Friday, March 9, 2012

A Hollywood Themed Night

My friend Tim and I dressed up as LMFAO
Tonight I attended a “Hollywood” themed party and had a remarkable time! Everyone dressed up as someone famous in Hollywood. The ideas people had were fantastic, creative, and quite unique.  There was such a variety of people from Robin Hood to Charlie Chaplin. I was even privileged to win two awards during the night….Wow! One award was best dressed with my British friend for our costume which was a duo. We dressed up as LMFAO and I’m pretty sure we won because he looked legit. The second award that I won for the evening was with my impromptu group of all Americans at a doctor’s office and our given props. What a great night! The activities that were planned (impromptu, charades, and monologues) were so much fun and the people who attended were full of life.  Was also great to just dance to some songs and get my bones moving again. They were pretty rusty, but after a few songs they were back in full force.  Tonight is the kind of night that I enjoy and live for. To be surrounded by great people laughing, talking, and making new memories together. This night will definitely be an evening that I will never forget. I mean it’s almost three in the morning here and I still can’t sleep…that’s how much fun I had. What a way to be shown how simple things in life really are a blessing.
You can see all of Hollywood's elite in this picture

"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
- Anais Nin

We won two free movie tickets for our costumes
A demanded performance from the winners!
Impromtu performance

Tina Tuner handing out our award
Finally moving my bones....!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Coming Back "Home"

February 20, 2011

Coming back from vacation back in December was surreal. I came back to my new “home” Abu Dhabi and not back to the U.S.A. I really have had to take some time and realize that this really is my new reality. It has many ups and many downs as well. I know I have expressed it before, but some days I can really miss my life that I had back in Texas. Then, I quickly think….well if I were to leave Abu Dhabi today I’d miss the people who are here and the life I have now created. It’s quite perplexing at times, but I am thankful that this is the path I have been led to choose. I’ve always wanted to live this life overseas and am blessed that I’m able to live out a dream of mine.

                Lately I’ve occupied myself with many different things from laying low to hanging out with my friends of Abu Dhabi. This past weekend was my birthday weekend and the first celebrated overseas. It was very relaxing and had plenty of down time. For a while I was deciding to throw myself a birthday party, but became over whelming at times. Eventually decided to cancel things and relaxed instead. The only thing that didn’t cooperate too much was the weather. The wind was blowing so hard; which may be some people’s dreams depending on their jobs and hobbies, but when you live in a dessert….it’s not exactly what you want. Yeah… you may get a free facial and skin exfoliating, but it hurts so badly! As a result, I had some really good friends take me out and about Abu Dhabi to share small birthday celebrations with them.  In truth I enjoyed the one on one times. I learned much about them and will cherish those moments.  Actually, there are still birthday dinners waiting in the midst….so pleased and excited!

                Yesterday (Sunday),we took the students on a field trip to a “theme park”. It’s more like a Chucky Cheese or Gatti town, but without pizza being the main attraction and nix mascot. They are actually located all around town inside shopping centers and malls. So it’s rather different than taking a field trip back home. Before a big field trip back home you had to jump through hoops of fire, run around the school a million time, and oh yeah explain how the field trip was related to the curriculum that you were teaching.  Here….I didn’t even know that the children were going on a felid trip until they started bringing in money on Thursday. It was something that the Arabic teachers had planned and did not give us notice ahead of time.  Essentially, the children played games and rode rides all day. I don’t know how that fit into the children learning about plants, letters, and non-standard units….but the kids had a blast. OH…and the icing on the cake for me, was that I had 13 students who showed up for the trip. I was basically on a honey moon again with the students who were there. Pretty sure they felt the same way as well. The Arabic teacher told me that a student kept telling me that he loved me and I was the best and another  one snuck a kiss on the cheek. He pretended he wanted to whisper something to me and then planted one on my cheek….yes they were on a honeymoon with me as well.

With the Tiger Woods cut out
                Doesn’t feel as if there is too much to report, but maybe I have just left out a lot of things. Johanna….stay on me to keep up with this!!! I need to for you, everyone, and myself as well.  I only have pictures to post though of the time that I went to see the golf tournament here in Abu Dhabi. Luckily I was able to snap a few shots of Tiger Woods and Rory Mcilroy before my camera died on me again. Good news though…a new charger will be sent in from the U.S. very soon. If this doesn’t work then I will have to just break down and buy a new camera.  Hope everyone is doing well. Miss you and love you all!!!

Tiger and Rory walking to the next hole

Friday, December 16, 2011

Celebrating The U.A.E's National Day

Things have been quite busy in the U.A.E. lately with celebrations going on and holidays around the corner.  Things are going well and the past four months have moved quite quickly. I can’t believe that the 2011 year is already coming to an end and that I am getting to be a part of another culture and its experiences.
On December 2nd the U.A.E. celebrated its 40th National day with festivities unimaginable to an expat. The Emirates love their country beyond belief and go all out to show the love that they have for their country. The celebrations had really begun weeks in advance at our school with the children, teacher, and parents.  So the week of National Day, we had events from small festivals, bus trips, and a performance day for the parents. The thing with the U.A.E. is that if parents do not want their children attending school, then “In’Shallah” we will have children.  We had schedules set for the week, which included our performance and the government decided that we should have the Thursday going into the weekend off. Yes…a three day weekend to celebrate the U.A.E’s national day for my first time in the country!!! The announcement of time off of course pushed all of the week’s celebrations to be earlier. So on Wednesday of that week the children we to perform their English song about National day that I had taught them two weeks earlier.
The day of the performance I had a total of ten out of twenty-five children set and ready to perform. Luckily a few of the students who were here and ready to perform were some of the stronger English speakers and the ones who were eager to perform. When it was finally our turn to perform our song for the parents, my students did a stellar job and showed their parents the English that they have learned.  I really wish I had video showing you my student’s performance because they had done so well, but I to stand off on the side of the stage and sing along with my students and guide them. The students did a really great job performing and I was a really proud English teacher.
After the students performed we were back to watching the children whose parents did not take them after the performance. I had about a total of four students who stayed behind with me. I have to say though that I really enjoyed the time, because I got to know some of my students better and I learned how to fix some of the boys dish dashes (the white scarf that the men and little boys wear around their head). It was quite relaxing and enjoyment to learn how to fix their dish dashes and feel like I was really being a part of their culture. It’s as if those students who stayed behind with me, gave me bliss inside my heart.  A few hours later the LT’s were called back into the stage area to help celebrate the Nation’s birthday. We stood on stage, light sparklers, and Arabic teachers sprayed cans of spray snow. Not really a good combination to have fire and a flammable can within meters of one another on stage. Here in the U.A.E. though you learn that things like that are not really paid much attention to and again “In’Shalla” things will be fine.
Later on in the evening after work was done, I made it out to my weekly studies. While in the middle of studies; which is down by the Corniche, the first round of fireworks went off for the Countries celebrations.  We were on about the 14th floor of the building right at a bird’s eye view and out of the crowd. The fireworks had perfect timing and a powerful silence amongst the people while everyone was watching the show in awe.  The show was so impressive that everyone had wondered what the real National day fireworks show was going to look like since this was only the day before the “real” National Day (December 2nd).
The next day; the Country’s real National Day, we spent the day preparing for the day ahead of us and our first National day in the Emirates. We went to our local hypermarket (LuLu’s) and stocked up on spray snow and silly string. This is what the Emirates stock up on and use on their National day. The snow and silly string is used to spray people walking in the streets and cruising around in their cars. It was quite a lot of fun participating with the Emirates. If they covered you with a can of silly string or snow, they would laugh and say they are “Just having a good time” (imagine that being said in their accents, and then give you a full can of spray to use on someone else. There was quite a few times where they walked pass us and would try to spray us first, but I was quick to aim my can at them first and get their Kandoras covered in snow.  It was definitely an event that has become a huge custom to their country. The best way that I heard National day described was that a 12 year old boy must have come up with the idea. You get everyone driving around in their festive decorated cars, spraying people with stuff from cans, and staying out late into the wee hours of the night.
We all hung out down at the Corniche from about three in the afternoon to one in the morning. We saw their parade displayed on the jumbo screen set up for the weekend’s festivities.  They had their show jets make their way down to the Corniche and display a show in the air with the smoke and their technical moves. My favorite is when the two jets make a heart out of smoke in the air for the crowd. These people really do love their country and will show it any way possible. There were a ton of free shows, water fountains in the beach water , and even another fireworks show set up for the evening. Unfortunately the fireworks never happened on the Friday of National Day. We waited and waited many hours for the show, but they never happened. Many people were asking us and others around if we knew when the show was going to start. The schedule said eight at night, but we were already at midnight. So the rumor is that there was too much wind for the show to go on so they had to cancel them for safety reasons. Either way it was a great experience to be a part of and something I will not forget. I’m not too sure if I will partake again in next year’s festivities, but it was great to say that I was a part of their 40th and their traditions.
The celebrations took place about two weeks ago and since then we have had a week of a “normal” schedule and now this past week  the schedule with the students have been quite unusual. Today is the last day until we are off for a three week “Holiday” break.  Since Christmas is not celebrated it feels right now just like any other time of the year. The spirit is not around, there are no parties, gifts are not being exchanged, and the weather outside is not frightful. I am actually sitting in the staffroom with the rest of the LTs counting down the time until we get to go home. Our Principal doesn’t like to let us leave early at any point of time. She actually has the security lock the gates where we cannot drive or walk out of the compound.  The whole week we have had about ten students total gone from each classroom. It’s as if when there is some kind of major holiday or break coming up the parents stop bringing the kids to school. Every day within the week approaching a Holiday/break we have less and less children show up to school. Today….we had no children to show up to school. Our work is all done and there are no children around, but we are stuck inside the gates of the compound. I’m just anxious to get home to start getting ready for my trip to Prague, Vienna, and London.
This coming Sunday I will head out to Prague from Abu Dhabi and spend a few days there. The plan is to take a train ride to Vienna from Prague and spend some time there as well. The train ride is evidently about a four to five ride. I have never been on a train before, so I am excited to ride on one to see the sights that the Czech Republic has to offer. We will stay there for ten days (Christmas Eve and Christmas) then head out to London from Prague and spend a week in London for New Years Eve and New Years. My first time to travel out to Turkey did not work out so much, but I hope this time I can get on a plane and spend my time enjoying the sights, sounds, and travels. With anticipation, I cannot wait to blog about my trip and share with you all my experiences.

Watch this video that I made showing what I saw for U.A.E National Day