wire transfer fee so that’s good news), but what a big ole pain in the butt. If you ever decide to take a job overseas know that the red tape you go through to get the job is just the beginning. From what I’ve been told this is a cake walk compared to the paper trail I will follow once I’m in my new land.

I will be so well documented, authenticated, visa whatevered. I’m developing a new skill: patience with stuff I hate doing. Hmmm, so I wonder if I’ll be like on the FBI/CIA watch list once my American accounts start receiving funds from my Middle Eastern ones.

Hahahha just call me Double O BB (prefer my initials to 7). Ewwww, the line is ringing. Onto to the next customer service rep…

Departure date has arrived!

All I have to say is whoop! whoop! Got my ticket info today. I leave 6 a.m. Thursday, Aug 14 and arrive in Abu Dhabi 7:20 p.m. the next day. I have a 9-hour layover in Chicago, BUT I’ll get to see my buddy Michelle because of that layover. It’s gonna be a llllloooooonnnnngggg flight, but I am soooooo ready.

Abu Dhabi here I come! Okay, I now have 5 days to get the rest of my stuff in order. I’m really going…

Still waiting…

I have nothing new to report.  I’m just getting antsy waiting for the big ticket.  Rumor has it the second group is expected to arrive 8/15-20.  I probably will cry if I’m not in that group because I doubt Group 3 would get there before the big orientation on 8/24.  Like any teacher I want to be there from day one.  Playing catchup always sucks.

Most of group one has received housing.  Three of the people I’ve become friends are in a brand new building on a gorgeous complex in Abu Dhabi.  Another friend is based in Al Ain and has not gotten the chance to see her new home yet.  I’m happy for my friends (although wishing my Al Ain friend wasn’t still in the dark about her place), and at the same time I’m jealous.  I want to be out there with them shopping for my new home and getting excited about my new school.  I know all in due time.

Last week I was glad I wasn’t in group one because it gave me much-needed time with my kids.  Below is the link to the blog I wrote about it for Teach UAE.  My kids are all busy getting ready for school or new jobs (or as in Kaylene’s case both), so now I’m ready to go, go, go!  I’ve signed up to sub, but haven’t picked up a shift yet.  Hopefully, tomorrow there will be one for me to pick up, and, hopefully, tomorrow there will be ticket info.  Aaargh hate not knowing…

Okay, on the the nicer side of me (the balanced, appreciative me of last week), here’s all about learning to let it be:  http://teachuae.com/learning-let/

DSC05073  This pic is in the Teach UAE post, but I’m sure I’ll want to go back to seeing it again when I’m FINALLY over there.  Our last supper together.  Kyle was in town for a few days, and it was a wonderful visit.

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