Thursday, October 27, 2011

Did I Forget to Mention...?!

October 27, 2011
Getting to Maya Beach
I forgot to mention that I am going to Turkey in one more week. Next Thursday November 3rd will be the start of our Eid break out here for the students.  We are suppose to have until the 8th of November off, but based on the moon we could have an entire nine days off of work. This is of course including the weekends. So we are still waiting to hear word on what the actual time frame may be, but for now we already have our flights and hostel booked for Istanbul, Turkey. Not too sure what to expect, but really ready for anything.  One thing I do know is that it will be significantly colder in Turkey than it is here in Abu Dhabi. Our current weather in Abu Dhabi is 94°F and in Turkey the current weather is 54°F, so I will need to be off to a mall soon to buy some clothes for the trip. I’m hoping to borrow a camera from a friend so I can take pictures and put them on here for everyone to see. It will be my first time to travel to Turkey which makes this even more exciting. Really I have not traveled many places, but Mexico, some states in the U.S. and now Abu Dhabi. Maybe this will be a start to something new. J
Fog on the Road

                Next, I just have to tell you all about fog days. Fog days out here are like snow days. They don’t happen too often, but when they do school is ran in different procedures. The fog out here is so thick that you cannot see what is within two feet ahead of you. So, the busses do not run at normal time and they advise you for the most part to stay home until the fog has cleared and safe to travel. The students usually arrive to school around 7:30a.m. a bus; now arrive around  10:00a.m. Really this procedure has only happened about three times this year (two which were last Wednesday and Thursday), but is so interesting.  You have to think though that for Abu Dhabi, this is their extreme weather. It doesn’t get too cold here for snow to occur (it’s a dry dessert). Which also brings me to the point; I miss seeing clouds high in the sky, especially the cumulus clouds. Yes fog is a cloud low to the ground, but for the most part you will not see a cloudy sky…the sky is 98% cloud free for a great day. Even as I type this and look outside there isn’t a single cloud of any type in sight.
View Sitting at the Beach

                Last weekend I spent it hanging out in Abu Dhabi seeing new sights that I had not yet seen.  A few friends and I went to a “new” beach this weekend. It’s not new to Abu Dhabi, just new to us.  It was a secluded beach a few miles away from the main city of Abu Dhabi. You have to take a small fifteen minute boat ride out to get to this beach. The beach allows loud music to be played during the day and has more of a tourist feel to it. Later on in the day I went to the Abu Dhabi film festival with a friend who is from Ireland. We went out and saw Pina which is a 2011 German 3-D film. It has won many awards and even voted on the New York Times top ten to see. It was an entertaining and inspiring film, definitely not like any other dance movies I’ve seen.

I was covering my friend's jellyfish
 sting on her leg :/
                Not too much has happened this week here in Abu Dhabi or out at work. This weekend I plan on just trying to get ready for my trip to Turkey and possibly go out camping in Fujairah on the mountains.  Seems like there is a lot to do within a short amount of time, but I guess I rather be busy than not experiencing things out here within my two years. Not too much is planned out here for Halloween, except for what the LTs have planned on their own. There will be some children coming around door to door trick-or-treating here in our buildings and some people having get togethers. Really out here you almost forget about the Holiday since there are not decorations and candy sold all over the place. You may see a few decorations or costumes at some stores that just came out here about a week ago. Really though I have only seen signs saying Happy Diwali (a celebration of India and Nepal). There is a store out here called Spinneys that sells quite a bit of American products and had pumpkins for sale. A few of my friends and I wanted to buy one, but found the price of 90 dirhams (24 dollars) to be a little pricey for something that will be thrown away in a few days, since we are trying to save some money for our Trip to Turkey. So the next few weeks will be busy packing, get ready for Turkey, spending time in Turkey, and then coming back to Abu Dhabi to get ready for work again. I will be posting soon to keep you all updated on how everything goes.
 One of the Boats to get to Beach

                The pictures on here are from this past weekend from my friend’s cameras. Since we are all doing the same things you can see some of what’s going on in my life, just through their eyes.
View of Abu Dhabi from Maya Beach

Waiting for the Boat
Riding to the Beach

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back To Some Basics

October 17, 2011
On Board the Boat @ the Corniche
So I spoke too soon the last time I wrote this blog. The next day after I wrote this blog I went to work and had to survive the classroom alone. Now you must be wondering why I am writing about being in the classroom by myself….that is what my job entailed in the U.S. right? Well, two big factors play a difference out here in Abu Dhabi.
                The first (and major) factor is that the children do not speak very much English. They are three and four and have nothing, but Arabic spoken at home. I am not the best in Arabic, really just started learning Arabic two months ago. So our communication in the classroom on Wednesday and Thursday was very simple and somewhat difficult. There is once student in particular who just cried his guts out with just me in the classroom. He kept trying to leave the classroom while I was trying to teach twenty three other students in a language different than their native. So day one he didn’t do too well and the bus monitors took him out of my class. Really I think it just freaks him out that I am not dressed in an abaya , sheila, and don’t speak Arabic. He’s actually one of the students who has picked up English the best. 
The City of Abu Dhabi from the water
                The second component is the fact that there are twenty four of them and only one of me. They are three and four year olds who are very active.  So with students who don’t have discipline in their culture and do not understand my language….it was tough. Thank goodness for the classroom words that I know in Arabic. This definitely helped me when having to get the students to continue with their normal class routines.
Getting ready to board the boat.

Our Friend's Birthday Dinner.
                Recently I have had a nice past few weekends. One weekend was a friend’s birthday who decided that they wanted to go down to the Corniche (popular beach here in AD) and ride a jet boat.  It was a splendid idea and loads of fun. It was nice to be out on the water with some great weather. Here we are still in the upper nineties (degrees Fahrenheit). The start was somewhat shaky, which was worrisome.  After about twenty tries the boat driver (captain…I suppose?) was able to start the boat and get it going. We rode around on the water and at one point we all were able to drive the boat. The scene was beautiful with the city right behind us and the sun setting.  There were also quite a few people out on their boats and jet skis enjoying the day as well. At one point we were allowed to get off the boat on swim on our own private beach. Later we all went out to a girls dinner and hung out the rest of the evening.   We had such an amazing time and it was so serene. It was nice way to rejuvenate myself here in Abu Dhabi.
Driving the Boat!
                This past Thursday I went back to the group Crossroads that I am a part of out here in AD.  I was greeted with such a warm welcome going back and seeing everyone who I hadn’t seen in a week. It was as if everyone hadn’t seen me in quite some time and was excited to have me back. It’s always nice to go have a homemade dinner and some quality time. The next day I continued my Friday mornings as I normally do here. Just because I can’t say too much here on my blog I will say that it’s the same way that I spent my Sunday mornings out in the U.S. Soon after it was time for our Jet Ski adventure, this time near the Fairmont hotel. Another day of sun, fun, and relaxation….this time on a jet ski that I was able to drive around for about an hour with the need for speed. Later on in the day we went out to see Abu Dhabi. As far as seeing everyone out and meeting new people, it’s just so surreal to me. You go out here and here and they play the same type of music that you would here in the U.S. Songs about life, love, and even….America? Yes, songs by Alicia Keys called “New York”. A song by Estelle called “American Boy”, and many other songs that are anthems in the states. Yet, you have people from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and here in the Emirates singing these songs at the top of their lungs. So out of curiosity I asked my friend from New Zealand if these songs are played normally in her hometown. “Yes”, was her reply…. “All the time!” Maybe it’s that I have just lived in my U.S./Texas bubble for too long, but I just thought that they would be singing songs about “Ireland Boys” and big cities in their countries. I should have known though in the first couple weeks of living here when everyone including a cabby was jamming out to Justin Beiber’s “Baby”.   An anthem out here that was new for me is a song by Shakira called Waka Waka. Pretty much everyone from South Africa sang this song from the top of their lungs and danced away. Now this I don’t think I would see the people as enthusiastic in the states.

We're proud to be Texans!
      Now I am back to my work week and back with my Arabic (co-op) teacher in the classroom with the students.  I do have to say that I am amazed with how much these kids have learned in the past six weeks. Every morning my students come in on their own time and greet me with “Good Morning Teacher”….Yes!!!  This is an expectation for them in the KG1 classroom, and the fact that they shake my hand as well. I am so proud of the students. It’s the cutest thing hearing them greet me with their little voices and accents. We still have a lot more to go, but we are taking things slowly and day by day. Hopefully the next time I blog, I will get to share another feat that the students will have overcome.
Girls at the Birthday Dinner.
Our Jet Ski Adventure
                Ah and finally some more good news. I now officially have gas to cook with my stove! After months of not cooking and not knowing when our apartments will be set up with gas pipes, I went ahead and bought a gas tank at the local gas station. Again, it wasn’t just that simple…I had bought it a week ago but had to go from “A” all the way to “Z” to finally get to point “B”. I’m just excited now that fire comes out of the burners on top. Never would I have thought that something that we see as so simple and take for granted could bring me so much joy. I already went out and bought some eggs and bread to make breakfast for the first time. Yes, my plan is to wake up early and cook some eggs with toast….just because I finally can. Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten how to cook since it’s been so long since I last really cooked for myself. In the summer my Mom didn’t want me to cook anything for her, because her “baby” was leaving the country and needed to “relax”. So, I think the last time I cooked for myself was maybe back in early May before I had packed up all my cooking utensils and supplies at my old apartment.
Driving the Jet Ski.... :D
                Now, I should be off to prepare for the next day to come out here in Abu Dhabi. Nothing is ever just “simple” out here and can really become exhausting after a while. Can’t wait to share more with you all soon.

All pictures are courtesy of my friends and their cameras :/

Shakira-Waka Waka

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Catching up and Taking Deep Breaths

October 11, 2011

Time to start blogging again…it’s not that I stopped. I just had to take some time away to take some breathers and take care of some things around here in Abu Dhabi. Life is definitely different out here than what I have been use to living before. I would also have to be honest and say that for a good three week period I was having a tough time and second thoughts on staying out here. Really I didn’t want anyone to know that I was struggling because I feel that I have to be tough for those who see me out here and are amazed that I took this adventure. I have now realized that I am a human being and that there are many others like me out here and in the rest of the world.

Thought it was interesting that the Duracell mascot
is like the Energizer Bunny back home in the U.S.
                So I have been teaching KG-1 (Pre-K) out here for about a month now. Wow, I surely have grown so much in the past month of teaching. It is a different experience out here beyond imaginable. I could have blogged about every single day, but I still don’t think that everyone would fully understand what teaching out here is like. The one thing that you for sure have to remember is that they are literally on the opposite world  of from where I call home. The way the children have been raised and brought up are different than home. Really you can have children raised differently even within the same country, state, city, and school district. You just have to take into account that their cultural views are very different than what I have been brought up with. Doesn’t matter how many videos, sessions, and talks that they prepare you with….it’s something that you just end up having to experience and learn from first hand. It’s the nature of the game I suppose because even as a teacher you get all this schooling in college, but nothing can prepare you for your very first day of teaching.

                First, take the children’s cultural views and how they perceive me. I am obviously someone who is foreign in their world. I am not wearing an abaya and sheila like the women in their culture do and I don’t speak their language.  So the children for the first few weeks would not show me any respect since I do not match their cultures description on a woman.They would go hysterical when left in the classroom with me by myself, either crying or running around the room like animals. Really option number two is what happened more often with the children here. You can’t blame them since I am dressed like their nanny, therefore why else would they treat me any different...? Thankfully I have had an Arabic co-teacher in the classroom that had to tell the students that I am a teacher just like her and that there needs to be respect towards me as well as her. We are still working with all the students to get on board with the idea, but we have made quite a bit of progress since the first day.
A trip to Ikea one day, already very use to seeing arabic
writing everywhere.

                Second take the student’s have been living their way of life all these years and now some woman from the other side of the world wants to change things. Uhh….not going to happen so easy. I have had to realize that what I knew and how I worked in the U.S. is not going to be the same way with the children out here. I have had to learn more of their culture and become even more conscious of how to be respectful with the children as well. I have since been learning Arabic and picking up some of their cues in the classroom to help myself to help teach them. This has made quite a change and now there seems to be a mutual respect between the students and I. Again not all students are on board, but really where there is a single classroom that has a hundred percent of students who are behaved “ideally”?

                Besides the challenges at work I have had plenty of challenges at home as well. I have to say that I am still not completely settled here in Abu Dhabi. I still lack things I need for my apartment. We don’t have gas yet here and they do not know when we will have gas to be able to start cooking. So I took it upon myself to buy a gas tank but, now I need some help with setting it up so I don’t start and explosion.  So not being able to cook has led to not eating healthy as well. The gym just opened up here at our “flats” so I have just started being able to go and workout. I shouldn’t complain because back home I didn’t have a gym…would just us my resources around me. I have become lazy as far as taking care of myself. Really need to get out of it, since it’s a bad habit that has continued for a while now here in Abu Dhabi.

     Oh yes and let’s not forget my recent trip to the dentist…yeah I had to get my first cavity out here in a foreign country. I have to admit that I have had quite a bit of problems with my teeth since moving into my flat. They say that you have to buy a water filter to make sure that you get the extra junk out of the water that they have here in their water. Who knows what is, besides some left over sodium I suppose. The water has made my teeth hurt, my hair fall out and break easily, and my skin extra dry. So needless to say, I’m not looking to nice out here in the desert. I have switched to brushing my teeth with bottle water now. I use anti-hair fall shampoo and extra dry skin lotion.  So yes, many of the problems are not just at work but at home as well. Thank goodness the dentist and I did not have too much of a language barrier and he took very good care of me knowing that it was my first trip to the dentist.
Small things from home that you miss. Searched far and wide for
my favorite candle and finally found them here in AD.

      I also should be known as the Abu Dhabi fairy since I seem to leave my stuff everywhere and I am sure that people have found these nice new electronics. I have to say though that my biggest bum is the cord to my camera. Now I have a camera but no cord to charge it. So I have an amazing camera that does not turn on to take photos. We shall see, currently trying to see if I can find one in a store here in Abu Dhabi. You learn quickly though that out here nothing…I mean nothing is done easily. It’s as if you have to take three left turns and two rights before you can finally go straight. It’s never just a simple process, but over time you learn that it is life in the Emirates and you just deal with it.

                Maybe now that I have gotten some things out I will try and blog more so you can understand what I mean by nothing is every simple. Everyday there is always something complicated that should be simple. Thank goodness for the friendships out here. If anything they seem to be simple. Hanging out with  coworkers/friends at their flats while just watching a movie, playing games, chatting or even just hanging out. It’s a simple thing of life that you for sure do not take for granted while out here in a desert of nothing but complication. Hoping that this blog does not sound negative because it’s not intended to; more just to share what my life has been like in this past month. Talk to me about two weeks ago and I was ready to get out for my mental and physical health, but I was revived recently and so thankful for that.

     Thank you to my fellow teachers who have been there to talk to and share these experiences with. No one really understands what this is until they are out here and put in this situation. I am ever so grateful for our chats and laughs. Hoping that these next two years will be full of memories.

P.S. I know my pictures are random, but it's hard when you don't have a camera that's charged to capture life around me. Hope I can get the USB cord soon.