Our life has been a bit crazy since May. In a matter of 5 weeks our whole life kind of flipped on its head. That is when I applied and accepted a job at a new school…in Abu Dhabi UAE.
You read that right…Abu Dhabi. Half way across the world, a 10 hour time difference from home.
Now when we told people we were doing this, the common response was “Where?”
We would go on to explain that it was in the Middle East, on the Arabian Gulf and (this is when everyone understands) only about an hour from Dubai. **Ding! Light bulbs turn on**
We really didn’t know what to expect. I mean you can look at pictures on the internet, read blogs and travel sites, and stare endlessly at a weather app that doesn’t really seem to deviate from 40 degrees this time of year, but until you get here…you just have no idea.
So we packed up all we could carry in 5 suitcases and 2 carry ons, hopped on a plane and arrived in our new home 30 hours later.
I fully expected that I would get here, sit down on the couch in our new apartment and just cry. Thankfully that has not happened yet. We haven’t had a moment where we thought What are we doing? Why did we move here?
We have been (pleasantly) surprised throughout this whole process.
Let me give you a little taste of life here in sandbox as it is so lovingly referred to:
The people are incredibly kind- We first experienced this as we were leaving the airplane. We were talking with a couple behind us who lived in Abu Dhabi but had spent many years in Calgary. We chatted about what life was like as we were waiting for the plane doors to open. We parted ways and they wished us luck as we settled into our new life.
As we were waiting for our luggage to arrive the husband came over and handed Andrew a business card. “Feel free to call us anytime” he said. “If there is anything we can do to help you settle in to Abu Dhabi, we would be happy to help”
It’s hot here- The weather at this time of year is no joke. It is hot, pretty humid and incredibly sunny. You drink lots of water…which is good because you sweat a great deal. But here is the neat thing- you acclimatize very quickly to the heat. We have only been here 10 days and I really don’t leave the house without a sweater on (for modesty reasons as well as because it is much more comfortable in the ac). I’ve worn pants many days and in our apartment, we’ve had on our hoodies.
I believe I even remarked to Andrew the other morning on our way to catch the school transportation, “That breeze is a little cool today…”
You know you are beginning to get used to the heat when you think 34 degrees is “cool and beautiful”.
Just cause it’s dark doesn’t mean it’s cool- This is one of the most surprising things about Abu Dhabi. Once the sun goes down, my brain equates dark with cool. This is not the case in the UAE because when you walk outside you are hit with (an often more humid) wall of heat. But that doesn’t stop people. They are out in droves after dark to walk, jog, play (and sweat buckets) outside.
Things get started late- This is fascinating to me because I am an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl. But here in Abu Dhabi, things just get going when I am often ready to pack it in for the night. The other evening, we were at the mall and as we were getting ready to leave around 9, things were just starting to get busy (it’s open till midnight…sometimes during special holidays it is open 24hr a day!)
They have everything we have back home- need a new Joe Fresh top? Well you can’t find a Superstore, but you can find the store. They have literally everything! We decorated our house exclusively in IKEA…and had some killer chicken shawarma before we left.
Driving is a defensive art-When you drive, you really are taking your life into your hands (or wrapping it thinly in a tin box with zero power and hoping for the best). Driving here is fast and a little crazy. Rules of the road are more like suggestions. And the traffic circles (of which there are many) are just a free for all. I actually said to Andrew yesterday “Maybe it’s better to just stay in the outside lane no matter what exit you need…it seems safer”. On the way to work the other day, someone passed us on an exit ramp…yep just drove right beside us, half in the lane, half on the shoulder. And what is more interesting is that people aren’t passing you looking in your window with an angry face…they are simply just going faster than you, so pass you they will.
You can have ANYTHING delivered- Food from any restaurant, your groceries, laundry. Seriously, if you didn’t want to leave your house ever, you wouldn’t have to.
Since school started it no longer feels like we are just on holidays and we feel like we are settling in to our new routine and reality. We are so pleased with how this adventure has begun, and we can’t wait to see where it takes us next.