Adjusting to a New Life – Recap of Our First Month Abroad

As I mentioned in my previous post, my family and I have moved to the Middle East. So far we have lived in 2 beautiful five-star hotels, strolled more than our fair share of malls, eaten lots of tasty food, moved into our apartment and begun settling into our new lives and roles here in this somewhat foreign land.

I say “somewhat foreign” because it’s really a lot like the US here. There are plenty of differences but mostly, it’s very similar. It’s highly developed, commercial, easy to get around and live here. There have been quite a few cultural differences but nothing that impedes our ability to live comfortably.

Children can do no wrong here. They are generally loved and appreciated more than anywhere I have ever been. In New York City, children are mostly a nuisance to people. There is obvious eye rolling and sighing just because your children exist on Earth. Definitely not the case here. Things my children can do here that they couldn’t do in New York:

  1. Go play in the hallway of our building with a dozen other children without me standing watch over them.
  2. Go to any mall and have an entire play area dedicated to their entertainment.
  3. Go to a government building and have an entire play area dedicated to their entertainment.
  4. Go into that same government building, act up, and be offered packages of cupcakes.
  5. Go into that same government building and be offered scores of chocolates by the employees.
  6. Be admired, patted, and adored by strangers. Women will seriously come up to my 5-year-old, stroke her face and hair and tell her how beautiful she is. People are mostly just trying to keep my 3-year-old out of trouble, i.e. keeping her from getting off elevators at the wrong floor.

We spent our first 2 weeks or so in the city of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is the largest emirate (like a state) in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is another emirate. Just to be clear, we don’t live in Dubai. We are about a 90 minute drive away from Dubai.

This was the view from our gorgeous, 5-star hotel

This was the view from our gorgeous, 5-star hotel

We went to the beach in the evening; it’s quite hot here. 95º Fahrenheit is now pretty cool to me. I have to dress very modestly for work so that means even if it’s 115º, which is common, I’m probably wearing a long-sleeved cardigan. Surprisingly, covering up in the heat isn’t uncomfortable. It protects my skin and I sweat less. I’ve adjusted to the heat, except when I have to park outside. Underground parking should be mandatory!

Night time is the best beach time!

Night time is the best beach time!

After training and orientation and a little sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, we were moved to our permanent location in Abu Dhabi. We now reside in the city of Al Ain. Al Ain is gorgeous. It’s much more “desert-like” than Abu Dhabi city, it’s less humid and there is more sand. There are also many more trees and plants. We were living in a hotel here too…for about a week. Even with all the nice pools and free breakfast, we were over hotel living.


Al Ain!

We moved into our apartment almost two weeks ago. It’s much bigger than what we had in NYC. We have 3 bedrooms + a small “nanny’s quarters” that we use as an office, and 3.5 bathrooms. We have a washing machine (which is AWESOME, probably my favorite thing LOL) and all new appliances. But best of all, it’s FREE. We do not pay for housing.

I teach science at an all girls Cycle 2 (grades 6,7,8,9) school and, lucky for me, I was placed in a good school. The girls are lovely albeit chatty and very sweet & innocent. The most difficult thing for me right now is that I have 7th and 8th graders when I have always taught high school. The children are not the problem; the struggle is that I can’t use any of the lessons I’ve already created. I’m starting fresh which all my educators know is no easy task.

Some fun facts before I go:

  • The work week is Sunday-Thursday. Working on Sunday is kind of strange but I love that the week ends on Thursday. It’s psychological.
  • Whenever you order food, even fast food, you will have to wait for it because they are cooking it right now. I’ve never had so much hot, fresh food. Order the cole slaw at Popeye’s and it’s not being scooped out of some vat. You have to wait 10 minutes while they cut up the vegetables and assemble it for you.
  • Fresh dates taste totally different from the dates I’ve eaten in the USA. They are SO GOOD! I fear I can never go back to the dates on the other side.
  • Mall culture here is HUGE. There are so many malls. Like, I don’t even care about a mall anymore. Anything I need, I’m sure I can get it in a mall. I turned my water and electricity on in a mall. I can do my grocery shopping in a mall. I can ice skate in a mall.

That’s all for now! I’ll be back with more updates and I will do a post about the effect of the harsh water on my hair here and what I’m concocting to deal with it. Until next time!

7 thoughts on “Adjusting to a New Life – Recap of Our First Month Abroad

  1. Awesome! Sounds like a great start. I like that children are encouraged to play. I think one of the most frustrating things for me right now is feeling like my son can’t reasonably be himself. I know if we lived in an apartment we would have complaints. Enjoy!

  2. That sounds awesome! I have a friend that teaches in Saudi an she loves it. She’s been home for summer break and will return to Saudi this Friday. Enjoy the experience and please continue to post more about the wonderful experiences you are having! God Bless! Regina

  3. It was so awesome getting the recap on how you and your family are adjusting as well as the differences and similarities to life back in the US. It sounds like a great place to be and as any move it takes some adjusting but as long as you all are together and enjoying it’s a wonderful adventure for you all!

  4. I really enjoyed this thank you. I am planning to move to uae in aug to teach. Hopefully I will be placed in al ain. I wait for more updates

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