I set up this blog when I arrived in the UAE for one reason and one reason only and that was because when I had made the decision to leave where I was and move to the UAE I searched the internet (as only I can) for info on teaching here, teaching for ADEC, teaching English as a second language (ESL) and living in the Emirates and in particular Abu Dhabi.
Little did I realise that Abu Dhabi was not what I thought it was. Abu Dhabi is a city (the capital) as well as an emirate (province/county/state) so even more to my surprise I didn't really find anything, that I felt, was real, up-to-date and informative, that was probably because I didn't understand what I was looking for.
Now I hope that you are reading this because you are about to make that leap or thinking of making that leap.
I'm going to try and give you as much info packed into a less than 20min read! Apologies if I jump around, I often just type as it comes!
Living in the Emirates
No matter where you come from living in the Emirates as an expat will NEVER be home, you will forever be a visitor in another mans land. Now don't get me wrong, you can make it home. I have. I have everything I may ever have had back home, my home (Villa) is kitted out with everything I need and even more things I probably don't need. No matter which country you go to you will always be a visitor so it is no different here. I have mentioned in other blog posts that never have I met more friendly and welcoming locals, the Arabic culture is one that I'm happy to be learning about. They are welcoming, open and extremely friendly.
The Emirates is based on Arabic culture and Islam. So what does that mean? It means that the majority of the inhabitants, around 95%, are Muslim. So the easiest way to explain this is, when you visit a guest or establishment in your own country you behave according to their rules? If you do the same here you will have no issues.
You are able to buy alcohol, as long as you have a legal licence which are extremely easy to get, as long as you supply the correct documentation. The Emirates is exceptionally welcoming (I can't say this enough!) the state is very liberal. Of the population here around 50% of it is expat so the locals are very accommodating.
There are sections in some supermarkets where you are able to get products which aren't part of the Islamic culture, and as long as you are respectful you shouldn't have any problems. Well I haven't!
Accommodation is more often than not in some sort of high-rise building (if you live in the city) or Villas if you are placed out in the West where I am. What does it mean? Well you won't have a garden or anything similar to think about. There is sand all around you. My building has 8, 2 bedroom apartments in it and there are 12 buildings like it in my 'complex'.
Driving - this is a scary task at times. Besides being on the wrong side of the road (if you coming from South Africa) drivers here are quite impatient, and to be honest I think I too have become quite impatient on the road. Often you will be flashed by big SUVs on the road to move out the way and even more so if you are in a smaller car than theirs. Speed is regulated by radar/speed cameras but very rarely is it observed, except when nearing the radar!
Teaching in the UAE
From what I have seen, researched and observed there are two options to teach in the UAE:
I work for ADEC, so thats all I know. I worked through a recruiter, Sharon. She was brilliant. They did everything for me: documents, prepping, mock interviews and arrangements. Find them at www.teachanywhere.com
Once you have a letter of offer, things start happening quite quickly. VISA and ticket arrive and then you are off - (it can at times take a long time to receive your VISA and ticket but believe me the wait is SO worth it!) Once you get here you are treated like royalty. 4/5 star hotels, all paid for. You go through a week or two of orientation and training and then you are placed. Check out early bog posts for day to day details:
Probably easiest to just go back and read all the posts.
Teaching for ADEC
This is a bone of contention for many people I know who came over in our group. You will be placed where ADEC need you so you have NO choice in where you live or work. Thats the reality. There are 3 places you could end up:
Now a piece of advice from me is this. If you decide to make this move, you must have a goal in mind. Either:
Now many people here are open about the fact that they are here to save money and go back home, thats great! I'm not here for that! I'm perfectly poised to travel the world and now that I can afford to I am, and do all the things I wasn't able to while back home. Always keep this in the back of your mind. Don't come here or accept the job if you aren't happy being placed out in the West!
I mean it! The West isn't as bad as it sounds BUT it is not the city and it's not as liberal. I love it though. Its quiet, you make awesome friends, and not so awesome friends.
It's as simple as this "The West is what YOU make of it!"
It's no secret that ADEC pays the best, and at the current rate of the South African exchange rate my "salary" changes everyday. Brilliant! The ADEC system is one of the biggest academic reforms in the world, the system is based on outcomes or objectives which students must master. Education is very new in the UAE so it is still in its infant stages however, we are running here!
Depending on where you are placed :) you will have differing class sizes and demands.
For example if you are in the city (Abu Dhabi/Al Ain) or major West towns you will teach one grade and have multiple classes which will range from 20-28 students per class.
Men teach boys and Women teach girls in separate schools.
Where I am in the Far West (miles away from the city or town I live in) it is very different. Depending on your subject and cycle (phase) you could teach one class across 3 grades. So I teach grades 6, 7 and 8 English with 7 students, 12 students and 12 students respectively. Smaller class sizes are great as they are easier to control, boys of 12-15 years old! Each school and area is different and you will not know what you are getting into until you arrive for the first day of school.
If you want a change, and a major one from what you are currently doing, sign a 3 year contract with ADEC and change your life, no matter how you look at it!
In the next week or so I will be putting together a more detailed post on the Western Region and things to do here!
Until then .....