Category Archives: Abu Dhabi First Quarter

the heat is on…

Well, the stress is.  This upcoming week, my school is being evaluated by an outside agency.  At this stage of the game I am so out of my league.  Nothing has properly prepared me for what I am doing now.  For the first time in my life I don’t only feel but know I suck at teaching — not all of the time, just now.

I could list all the reasons why, but that’s not important.  What is is the fact that no matter how much you read and try to prepare for this you don’t really know what you’re in for until you’re in it.  This isn’t going to be a long bitch, complain, woes me post.  It is, however, a reality check for anyone reading this who wants to come here.  It is really tough at first for all sorts of reasons.  Of course it is also really wonderful.  Basically, it’s a totally bi-polar ride until you’ve figured out your way.  Some of us don’t, and some decide the way is back home (don’t worry I’m not leaving yet, but I do understand why some decide to go).

I’m trying really hard to do what I need to do, but it’s a struggle.  The good news is I’m good at putting balance into my life. Last weekend and this weekend was/is all about work and trying to be as prepared for this big inspection as I can be — the whole time knowing that I’m not going to be any where near the list of top performers (but I will try).  BUT, once this eval week is over I will most definitely go out and do something fun.  And, I did fit a little fun into this weekend with a dinner party at a friend’s house and breakfast the next day — so it’s not all poor me.  I cannot wait until I can play more with my friends next week!  It will be what gets me through these next few days.

So there’s the stress of trying to learn a new way of doing what you thought you knew how to do, and then there is the homesickness.  I absolutely love my apartment and the friends I’m making, but I sooooo miss my home, my family and friends, my dogs, my life I knew.  There are days when I can’t look at the calendar because it just feels too long before I will see all of that again.

But, then I remind myself of all the reasons why I came here, and they’re still valid. I do still want to do this thing, and I do know this painful part of it will pass.  I think I’m typing this blog as a mini therapy session for myself, but it’s also a warning to those who are thinking about doing this (if you’re like I was you cannot get enough of reading other people’s experiences).  You tell yourself you’re tough and optimistic and all those good things, so you won’t suffer as much as others.  But, you do.  It’s part of the process, and that’s okay.

I don’t like sucking at my job (and I hope I’m not as bad as I feel I am), but I do know I’m getting a whole different perspective.  I’m so out of my comfort zone right now — and not liking it at all — but I know I will learn and grow from this.  Hopefully, my students will too, and I think they will.   If nothing else by the end of the year they’ll know I didn’t give up on them or myself — and that has got to mean something, right?

Let’s talk scary shit…

On the ride to work, during a traffic jam, I saw this little girl hanging out the back window.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this.  Kids jump around the back seat, front seat, hell they’ll even sit on the lap of whomever is driving.  Twenty minutes later we finally got to the reason for the traffic — a school bus and van collided in a roundabout.  Luckily, the children who were on the bus were safe on the sidewalk.  But, there was an ambulance there, and the two vehicles looked pretty banged up.  It’s no surprise since people drive crazy here.  They do the stupidest shit, and you’re like dude are you suicidal?

Those of you back home might be wondering why children aren’t locked into their seats, or why there is no seatbelt law.  Well, there is a seatbelt law.  There are speed cameras, speed bumps, same traffic laws we have, but there are drivers from all over the world.  Some of which are used to driving in far crazier traffic scenarios.  And then there are the drivers from here who still ram their SUVs into Roundabouts without even slowing down.  Of course there are also the terrified newbies who stop at Roundabouts when they need to hit it, slowing down (possibly pissing off) people like me who’ve moved one phase past that — although I’m still no way near as aggressive as I should be.

Not every local drives this way, nor does every foreigner.  There are lots of cautious folk who try to not cause an accident, and whew for that!  The rental guy came to pick up my car so that it can get serviced, and he was totally shocked I had no dings yet.  So THANK YOU to the non-crazy drivers out there!  Seriously,  from the bottom of my heart.

I believe what I call craziness connects to the Inshallah mindset.  You see people here truly believe in God’s will.  If it’s meant to happen it’s going to happen.  If not, well there’s nothing you can do about it.  As a westerner I’m like but why tempt fate?  Perhaps God is a maybe on this, so if you’re more careful he’ll side with you continuing to live (and not taking anyone else out with you).  But, you see I also do not fully believe in God’s will.  I was raised on the notion of choice, so I will never quite see these things the same way.  But, I am trying. If I look at things through the god-willing point of view I understand (a little) what scares or frustrates me. I deal with it better than if I look at it through my point of view —- of course I am choosing to do this, so I guess my way is also still working.

I didn’t mean to write so much about the driving (again) because the point of my ramble actually connects to something far more scarier:  ISIS.  Yep, it’s been all over the news, and people back home ask me about it.  I always say, but it’s totally safe where I am.  And, well other than the driving, it totally feels that way. I genuinely like the people I meet over here — from all walks of life.  We pretty much love and want the same things (well on a deeper level/ surface wise we’re different), and we’re totally good with that.  I don’t fear the people who live here, nor do they fear me.

But, this ISIS thing, isn’t about them.  It’s about a group they’ve also taken a stand against.  They’ve remained neutral on so much of what my part of the world is in conflict with countries in their part of the world, but this time they’ve sent some of their own men and women to fight against this form of terrorism.  Now, they too could become a target, so the State Department has sent out several warnings for Westerners to be careful.  There’s also the obvious, just like at home, not everyone who lives here is happy, so there’s that.

I don’t know what to say to people back home about the politics of this, or what my odds are, or any of that.  What I do know is I am still — despite some hurdles I’ve tripped over — so pleased to have been invited to come here.  While temporary, this is my home now, and I love being a part of it.  When I do return to my country and my family I will miss what I have here (while also being so flipping happy to be back amongst my loved ones). I cannot worry about what I cannot control, but I am being careful.  I am so sorry this thing exists, and I am afraid of it, but I can’t let it overshadow the good I have found here.  Soooooo, I guess in one very long ramble I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve managed to blend my love of choice with Inshallah.  If only our worlds could blend so easily. Ha, and as if on cue the call to prayer just started.  I may not be Muslim, but it warms my heart every time I hear it.

Doooobai!

When I started telling people I was moving to Abu Dhabi, the reaction was normally “Abu what?”  So, then I’d say it’s near Dubai.  Once I said that it was all about how lucky I was to be going to such a cosmo, ritzy, famous place.  Anyone I knew who had been to Dubai said that I’d love it and needed to go as soon as I got off the plane. Well almost two months into my time here, and I finally got to go.

I didn’t go to see the Burj Khalifa, the malls, or the Dubai fountains.  I didn’t even go check out the Palms or any of the other famous resorts.  Nope.  I went to chill with friends, get some beach time, some food, and a little bit of souq shopping. I’ve been swamped with work and moving into my new life, so I needed a whole lot of relaxation.  And OMG was the beach soooo sooooo soooo worth it. The chilled pool with a view of the beach was even better because I could cool off, wash off salt and sand and get a drink. Walking the beach at night is amazing.  Dubai is a sight to see when the sun is awake, but when she goes down it’s a whole other level of OMG.

The ride from Al Ain was an easy hour’s drive.  My friend did the driving, but if you leave on a Friday morning the traffic is something even stressed-out me can handle.  Good to know because I totally plan on doing this again and again and again.  I’ll even get around to checking out all the other touristy spots.  My monthly budget now includes Dubai because I’m doing this city as much as I can.  I absolutely love it, and I’m a whole lot jealous of the friends who are living there (but it’s all good because I totally plan on taking them up on their couch offers). Because I’m still busy with work and moving in (TWO cable guys are here working on my stuff as I type this — holy hell I think I might actually get my own Internet today!) I’ll stop writing and post some pics.  I’m sorry I’m not taking that many.  I promise I’ll get better once I’ve settled in more.  Now, I’m just taking it all in.

DSC05498Dubai on the horizon DSC05497Um this cow’s Eid break might not have been as nice as mine, but she doesn’t know it yet.  Or maybe she’s just going for a ride and eating grass right now. DSC05513I normally see one of these guys on the back of a pick up DSC05514hey there! does my hump smell? DSC05525I look evil posing in front of this parked RR, which we thought was for show, but no it belonged to someone. DSC05522 movies on the beachDSC05521 DSC05518 the sun setting on our little beach.  The water is bathwater warm and very salty, but heaven just the same. DSC05517 DSC05548 DSC05531 DSC05528 the beach area at night.  It’s even prettier in person. DSC05553 the burj in the distance.  The bottom right is the top of another very tall building.  I’ll take Joe to visit this in December.  I hear the best time to go is during sunset.   Below are shots from the gold and spice souq area.  Obviously the old boats fascinated me.  I also plan on taking a dhow ride when Joe visits, and doing one of the dinner cruises (on a nicer boat). DSC05593 DSC05592 DSC05589 DSC05585 DSC05576 DSC05577 DSC05581 DSC05582 DSC05575 DSC05573

2014-10-05 15.37.17and last but not least had my hair done by a Russian in the hotel salon.  I figured a salon in Dubai would be less likely to burn my hair.  AND, I went in there because there was another guy who reminded me of Zohan, and I just had to get my hair done by an Adam Sandler character.  But, the guy had another client, and there was no dancing or Zohan antics, so I’m glad I got the other guy, who was great.  Jill, if you’re reading this, don’t worry you’re still my favorite stylist!

I’m back to a darker shade of blonde because our sink water comes from the ocean, so it’s hell on everything including the hair.  And why my head looks like a pumpkin is beyond me, but there you go. Time for me to heat up some dinner and get back to working on work stuff.  This gig isn’t all Dubai and glamour!

p.s. Cable guys left.  Um, they say it works, but it’ll be two hours before I can use my Internet and 24-hours before I can use the cable T.V.  The whole cable thing just cracks me up.  Best part is I already came to grips with not having it.  I was just going to pay my neighbor for her wifi access.  Hopefully, the next time I post it’ll be using my own router.

Hellooooo there!

2014-09-26 18.04.26my new pet.  I really have to name her though. I know it’s been a while. There’s so much I’d like to share with you, but I’m exhausted. The job is tough considering all the new I’m adjusting to. I pretty much have to change everything I know to make it work. I’m not complaining. I’m just sharing that it’s really, really hard doing this while also adjusting to living in a whole new world. I do still love my students (even on their bad days, and they have them), and I know that I will, eventually, settle into some sense of normal.

For now though I’m busy adjusting. I had a few low days these past two weeks — missing everything about home, especially since I now realize how easy it is since I know everything there. BUT, I’ve also had some great days.  I don’t regret coming here at all — although there are moments when I just want to scream.  Take for instance my cable drama.  I’m still tapping into my neighbor’s wifi (allegedly with a capital A they’re coming on Wednesday.  Um, allegedly they were supposed to come on Saturday then Tuesday, and I’m still waiting, so we shall see).  Anyone thinking about doing this really needs to prepare themselves to be tested on everything imaginable (and some you wouldn’t even think about it).  The stress the first few weeks (probably months) is unreal.  This is a wonderful country, but it is way different from what you know.  My version of logic and their’s are polar opposites.  I’m in their world now, so gotta do it their way.  I knew this coming here, but knowing it and doing it are two completely different things.

That said there are so many unexpected wonderful moments too, and I am learning so much good.  I saw my first camel crossing the other day — hahahaha you’d think I saw a leprechaun I was so happy.  The old man who sweeps my carpool buddy’s parking lot always greets me with a warm smile.  I miss him on his off days.  The other English teachers I work with are all amazing and interesting women.  I love listening and talking to them.  Sometimes I get to sit at a table with my students and just talk to them.  I love learning who they are.  Many times a complete stranger will make the day by either taking an interest in me or openly sharing a bit of themselves.

I went to Abu Dhabi last weekend to visit with friends and do some shopping at a Souq (Arabian market).  A completely covered older lady sat at a jewelry maker’s stall with her grown son and daughter.  I was lugging this 3-foot wooden camel I bought (my new pet, who I think I’ll name Sheika, but I’m up for suggestions), and the lady said nice while pointing to my camel, who wasn’t too pleased with me carrying her by the neck.  We stopped to talk to this family who turned out to be from Saudi Arabia.  The lady didn’t speak much English, but her children translated.  She was as interested and delighted to meet us as we were her.  While I love the stuff I bought and the fun I had with my friends, that 10-minute chat was the highlight of my trip.  As an American when I think of a fully-covered Saudi Arabian woman, I don’t think happy or friendly.  Well duh on me for that!  Hello?  But, you see I’m learning — even things I didn’t know I needed to learn.

There’s also the expat community, which I’m so glad to be a part of.  I’m making wonderful friends.  I’m lucky that some live in the same building as me, so woo hoo on that! I got off early today because Eid is on Saturday, and we have Sunday and Monday off, so woo hoo to that too!  Although, on to a negative, the schedule changed.  Originally we had Tuesday off too (calendars are not to be taken seriously), but I’m looking at the extra work day as a day for me to catch up.  The students say they won’t be coming in at all next week, so FINALLY I can get some better lessons together.  whew! Anyway, back to the good stuff.  Tomorrow I’m going to Dubai for a few days, and I cannot wait.  Beach, shopping and good food and bevies with friends.  Soooo, the only adjusting I’ll be doing this weekend is having fun, and maybe popping a few advils in the mornings. I’m tired — had fun at my neighbor’s last night — so I’ll stop writing for now and post some pics that show off some of the good.

Desert sunsets and camels — can you ever get too much of this? DSC05408 DSC05342 DSC05350 DSC05365 2014-09-26 19.15.06Turkish lights.  I bought 2 .2014-09-25 20.16.36 need I say more DSC05448 Shisha and friendsDSC05482 dancing in the desertDSC05435 DSC05421more sun photos because it’s something I will never get bored of. And that’s it for now.  I’ll be sure to write more about Dubai and post pics.

Weird is the new normal

First off I’m still bumming off my neighbor’s wifi. There is progress though. My internet sales rep just called me to get my other neighbors number, so that he could call her to get her internet installation guy’s (she got hers installed today) number. I’m hoping this is so that he can get the guy to come install mine. Or, maybe he just wanted him to pick up a schwarma. Who knows?

Anyway, I’m swamped with all sorts of stuff that’s stressing me out right now. I took papers home to grade (even though I have 3 to 4 prep periods, I somehow managed to get overloaded), and I’ve completed two. Soooooo, I need to de-stress by sharing some of the weird stuff that is now my new normal.

1. My beautiful, sweet girls who behaved during their morning class turn into banshees the last half hour of school. The first time I had them last period (I was spared this nightmare my first week) I just stood there like a deer getting run down by a Ford. Now, I try to look like I’ve got it all under control (but inside I’m freaking out that they might just mow me over to get out that door).

2. Getting my electric bill texted (not mailed) to me — all in Arabic.

3. Seeing other teachers pray at the back of our pod while I’m teaching.

4. Waltzing through a group of Muslim workers on their way to Mosque, which happens to be attached to the tiny corner grocer I needed to buy candy from. Why? Because I wanted to reward the girls who didn’t go too terribly wild on me. Oh, and the fact that I think it’s okay to buy already-hyper girls candy as a reward.

5. Walking through plastic blinds to get into said store, which is about the size of a small closet.

6. Cars or SUVs parked in the decorative tree area. I’m thinking for the shade, but who knows?

7. Big-ass SUV driving on the sidewalk when there’s plenty of room left on the road.

8. Buying my single-serve meals at “hypermarkets,” which is the perfect name for these grocery stores attached to malls. They are truly hyper, huge and packed with people running you over with shopping carts — at night. It’s a family affair and sometimes social event. If I could understand what people were saying I’d catch up on all their drama while patiently waiting for them to move away.

9. Men sitting in median strips or on hot rock anywhere. They’re just there chatting. Considering our heat they must have the real buns of steal.

10. Camels in the back of a pickup.

11. Camel crossing signs.

12. I can now decipher different types of call to prayer. My favorite one is from the Mosque behind the Bookshop, a store that sells more other stuff than books (but they do have books).

13. Discovering that I have ESP because I seem to know when some fool is going to shoot at full speed from inner circle to my circle to exit roundabout, missing me by one millimeter only because I knew to tap the brakes (something that is unwise to do here because the same SUV driving the sidewalk may very well be on your bumper). And, then, praying this new ESP skill NEVER fails me.

14. Almost a month after moving in (and putting in what in the west would appear to be an abnormal request) having maintenance men show up at 8:30 p.m. to install my shower rod. Why? Because my walls are either tile or concrete, so I can’t screw anything in without a drill. Oh and checking to replace blown out lightbulbs — don’t have a ladder, so can’t do that either.

Want to know what was normal and is now weird? Taking a shower without shooting water all over the bathroom.

And, now it’s time for me to do something really normal any where I live. Get ready for bed. Maybe I’ll wake up early and get some more of those papers finished…

Settling in…

DSC05293An Al Ain sunset

 

First off I apologize that I haven’t written in awhile.  I’ve been extremely busy.  The first few days were fairly easy, then I had a touristy day (here’s a link to some of those photos), and then it was go, go, go!  Oh my goodness it was one thing after another thrown at us.  On 9/11 I will be here a month, and in these short weeks I’ve been processed to be here legally, I’ve been poked and prodded for my health check (whew! I passed — hahaha no syphilis or TB), moved to a hotel in Al Ain, bussed back and forth from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi for curriculum training, bought my must-have-nows for my new apartment, got it cleaned, fought the electricity battle (here it’s not just a quick phone call; it’s a 2-week process with lots and lots of sitting in the ladies waiting room), rented a car, grew a pair of kahunas to drive said car, moved to my new apartment, and began teaching at my new school — almost all at about the same time.

To say it’s been crazy is putting it mildly, but I’m feeling at home now.  My apartment is coming along nicely (will also post a link to apartment photos), and I’m comfortable driving — well it’s a bit freaky, but I’m used to the insanity.  Stop signs, blinkers, lane lines, all that sort of stuff is just decoration to make we expats feel less homesick.  Seriously, no need to use them, although during this morning’s traffic I did see my first police directing traffic.  Sadly, no one knew what to do, and the police didn’t seem to realize that I needed to go straight, and that I was blocking the lane they were telling everyone to go right onto.  It’s okay we all survived, and I patted myself on the back for being politely assertive.  If you’re trying to picture what it’s like to drive in one of the roundabouts here just remember what it was like when you got down to the last few chairs in musical chairs, except with big-ass SUVs and tiny rentals. The maybe good news is it seems the country is trying to crack down on crazy driving because there are all of these speed cameras all over the place, but my problem is I can rarely find what the speed limit is.  I’m getting it, but pray I won’t find tickets in my rental bill (there’s no real address system here, so the fine is either texted to you —your cell phone number is connected to everything; do not lose that sim card! — or sent to your rental company who will then bill you).  I don’t know if these speed cameras help because the only people who mind the fines (because we can’t afford them) are the expats, and while we now drive crazy too; it’s a milder, slower crazy.

Okay, enough about the driving — except I guess I should add that I’m really surprised that I kinda, sorta like it.  The inner maniac in me gets to have fun.  I didn’t even know she existed.  The next crazy thing and the other main reason why I haven’t written is the whole trying to get Internet thing.  You see the cable company is the only cable company in the emirate (possibly the whole country), so there’s no competition.  Human nature is what it is.  If there’s no one to compete with, why rush to turn you on.  Sure, they say they’re coming to do it, but then they call you at 2 to say they’re at your apartment.  You remind them the appointment was for after 4.  They say, “okay how about 2:30.”  I say “how about 4.”  They reply with a “2.” I say “maybe 3:30.”  They say no and hang up.  Then you make another appointment, but something goes wrong there too.  It’s a process.  One that takes getting used to, but I will eventually get cable/Internet.  I know this because my kind neighbor gave me the password to her wifi.  She’s proof it will one day happen.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I am a little, but, mostly, I am so happy to be here.  It’s an amazing country with so much to offer — including a touch of chaos.  The best part is I absolutely love my school, and I’m not typing this because I’m worried someone I work with will read this.  I really do love where I work.  I work at an all-girls high school in the Mezyad region, which is on the back end of Jebel Hafeet (Al Ain’s famous mountain) and on the Oman border.  It’s about a 35 minute drive, although with traffic it can be longer.  Because it’s outside of the city it is a more conservative area, but I’ve discovered conservative doesn’t mean strict or intolerant.  I can wear pants and three-quarter length sleeves.  Everyone has been kind and welcoming, and I’m so enjoying getting to know the other women who work there.

I teach 11th grade Arts English (students choose between the arts or science track) and my students are sweet and energetic and hungry to learn (and sometimes they just want to play).  They’re also chatty and love to try to escape to the bathroom so they can find their friends in other rooms, just like my American girls.  They remind me of so many of my students back home.  I am lucky because I get to see them without their abayas and veils.  I get to see them be the kids they are, which is something I’ve always loved about teaching.  I wish I could take and post pictures of them, but I can’t.  It’s not allowed without everyone’s permission.  Privacy is very important here, and it’s a jail-able offense to post pictures on the Internet without written consent.  I kind of like that, although I soooo want to show you everything.

My work day is completely different.  First off I’m the one who changes classes.  My students keep their room all day.  The schedule is different for each day, so I’ll often have some classes twice on the same day, which I love (more time to get work finished).  I get 3 to 4 prep periods every day.  Yes, you read that right.  My favorite work day is Thursday (which is also my Friday) because I have 3 prep periods back to back in the afternoon, so I work hard in the morning, and then I kick back and actually have time to assess their work on the same day WITHOUT having to take any of it home.  American teachers know just how shocked I am over this.  Heck according to the British and South African teachers I work with, they do too.  Another plus is that all the English teachers are in the same work room, and we have our assigned desks.  I sit next to the other 11th grade English teacher (she has the science track), who is also my carpool buddy.  This makes perfect sense because we have time to plan together and OMG cross-check how we’ve graded writing.  Holy shit people we’re collecting real data because we’re given the time to do it.  Now whether or not it’s the right data is debatable, but it’s a start.

Now there are negatives, but for me, for now, they’re trivial compared to the pluses.  Email me when it comes down to end-of-term time, and I’m sure they won’t feel so little then.  Of course also remind me that I have 3 to 4 prep periods a day!  And, the worst behavior I have from my students is loud talking (sometimes it’s more like shrieking).  There are no cell phones (although they do have them outside of school), no dress code violations (hahaha but a few do push it with lip gloss or something that has some sort of flare — girls will be girls), no drug or alcohol abuse (or side effects from suffering from adults who do that at home), no gang violence.   Just chattering and trying to get away with not doing the work.

I do need to point out that I am extremely lucky.  Others aren’t having it as lovely as me, and I do feel for them.  It all just boils down to location and administration, and while I didn’t land the hi-rise city apartment I was lusting after I did land the right job.  And, I thank whomever/whatever is responsible for that.  I think here is when I should add a Humdallah.

As for my apartment and Al Ain, I feel very much at home (here’s some of what I’ve done to it so far). I’m looking forward to pay day, so I can buy some coffee tables and odds and ends to spruce up the place more.  There is so much more to tell you, but I’m tired, and I’m sure your eyes need a break.  Now that I have the magic password I should be posting more.  OR, maybe next time I’ll be using my own password.  Inshallah!

 

 

 

 

She works hard for her money … well, not yet

DSC05092

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:

2014-08-19 20.21.12 2014-08-19 20.20.42 2014-08-19 20.19.17 2014-08-16 19.04.05

Some day shots.

2014-08-16 09.35.42 DSC05090 DSC05089

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.  

2014-08-19 18.22.35 2014-08-19 18.02.42

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.

2014-08-19 16.47.50 2014-08-19 16.08.47

2014-08-20 15.48.28 2014-08-20 15.45.13

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.

DSC05114 DSC05104 DSC05095DSC05103 DSC05109 DSC05113

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!

10550923_10204689594823663_3335644085129524496_n

 

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!

%d bloggers like this: