Thursday, August 25, 2011

Week 2

     Its hard to believe that it has been exactly 2 weeks since I started the journey to the UAE! ... The days seem to blur together... for a while we had no ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council) obligations so we were going to breakfast.. working out and spending the day by the pool.. followed by Iftar at a local restaurant or even a mall food court... Iftar means breaking of the fast in Arabic and since it is Ramadan Iftar is the meal after sunset.

     The end of last week we went on a desert safari which was one of the coolest, most fun experiences I've ever had. It started with "dune bashing"- driving through the desert in a SUV flying up and over the enormous sand dunes! Then we took a short break at a little camel camp where we were able to touch and get up close to the camels! Then it was back in the truck for more bashing! After the thrill we stopped at an other camp where we could ride camels, sand board down sand dunes, and ride 4 wheelers. I climbed to the top of a tall dune and the view was breath taking- I could see dunes for miles! ... There was also a little compound where they have seats and a stage for belly dancing(not during Ramadan)... and they served Iftar here.. we had an amazing buffet. After the sun set and dinner was over they set out hookahs where anyone could come and have some Shisha (Arabic tobacco). They also shut the lights off for some star "grazing" as the man said! It was amazing to be in the middle of the desert gazing at the stars!    This was my favorite Abu Dhabi activity so far!!

       This week people who are placed in Al Gharbia (meaning the West) found out in what towns we are living and teaching as well as the grade! I will be teaching KG (KG1 preschool and KG2 kindergarten) but I'm not sure as to which level.. and I will be in Ruwais.

      Ramadan ends this Saturday and the Eid al Fitr festival starts.. which is like a celebration after Ramadan.. so next week the Government is on vacation so we get a nice vacation week here in the hotel.. We need to report to the ADEC office Sept 4th to get our school assignments.. and then we have a back to school feast the 6th .. then the students return the 11th. Somewhere in between we will be leaving the hotel and going to our apartments in our respective regions..

      I have made the greatest friends while staying here ... Im so thankful that I have this great support system!! And thank you all for following!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Week

   As the first week in Abu Dhabi is coming to a close, I am finally starting to adjust.
I started my journey at 4pm on Thursday August 11 from Boston, MA to JFK to Doha, Qatar and finally to Abu Dhabi, UAE.

   We were greeted and brought into a part of the airport where they handed us our visas and then proceeded to customs to get out eyes scanned and our passports checked... as we got our bags there were men from the travel agency there to welcome us and bring us to the busses and put our luggage on a truck. Everything was so organized. When we arrived at the hotel it was about 130am Sat. morning.. and there were about 40 men waiting for us to take our bags off the truck and we were escorted into the hotel where there were many more hotel staff there to greet us. They gave us our room keys, welcomed us in and our bags were delivered.

    So far, our obligations have consisted of an administrative orientation, medical testing, and a police check. Other than that I have been spending time making friends, exploring the city, shopping, eating, and lounging by the pool. There are so many great people here. Everyone is pretty much in the same boat- (coming to a foreign country by themselves not knowing anyone or anything...) I have made three really great friends- we are each other's family here. Its great to have this support system so far from home!

   The city is amazing! And the hotel isn't too shabby either! 5 star... Its like a vacation .. for now...

   The #1 store here, I think, is CarreFour- its a French store- like Wal-Mart but on steroids! There is a full grocery store with the largest produce department I think I have ever seen, a spice market, electronics, clothes, shoes, appliances... anything you could ever need! I probably could have come over with just a backpack and I would have been fine with this store around!

   There is so much to do here: the Marina Mall- which is an enormous mall with high end stores like Gucci and Louis Vitton and tons of cafe's and restaurants and a skating rink!.. the Abu Dhabi Mall- which has more affordable stores, is a bit smaller and is in the heart of the city. The cliental is more modern Arabic/Muslim where as the Marina Mall the cliental is many wealthy Arabs with the Abayas(women's dress) and Kandooras(men's dress). The Grand Mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen- to tour it women must wear abayas and completely cover their bodies and heads. The tour was great- I learned a lot about the Mosque itself as well as the Muslim religion. We did paddle boarding and kayaking.. and a desert safari is on the agenda.. as is Farari World!

  I just wanted to give a rundown of my first 5 days in Abu Dhabi... Im sorry if there weren't tons of details! If you would like details on anything- don't hesitate to ask!!

Abu Dhabi Airport

The view from my hotel room! #619

The Grand Mosque 
(from the side)

Downtown Abu Dhabi

The Fairmont Bab al Bahar hotel

In our outfits at the Grand Mosque