How I Deal with Life.....

How I Deal with Life.....

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Week In Abu Dhabi: Does This Jetlag Make My Ass Look Big?

What a whirlwind past couple of days it has been. My brain is just now slowly cycling down from the constant spin.

I arrived at the Atlanta airport August 22 to find six other teachers waiting to board my flight. Made me feel safe and not quite so alone. We headed out on this great adventure together and they made everything less confusing and help create a sense of camaraderie. A very special group of teachers. 

The flight to Doha from JFK was uneventful. I watched Hunger Games and I Am Legend and tried to doze a little.  I also walked the aisles periodically to stretch. I peeked out the airplane window by sliding the shutter open a thin crack every once in a while, and it was almost like we were chasing the sun. Losing eight hours does something to your sense of place and time.. I am just now getting accustomed to knowing what the day of the week and the date is again. 

After arriving in Abu Dhabi at 11:45 p.m, going through security, and gathering our luggage from the carousel, we stepped outside and were hit with a wall of humidity like nothing I have ever felt in my life, and I live in Georgia, so think about that one for a second.  The humidity hung so thick in the air that the sidewalks were layered in a thin layer of water. The heat pressed in like a hot dishcloth and ripped the air from my lungs. "It's not the heat it's the humidity". In this case, that cliche saying applies.

I have now been here at the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi for six days. Those six days have been quite a ride and a half. The Fairmont is five star ALL THE WAY.  Fresh purple orchards are placed in the lobby every morning, the sand covered ashtrays (yes, they still smoke indoors over here) are stamped with a curlicue "F" every hour or so, I think. I mean, someone in this hotel is lurking about and his/her sole purpose in life is to make sure that "F" stays fresh.. Where is this person? I am going to hide behind a chair in the lobby and catch him in the act before I leave..

In the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel lounging on the Rhinestone Couch

My room at The Fairmont  Hotel

The staff at the Fairmont are extremely helpful and accommodating. There is a pool, beach, several hotel restaurants, a pool bar,gym,  and a shisha bar (“hubbly bubbly”- don’t think I’ll try it). The Grand Mosque graces the back view of the hotel like an oil painting.

shisha bar at hotel

The Grand Mosque

Day One August 24 
I was able to sleep the night before. Found I wasn’t that tired and actually went to the mall (Al Wahda) and out to eat. Who stole my jet lag?

Day Two August 25 
Hit the gym then off to the pool and the pool bar for a drink. 

pool bar.. tough life but someone has to do it.
doing my part for international relations.. Me and my new Canadian friend, Suzanne, at the pool bar.

After a quick nap up in the hotel room, Suzanne, her son, and I caught a cab and headed to the mall (Marina Mall). I do a lot of window shopping only...

Day Three August 26
Orientation and we received the keys to our apartments!! I have been placed in Al Ain, about an hour and forty-five minutes from Abu Dhabi City due east. I am so very happy about this. Al Ain was my first choice. In the afternoon, back to Marina Mall (seeing a pattern here?).

Day Four August 27 
     Buses were provided so the teachers could go see our apartments. Mine is brand new and I really like it. I am especially happy with its location (catty corner from an Abela Supermarket and near the Tawan Hospital!).  The apartment has two bedrooms and two baths. There are no closets anywhere in the apartment, which is very common here, so I guess I’ll have to buy a wardrobe. 

      The floors are all tile, and the kitchen has a place for a “cooker” (a stove) and a washing machine. No room for a dryer. They don’t use them here since there is no way to vent them outside with the way the apartments are built. You either have to dry clothes on a rack or get a washer/dryer combo that does nothing but turn cold wet clothes into hot wet clothes. 

The kitchen

The master bath

     After we got back from the apartment sightseeing tour, I rested a bit and then I went back to (you guessed it) THE MALL! This time to the Abu Dhabi mall and a nice dinner at the Mongolian Chinese Restaurant with six other teachers and Superman. 

On the road from Al Ain back to Abu Dhabi

Superman at the Mongolian Chinese Restaurant

Day Five August 28 
Everything caught up with me and I slept until 2:30 p.m. I finally got dressed, and another teacher, who has been here for a year, picked me up at the hotel in her car (thanks, Cindy!) and we went to another teacher’s apartment. We ordered takeout food and sat around and chatted, I picked their brains a little and laughed a lot.  They are funny, kind, sarcastic, irreverent, and all of them reminded me what it is that I like about meeting new people- the sense of discovery. Maybe I have found another Wolfpack... (but, Scotty, you and I are still a Wolfpack of two).

Day Six August 29 
I awoke fully and suddenly fifteen minutes before the scheduled wake up call came though at 6:30 a.m. Really surprised me because I didn’t go to sleep the night before until 2:30 a.m. The teachers all met in the lobby at 7:30 a.m as instructed and boarded buses for our medical checks. 

Steps to medical check
 1. Ride all the way across Abu Dhabi

            2. Go into a 24 or something story medical building that is crawling with people from every part of the globe receiving medical checks also. 

       3.  Sit and wait. 

      4. Get fingerprinted and photographed (somewhere in that building, at this very moment is a really bad photo of me… I mean BAD).
         5.  Sit and wait.

         6.  Have blood pressure taken.

         7. Sit and wait.

         8. Have sight medical exam performed (doctor basically asked what medication I was taking and why, had me take off my shirt, checked my skin and then asked if I was pregnant. Yeah.. right, lady, look at the hormone replacement therapy med again..).

        9. Sit and wait.
       10.   Have blood drawn. Two vials. I have a bad bruise on my right arm now. 

       11.   Sit and wait.
       12.   Have chest X-ray taken.

       13.   pee in a cup

1     14.   Go down to bus where I sit and wait for other teachers to finish and come down to wait on bus  with me.  Some of us wait for an hour and a half on the bus.

When we finally arrived back at the hotel, I went to my room, changed clothes, and hopped a taxi (taxis and buses are our primary modes of transportation at the moment) and went to THE MALL again with a couple of friends and one friend’s seventeen year old son who is here with her.   At the mall (Abu Dhabi Mall) I ordered Kentucky Fried Chicken and marveled at how they haven’t figured out the Colonel’s secret recipe yet..

view of Abu Dhabi and one of the Roundabouts (taken from shuttle going back to hotel today..)

Tomorrow I have to get my Georgia driver’s license translated so when my work visa comes though I can obtain a UAE driver’s license asap.  I then have to go to the Abu Dhabi National Bank at the Mushrif Mall and pick up my bank debit card (please, please, please..). Then on to Ikea to sort of get an idea of what type of furnishings I want for my apartment. All the new teachers will receive a housing allowance of 20,000 dirhams (about $5,500.00 USD) sometime in the next week or two. Group One got theirs today.

I found out through an email late last night that I have been placed in a school about an hour’s drive away from my apartment. I will teach 10-12 grade girls, like I was told in my interview.  The location of the school is very rural and right in the middle of the desert.  I am thrilled to get this “party” started and meet “my” girls. 

So, that’s the adventure for now.. Every day is go go go. Every night I chat with my family over skype.  And every day is one step closer to me getting back in the classroom where I belong, Inshallah….


  1. I am beyond excited that you got the all girl's school assignment but an hour ride each way to work? Wowzer. How will you get there?

    1. I'll lease a car the entire time I am here. Will run me about $500.00 US dollars a month, but when you're not having to pay rent or a house payment, it works out..

  2. Teri, we enjoyed meeting you too, new wolf pack it is....

  3. Hey, I thought you went to Abu Dhabi to work. Looks like all you have been doing is playing at a 5 star resort!