Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rain, rain, stay all day

Today it rained in the desert. Not just a sprinkle, mind you, legitimate, Oregon-style rain. 

Imagine a snow day at home: the excitement, the kids peering out the windows, the feigning of "We should probably let school out early. You know, for safety reasons," the waiting around for the email or call saying "Go home!" It is the same here, except instead of fluffy, white snow, it's normal rain. And the kids were bananas!

We got to go home early from school because of it. 

And the crazy Abu Dhabi drivers? They turn into hazards flashing, window shield peering, blind grandma drivers who go 10 kilometers under the speed limit. Pansies.

Happy (rainy) weekend to us!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Whirlwind of Whirlwinds (and then some)

I use the word "whirlwind" a lot (probably too much) in my posts, but it is the most perfect word to describe our new life in Abu Dhabi. So I'm going to continue to use it. Also, I officially suck at this whole blogging thing. I had about four posts started, but never got around to publishing them before tonight, so sorry for the randomness in the post order.

So much has happened over the last two weeks that it is all pretty much a blur, and I should have been writing every night, to make sure I wouldn't forget anything, but goodness it has been one of the hardest starts to a school year that Rob and I have ever experienced. We are physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

There are no words to describe the overhaul that is happening to the educational system in Abu Dhabi. It's not bad, it's just a baby of a country (42 years old on December 2) and the reforms that they are trying to achieve are simply staggering.

That being said, we've been asked to teach like we would back home without the resources and support systems of back home. Couple that with the fact that we didn't get to start the school year with our classes and half the staff speaks a different language, it is like being a new teacher, but in a foreign country, all over again.

Basically, school is hard and, more so for Rob than for me, not very rewarding. But we are trying to stay positive and we are hoping that it is just not very rewarding...yet.

During this "back to school" phase, we also had 4 days to move out of the hotel and into our new apartment. After we were "evicted" from our hotel, we spent the first night on a couch because IKEA couldn't deliver our furniture until the next day.

As of today, we have most of our furniture and appliances, no oven (or as all of our new UK friends say "cooker"), but who needs a cooker, when you can pick up chicken shwarma for 4 Dirhams ($1.00)?

We are slowly getting used to our new life, but it has definitely had it's challenges: everything moves slowly in Abu Dhabi except, of course, the drivers (that is a whole other blog post waiting to be written), so it takes forever to get anything done.

This week we both experienced some homesick-ness, but we are thankful to have each other. There are quite a few teachers who left spouses and kids back home and I don't know how they are surviving.

I'll post pictures of our most recent happenings eventually, but now, I'm going to bed to prepare for our last work day of the week. Our work week is Sunday-Thursday...yet another thing we are slowly adjusting to.

Love and miss you all.

The Last Two Weeks

The last two weeks have been nothing short of a whirlwind. With school starting, Rob arriving, apartment and housing being finalized, I'm surprised we are still functioning.

Here's a quick recap of the last few weeks and I promise to write more once things get settled, more specifically once we get settled into our new home.

Teaching in Abu Dhabi is unlike anything back home. There are no procedures, no norms, no real schedules, nothing. One example of this: my school (along with every other building in Abu Dhabi) doesn't have an address. Take just a second and let that one sink in...there are NO addresses for ANYTHING. So how did I find my school on the first day? GPS coordinates (thank goodness for Google Maps).

Now that I've driven (scratch that: ridden) to school a few times, I pretty much have it down. As you can see from my notes, it's not exactly straightforward:

Did I mention that I teach at an all girls school? And, yes, everything is pink. The hallways, my classroom, the students' uniforms, their roller backpacks - yup, it's all pink. I actually am extremely blessed to be teaching in an all girls school. Because we were so delayed in getting here, most of the other female teachers in my group ended up at all boys schools. The boys are much harder to manage and not nearly as cute and nice as my little ones, so I count myself extremely lucky to have landed my spot at Al Lulu's School for Girls.

* * *
Extra Tidbit: Rob had his first day of school today at an all boys school and he doesn't even have the words to describe how wild it was. One example, fistfights happen constantly. So much so that it happens in classrooms, on a daily basis, with no repercussions or consequences for the young men. It will be an interesting year for him to say the least. But more to come on that from his perspective later.
                                                                             * * *

Here are a few other pictures of my new school. I haven't taken any pictures of my (shared) classroom, but when I get time to catch my breath, I'll hopefully get that somewhat organized. I walked into a mess of a classroom, so I'm choosing to avoid/ignore it for now!

The courtyard of Al Lulu
Even with school starting, we've still managed to get in some fun. We've met some wonderful people over here, which has made all this "moving away from home" stuff a bit easier. I'm actually watching this little Scottish guy, Charlie, tonight while his mum and dad shop for apartment furnishings.

Dawn and Ryan are Charlie's parents and they are delightful. Like I said before, it's been so great to have met people who are at a similar life stage and are going through the same things as us.

More to come once we get settled!

25 October

The last two days were marvelous, wonderful, and fabulous all rolled into one.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? So, I'm going to let pictures do my talking tonight.


Friday Night:
Girls Night Out:
These ladies are fabulous and have made the last week so much fun.  From left to right: Kristen, Staci, Dawn, Jill, and of course me. I'm not sure what I would have done without them, especially with Rob's ticket being delayed.

It's not a bad picture: Oasis Garden is just a very red restaurant.
Everything was ordered for us by our host (more on him later) and
it was incredibly delicious. 

See? I told you, just a really red restaurant with awesome food. 
Staci looks so tan - we blame the flash!

View from our dessert stop.