As I type this I have been in the UAE for 184 days. Sometimes I find that difficult to believe. One thing that I'm certain that I do believe is, this was the BEST decision of my life...
6 months. I have been in the UAE for 6 months. WOW. It was around this time 6 months ago that I wrote my first UAE blog post (which you can find here), little did I know that so many things would happen.
Here are just a few of the highlights along with some "lowlights" of my first (of many) 6 months in the UAE.
Some of the things the UAE has taught me in this short time:
and the most important one of all.......
I'm in love with myself and the things I do!
Fog is something we are having to get used to here. In the last couple of weeks it has been rather cold. So much so that over the weekend I almost bought a jacket in Abu Dhabi as I hadn't packed one (I mean, I'm in the desert!), I have since realised that the temp can plummet here and this results in fog and somewhat chilly conditions!
Now we leave for school at around 5h45 in the morning to start our commute to work. Sometimes it is so bad that we do t leave until 7am - which is great for a little lie in! :) Today should have been one of those days as it is 09h35am and still very foggy however NO ONE let us know there was fog here so we had to drive through it to get to school. Now I'm not complaining however there was a crazy accident a few mornings ago on another highway involving 69 cars.
So this is scary! We hope and pray that this never happens again or to any of us.
Another issue with the fog is that the kids can't get to school as the busses cannot drive because it is too dangerous. So sitting here now in period 4, with only 3 periods remaining there are NO kids at school.
So what have I done today:
Loving this country and the wonderful people I have met. Until next time, I will leave you with just some of the images/videos of the fog.
A slow-motion clip from my dashboard
A TimeLapse shot from my dash on the way to school.
I need to RANT!
A couple of things have become apparent and even more so here in the UAE. Things I cannot stand are:
So you may have noticed that this blog is on a new platform and that's because there are these awesome individuals who thought it great to hack my website. So while that is on the mend I will be using this space to share my thoughts.
The last month or so since my last blog (which seems to be lost in cyber space) was around the start of December just after National Day so with that there is a whole bunch that has happened and I can guarantee you I'm not going to totally bore you with all those details but for a few thoughts:
Anyway, now that I'm back on the interweb and logging again, I hope I can put fingers to keys and share some thoughts more frequently!
It's 22h39 here, I'm not remotely tired but need to get some zzzzzzz in before wake up call at 05h15 for the trek to school.
Keep it real, Live life and LOVE it!
So as the title of this post suggests happiness and holiday's are going to be the topic of discussion.
When I left my loved ones, friends, family, colleagues, students, pet and home in August this year (feels like a lifetime ago) I always promised myself that if I was
unhappy I would return to SA and take up one of two opportunities I had been offered shortly before I left. I'm sorry to inform you that that will not be the case, at least not for the foreseeable future. I'm so incredibly happy here, in fact I look back on so many times where I was thinking of making this decision and slap myself for not doing it earlier.Happiness is a very personal thing. It is something we are totally responsible for ourselves - it is something I cannot do for others and they cannot do for me. Now don't get me wrong people can affect your happiness BUT only if you allow them too.
I moved into a Villa here and began settling down. Much to my horror I began to receive electricity bills WHICH I FELT were unrealistic. SO to take control of my happiness I have decided to move. I'm staying in the same town and am literally moving about 1,5km away to a newer building which is governed by the municipality so no room for human error!
With this brings packing up, which I hate especially because my dear Mum is not here! So in the next couple of days I will be moving, something I'm very sad about as I love my friends I have here and my home BUT my happiness is crucial to survival here! So watch this space for pics.
So in brief let me try and list all the things I have done since the last blog post: (in NO particualr order!)
So in brief I have had a very busy couple of weeks and all of this excluding school work which is A LOT, but that is what I am loving the most. Kids are challenging at the best of times but they new ways in which I have come up with in which to teach the simplest of topics like verbs and nouns are what keep me going! Love this place - Not sure if I had told you that!
So in the next few weeks my life is packed to the rafters with a move this week/weekend. Dubai next weekend for golf and the Dubai the following weekend for National Day (5 days of holidays for us) and the 7's. That takes us to the 6 December and we then have 2 more weeks of school and I leave for the UK on the 17th December for two weeks. Can't wait!
I have been sitting at my laptop for hours and just simply trolling the internet watching videos, downloading classroom resources and simply "chill-axing".
I have watched some awesome clips from comedians, singers, magicians, motivational speakers and a whole load more!
I was about to shut down when I cam across this clip. Took my breath away, made me feel somewhat homesick but proud at the same time. Might not be SA but it is Africa and I love it.
Keep your eyes peeled I'll be blogging again tomorrow..
So having been here for over 54 days now it honestly feels like I have spent my entire life here. Feel so at home! As mentioned in other posts I feel safe, appreciated and respected where ever I go even when I go to a certain stores customer service counter to return a defective product!
These last fews days/weeks have just simply kept breezing past and can't help but rest on the weekend. A certain VERY special someone keeps begging for these updates so here goes...
EID is a holiday celebrated by Muslims all over the world and it was a welcome holiday for us, just to catch our breath having been on the go since we arrived in August. As you may or may not know our working week is Sunday to Thursday here, so our weekends are different to those living in the western world! For the EID break we were on holiday from the Wednesday 22 Sept - Saturday 26th Sept, so a welcome 4 day break which we took full advantage of.
My EID break began a little earlier than some as I took off some personal time from school to get to the VISA centre as I had an appointment for a holiday VISA to the UK. (YAY for a Christmas break with my FAVOURITE Aunt) So I rushed from school to Abu Dhabi (a 2 and a half hour drive) to get to my appointment! NOW at this stage most people would expect this trip to be simple BUT not when I am involved. It all begun with passports. (Take NOTE newbies or people coming over)
When we landed in August we were allowed into the country on a ENTRY PERMIT sponsored by our company, shortly after settling in the hotel our passports were taken from us for the residency VISA process to begin and for it to be added into our passports. We knew this was going to happen so it was not a shock. We were told to anticipate our VISAs back towards the middle of September - so being the proactive and prepared human that I am I booked a VISA appointment as late as I could before they closed for December travel. Turns out that I could have done it a couple of weeks before flying - irritating that this information only came to light now, would have SAVED a lot of stress!
Well a few days before my initial interview I still did not have my passport back but many people around me did (initiate sulking face) so after many emails, begging and phone calls I delayed my VISA appointment to the 14th October just to be safe. Well as Murphy would have it I received my passport on the Monday 21st September - 1 day before my initial interview which I had now postponed to the 14th. So I launched onto my PC to try and see what I could do. Thanks to the amazingly up-to-date systems that EVERYTHING in this country works on, I was able to bring my appointment back to my initial date the 22nd. So long story short, I took personal time off from work and made my way into AD, made it in time for my interview and was happy.
Now a subsidiary to that story is that we had been notified that our Emirates IDs were ready for collection, so armed with passports and registration papers of friends in MZ I took them with to AD when I went to my VISA interview (great friend I am hey!) Stupidly though it slipped my mind that I would need my passport to collect my own ID - I no longer had my passport as after just getting it back the day before I handed it to the UK embassy for a holiday VISA. So with my even bigger sulking face on I made my way to the post office to collect everyone else's IDs but not mine as I didn't have a passport! (IDIOT) When I arrived at the PO I was as friendly as ever to the service consultant who even gave me a smile back and gave him all the registration papers (even mine - was trying my luck) and in between them slipped a copy of my passport (one of the 100 that I have) and he processed the whole lot. A successful day in the city I'd say! I went with a passport, left without one but had MY ID and all those of my friends too! Well played Smugs, well played!
All this took place in ONE DAY so a EID holiday was well received....
Dubai! - What a city. We had a great time. Loved every second of it! We were so busy but also had a relaxing time.
All the things we were up too:
Dubai Mall - biggest mall in the world - oh MY hat. What a place! I reckon this places is bigger than a small SAfrican town! A certain someone would just melt at all the shoe shops it has!
After a couple of hours in the mall and some lunch we were collected by our Desert Safari guide and taken into the Dubai desert for one of the most awesome experiences ever - to those coming to the UAE - a desert safari is a MUST.
Have a look at this video - please note that music was provided by driver!
After about an hours dune bashing we settled into our dinner spot/oasis. What an experience. Food was awesome, entertainment breathtaking!
Camel rides for those that wanted. I have a thing against Camels so was happy to "pat" it but that is IT !
Then came dinner which was amazing and entertainment! Local dancing. Enjoy the VID.
Friday we treated ourselves to a SA brunch. now brunch here means eat and drink as much as you want from 12h00-16h00 on Fridays and most hotels offer them with varying prices and inclusions. i found an AWEOME SA themed one in Dubai which was great!
A huge thanks to Lee-Anne and her team at Girders Garden/JA Ocean View Dubai for an unforgettable day of bacon, pork ribs and bunny chows! I can guarantee you that "Polka Dot" lady and I WILL be back!
One thing is for sure. I loved the holiday we had in Dubai but man alive was I happy to drive back into my little town on Saturday and walk into my amazing home! Love Dubai but love Madinat Zayed more!
One thing the desert certainly does not spare is the beauty of the sunsets. So I leave you with these images captured by myself at the desert safari and wish you well until the next instalment!
I have just sat down at my PC after an awesome Champagne Breakfast with some awesome friends in our complex.
One thing I never realised was that it is often the simplest things that you miss the most. Since moving in and settling down I have really enjoyed my own space and the freedom to do as I pleased. So I did just that today! Invited some people around and made an awesome SA Brekkie with all trimmings! - Man I love cooking and chatting around food, makes my heart so happy!
This week has all sorts of things to report on.
I landed at the Dr in some terrible pain. To cut a really disgusting and TMI story short (of which I will not spill the gory details of in open airspace) I woke up on Monday morning in some serious pain, which worsened as the day went on. I left work at around 10h00 (thanks to my awesome principal) and made my way to the hospital (everything happens there! No Dr's rooms or private surgeries as we are used to) after a procedure I don't want to make public the pain was gone! Thank goodness I had received my medical card so the only cost to me was the appointment AED 50 and some of the medication which wasn't covered a further AED 50 so AED 100 in total! Was well worth it, believe me!
One disadvantage was that due to the fact that I have not received my local ID card yet, he was not able to issue me with a sick note for that day or the next so it was back to work the next day, although not in as much pain, discomfort was now an issue!
A quick side note on Dr's and hospitals! They are the most unassuming buildings and are very different to what we are used to especially in SA. This hospital has a restaurant in it (much like Netcafe at all Netcare hospitals back home) but is probably one of the most popular restaurants here. Many people just go there to eat, like we would go to Quincy's/Spur or Ocean Basket - weird hey? The Doctors are awesome, well at least the one that helped me was. Language barrier can be challenging but with a bit of repetition and coding you can understand each other - makes the trip entertaining!
We had a difficult drive to school on two mornings this week because of the fog! (CRAZY hey?) As you can just imagine when it is 39 degrees overnight and then suddenly drops to 28 degrees in the morning, there is this thick blanket of fog that appears and makes it quite difficult to drive. One thing for sure is, it takes you much longer to get to school. Unfortunately there was an accident last week where two people lost their lives (I only found this out yesterday, otherwise Chicken over here would never have driven!) so the protocol from the school is to wait for it to lift and then drive!
Check out this short video we took on the way in on Tuesday!
So as promised last week! Here are some updated pics of my classroom!
I love my classroom and the environment we have inside!
So the Rugby World Cup starts today and man-oh-man am I excited! So much so that I created my own schedule of all the games as to try and find one that had the UAE timings on was difficult.
We have decided that we will have a RWC opening evening theme at my place tonight, as I have the FULL TV package.
Snacks, drinks and BOERIE rolls are on the menu and here's to hoping the UK has a showstopper of an opening ceremony!
Writing this blog has really been fun for me and there are many people who are sending me emails or FB messages with questions and asking for advice, so in keeping with the "helping those around me theme" I have created this short FAQ list of questions people have asked!
If you have a question that I have not answered and that I CAN answer please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or FB message me!
AS a social media junkie and self proclaimed genius - please note: I will not accept your friend request unless we have actually met in person so rather send me a message.
Advice given here is only based on my knowledge and should in NO way be taken as how each school operates, I can only answer based on what I have experienced at my school. Each school is different naturally!
Well thats all for now, I'm off to the shops to get some stuff for this evening! Lets go BOKKE!
Cheers for now..
Wow things here move at a phenomenal speed and pace and the days, in fact weeks, just merge into each other. Apologies to those who have been patiently waiting for an update...... well here it goes!
I have moved in to my new apartment and it is somewhat fully furnished and I love it!
So installation and deliveries started!
IKEA, my new favourite shop, delivered on the Thursday and came with four amazing men who just installed everything in a couple of hours! thank goodness because there is NO ways I would have known where to start! the all come flat packed and with NO instructions.
Chaos reigned while all my furniture was being assembled. As mentioned in previous blogs the service in this country is awesome, dreading going back to SA for a visit because I know I'm going to be frustrated just like my brother was when he returned from America recently!
I have loved putting my new home together and realised that this could be a forever! Am so happy here and can't stop smiling at everything I have and am still to have!
So after 4 weeks of being here and settling into hotels and receiving keys, being at training and finding my school it was the morning of the 23rd of August - keep in mind that I left College on the 26th June so in theory have been on holiday since then - that this whole journey began. First day of school for the staff. I made my way to the school I was placed at and began the process of meeting everyone. Not much happened that first day other than meeting the VP, other EMTs and the new principal. It didn't take me long to get to school as it was close to school, which I loved!
Day 2 didn't start off the way I had hoped!
I was reversing and CRASH it happened! Luckily no one was hurt and the guy who was involved was a teacher at my school. During this whole palaver I received a call from Byron (Awesome SA guy who had helped me so much via FB and email - and was a teacher at Glenwood before coming over) to say that I may be transferred from my current school to theirs as they had a last minute opening and they wanted me to move! With this fender bender taking place and the police reporting it I didn't have much time to make the decision! But for those of you who know my past will know that I believe that EVERYTHING happens for a reason! I took it. I transferred!
You will notice that I haven't gone into details of this accident as it was exactly that on both parts! I was secretly glad to now have been transferred as I would have to see this guy and his poor car everyday, little did I know that he too had been transferred to the same school as me! hahahahaha funny right! but hey all is good between us, well at least on my part! :)
So I had been transferred before I had even started. I was a lot less nervous now as at my new school was Byron and Deon, both SA guys! So that meant that the EMT English department at my new school was SAfrican!
So with my transfer came a few things that changed! From a 5 km - 5 minute drive to school it now became 86km and an hours commute. Hey having taught now for two weeks! IT is SOOOOOO worth it!
My school is amazing. The kids are great! There are kids who are so willing to learn and better their English ability. I teach English to Grade 6, 7 and 8 and have tiny classes. The little men are great and will often bring me little stories they have written or notes to say thank you! Makes the tough days SO worth it!
I have my own classroom which I'm slowly making my own awesome space! Resources are a plenty here so it is great! My mom has been right all along! I have been teaching high school so things like gerund, Shakespeare and concord errors - don't get me wrong I loved the high school syllabus and would like to do that agin but am loving the lower levels with sentence construction, word formations, comprehension skills, letter formation and just simple phonics!
As much as my patience is tested with the Grade 6s as they are so BUSY, they really do put a smile on my face when they can write a sentence all on their own!
My classes are small as I mentioned:
Grade 6 - 7 boys
Grade 7 - 12 boys
Grade 8 - 15 boys
The school model here is very new and is all outcomes based. Much like OBE back at home. It is going to be tough to get them to master all the outcomes but together we will do it!
So my commute to school every morning starts at 06h00 and I'm there by around 06h50 for a 07h00 start. We start each day with an assembly where the boys do a bit of exercise in the big gym hall and then the assembly starts with a message, all in Arabic and a reading from the Quran. We all have an chance to run the assembly and my turn is in October so can't wait to prepare that - we get to do it in English which is also an opportunity for our students to show off their new language!
The staff at our school are amazing, we shake hands and laugh all day! The Arab nation are EXCEPTIONALLY friendly - during our free lessons we sit in the tea room and eat! Their food is awesome, cucumbers, feta cheese, humus, Arabian breads, olives, tuna and all sorts of honeys and spreads. Feels like a team fest for the day. It is great!
Everything here is great. Am loving it. Can't stop saying that but this is the best choice I have ever made.
My medical card and bank card have arrived so things are beginning to normalise. I still don't have my passport back though and we haven't been paid yet so my bank card is EMPTY! Loving living on the edge too!
I have been planning all sorts of trips. I have a VISA interview for the UK on the 22nd September as I'm off to the UK for two weeks over the festive break. We have a week holiday coming up for EID so if we have been paid and I have my passport back there are some places I would like to visit: Maldives, Jordan, Sri Lanka or even a few days in Duabi!
I had made a trip into Abu Dhabi once and may even head in tomorrow too! Shopping is difficult here as there is so much choice but I have found and awesome fruit and veg market which is close to home, so that is great! My office space is taking shape at home with printers and laminators making sure that I can be ready for each week!
My amazing friends here make me chuckle everyday and we spend Thursday nights at Starbucks for our weekly "chin-wag".
It is crazy to think that I have been here for a month already!
All is sorted on the internet front and TV, I have a dedicated Rugby World Cup channel and can't wait to see the Bokke thrash the rest of the world especially the IRSIH (hahahaha Lorcan, a maths teacher at our school is Irish and he is optimist!)
Cheers for now!
This last week has been somewhat of a blur to be totally honest. We have been so busy that trying to describe or pen it may be difficult. Am still totally in love with this country and my new town. By far the best decision I have ever made.
For the future teachers who are coming to the UAE and have heard horror stories about the West know this: it is remote, it is hot, there is sand every where, there ARE shops where you can buy your things locally, they (major shops in Abu Dhabi city) will deliver here - granted only one day a week, depending on availability - people here are extremely friendly, the housing is amazing, schools are plentiful and as the group on FB suggest, Wild, Wild West is the BEST.
Like I said we have been so busy. Our hotel here in MZ was awesome. Many people told me that the desert was beautiful and to be honest I was, at best, sceptical. I mean, it is only sand, sand and more sand so what could be beautiful about that? I was wrong! The wide open spaces, the flowing sand dunes and the whistling wind make for some truly amazing photos (even if I say so myself).
We had meetings with our EMT (English medium teacher) support team (John, Martha and Casey) on Wednesday morning in our hotel which was very informative and they are a brilliant team who were able to place many minds at ease as to what really happens out here. Again, FB groups and pages, as much as they may be informative, spread wild rumour which is not good for the psyche or soul. Our EMT support team gave us the news we were all waiting for and that was that Mahmoud (sp) from housing would be here the following morning to allocate housing - the most stressful (thanks to wild rumour on FB) part of this journey. Once our meeting had concluded a few of us made our way into town for some dinner and a little price hunting. En-route we came across this awesome sight which I was able to capture. Camel crossing, where they have right of way!
One thing about the UAE - which I think is great - is that between 14h00 and 18h00 (the hottest time of the day) most - not supermarkets per se but furniture places, especially in the industrial area, laundries, markets and local shops - will close and then reopen for the evening. Everything seems to happen here in the evening. Malls are crawling with local and expat families all having fun together. One thing I have noticed is that family is exceptionally important to the Emirati nation, it is not uncommon to see Mum and Dad playing with the kids in the parks at 20h00 in the evening or even having a go in the fun parks (arcades) in the malls. They told us family and relationships are key here and they could not have been more accurate.
The time/meeting/person we were all waiting for arrived at our hotel on Wednesday morning as anticipated and handed us keys to our new homes. (I was lucky enough to have made contact with some EMT teachers living here so knew which apartment blocks to look out for, and luckily had met an awesome young lady who showed us around her apartment so knew what I wanted. He started with me, not sure why but it worked out in my favour totally as he asked if I had a preference of where I would like to go and I told him proudly that I did, and without hesitating or questioning he handed me a set of keys! What a relief - I now had keys to my very own Villa in the UAE. We signed forms and then made our way into town (quicker than normal as you can only imagine) to see exactly what we had received.
My new home, my own space, mine! I was over the moon and was beginning to make designs and think of ideas of exactly what I wanted where and what furniture I would need. I was blessed. I have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom Villa all to myself. It will be my space, the place I can escape to after work or a space to hide out on the weekends.
Now the fun began! This is where our days almost merged into one! The following day (Thursday) we departed the hotel at 07h00am to make our way into the city to go and order our furniture. Visits to IKEA, Home Centre, EMax and all sorts of stores to pick out what we wanted, pay for it (thanks furniture allowance) and arrange for delivery. One mistake we had been warned about with regards to delivery is that there is a Madinat Zayed suburb in the city of Abu Dhabi and trying to explain that we were in the MZ in the Western region or desert proved to be challenging but we came right!
I was able to get a mattress, bed frame, lounge furniture, TV, Microwave, kettle, linen and crockery from the major centres or city and would get my appliances locally in MZ.
We stopped off at the Cheesecake Factory to have a bite to eat. This became a story in itself! I ordered a starter portion of Nachos for lunch as I wanted to try this cheesecake everyone raved about! Well when my platter for 6 of Nachos arrived I knew I would be taking some home in a “doggy bag” but never did I think that it would be more than half of the plate. It was massive. The portions were HUGE! Much to my disappointment I did not get to try the cheesecake as I would have exploded - another time perhaps! We shopped some more and then made our way back to MZ and the hotel. We arrived home (hotel) just after 21h00 - so it was a long, successful but exhausting day.
Friday (Day 1 of the weekend here) we spent quietly in the hotel during the day and again that evening made our way into town to find appliances. Now we had no idea where to look but luckily the girls (Aslinn - Irish and Erma - SAfrican) had met a wonderful local man in the hotel who offered to take us around the industrial area. Little did we know that he was going to find us the best deals. I was able to get a 6 seater dining room table and chairs, beautiful hand sewn rug, fridge, cooker (stove) and water cooler for AED 3000. What a bargain as my bed almost cost me exactly the same!
I had now, thanks to that awesome purchase, completed all of my furniture shopping - well at least for now. We arrange delivery of the dining table and chairs for Saturday morning 11h00am. So the next morning I woke and made my way into town to my new home to receive the delivery at 11h00. Well it didn't arrive until 19h25 that evening - patience and flexibility! Our appliances were then delivered last night at 20h00.
Yesterday (Sunday) was also our first day at school. No kids just yet, just normal start of the year for teachers and admin staff. It was awesome to meet the other EMT teachers here and such a variety of nationalities. Met the new principal who is from Ohio and has been in Kuwait for the last couple of years. He is also new to the school this year. We met everyone and then sat around and drank tea/coffee until 13h30 and then the fun began again…
We made our way to the local head office to have documents authenticated, signed and stamped and then went to the local branch of Etisalat to connect/arrange internet, TV and phone. We were helped by an awesome lady who sorted us out in no time.
So in short this is what is happening this week for me:
So I am busy, which I love. As soon as I have finished my new home I will post pictures for all to see. So as I finish typing this weeks instalment of my blog here in the wonderfully cool Starbucks sipping on my Mango/Passion Fruit smoothie, I wish you all a successful week and remember to Live life and LOVE it!
What? You can't be serious! A week? Already? WOW! I have never felt more at home than I feel in this country! I often find myself just staring at the things going by and wondering why on earth I didn't do this long ago!
Don't get me wrong, I miss my family and friends, biltong, rain, the smell of braai's and surprisingly birds. I have seen only two birds here and tried to snap a picture but they flew off too quickly!
When I left SA I really only had one fear of coming to the UAE and that was, not ever wanting to go back to SA to work and/or live. Each second I spend here makes me wonder of I ever will...
This last week has been crazy!
We have simply not stopped, from Orientation, to medicals, to malls (there are malls EVERYWHERE - and they are about 3 times the size of Gateway and the Pav, almost on every 3rd street corner!), school operation talks, furniture shopping, furniture pricing and so much more! It honestly feels as though I have been here for months not only just 7 days - does make me wonder how much I used to get done in a week now! hahaha...
Our training venue for a few days this week: New York University - Abu Dhabi Campus
This week has been somewhat of a stress for me! Besides the medical which we had to undergo - this was a walk in the park for me naturally - my VISA was lost/misplaced/disappeared/dropped or any other possibility during my 2 hour stint at the medical centre, and added to that I celebrated my first birthday in AD! Celebrating "alone" - no family - was weird but thanks to my awesome new friends here we were able to share a drink together at one of the hotel spots! I also stopped off and spoilt myself to a virgin cocktail and slice of French Chocolate Roulade.
I also hired myself a car, which arrived on my birthday (somewhat of a present and a loads of freedom)
My VISA still has not been found but the wonderful people who we are surrounded by, have been very good and assure me it will not be a problem!
For me, in my mind, I thought that it would pose a much larger problem but thanks to the awesome team here it may not. It has also prompted me to shed some tips on documents and overall how things work here.
HINT: for those reading this blog as a information guide, or readers who are coming over or wanting to come over, here is some of my advice...
I have scanned more documents this week than I think I had done in my lifetime.
It is unbelievable how easy it is to do things here - surprise Curtis, it is a 1st world country! I mean I cashed a cheque for 20000 AED and no one even looked at me funny when I simply popped it into my shorts pocket and walked off, I will be honest, not ONCE did it cross my mind (in the 4 hours post cashing that I spent in the mall) that I had it on me or feel threatened. Was awesome! We should feel like this everywhere!
My cheque! Felt like a millionaire!
I have also learnt that there are a menagerie of people who are constantly negative and I have learnt to totally distance myself from them. This is in NO way a shameless plug but I have read numerous blogs, liked numerous FB pages and read pages and pages of comment of people that were here and been bogged down by negative stories and scary situations.
Know this: you will only get the truth from me as I am the horses mouth! :)
There are however two FB pages which I find amazing for those that have accepted a job and are coming over.
SA2AD/EMT Teachers and the one from our recruiters Teachanywhere.com, there are many many more but I find these two are the best! I have also joined one for the region I am going to, but that is strictly for us Westerners.
Anyway back to this week. Being the shop-o-holic that I am, I have had an absolute blast at checking out different stores to find the best deal on furniture that I can. One difficulty is that many of these places do not deliver to the Western Region but hey, thanks to my Dad's awesome bargaining skills, I have been able to waggle a few deals - as they say in DBN!
Some of the items I may buy dependant on what my apartment looks like and whether it is furnished or not!
We are moving out to our regions tomorrow to a closer hotel and to see our apartments, once I have received keys I will have 5 days to move out of the hotel and into my new home!
Some EMT's have already moved out. To my awesome friends in other areas, Good luck! And we must keep in touch!
Tomorrow at 12 well move out of our awesome hotel here in Abu Dhabi and move to a hotel in our new home cities until our apartments are ready! I cannot wait, as I desperately need my own space - don't get me wrong this hotel and hotels in general are awesome but I need my own space!
My stay in AD has been great and I look forward to visiting it soon from my new home, Madinat Zayed.
Our Hotel on the left - Intercontinental Abu Dhabi - (Logo shining)
Fountains in front of our hotel and the Ethiad Towers (Blue outlined tops) on the right!
Until next time....
So the last 5 months have been so exciting. From flights to JHB for interviews, Skype calls deluxe and documentation coming out of my ears the time has finally arrived...
As I sit here typing, it is 39 degrees outside and 21h48 on Sunday evening! I'm also sitting in a room on the 10th floor of the 5 star Intercontinental hotel in Abu Dhabi listening to 5fm via Live Streaming! Loving life!
Friday August 7th, 2015
My new life and total adventure began in earnest on Friday at 15h35, when I boarded a plane from DBN to JHB. After an awesome Sushi lunch at CTFM I took to the air en-route to Abu Dhabi via JHB.
Now for those of you who know me well will know that I HATE airports, more than you can actually imagine, so once I had said my goodbyes I turned my back and NEVER looked back! (Sorry Mom, Dad, Dean and Gramps - but I just couldn't. Just like I won't return to College for a year in order to move on, I have made this decision and I have to follow what I promise myself!)
Once I had gone through the gates ready to board I was lucky enough to meet up with a old work colleague from College, Daniel Becker who (along with his wife and daughter) have been in the UAE for 5 years and starting his 6th with ADEC (same company as ME! - crazy hey!), we chatted before boarding our connecting flight to JHB. Once in JHB I met up with awesome friends Mike, Cathy and the boys (Marc and James). Was so great to catch up with them before the international flight. Having this special family in my life has been beyond awesome and I will miss them and their incredible humour! Cathy has to be the most amazing person, surrogate mother and friend as only she would source me a gift which I had NO space for!
Cathy (and family) know just how to make me smile, this canvas of the twins, Bech and I will be cherished and have a special place in my new apartment! Pity there isn't a nice photo of you and I Cath? Thanks to the Béchet's for an awesome catch up in JHB.
I then embarked on a 7 and a half hour flight to Abu Dhabi. My ticket was booked through an Abu Dhabi travel agency and was with Etihad Airways. I've only ever flown to the UK and that was a number of years ago but I have to be honest that the flight and plane was nothing to shout home about however, very grateful as I didn't pay a cent!
Saturday August 8th, 2015
The flight was LOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNG as I didn't sleep a wink! Even after taking two sleeping tabs! Nothing! Not sure if it was comfort (or lack thereof?), excitement or both! Anyway, we landed in Abu Dhabi at 06h20 the next morning and I was bursting for the bathroom! Little did I know that I would be waiting in an immigration queue for over 45 mins, so by the time I found a bathroom I was really in pain! I will never learn though! Stupid me!
From the airport we hit a wall. I mean crashed into a wall. I mean walked out the door! The heat literally hit you as you walked out the door, the humidity was indescribable, and the best possible adjective or phrase to use would be say it is like walking around with a wet balaclava on your face after running 5kms. It feels as if you are sucking at air just to breathe! I welcomed the aircon on the bus and tried as hard as I could to just simply slow down all movements to lessen the heat effect. That didn't work so well!
We arrived at the hotel and were ushered into our rooms for a quick refresh and then some breakfast.
View of our hotel from the bus.
My bed, hello sweet friend....
View from my hotel window!
After breakfast I had a much needed snooze.
At around 18h00 ish our time (16h00 back home in SA) Daniel SMSed and said that he was going to his home nearby to watch the rugby (or so it is what they call it!) so he, Marc (an awesome guy from Mooi River I have met here) and I headed over to his place for pizza and cartoons - I mean Springbok rugby!
One highlight was the Savannah Light I was able to enjoy during the game - Thanks Dan - you are a champ!
Unfortunately due to UAE law the section of comments about the game has been edited out!
So night one did not end favourably thanks to the men in green and gold - however, as a friend of mine on Facebook said: "If you choose not to support them in their down times, don't celebrate when we win the world cup!" So they will remain my team!
Sunday August 9th, 2015 - Happy women's day back home!
We were up early this morning for our day of Orientation which took place at another hotel in Abu Dhabi. Now I have always known that there were span teachers coming from all around the world but never in a million years did I think it would be so many!
I was seated near the front (row 6) and there were around 35 rows behind me with each row seating 40 people.
We then went through, what can only be described as an information OVERLOAD. I mentioned to Marc seated next to me that I hoped that the kids I taught never felt like that as it was unbearable!
From Housing forms, medical requirements to bank details, banking, transport, security deposits to sim cards, housing allowances to the all important region placement. It was all too much!
Coming over the the UAE has always been a goal of mine and I would never have come over if I was not ready for change! Ready I am! I have been placed in the Western Region (Desert to be accurate! - More geographic term - Middle of NOWHERE - shame it isn't so bad. Google the place if you dare. My new home town is Madinat Zayded, Al Gharbia, Abu Dhabi.
Having survived that, we returned to the hotel and have had the rest of the afternoon/evening off. I made my way to the closest mall to get some dinner and bank my first cheque - exciting, and signifying the start of this amazing journey!
Are you ready, because I certainly am!
I sit here staring at my laptop at the emails, FB likes, shares, Instagram likes and SCREENGRABS and can't help but feel proud of my work but angry at how easily people can steal !
Don't get me wrong I am happy that my photos are doing the rounds on the Internet and at times going VIRAL like this one of Ruben and Xolisa giving thanks to our Lord after the KES game at College this past weekend.
As photographers, and often people don't realise this, we stand for hours taking 1000s of images to get one or two awesome shots. People often say to me that I get wound up when my images are screen grabbed and shared on FB, Insta, Twitter and the like but I ONLY ever get worked up when they are not credited to me.
I submit numerous images to the PRESS each week, and they are often published, often they aren't but I submit them so that the subjects (often the College boys) can have their 5 minutes of fame in the newspaper, Sports Mags or online.
I'm not paid by the PRESS for images, never have been. For me it is a great moment when I see my name in the paper but an even greater moment when I see the smile on the College boys face when I place that clipping up on my board in my classroom.
This past weekend was a particularly good weekend for me with my camera, have captured some winner pictures but none better than this one.
This young man is very special and it shows. His younger brother just simply ran into his arms and embraced him after his match vs KES this weekend. You can say I was in the right spot at the right time. LOVE this picture!
Stealing of images from photographers is a great talking point on groups that we all belong to. I'm not sure what I should do?
So please, If you want to use or share some of my images please just have the courtesy to tag the photo back to my page: Smugshots Photography on FB, Twitter and Instagram OR you may find an invoice in your mailbox!
Thats all from me, until next time Live life and LOVE it!
July 2014 was a watershed moment in my life. I decided, after living on the College campus for 7 years, to move off campus and moved in with my Aunt and cousin in PMB.
Living on campus was great but it does not allow you to have a personal life, neither any down-time for yourself (or it didn't for me as I'm the type of person who throws EVERYTHING into what I do!)
I loved my my flat and really tried my best to make it my own. Growing my own veggies and gardening in the NON-EXISTENT garden.
Moving in with Sans and Nay was the best idea and I will forever be grateful that they were willing to share their space with me.
I'm not going to give a FULL insight into our last 10 months together as that will be a FULL post on it's own...
However, today was a day which I will not easily forget. Shinay had her matric dance tonight at Epworth. I have never been more proud, happy and truly awe-struck with what a beautiful, young lady she has become. Sans has done a phenomenal job in raising this young champ and man am I proud to say that in the last 10 months I have had a small impact in that.
Was proud and privileged to have taken her pre-pre-drink photos at home. Here are some.
To all COLLEGE boys who read this...BEWARE!
How beautiful hey. Love you Nays and going to miss you terribly.
That's all from me, until next time. LIVE life and LOVE it!
Probably best for me to start this off with a disclaimer... These are my personal views and have no relationship to either College or Glenwood views. I'm happy to report that I'm not a rugby coach nor claim to know much about the sport but have been an avid watcher of schoolboy sport for some time.
Maritzburg College took on Glenwood this weekend at Kings Park (Why? I'm not entirely sure - schoolboy sport should remain exactly that) and boy was it a disappointment on a whole new level.
Glenwood won the game 57 - 12 and looked like the best team on the day so, a fair win is a fair win. I often read blogs and comments made by some old boys of both schools and can't help to think that they often can't see the bigger picture.
I watched comfortably from a couch noticing a number of key points:
"Glenwood THUMP College",
"Glenwood back to winning ways",
"College show neither GROWTH nor POINTS."
These are all quite accurate one-liners to describe the game. College were thrashed, outplayed, outwitted and outlasted and NOWHERE to be perfectly honest however, I can't help but look at the OVERALL results and have a great chuckle.
For many years schools and more importantly high profile schools (the likes of DHS, Westville, College, Glenwood, Hilton, Michaelhouse, Kearsney, Queens [hahah]) have measured their success over the results of one team, the 1st XV- Why? I have no idea, but I suppose to some that is all that matters.
If you look at the down the line results from the College/Glenwood game this week you should notice one thing - College was overall the winning team (or as I like to call it ALL ROUNDERS) on the day although Glenwood took ALL the age group games.
I congratulate Glenwood on AWESOME, attractive and constructive rugby and feel for some of the College lads. Take in the experience and know that there are people behind you. Know this:
"Humans do not become better from being the best, they become better from having failed." - Unknown
On a more positive and simply "left field" note #CollegeHockey lead by the RedArmy took Glenwood to the cleaners on the Hockey field.
Played 12, Won 11, Lost 1 - Well done to Coach Van and team.
Thats all from me, until next time. Live life and LOVE it!
Blogging has been something that I have done on and off for a number of years now. Started my first one whilst undergoing my transplant in 2011 at Grooter Schuur in CT, second one when I tried my hand at a new fitness binge (which turned out to be exactly that - a binge!) and now this one which will include all sorts of topics from:
Many of my friends cannot understand that I have NO IDEA of the following details of my new challenge:
Well that is enough from me for this my first blog of many to come. I have a crazy week ahead. Finalising three exams I have to set, a meeting with the CANSA office on Wednesday and then a coffee date with Kirst Muir (Beresford) after that. Kirst has a phenomenal blog going at the moment all about her current challenge.
Check it out here.
Thats all from me, until next time... Live life and LOVE it!