August 31, 2012

Road to Madinat Zayed



Always up for an adventure, I decided to take a ride out to the Western Region of Abu Dhabi with Kathy and Kalli.
Kathy will be living out there in a town called Madinat Zayed and since we (by we I really mean Kalli) have a car, and it being the weekend we thought why not go see the place and drop off some stuff Kathy had bought.
After grabbing a bite, we got a couple maps from concierge and hopped in the car.
We were ready for our big adventure and boy did we have one.

August 30, 2012

Progress Has Been Made

Wow, these last couple of days have been super hectic.
That elusive furniture allowance ain't so elusive anymore. I got paid y'all. I'm rich! Well not really but I love saying it.
So I've been busy blowing my money on stuff from Ikea and some random furniture store. I'm almost done furnishing the place. I need a sofa bed and the few necessities one needs to run a functional home and I'm set.
I think I'll end up spending 3300 bucks. Can you imagine that?  Furnishing a place from top to bottom for that little money? Keep in mind that the apartments here do not come with the basics such as a fridge and stove, you have to buy all that stuff. CRAZY as! (quoting my British hommie Cathy).

I can't wait to show you the finished products. You guys are gonna love it! And if you don't, oh well!
The important thing is that I love it.

I also found out the name of my school. That's about it. Don't know where it is. Don't know how far it is from my apartment. Don't know much but I'm positive it's where God wants me to be so I'm good.
I can wait to find out.

So that's it folks. I've been a productive little lady and now I'm hella tired.
Will do a better job of posting photos.
Ciao!

August 28, 2012

Going With the Flow

Last summer I went white water kayaking in the Provo River in Utah. I was in a one person kayak and had no experience. Of course I flipped my Kayak several times.
At one rough patch in the river my kayak flipped and I was tossed into the midst of rushing swirling currents.
Go with the flow, my friend had forewarned me. "Just lie flat on your back and let the currents carry you downstream."
It's not a natural tendency to just lay back and relax in the midst of turmoil. You want to begin swimming to save yourself. Your instincts kick in and you fight back in order to survive but sometimes the best way to survive is to not fight. You have to let the current carry you downstream.

As I think of my experience so far in AD, my adventure on the Provo River comes back to mind.

I have to apply the same principle here.
Nothing has really gone according to schedule since we've been here.
Since arriving we have pretty much been in the dark about most things.
We came here not knowing where we would be living. We didn't even know the name of the hotel in which we would be staying.We walked off the plane and were shuttled by buses to our unknown destinations.
Days after our arrival we finally found out the location of our apartments but now we have no clue when we will be moving into them.
The illusive paycheck and furniture allowance have yet to appear in our bank accounts.
News gets to us slowly and changes quickly. One minute you hear something and the next minute it changes.
Nothing is constant except our lack of knowledge.

It's easy to want to lash out from frustration, to complain and moan about everything that is going wrong.
I'm literally down to my last few bucks so I definitely am feeling the pressure to have things fall into place fast.
I'm tired of eating food from the mall and not having a place of my own.
When I start to feel upset, I have to remind myself to just lie back and go with the flow. I'll save my energy for the part of the journey that really matters.
I make jokes and laugh with my friends about being broke and getting fat off the fast food I can't hardly afford, this is my way of dealing with what would otherwise be a very stressful situation.
There is no sense fighting what I have no control over. Eventually it will all fall into place, the currents get calmer and you can walk away felling a bit braver.

My Entourage aka My Hommies


When I told people that I would be moving to Abu Dhabi, they asked if I knew anyone there. When I said no, they looked at me like I was crazy. How can you possibly move to a place with not pre-existing connections and with no friends?
My true friends weren't worried because they know me.

August 27, 2012

Finding Happiness

source

It is so easy to be ungrateful and negative. We often times lose focus of those things that are important in life and begin to complain and moan about all the things that are so wrong about our lives.

Take for example this opportunity myself and many other teachers have gotten to come to AD.
We have been put up in 5 star hotels, given free accommodations for the duration of our contracts and the money to furnish these apartments. Not to mention a pretty decent compensation package which by the way is tax free. It more than a lot of us would be receiving had we stayed in our respective home countries.

August 26, 2012

Finding Love in a Hopeless Place

Before you get excited, no I'm not in love nor have I met someone, Well not technically. Sorry to disappoint, I know you are all waiting with bated breath for me to announce that I finally found me a man. You probably should breathe, it may be a while yet.

Like any normal person, when you move to a new place particularly after being single for far too long you begin to wonder if it is possible to meet someone. A new place holds the potential to find the ONE. The love of your life that clearly was not in your home town.
I've been wondering, maybe even hoping that this could be the place; that maybe I'll fall hopelessly in love with someone here and settle down.

Yesterday, I met a beautiful boy from Jordan. Serious eye candy. He was friendly and funny, even though he knows about 10 words in English. Haha, you should have been a fly on the wall for that conversation, you would have died. Him switching between Arabic and broken English and me speaking as slowly as I could in English. Many looks of confusion on our faces.

Here is the thing, he is Muslim and I am Christian.
Many of the men you will meet here are probably going to be Muslim, after all this is a Muslim country and the countries surrounding this one are also predominantly Muslim. Muslims and Christians don't typically marry. They don't convert and I won't.

Nothing may arise from this meeting between this boy and I but it made me think that this is how it may be for the next two years that I live here. There are lots of other beautiful men and I'm a single gal so I check them out but it seems it may be a hopeless situation.
I guess I can continue to browse the aisles but I just can't buy. Depressing thought. lol.

I suppose only time will tell how this all unfolds.





August 24, 2012

Dubai Day Trip

All is right in the universe again, I got my tech issues sorted out. Yay. I'm quite happy as I was not looking forward to having to purchase a new comp. I can now share pics again. Happy dance. 

I went to Dubai again. Notice how I said it so causally as if it's no biggie. Ha, it was a biggie and I had an amazing time. I got a much better chance this time to see the city. I even stopped by the beach and I got a chance to wade in the Gulf waters. It's beautiful y'all. The architecture will leave you breathless. You can tell a lot of thought went into the design of the buildings. They are amazing works of art. 

Got a chance to stop by another Souq, wow let me tell you. You ain't seen knockoff till you go to Dubai. Tory Burch, Hemes, Mulburry and loads of other top designer. Real leather stuff, just at a fraction of the cost. I'm not gonna lie, I did pick up a pair of Ray Bans reading glasses. Lol. I maybe going back to pick up a Tory. Just don't blow up my spot when you see me. 
It's a bargain shopper's dream. You can haggle your way down to the price you want. I got the glasses for the equivalent of 10 bucks down from 28. I also got my friend a good deal on a "Chanel" watch made from real ceramic. I got mad bargaining skills, lol. I loved the experience and mos def will be going back. 

So as promised here are a few photos from my trip. The sky in Dubai is very hazy because of all the dust. There is so much construction going on so its always hazy. 


Burj Al Khalifa- tallest building in the world. Much more awesome in real life.

These buildings are super awesome.

Good Friends- Wading in the Gulf. The sand was HOT!

Burj Al Arab- the sailboat hotel. Better looking n real life. 



Some office or apartments, not sure but it's cool.

The Atlantis Hotel-Dubai
Dubai Mall-The Divers

One of the many beautiful Mosques in Dubai

August 22, 2012

Let me update you...

I am still experiencing technical difficulties. Sadly, my laptop is acting up and I can't get to share the awesome pictures I took when I visited the world's biggest mall in Dubai.

My favorite part of the trip was the visit to the Aquarium and zoo. Yep, inside the mall is an aquarium and underwater zoo. I don't know what it is about seeing sea creatures that causes me to revert to my 6 year old self; I get so entranced by the different colors and shapes.I walk around with bulging eyes and gaping mouth, so not cute but I can't help myself. It's so exciting.
I also made an interesting trip to he Souk, a traditional Arabic market where tons of vendors compete for your attention. I felt like I was walking on Jamaica Ave or in Chinatown in NYC. Same bootleg watches, purses and shady individual trying to lure you into some back room to see his goods.
It was so hot and smelly. Picture hundreds of men in 100+ degree weather and no deodorant.
I did have some good laughs however and I really did enjoy myself despite the rancid smells and oppressive heat.

I still have not moved to my apartment yet and not quite sure when things will change. I do enjoy the experience of living in a 5-star hotel but I miss home cooked food so much. Eating out everyday gets tiring and not to mention expensive. I am craving some of my mom's curry chicken. Just the thought of it making my homesick. I can't wait until I have my own kitchen and can cook. Haha, I'll probably get sick of that too but you know the grass always seem greener on the other side.
Inshallah (God's willing) it will be soon.
Ciao



August 19, 2012

My Apartment

Guest Bathroom

Master Bathroom
Kitchen

Kitchen
Bedroom

Living Room


I finally got a chance to post these pictures of my apartment the day I visited.
The building is still under construction, actually the entire city is under construction. It's supposed to be amazing when it is complete with a mall and supermarket a stone's throw away.
The apartment is very nice, I have a balcony that extends from the bedroom to the living room. There is lots of light that gets in and its just a super awesome place.
My only issue is that the bathroom is soooo awkward. The toilet is practically connected to the sink and shower. I can shave my leg, use the toilet and brush my teeth at the same time. I'll manage though, plus there is a half bathroom if I absolutely need more space.
This is my first apartment so I'm very excited to have the opportunity to decorate.
The weird thing about the apartments here is that they don't come with appliances so I'll have to furnish from scratch. Luckily they give us money to buy furniture.
With enough shopping around, I'll be able to furnish the place and have some money left over for a trip somewhere.
For now Ikea is my go to place for furniture. I  know it's not the greatest but considering that is is only temporary, I don't need to spend lots of money on furniture. As long as I get a good bed and mattress I'll be a-okay.
Can't wait to show pictures of the results. Stay tuned!
Ciao.

August 17, 2012

Reality

Ok so you know how I've been saying that it hasn't really hit me yet that I'm in Abu Dhabi? Well it finally did today.
As I lay curled up in my hotel bed watching Miss Congeniality 2 and I hear the commercials in Arabic, reality really hit me.
I'm in a foreign country half way across the world from everything that's familiar. I did feel a little sad and surprisingly homesick.
How strange that it took something that simple to trigger my emotions. I haven't felt sad since I've been here. Been busy running around but being alone has made me realize that I'm so far way from home.
I'm sure eventually I'll be fine and that this feeling won't last for long.
I suppose it was a matter of time before I would feel this way. Better sooner than later.
How do you deal with being far away from home? What are your coping strategies?
Ciao!

August 16, 2012

I am a Queen....

In Abu Dhabi .
Hahah, gotcha!
It's because I haven't had a chance tell you about mex living arrangements so far in the UAE so you have doubts.
So here is how I became a Queen, in my head at least.
The company that has hired me along with approximately 500-600 teachers has been very generous. 
We are all staying in 5 star hotels.
I'm staying at Beach Rotana, which according to my bellhop is the numero uno hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Ummmm, AMAZING!
The hotel property is beautiful.There is a state of the art gym, sauna and pool. And the cutest little beach. Lol, I sound country as heck like I've never been anywhere before, but you have to be here to understand. 
I love it and could get very used to having someone fluff the pillows in my humongous comfy bed and put those little creases in my toilet paper everyday. 

The staff treats us like stars and they are so friendly. They come by every night to check to make sure we are ok and to ask if we need anything. At breakfast they make sure we are happy and full.
I'm soaking it up cause on the reg I would NEVER be able to afford this.
Unfortunately I don't have pics but check it out HERE .
If you ever visit and you have money I highly recommend this place.
Ciao!!

August 15, 2012

Curious

So I've been to 2 malls so far since I've been here and I've noticed that they sell pretty much the same type of clothing as the malls is NYC. In fact they have some of the same stores like Zara, Forever21,  Bebe and even Victoria's Secret.
I've also noticed the women who shop at these stores are mainly Emirate women. Picture a women dressed in black from head to toe. Sometimes revealing only their eyes. So imagine my surprise when I noticed them buying the skimpiest little dresses and sexy minis.
Umm excuse me but when and where do you wear these outfits?
Are they hidden under your Abayas? Or do you just walk around in your living room wearing a 150 shear top from Zara?

I need to make friends with an Emirate woman so I can find this out. I'm not sure why it's so fascinating to me but I just need to know.

August 14, 2012

7 Whole Days....Almost

It's almost been 7 days since I've been living in Abu Dhabi. And no, it still doesn't feel entirely real. While hanging at the pool today a girl asked my friend and I if we were visiting. Our respond was that we live here. We had a good laugh afterwards because it's still shocking that we can actually say we live here.

So far I've been to the mall a lot, it's not that hard when the hotel you live in is connected to the mall. I don't even have to go outside to get to the mall. From what I see, that's all people do, the rich people that is. It's just too freaking hot to be walking around outside. The mall has food and AC.  What more can you ask for in 103 degree weather. Walking outside feels like walking in an oven. The only good thing is that it's dry heat so I'm actually not sweating like a harlot in church.

I know for sure I will not be a shopaholic here. It's very expensive. Everything is at least 10 dollars more than in the US and if you know me then you know I'm cheap. I walk around with my little calculator converting dirhams to dollar. If I wouldn't buy it in America I'm for sure not spending that kind of money here. It's a good thing though, I'll be able to save so I can travel.
Ciao!




August 13, 2012

Settling

So I'm finally in Abu Dhabi. It's been a very long and hot 3 days but I'm having a lot of fun thus far.
It still seems like a dream vacation. I have to constantly remind myself that I'm actually here to work and live for the next 2 years.
Once school begins, reality will slap me in the face and I will be very aware that I'm here to work.
Luckily I've met some really cool people and we've been slowly getting acclimated to the heat and the city. It's good to have people to go out with and who will look out for you. They will be living in the same apartment complex so I'll have friends all around me.

I'm making little steps towards transitioning into the life here. I took the bus and a taxi yesterday. The bus was ok, women sit in the front and all the smelly men go to the back. I like that.
Taxis are ridiculous here. They drive like maniacs. It was like being on an amusement park ride.
One thing I've learned so far is to NOT sit in the front of the cab.
I've also gotten a cellphone and I have a local phone number.

Guess who has her own apartment now?? Yup, moi.
Brand new, never been lived in before apartment. It's lovely for the most part.
I have a balcony and a big living room.
The kitchen is great and so is my bedroom.
I'll show pics soon once I get things set up. The place is 20 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi City and maybe 40-50 minutes from Dubai.
The complex is still under construction but should be done completely by early next year or even by the end of this year.
Right now we will have access to he pool and gym. Later when it's done, the tennis courts and jacuzzis will be available for use.
My only complaint is that my bathroom set up is AWFUL. The space is so tight, I can brush my teeth and shave my legs while using the toilet. That's just how close everything is. Funny enough, not all the apartments are like that. Most of them have a normal set up. I'm just at the end and they must have run out of space. Bad design but I can live.
The overall quality is great and truth be told if I wanted to rent that kind of space in NYC I would be looking at rent in the thousands.
It's free here and I'm not gonna complain, well not too much.
I'm gonna catch up on some well needed rest,
Ciao!!!

August 10, 2012

I'm Grown

It has taken me moving to Abu Dhabi to finally feel like a grown up.
I'm 29 years old and I'm finally grown. Sounds ridiculous right?
The thing is, I've lived with my mom for most of my adult life and although I'm the head of household, at least that's how I file my taxes, I don't feel like a grown up.
Not my mom's fault, she doesn't treat me like a kid.
It's just that, I rely on her to do so much like cook for me and pick up after me. Now before you start thinking I'm spoiled, just remember I work full time and I was going to school full time.
I never had to go grocery shopping and plan my meals entirely. I've never had to furnish my own apartment from scratch and wash the bathroom and clean the entire place.
Hahaha, basically being domestic is my idea of being a grown up.
I'm really looking forward to it. I'll probably suck in the beginning and my place is going to be a mess but I'll get it together eventually.
I'll let you know how it turns out.
Until next time,
Ciao

August 9, 2012

Departure Outfit

I'm super excited to finally get my Toms. I love the bright red and how comfy they are.Perfect for the flight.

Leggings and a tank top are my idea of the perfect outfit for a 14 hour flight. I can't imagine sitting for so long in jeans. I would die.
I got my black leggings a while back from J Crew. They were pricey but well worth the money because they are nice and thick. Kinda like jeggings. I don't feel exposed when I wear them which is important.

So nothing fancy, as long as I'm comfy I'll be good.

ciao!

August 8, 2012

M.A.C Make-up Haul

I've never really been a M.A.C girl. My first love for make-up is Mary-Kay and recently it has been Tarte. Mary-Kay is my go to for foundation and powder and Tarte for lip color, eye-shadows and blush.
I'm very excited though to add these pieces from M.A.C, gifted from one of my lovely friends as a good-bye gift.

No Good-Byes Just See You Laters



Tonight will be my last night in New York, at least for the next year and a half. 
Wow, writing it down has made it shift from an abstract thought to a concrete situation. I am leaving, yes it has finally sunk in that I will not be sleeping in my bed, under the same roof with my mom. I won't be hopping on the subway anymore( this is can live with, quite comfortably too) and I won't be seeing my friends. The sadness is setting in, especially with  the prospect of saying goodbye to my mom. I hope I don't cry like a baby at the airport but I can't promise that.

I have spent the last few days meeting up with my friends. It has been amazing and I know for sure that these people are true friends. They were willing to find the time to see me, some of them on multiple occasions. I have always been blessed with great friends wherever I go and I pray that Abu Dhabi will be no different. I shall truly miss them.
The great thing is that I feel confident that the friendships will survive despite the distance and time. 
I have Skype and all Facebook and Textnow. I'm set, plus there is good old fashion emails. There is always a way to keep in touch.  

So, the next time I write it will be from half way across the world.. I'm heading out on a late night flight and will get to Abu Dhabi on the 10th. Wish me luck. O am so excited to let you know what it's like.
Until then,
Ciao!

August 6, 2012

Yes I Sure Did

finally get myself packed up and ready to leave y'all.
It has only taken 96 hours to get my 2 suitcases down to 70 pounds each.
I have experienced tremendous amounts of stress but after several tries, sweat and back ache, I managed to get the essentials in those suitcases.
I might have to double check the weight on them but I think they're good.

August 2, 2012

Reality Checked Baggage




Although I have yet to receive my ticket or departure date ( I was told I'm definitely leaving between the 6-11th and that I'll be hearing either tonight or tomorrow), I'm packing. I might as well keep myself busy and get it done.
I was determined that I was only going to be travelling with 2 checked suitcases plus my backpack and a small carryon.
Hahaha. Yeah that was my plan but as I stuff my hair products and shoes into all the nooks and crannies of my 2 suitcases, I now realize how unrealistic I was/am. It's proving to be mission impossible; I still have school supplies that I want to pack as well as more shoes and hair products. Both suitcases are over the 50 lb weight limit and like I said I'm not done yet.
Am soon as I know which airline I'll be travelling on, I'll have to find out what their fees are for extra bags and overweight luggage.
Hopefully, I can have this all done over the weekend.
Ciao!!