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Wow! (Mouth Opened)

So, today I went to receive my school placement information. If what I saw on paper is true to life, I just got a promotion. Favor is not fair and thank you for the small blessings. But you know me (I’m Missouri), I have to see it to believe it.

On a side note, my vacation has come to an end. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks and it was reiterated after spending the day in our educational office and briefly visiting my new school. Oh wow, where did the time go? I am hoping that the “fun” will not cease because the school year has started.

This is truly a learning experience. I’m not used to the unknown and enjoy being in control of the situation. But what I am constantly reminded of in certain situations (especially within the past month) is that you are never in “control.”

P.S. It would be nice if I could get somewhere and back by using the same route each time and not getting turned around.

 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2011 in May 2011

 

Driving in Abu Dhabi

Wow…so rare to post twice in one week. Even rarer to post two days in a row. However, today was so eventful. I couldn’t let the day go by without recording my events.  Yesterday was a bust when it came to visiting the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (because of Eid), so we tried it again today. Success! Oops, forgot we almost didn’t make it again today because the cab driver thought he was going to let us out in the middle of the road. Glad Princess was persistent and we were able to find another entrance and without having to walk a mile in the sweltering heat.

Lucky me, my dress was long enough and I had a scarf so I did not have to borrow an abayla and shayla. The tour was very informative and the mosque had some beautiful architecture. There were a lot of tourists visiting the mosque today as well.

Shoes had to be removed before entering inside…so glad I remembered to bring my socks. I would have probably freaked out if I had to walk barefoot. It was funny seeing all of the shoes lined up outside.

After taking a lot of pictures, we headed off to the airport to pick up the car I had reserved. I have had enough of paying cab fares and being limited in where and when I can go somewhere.

Why is it that gas is not a prerequisite when giving someone a car over here? Today was the second time in a week that I had to stop off at the gas station after receiving a car.

As I mention earlier, driving is crazy over here. And the streets are long and obstructed… you may also add that there is a lot of construction going on over here. To make a long story short, after driving pass the mosque a few times, driving to Italy, Greece, France and England and going around a round about 2x, we made it to Marina Mall. Okay so we were supposed to going back to the hotel from the car rental office (which was not that far because I am always hearing planes taking off and landing), but instead we bumped into Abu Dhabi mall, road along the Corniche, and got my long overdue mani/pedi. (love the outcome). Again making for a long day. We left the hotel around 9:30 a.m. and returned around 8:00 p.m.

One observation that I made today is that someone is always cutting up in the nail salon. Also, I noticed that the malls are packed now that Ramadan is over.

Some LOLs for today: 1. Oops almost drove the wrong way in the parking lot. 2. We just couldn’t seem to go in the right direction. Funny the desert looks the same from all angles. 3. If one more person gets in front of me, 4. Why does this car not have any get up and go power, 4. I will be driving Miss Daisy since I do not want or need a ticket over here, and 5. Do I need to buy a Louis or should I rent the car so I can get to and from work?

 

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2011 in May 2011

 

Exploring and Shopping in Abu Dhabi

I have been very busy since my last post. My time has been consumed with meeting new people, staying out late, going to bed even later and buying furniture and necessary items for an apartment that I have yet to see.

Last week I got an opportunity to visit Al Ain. One of the LTs that I met that flew in from Atlanta with me was given a villa out there and I went along for the ride. Her house is beautiful. Now I’m rethinking my decision to stay in the city (however, my school placement is a KG school in Abu Dhabi). Al Ain is cooler with bigger accommodations and not as congested. Still keeping fingers cross since I have not been given my accommodations. Oops, but wait a minute, I don’t want the 1.5 hrs commute.

Why shop without having my accommodations…well it hit me last week that while I am waiting for ADEC to provide me with my living arrangements the Ramadan specials will be over by the time I receive my keys causing me to spend more money. Which is a big no, no! You know how I am about saving money. So here I sit in my hotel with appliances and household goods until I am assigned housing. Furthermore, if you know me I am not a last minute person and the group that just recently moved out the hotel had 5 days to get themselves together and move. I do not want to be in that same situation with having to move and look for furniture at the same time (let me also add that our vacation is over…work for us starts this Sunday). Last week, I ordered a mattress set, a living room set (including 1 two-seater sofa and 2 one-seater sofas, a refrigerator and a washer/dryer (courtesy of our furniture allowance). May I also add that I do have a flat screen TV, microwave and a few smaller appliances in my room. I think the bellhops got tired of seeing the group that I was with pull up to the Yas for a while. But they received good tips. J

Ikea was one of the hot spots last week. I went twice. The first time (shopping for real) I spent about two hours in there and the second time me and another LT were in there from about 12:45 p.m. until about 11:00 p.m. Okay let me explain the situation to you…initially when we said we were ready to leave we realized that it was about 45 minutes until Iftar and since we were hungry……excuse me, starving, we decided to wait until they started serving food. Then we ended up waiting for two other LTs so we all could go downtown to exchange/change some furniture orders. By the second Ikea trip, I was trying to figure out why I had spent so much time in the kitchen section and had cooking utensils in my cart when I don’t like cooking.

On a side note…it is really safe over here. I know of an LT that left her bags (3 pairs of shoes) in an office in the mall and went back one hour later and they were still siting in the same spot. Also, one evening last week after a day of super shopping me and 3 other LTS stopped at a Lebanese restaurant (yes, I ate Lebanese food) and left 1 flat screen in the back seat with several bags for about 2 hours in the front parking lot and it was still there. Crime rate is low here because it is no fun going to the police station or jail.

Yesterday was the last day of Ramadan. Thank goodness for that. It was difficult going out in the heat and shopping when you cannot eat or drink until sundown. Unfortunately, the group I was with had to “break the fast” in the car a few times because we were STARVING! It doesn’t help that breakfast is not really that good at the hotel. Today, Princess and I had Pizza Hut for lunch at the mall and it was great. It’s the small things in life that you appreciate.

I have met some nice Emiratis. Yesterday, a lady assisted us in picking out abayas for work and how to select the coolest material. Princess and I also met a nice couple that gave us a ride once we trekked to the furniture store only to find out that it was closed. Darn holiday.

Today, we tried to go visit the Grand Mosque, but it was closed because of Eid. Will try it again tomorrow. I also ordered my cable service for the fathom apartment.

Tomorrow, I will probably be renting a car. I had not planned on getting a car because I was hoping to be in the city and I would rely on public transportation. Well after riding the bus on a few occasions, I realize that the bus is not that dependable and even though there is a schedule it’s the luck of the draw. I do not anticipate being able to tell my principal that I was late for work because the bus was late. LOL!  Besides I do not look forward to driving in the Indy500. They drive crazy over here and there is a lot of construction and long one-way streets. Oh well…GPS and roads here we come. Beside petro is only about 1.78 AEDs per liter (remember 1AED=$3.67.

On the right path to enjoying life………….

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2011 in May 2011

 

Beginning of week #3 (Sort of)

Haven’t really been up to much since my last entry, but I have been experiencing a lot of different emotions. I didn’t think it would be this hard to move away from home (okay so I did move to another continent, but still).

Sleep has still not been my friend. I don’t know why I thought it would be any better here since I suffered with bouts of insomnia at home. Sleeping for only 2/3/4 hours at a time can be very frustrating. It also tends to leave a person irritable, sensitive and the processing skills are slower. I started working out again on Friday (8/19), so my sleep patterns have been a little bit better. Now I may sleep 5 hours a night…YEAH ME!

Last week we had new employee orientation at the Paris Sorbonne University for three days. I found out that I would be teaching KG (which is either 3-4 or 5 year olds). Please pray for me, as I am not good with handling all of the crying. I just looked at the calendar and I realize I only have two more weeks before I must report to work. I have had a long vacation and it might be quite difficult getting out of vacation mode.

I didn’t ventured out to the city much last week. The lack of sleep leaves me with very little energy or the motivation to do anything besides lay in the bed and try to sleep. LOL! Did manage to get to a few malls and even the exhibition center where they have merchants from this region selling apparel, jewelry, etc. The exhibition has some nice items. I just hate bargaining. I guess I could get better deals if I haggled with the merchants. Must go back before it leaves at the end of the month.

I still have not been assigned housing or been given my insurance card like some of the other LTs, but I’m not worried. However, I did get my furniture allowance and cash advance last week. I do appreciate everything that my new employer (ADEC) has done. The accommodations have been wonderful. I have never been treated this well as a teacher.

I tried to suppress my Dora spirit, but on Saturday, I couldn’t help it. After getting the news about my aunt, a couple hours later I felt the need to leave the hotel and be alone and do some retail therapy. So I ventured off to Marina Mall. It is approximately a 40-minute ride from my hotel. But I’m very resourceful made it there and back by bus and shuttle…total cost 2 AED.

For the past few days I have been a little blue. Mixture of homesickness (missing my family and friends) and sadden by my aunt’s death. It has been a long process. Both my sister and my aunt were diagnosed with cancer around the same time. So far my sister has been very blessed. My aunt was not so lucky and has been in and out of remission for the past 5 years.  I’ve always admired my Auntie Minnie because she was adventurous and willing to take risks. She was among the first to congratulate me and was happy about my move. I’m sure she would have been one of the first to visit me. I love you. R.I.P. Auntie Minnie…you are in good company with your mom, dad, daughter and other brothers and sisters.

Cancer is a deadly disease and it strikes the young and the old. It has no face or preference for whom it decides to attack. It is a difficult battle for those who must fight it. I had another uncle to fall victim of it several years ago. If you are a survivor, count your blessings and live life to its fullest because God is using you to be his witness.

Until my next post…

 

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2011 in May 2011

 

Update for the past few days

The day that I had my health screening (Tuesday), I went with two other people from Atlanta to Carrefour. That was an interesting cab ride. Mohammad (from Bangladesh) was our cab driver. He told me that my hair was pretty, then asked was it my “original” hair. Clearly, a language barrier again because we had a hard time communicating with him. But he was really nice because after he dropped us off (about 30 minutes from the hotel) he said he would come back and get us if we called. However, on the way back he ran up on a curb because he was too busy trying to have a conversation with me. Too funny, but I already knew that they drive kind of crazy around here. During our cab ride Mohammad also stopped for gas, but he did give us food during our trip because it was time to break the fast. He also said that he would pick us up whenever we needed a taxi (FYI-he charged us less when he took us back to the hotel.

I am really fascinated by the way women dress and are treated. It is truly a learning experience.

On Tuesday, we took a trip to IKEA and spent 4 hrs. “trying” out the furniture. The experience getting the taxi ride over was comical because there were taxis outside the hotel (Maybachs, BMWs, etc.), but they said they would call for a taxi. So we asked what was the difference. We were told that the hotel taxis were 30 AEDs, whereas the called taxi was 10 AEDs. So we were like, hey let’s take the Maybach to IKEA. But when the taxi pulled up it was a Chevrolet. Ummm, another language barrier that was the 30 AEDs taxi, so we stuck with the 10 AEDs Toyota taxi. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do American cars.

While at IKEA picking out furniture, it was funny because the other 3 LTs that I was with all loved the same furniture that I liked. We said our apartments are all going to look the same, just in different locations. LOL.  Also, at IKEA I heard the call to prayer for the first time. It was different than I expected. There was a man singing a song in Arabic and not just an alarm.

On, Tuesday evening, I was finally sleepy (my average is about 3 hrs. per night and no naps during the day). However, my group was scheduled to be in the lobby at 8:30 p.m. to go get fingerprinted. Long story short, we finally made it back to the hotel at 2 a.m. So much for trying to get some sleep.

I’ve been real frustrated because I am having problems working my VPN. So after several e-mails back in forth with my VPN provider, On Wednesday, I found out that I didn’t need the router, I should have purchased a different (and cheaper) version so it can download on my computer automatically. So after trying to make a online purchase, getting locked out of my bank account, 40 minutes and 100 AEDs later to make an international call to Wells Fargo I got my VPN to work…but only for a day. Now it’s not working and I’m in the process of e-mailing back and forth again. So sad. I want to use my MajicJack and Skype.

Wednesday was a chill day. I got a few hours asleep during the day, but of course none at night. So is today (Friday), since it is there Sabbath. We figured there wouldn’t be anything opened. Also, it is Ramadan, and everything is already on a different schedule. Most store hours now are from about 10/11 a.m-1:30/2 p.m. and they reopen around 8 and stay opened to around 1 or 2 a.m.

On Thursday we took a shuttle into the city and took the Big Bus tour. The tour started at Abu Dhabi Mall and went to several historical sites, Souks, hotels, Marina Mall, Corniche Beach and the Grand Mosque. We didn’t get off during the tour because we started late and it was too hot. I expected the heat, but not the humidity. It is worse than Atlanta.

I still continue to meet different people. That’s probably the problem too; we all stay up until about 12/1/2 a.m. talking. Obviously we are all having a hard time adjusting to the time. And once I’m in my room, I am playing on my computer, my only connection to the other side, until my VPN is working properly. But I am enjoying the conversations.

The cost of living “seems” to be low when buying certain items. The other day at the “LTs” restaurant, I purchased an oriental salad and a Coke for 21 AEDs (roughly 5.73) and that included the service charge and tourism fee.

Really wish some of the LTs will stop complaining and enjoy the ride!

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2011 in May 2011

 

Random Comments and Today’s Events

I’ve seen some very pretty Emirati women.

Why did I see one of the LTs pitch a fit and cause a scene at JFK because there was an issue with him checking his carryon because it was too heavy? Oh, I need him to check the attitude that will not work in the UAE. Everything is very slow and conflict is frowned upon…you can’t get mad or upset, just go with the flow.

There were 8 lines for LTs to receive their banking information last night at orientation. However, there was no particular order in which the names were placed on the list. So you had to go to each table, check the lists (that were in no particular order) to find your name to receive your information. So glad I didn’t leave when the announcement was made that even though we were expected to be in the ballroom at 5, the officially orientation did not start until 8. The early birds like me avoided the rush. It was real “funny” that the people who made it back for the “8:00” orientation had to wait a little longer because the bank representatives left about 15 minutes after 8 to break their fast (It is Ramadan here, no eating from sun up to sun down). Patience is a virtue.

Side note- I was losing my mind during the 1.5 hr orientation because people where asking frivolous questions. Why have you not done your research and personal questions should not be asked in a public forum!

Yesterday on the way back from the store, the cab driver had to ask us where the hotel was located because he didn’t know. What the? Don’t you have a GPS? We don’t know where we are.

So far I have met people from New Zealand, London, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, India, Pakistan and of course people from all over the U.S (but they don’t count).

Everything is alphabetized by your first name.

I’m sensitive to smell…enough said. I had a to check myself a few times to make sure it wasn’t me (cause it is H-O-T)

Some individuals already have apartment assignments

The health screening process was very organized and entertaining. Of course my pressure was high :). We were given numbers and from there you proceeded to 5 different stations. Station 1: Check-in, Station 2: BP, Height and Weight (which are done using the metric system. I like that number), Station 3: Skin screening and get this, one disease that they were checking for was leprosy (isn’t that from biblical times?), Station 4: Blood work for infectious diseases and Station 5: Chest X-ray. After you were finished, you went downstairs to wait on the bus that brought us to the medical center. Good thing it was almost full when I got on, we left about 20 minutes later (there was NO air while we waited)

Now I’m back at the hotel and I just woke up from a 3-hour nap. I only slept for 3 hours last night. The time difference is killing me.

Tomorrow we get fingerprinted. That should be interesting considering I was told the last time DeKalb fingerprinted me that I was among the 10% of people with no prints.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2011 in May 2011

 

Adventure: Day 1

Since I slept on the plane, sleep was not my friend the first night. The eight-hour ahead time difference is killing me. I went to sleep at 1:30 a.m. Abu Dhabi time and woke up at 4:00 a.m. Abu Dhabi time. Mind you I was starved so then I started to count the hours until breakfast…6:30 a.m.

Breakfast was pretty good. Danishes, fruit salad, mini pancakes, roasted potatoes, baked beans (?), and meat loaf (? -which did not look appetizing).

I ate with someone that I remembered from the plane ride. On our way back to our rooms, we ran into a couple from California (which I recognized from FB) and they were on their way to take the bus to Carrefour (the French version of a Wal-Mart). You know me…Dora, so off we went with three other adults from the same flight from the night before.

Now this was the OMG for the day. We were still trying to cross the (wide) street less than ¼ of a mile away when the bus passed us. We were pretending to wave it down. Two workers on the street saw us and must have told the bus driver. Do you know the bus driver WAITED!

Carrefour was about a 30-minute ride (2 AED) from the hotel. The Carrefour trip was an interesting experience. First, there was a female only section at the front of the bus (side note, it was warmer up there and I know that for a fact because when we initially got on the bus we were sitting in the back). Secondly, Danna and I definitely felt the language barrier during the process of purchasing a prepaid UAE phone. Finally, on the way back we tried to wait on the bus, but after waiting for about 15 minutes we learned that even though there is a schedule there is no “real” schedule. So we decided to catch a cab back (10 AED a piece) because OMG it was HOT.

This evening we had our first initial orientation with ADEC. We received and signed up for our banking information and found out other pertinent information that will be valuable in the upcoming weeks. (Side note…reading is fundamental. Please do that before asking a million questions). Tomorrow morning I must be on a bus by 6:45 for the health screening process. Goodnight.

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2011 in May 2011