Thursday, June 4, 2015

Apartment Living

Living in Abu Dhabi is not only my first time living abroad, but it's my first time living in an apartment. Unless you count college dorms as an apartment. But I don't. My college dorm was just a playhouse, made for adult-sized children -- nothing very real-life about a sleepover every night and then breakfast in the dining hall every morning. But then again, there's not a whole lot that feels very real-life about getting to live here:

Sometimes, it is pretty fabulous to live in an apartment:

1. No lawn to mow. No plants to water. No dandelions to do battle with every spring.
2. Less space that gets dirty; therefore, less space to clean. And I use clean in a very loose sense of the word: we have a wonderful lady who comes and cleans our apartment once a week. We pay her. She mops. It is a win-win situation.
3. Pool, gym, security, and elevator provided.

No lie, it can be pretty awesome.

But while there are some amazing positives, the negatives outweigh the awesomeness at times:

1. It was 118 degrees yesterday, so our air-con pushes beautifully cold, but recycled, air into our apartment 24/7.  Therefore, I woke up this morning to the smell of whatever fishy, peppery, with a little bit of sickly-sweet, breakfast my neighbors are cooking. There is no IKEA candle powerful enough to combat this smell.
2. A family with small children moved into an apartment on our floor. Don't get me wrong, I love kids. I hope to have my own some day. But other people's children, screaming in the hallway at 6:42am? Not okay.
3. No pets. And we miss our little dogs.
4. When you burn dinner, the entire floor hears the fire alarm screaming "1311 IS BURNING SOMETHING AGAIN! WHAT A TERRIBLE COOK SHE MUST BE!" And then security calls or knocks, just to check and see if "Everyone is okay?" Yep, we are fine. Just trying to cook chicken. Again.

But these are the two most important things that I have learned while apartment-living it up:
1. We don't need a ton of space. We currently have a comfortable bedroom, 1.5 adequate bathrooms, and a sizable dining and living area. When people visit, it will be a bit cramped by first-world standards, but it will not be uncomfortable.
2. We don't need that much stuff. Since my current living situation is temporary, I give a lot of thought to the things I buy and bring home. Before I make any purchase, I think "Do I need this?" and "What will I do with it when I leave?" and it has saved me a lot of money. Now, I do not claim to have become a minimalist who never buys anything, (Seriously, who can go to IKEA and not buy everything?), but reevaluating spending habits and tendencies has been a tremendously rewarding experience.

Yet another detail for the "pros" list.


Friday, May 22, 2015

The (Reader) Decision

For the last four weeks, we've been like the must have free-agents of the teaching world (Lebron ain't got nothing on us). And it has been awesome. And stressful. Awesomely stressful.

To recap:
Four weeks ago, a mining company flew us to Arequipa, Peru to interview for two teaching positions. Did I mention they flew us first class? They flew us first class. It was awesome. Not the kind of awesome that we would ever actually pay for ourselves, but awesome all the same.

It was a whirlwind of a trip - out of the 6 days that we were traveling, we only spent three of them in Peru. I've included some of our pictures below - be sure to check out the llamas and alpacas. I wanted to bring one home with us!

Ultimately, the school would have been delightful, the compensation was close to what we make in Abu Dhabi, but the town would have been less than desirable for a few reasons: we'd have a security guard/driver shadowing us 24/7, there is very little to do in the town, and, to be perfectly honest, we weren't too sure about leaving our amazing, Abu Dhabi friends...

...or giving up the sweet high rise apartment and facilities where we currently get to live. 

So, we decided to take our talents (drumroll, please)............back to Abu Dhabi for yet another year. 

I know, I know. We said it would be a year, two years max...and now it will be three. And believe me, it was a hard decision to make. We'd love to be heading back to the US, but alas, we are going to try and stick it out in the desert for one more year. you know what that means? You still have another year to visit us! Airline tickets are super cheap right now (UAE carriers offer ridiculous specials in order to boost tourism to Dubai and Abu Dhabi), we have a very comfortable couch, AND a swimming pool that puts most resorts to shame. Seriously, come visit us! We'd love to host you and when will you ever get to visit a place like this ever again? And seriously, check out the flight deals here:

See you in seven weeks, American friends and family!


Peru Pictures: A bit misleading because most of them came from a monastery and the most touristy part of town. Definitely not a true representation of what living in the town would have felt like, but beautiful all the same.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Four Weeks until Spring Break

We have three weeks with students left in trimester two. Well, I have three. Rob has maybe two as his boys will stop showing up next week sometime (woot, woot).

One of those weeks is reserved for "standardized" testing.  Then, we have one week of "professional development" and then...


In all honesty, this trimester (which last year was the longest...of...our...lives) has flown by. And for this, we are very thankful. School is rough and it is getting hot in Abu Dhabi. We are dreading the thought of 110* being a normal day, but we are hanging in there! And, let's face it, I'd rather be here than buried in snow. Seriously, people...Niagra is frozen? No, thanks!

Sending lots of love (and warm weather vibes) to our family!


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

An Overdue Update

Hello, my name is Faith, and I'm a terrible blogger.

My last post was in September...SEPTEMBER! Ugh. I suck.

I wish I could say that life has been so incredibly exciting that I just haven't had time to blog. But that just isn't true. The truth is, nothing all that exciting has been happening in Abu Dhabi.

To prove it, here's a breakdown of what has happened during my 5ish month hiatus from blogging.

September: Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep. Work. Pay off student loan debt.

October: Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep. Work. Pay off some more student loan debt.

November: Work. Sleep. Work. Sleep. Work. Guess what? Pay off some more student loan debt.

December: In addition to working and sleeping, I finished my Masters of Education: Reading Specialist program at NNU and we visited Istanbul, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest over Christmas break.

January: Back to working and sleeping and paying off some more student loan debt.

So, that brings us to February! It's starting to get hot here again (90* today) and at work we are in the dog days of our trimester 2.

Whew. Catching people up is exhausting, so now I'm off to I can go to work tomorrow.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Abu Dhabi is Different

1. You can have any type of food delivered. Seriously, I saw a delivery guy from McDonald's in our elevator yesterday.
2. "Helping a friend move" means you help him carry a couch from the apartment across the street, to his own apartment. This involves a 36 floor elevator down, a walk across the street in 113 degree heat, an elevator ride up to the 15th floor, and then maneuvering/shoving the couch through a too small of apartment door.
3. There are no driving rules EXCEPT don't speed in front of the speed cameras and don't run red lights. Anything else goes.
4. Lining or queuing (as our UK friends will say) isn't much of a thing here. People cut in front of you. And that brings us to number 5.
5. You have to be (almost) rude to get anything done, anywhere. Like I said it number 4, people will cut in front of you, they will interrupt your conversations with sales clerks, bank tellers, etc. You have to demand attention from people if you want any attention in a timely manner. It has been one of the hardest things to get used to here.
6. Nothing is quick. Not traffic. Not figuring out online banking. Not getting a repair man to come fix your washer. Not figuring out what school you will be working at. Nothing.
7. I take one part of number 6 back. Traffic is still not quick, however, drivers on the freeway, while they are passing your on the shoulder going 75 mph, they are quite quick. Scary quick.
8. Abu Dhabi is the desert. And the humidity is unbearable. Dry and humid at the same time.
9. The holidays feel weird. Labor Day? Hot. Halloween? Hot. Thanksgiving? Hot. Christmas? Warm to hot. New Years? Warm to hot. Valentine's? Hot. You get the point.

To be continued.

Update - 9/12/2014

This week went by fast. Like, crazy fast. Crazy, exhausting fast.

As most of you know, we work Sunday-Thursday over here and by the time our Thursday, therefore our work week, is over, people back home are just starting their Wednesday mornings. So, it kinda feels like we are getting done a day early! But then we go back to work on Sundays and, even after a year, it feels like our weekends come to an early and abrupt end. 

School hasn't been nearly as stressful this year, for either of us. Other teachers will more than understand this, but, for everyone else out there, being in school, in your classroom, from day 1, makes all the difference in the world when it comes to establishing procedures and rapport with your students.

I'm feeling very blessed at my new school. I'm enjoying teaching grade seven  WAY, WAY, WAY more than grade 6. I'm lucky to be in a new school and enjoy the perks that come with a brand new building: new computers and projectors, a copy machine that works, AND a printer in my room (for all my teacher friends out there - you know how awesome this is!).  I'm working with some awesome EMTs (western teachers) and some fabulous Arabic and Emirate staff. It is just a much better fit than last year for me. And for that, I am truly thankful!

Rob is still at the same school as last year and started the year teaching grade six. On Thursday, however, he got his schedule changed and is now teaching grade seven (for now). There are pros and cons to this. He does know most of the kids and his class load will be slightly lighter by teaching grade seven. On the flip side, he was excited to get a new batch of kids and teach the same grade level so his planning would be the same as last year. He was not super excited about the schedule change, but he is a team player and him moving up with his kids ended up being the best thing for the school and his department, so he did it. Isn't he just the best?

As far as our weekends go, we've been hermits. It's so freaking hot here. We spend most of the time indoors. With a heat index of 109-115 and no relief from the heat at night, our air conditioned lives are pretty boring. But, sometimes boring is good. Sometimes, boring is necessary. And after our fabulously busy summer,'s kinda nice to be boring. 


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Debt Reduction and Staying Positive

We have officially paid off one of our student loans. We have three more to go and the end is in sight!

Even though it was difficult to leave family and friends and come back to Abu Dhabi, we had friends waiting for us here AND we are achieving our financial goals.

It is a good reminder as to why we are here and when people back home ask, "Why? Why would you put yourselves through one more year of being away?" we can't convey how enjoyable, how relieving, it is to be making progress on our debt reduction goals.

It is a good feeling. And it keeps us staying positive while surviving the desert!