She works hard for her money … well, not yet
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:
Some day shots.
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.
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.
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.
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)!