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Bad Blogger...And the Best Summer Ever!

 Monday, September 17, 2012

I know.

I'm a bad blogger. I haven't been blogging consistently for a while. No major excuse. I've just had other priorities that kind of super ceded blogging.

But I'm back. Not promising posts everyday, but I will try to post at least once a week.

Now that that's out of the way, on to better things...

My summer was AMAZING. One of my best summers ever.

I started out with a week-long trip to Phuket, Thailand. What I loved best about Phuket were the beaches (cos I'm all about the beaches). Gorgeous! And the people were friendly. Of course, they assumed that, because I was black, that I came from Africa, but I let that slide. It's not like there were many black people there. Every time I passed someone from Thailand, they'd greet me by singing Shakira's song "Waka Waka" which was the song from the Soccer World Cup in...yep, you guessed it. Africa. It got a little tiring, but like I said, I let it slide.

And they loved our skin color. We were given so many compliments about how beautiful our skin was. My friend, who was the darkest of us 3, had the most compliments. The darker your skin, the more beautiful they saw you.

There were many transgendered males. When we walked the strip (with night clubs & bars), we saw transgendered show girls & transgendered prostitutes. Some of them were obviously male, but others totally looked like gorgeous women! The thing that broke my heart, though, was the fact that some of the prostitutes were obviously teen boys. I so wanted to cry seeing that.

Let's see, besides relaxing, we went to a Ping Pong show (don't ask...my eyes will never be the same) and traveled to Phi Phi Islands, where some of the James Bond movies (The Man with the Golden Gun & Tomorrow Never Dies) as well as the movie The Beach (with Leo DiCaprio) were filmed, and went elephant trekking through the forest (AWESOME experience).

Next stop, AMERICA! I sooo missed my family and was happy to be home. I started out in Birmingham, Alabama where my sister attends seminary. I was able to meet (i.e. check out) her friends and see her in her new surroundings. It made me feel better to know my little punkin surrounded by wonderful people who take good care of her.

After Birmingham, sis & I drove home to Houston where I saw the rest of my family. Oh man, it felt good to hug & kiss my people! There's nothing like a family's love, I tell ya. We were only home for a few days before sis & I left for...PUERTO RICO!

OMG, Puerto Rico was AMAZING! The place, the people, the language...beautiful. It certainly lived up to my expectations. Did I mention I'd been waiting to visit PR since I was a SENIOR IN HIGH SCHOOL? That's 18 yrs, people. For 18 years, I'd prayed, planned, re-prayed, re-planned, etc. We'd get close to being able to go, then something always came up to stop us. Not this year. Everything worked out so well that my sis & I felt like we were dreaming. Lol.

But we spent a peaceful & glorious week in San Juan, PR. We didn't do too much; just relaxed and chilled. We did visit Old San Juan and the Bacardi Rum Factory. Next time (and there WILL be a next time), we'll visit with Isla de Vieques, which has bioluminescent bays (with glowing water) you can swim in along with other places we didn't get to visit. By the way, Bacardi Dragonberry...YUM! I'm not a drinker, but this right here? Mixed with fruit punch? Muy delicioso!

Oh and the men...GORGEOUS! And they have the sexy accents too? *fans self*

Anyway, after PR, we went back home, where I spent the rest of my summer vacation with my family. Ahhh, it felt so good to be surrounded by the love of my family and friends. It felt good to go to my home church. It. Felt. Good. I didn't want to leave, but alas, I had to. God isn't finished with me here. I still have work to do.

So, back to Abu Dhabi, I went.

I'll post about the start of the school year later this week. For whatever reason, I'm having a hard time posting my pics, so I'll try again tomorrow.


I'm a Survivor

 Sunday, July 15, 2012

Well, I did it.

I survived my first year teaching abroad. It was a challenging year, but through God's strength, I made it. The school year is finally over.

The students' last day of school was officially June 21st, though many stopped coming before then. Unfortunately for teachers, the last day was July 12th. Why the powers that be chose to have that 3-week gap, I don't know, but it was excruciating. At least for me. Many teachers spent the last three weeks doing absolutely nothing. Well except for working out (at school), eating, reading, or chillaxing.

Not us.

Our last few weeks were spent in PDs (professional developments), preparing for the next school year, blah, blah, blah. To be honest, I mentally checked out sometime around week one. I was done working. My body was there, but my mind had already gone on vacation. It was a struggle to get up in the mornings and go to work, but nevertheless, we did. And we're finished. Thank you, JESUS! I'm seriously contemplating getting a shirt that says, "I survived teaching in Abu Dhabi." I have that Destiny's Child song in my head. "I'm a survivor. I'm not gon give up. I'm not gon stop. I'm gon work harder." Describes this year perfectly.

My brain rejects anything school-like, so enough about school.

My vacation will consist of a trip to Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) Thailand, home (the US), and Puerto Rico. I know, awesome, right???

Tomorrow morning, my friends and I leave for Phuket for a 6-day/5-night vacation. I so can NOT wait. There is fun - and relaxation - to be had. Next week, I leave for home. I can't wait to see my family! Oh, how I miss them so. Then, it's off to San Juan, Puerto Rico with the sis for a 7-day/6-night vacation. Seven days may not be enough, I know but we'll make the best out of the time we have. I can't wait to see the gorgeous men...uh, I mean the gorgeous beaches of Puerto Rico. Heehee. I spend the rest of my vacation back in Houston with the fam before I come back to Abu Dhabi for another great year of teaching.

I'm thinking this summer may turn out to be the best one yet.


The End is Near

 Friday, July 6, 2012

That's right. The end is near. The end of the school year, that is.

The students stopped coming about 3 weeks ago, but teachers have to stay til July 12th. Many teachers have spent these last few weeks doing absolutely nothing. Some have been sitting around talking to their coworkers. Others filled their days with dancing, working out, eating, etc. My school? We've been spending these last few weeks WORKING.

I know. Lucky us, right?

Our principal has been working us pretty hard, getting ready for the next school year. We've been in PDs (professional development) since forever. I envy the teachers who've chilled. But, when September comes, we'll be the ones relaxing and not stressing while everyone else is working extra hard.

I hope.

We have one more week left. Honestly, my mind went on vacation mode about a week ago. Physically, I'm at the PDs, but mentally, I've already started my summer break. I don't have anymore left to give for this school year. My energy is gone. I'm done. I don't think I'm the only one at work who feels this way. And I think my principal notices. Or at least I hope she does. Thankfully, this last week is supposed to be an easy week.

Speaking of vacation, this may turn out to be the best summer so far. I'm going to Thailand for a week, then to the States to be with my family, whom I miss soooo much, and later, my sis and I will be in San Juan, Puerto Rico for a week. See why I can't wait to get this party started?

Last week in Dubai, I went to my 3rd concert since moving to AD. In October, it was Janet; December, it was Sade; June, it was Pitbull. This was my first (definitely not my last) Pitbull concert. I am a big Pitbull fan, especially his voice. I LOVE Pitbull's voice. *swoon*

Anyway, while waiting (forever, it seemed) they had a winner of some reality competition come perform. I don't remember her name, but then, she wasn't memorable. I don't understand why they had her, but whatever.

Karl Wolf, who was born in Lebanon, raised in Dubai, and resides in Canada, opened up for Pitbull. I'd heard of Karl Wolf before but this was my first time seeing him live. I loved his performance. I'm definitely a fan now.

Pitbull was an hour and a half late. So not cool. To be honest, I would've left had I not purchased fan pit tickets (where we got to stand close to the stage). But I wanted to get my money's worth, so I stayed. I am so glad I did. Pitbull made up for his tardiness. His performance was AWESOME! And boy oh boy that man is HOT. I've always thought he was cute and his voice was sexy, but seeing - and hearing - him in person has cemented it...Pitbull is one sexy man. The fact that I was right there by the stage made the concert even better! I'll definitely be going to another Pitbull concert in the future. Next up...Jennifer Lopez in November. Can't wait!

I've been to more concerts in less than one year than I've been in the last 15 years! Thank you, UAE!



Wanted him to take off those darn glasses so we could see his pretty eyes, but alas it wasn't meant to be.


Volcanic Eruptions

 Thursday, May 17, 2012

Our letter of the week was "V" and one of our vocab words volcano. So, Monday I had a light bulb moment. Why don't I make a volcano and show the kids a model of what an eruption would be like! Mix vocabulary with science. Genius, right? Yes, I know. I thought so too. 

For a second, I completely forgot about the fact that I'm not an artist. Only for a second, tho. Then I remembered how bad I am at drawing or making things. I paint awesome pictures with my words, but I suck at painting awesome pics. 

Or any pics for that matter.

Anyway, I decided since my babies would like it, I'd go on and attempt to do it. I mean, these are 4 year-olds who live in the desert, for pete's sake. They know of volcanoes (or bolcan in Arabic), but I'm sure most of them have never seen one in real life. So, it's not like any of them were gonna stand up and say, "Uh, Miss Raenice. That's so not a volcano." They don't even speak enough English to say that. So, with a water bottle, a box, a splash of flour here, a hint of oil there, and a pinch of salt and water thrown in, I made a volcano. A very lumpy volcano, but a volcano, nonetheless. Then, I had another light bulb moment. Why don't I paint the box and the (lumpy) volcano! Again, another genius idea, right? Yes, I know. I thought so too.

So, I did it. I painted everything to make it look somewhat real. Or perhaps the decorating was really done to mask the horror that was my volcano. I got compliments on it, but I'm sure inside, they were thinking, "What in the hell is that?" That's ok. I'm fine with my lack of artistic abilities. I embrace it. It is who I am. Artistically deficient. That's me. And I'm ok with that. Sort of. It's not like I'm jealous of people like my brother, dad, and friends who are awesome artists. Nope. Ok, maybe a little. I wish I could draw or make models of stuff.

Creative person that I am, making things soothes me. Whether it's through my baking or my writing or even my horrible art models and drawings. It's my getaway. Had a bad day? I write. Feeling stressed? I color or bake. Using my God-given creativity is a stress reliever. And I so wish I can add drawing to that list.

But I digress. Today, I showed my classes the model and they loved it. Their eyes were so wide with wonder. And when it erupted...excitement galore. So, my volcano may have sucked in the looks department, but it was all kinds of awesome in the "My students are gonna love this" department. As my kids would say, "Good job, Miss Raenice. Good job!"

First thought that came to mind when I finished, "This looks like animal poop!"


Almost At the Finish Line!

 Thursday, May 10, 2012

I've been in Abu Dhabi for nine months already! Time flies, doesn't it? This school year is almost over, thank God! It hasn't been a horrible year, but it certainly hasn't been easy. I'm glad it's about to be over. I'll be glad when I can reflect on the things I'd like to do differently for next school year.

The past few weeks have been kind of crazy at work cos of evaluations and portfolios. Let me just say that this is one of the things I seriously dislike about teaching: evaluations, portfolios, paperwork/data. Can't stand it...takes the fun out of teaching. Sometimes, I wish I could just...teach, but whatever. There's no escaping it, no matter where I go. Anyway, I did better that I thought I would, but of course, I wish I could've done better (yes, I'm an overachiever). But oh well. I am SO glad I am finished with the process. I can breathe easy and move on.

As much as I like living here, I know this is only temporary. I'm meant to be my own boss. My prayer is that, by the time I leave here, I'd be ready - or at least almost ready - to start my business along with my writing career. For that to happen, I've got to work my butt off while I'm here in Abu Dhabi to get things in motion. I'll either be here til summer next year or summer 2014. It all depends on where I'm at with my business/writing. I still have time to make up my mind, tho.

In other news, I FINALLY got henna done. I went Tuesday with a friend and I must say, I like it.
Right hand
Right hand
Left hand
Left hand

 Quite detailed, no?


Break Time!

 Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I survived the A to Z Blog challenge! With not one, but TWO blogs! Yeah, I'm the woman. Heehee! 

Blogging practically everyday on two blogs is quite tiresome, so I'm taking a short break. During the month of May, I'll only post every once in awhile. Then, come June, when school is practically over and summer is close to starting, I can return to normal blogging. I'm going to try to post at least twice a week starting June. 

By the way, you'll be seeing a new look on both of my blogs within the month. So excited. I'm thinking it's time for a new look. The girl in the header isn't even a black girl. She was the closest to my skin color as I could get for a free blog template. 

So, my loves, in the words of the great philosopher, Arnold Schwarzenegger (heehee), "I'll be back!" Muah!


XYZ is for...X-ceptional, Yas Island, and Zip

 Sunday, April 29, 2012


I must say, overall, I'm impressed with Abu Dhabi...the whole country of UAE, actually. They're dreaming big with how they see their country in the future. I say there's nothing wrong with dreaming big. I know the country has issues, but what country doesn't? And it's a fairly new country - they just had their 40th birthday in December - so they're going to make mistakes. Lots of them. I'm willing to bet the US made lots of mistakes in its infancy (slavery being one of them). Heck, the US is still making mistakes and it's over 200 years old! I'm not excusing some of the behavior (like the sense of entitlement that so many people have here), I'm just saying I'm not surprised. 

I like Abu Dhabi. I like living here. I like the things I've been able to do. I like my journey. In case you hadn't noticed, this journey is so much more than just my working here. It's about growth and boy have I grown. I'm still growing. I've experienced a few challenges here and there, but overall, I'd say Abu Dhabi is an x-ceptional place to live!

Yas Island

Speaking of x-ceptional places, I can't talk about Abu Dhabi without mentioning Yas Island, a man-made island in Abu Dhabi. It's not totally developed yet, but what they have so far is amazing. Yas Island is home to several hotels, including the gorgeous 5-star Yas Hotel. It's also home to the Yas Island Circuit, where the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is held, and Yas Arena, where many of the concerts are held. I had the privilege of seeing both Janet Jackson and Sade perform last fall at the Yas Arena. Both ladies were not only gorgeous, but their concerts were awesome. Guess what else is on Yas Island? FERRARI WORLD! Ferrari World is a theme park where the world's fastest roller coaster is at. I haven't been to Ferrari World, yet, but I do plan on going. Especially since I love roller coasters. I mean come on. The world's fastest roller coaster practically in my backyard? Too cool to pass up! Eventually, they plan to add more to Yas Island, including a Warner Bros Theme Park.

Photo courtesy of YasIsland.eu
This is a computerized image from thecoolist.com, but it really does look like this.
Formula Rossa, the world's fastest roller coaster. Photo courtesy of travel-loc.com


A word of caution. If you ever plan to visit or live in Abu Dhabi, make sure you are careful not to say "zip". This seemingly harmless English word means "penis" or a more crude word for the male anatomy, if you know what I mean. Thankfully, someone told me this before I used this word at school, but other teachers have had to learn the hard way. Telling the children to "zip your lips" will certainly cause a round of giggles.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

yellow - asfar
you - inta (male); inti (female)


W is for...Where Has The Time Gone?

 Saturday, April 28, 2012

I can't believe I've been here almost nine months already! Time sure does fly. The question that has been going around is: "If you knew then what you know now, would you have signed the contract?" My answer? Probably not. My first thought was I wish I'd known the whole truth about the struggles we'd face here. But then, I think, nah. I'm glad I wasn't told. Where I was mentally and spiritually a year ago, I wouldn't have signed up for more struggles. I was already struggling. God knew what He was doing. He knew I'd chicken out and not go.

I do not regret my move. I'm taking it all in, the good with the bad. I'm at a wonderful place in my life. Everything that has happened while here in Abu Dhabi is contributing to God's molding and transforming me. I'm not the same person I was a year ago. I'm better. Stronger. I've stepped out of my comfort zone and survived! Being outside of my zone isn't as bad as I thought. It's actually exhilarating. 

Nine months. Wow. I'm so looking forward to whatever these next 15 months will hold for me.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

wahed - one


U/V is for...Ultimate Vacation

 Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yes, I'm cheating. This week has been draining, I had no energy to blog, and now I'm behind. To catch up, I'm putting a few letters together. Mafi mushkila, right? BTW, "mafi mushkila" means "no problem" in Arabic.

On to my post...

This past spring break, I was blessed to be able to visit one of the top countries on my "must visit" list: Morocco. As you can tell from my M post that I LOVED Morocco. But, as much as I loved it, Morocco is not my top place. No, my loves. That honor is held by Puerto Rico. I've never been, so I can't explain why it has such a hold on me. I just know I've always wanted to go since high school. 

My original introduction to Puerto Rico happened during my Senior year of high school. Was it through pictures? No. Was it through history? No. It was through a gorgeous Puerto Rican boy. I can't remember where I met him. I don't even remember his name. All I remember is that fact that he was FINE. Man, that boy was gorgeous! Then along came celebrities like Jon Seda, Ricky Martin (as an adult), and eventually, my crush, Adam Rodriguez, and like that, I knew I had to go to Puerto Rico. So yes. I admit it. I originally wanted to go cos of the gorgeous Puerto Rican men. But eventually, I looked up pics of PR and became even more determined. I mean, come on. You can't tell me this is not beautiful.

Photo courtesy Puerto Rico Vacation Rentals
Or this...
Photo courtesy San Juan Vacations
Paradise, no?

So, you're probably wondering what does this have to do with Abu Dhabi? Well, it's cos of my job here in Abu Dhabi and the good money it pays, that I can finally say after 18 years (Eep! I've been out of high school that long?) I AM GOING TO PUERTO RICO! Yep. That's right. This August, I will spend a blessed week - or week and a half - on the beautiful beaches of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Resting, relaxing, flirting, dancing, enjoying the wonderful view of gorgeous Puerto Rican men beaches, surrounded by beautiful cabana boys water, listening to the soothing sounds of sexy men telling me how beautiful I am and how much they love me the waves crashing. Heehee. This, my friends, is my ultimate vacation!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...
up: foak (fōk)
vegetables: khudra (khoodra...kh sound from the throat, as if you were about to spit)


T is for...Traditional Wear

 Monday, April 23, 2012

Men: The men's traditional clothing is known as the kandora, which looks kind of like a robe...or a man-dress. I've seen white, dark blue, tan, and black kandoras, but most of the men wear white. Now, I must say, I've never thought I'd find any man in a "dress" attractive, but I've seen some attractive men in kandoras here. Along with the kandora is the traditional headdress, keffiyeh. I've seen red/white as well as white with a black chord around it.
Yes, my dears. This is Snoop Dogg in a kandora. He came here to perform last May.
Women: Women wear abayas. Abaya means "black dress" which is exactly what it is. Sure, the abayas would have fancy decorations on it, but the dress itself is black. The headdress for women is called a shayla. Some women cover only their hair, while others cover all their face except the eyes. Still, others cover the entire face. I own three abayas: two that open in the front and one that I'd have to put on over my head. I only wear them to work. I love wearing the one I'd have to put over my head because it doesn't require me to dress up under it. I only wear yoga pants and a tank top with flip flops under it. Thanks to my being vertically challenged (aka, short), my abayas are so long, you wouldn't be able to see what kind of shoes I'd wear. We don't wear the shayla, because, from what I'm told, you only wear it if you're Muslim.

These women only leave their eyes uncovered.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

Ta'ala (male); Ta'alay (female) - Come with me.
thalatha - three
thamania - eight
tis'a - nine


S is for...Skype and Salsa

 Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thank God for Skype! I don't think I would've been able to live so far away from my family without being able to see them. It's so awesome how I can talk to my family and friends on the computer, while being on opposite sides of the world. I won't be surprised if, sometime in the future, we'll be skyping with holographic images of our loved ones. It will be them, but...not.

I've been taking Salsa classes since November. Yes, I know. Salsa dancing in a Middle Eastern country? But they do have Salsa nights. I've always loved to dance and was excited when I found out that a fellow teacher offered classes. The moves are getting more difficult now that I'm in the advanced class. I'm still not quite confident in my abilities, but I'll get there. I'd promised my little sister that I'd work on my salsa so, when I go back to the States, I'd go with her to Salsa clubs. My sister? Oh, she's a Salsa queen. I want to be like her when I grow up. Heehee.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

shokran (shoo - krahn) - thank you
sitta - six
sab'aa - seven


R is for...Religion

 Friday, April 20, 2012

Religion is a big thing here. The official religion practiced in the UAE is Islam, but thankfully, they practice freedom of religion. That was one of the first things I checked on when the opportunity to teach in Abu Dhabi came up. I wanted to be able to practice my faith freely, without having to look over my back. Abu Dhabi is full of churches, mosques, cathedrals, synagogues, etc. The thing the country asks of non-Muslim expats is for us not to proselytize, or try to convert others to their religion.

Emiratis themselves are very spiritual. I may not practice their religion, but I do admire their faithfulness. Five times a day, a call to prayer is heard throughout the city. They have prayer rooms in the schools, malls, and even some restaurants. In school, students are taught about Islam and the Qur'an. I'm always hearing them say Insha'Allah (Allah willing), or Alhamdulillah (Praise to God). Here is a picture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and the 3rd largest in the world.

It's a gorgeous building, inside and out!

My coworkers do not practice my religion (Christianity) but they admire me for believing in a higher being. They respect me and love that I'm faithful to God. I do not plan on converting to Islam. Ever. But the faithfulness of the Emiratis to Allah inspire me to be just as faithful, if not more, to God and Jesus Christ.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

Ramadan Mobarak - Happy Ramadan (Islamic month of fasting)


Q is for...Quite An Experience

 Thursday, April 19, 2012

Despite the challenges I've faced while here in Abu Dhabi, I must admit: I'm totally enjoying myself. I've been doing things I haven't been able to do back home. I'm living out of my comfort zone and I'm loving it. For me, the good outweighs the bad. I would've have never dreamed I'd be here, thousands of miles away from my family, enjoying myself, living life to the fullest.

So far I've...

  • Met some awesome people
  • Attended a Janet Jackson concert...stood right by the stage!
  • Attended a SADE concert...all who knows me know I love me some Sade
  • Gone on a desert safari
  • Ridden on a camel
  • Camped out in the desert
  • Visited Morocco, one of the top countries on my "Most Visit" list
  • Moved into a high-rise apartment
  • Stayed several 5-star hotels
  • Visited the tallest building in the world
  • Held a snake without passing out
  • Ate at restaurants located in 5 (or more) star hotels
  • Swam in the beautiful waters of the Persian Gulf 
  • Learned more about myself
  • Learned more about God
And this is all in eight months. I so can't wait to see what God's got in store for me in the next 15 months. I don't know just yet if I'm going to renew my contract after my two years is over July 2013. Whether I do or not, when I go back home to the States, I'd be able to honestly say I've had quite an experience in Abu Dhabi!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

Qur'an - religious text of Islam


P is for...Pride

 Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pride is a big thing here. This, I've noticed, can be both a good and bad thing.

Pride sometimes keep you from admitting it when you're wrong. Pride can make you feel like you're better than others. It can make you walk around with thought that you're untouchable. Pride can make you have a sense of entitlement...like because you have this, you're entitled to that. One thing that annoys me is when I'm at the store, waiting in line and someone waltzes right up to the front, skipping everyone else, with no apologies. The person ignores everyone else and looks at the cashier, or whoever, as if they need to drop everything and wait on them. It's important to remember, though: "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). The US had to learn this the hard way.

Don't get me wrong. Not everyone here walks around with an air of superiority. I've met some awesome locals. The hospitality of some of the Emiratis is amazing. We could learn from some of them. Some, though do have this "I'm better than you because I have millions of dollars" attitude. To me, it's the ones who are hospitable - who don't have the attitude - that makes my stay here awesome. I've learned to ignore the rest. Or pray for them. Honestly, I don't think they know any better. This is a fairly young country who came upon a crazy amount of money in such a short time. I believe it's this young generation - the ones I'm teaching - who will make the changes this country needs.

On the good side, they have such an awesome pride in their country. The students start in KG (earlier, if parents start) learning the national anthem as well as the pledge. And they take it so serious. The kids know they're not supposed to move when singing the anthem or saying the pledge. The kids can also recognize a map of their country. At least my students can. Our letter for this week is "U", so of course, a vocabulary word is, "U.A.E." I showed a map of the U.A.E. and before I could get the words out, the kids got excited saying, "Emirat! Emirat!" This is amazing considering the kids are only 3 and 4. There are people - adults - in the States who wouldn't even be able to tell you where the state of Illinois is. Emirati children are taught at a young age to love their country and have pride in being an Emirati. While I know American pride is still alive, I think, somewhere down the line, that pride diminished. A lot of people don't teach their kids to be proud to be an American.

Let me tell you, America has its issues. I don't agree with everything that happens in there. Sometimes, I'm embarrassed by the tactics of Americans. But I am proud to be an American. I love my country...just as much as Emiratis love their country. I love the U.A.E. This is a pretty awesome to live, despite the problems I've noticed. It's beautiful here. But as far as countries go, America will always have my heart.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary. There aren't any words equivalent to "p", so I'm using English vocab again...

purple - banafsaji
Peace be upon you - Assalamu alaikum (This is the greeting. The response is "Walaikum assalam.")


O is for...Over the Top

 Tuesday, April 17, 2012

One thing I've noticed is that Emiratis love their bling. I see evidence of this everywhere. From their jewelry to their cars. We hardly ever see the locals in anything other than their traditional wear, but even that's decorated.

Back home, when someone has gotten engaged, the gift is usually something the new couple can use in their new married life. Here, they get gold. Real gold. Back home, when someone is sick, they'd usually receive flowers and a card from coworkers and friends. Here? Jewelry or expensive perfume.

So yeah. They are all about the bling here. I guess when you're worth millions of dollars, you can afford to be blinged out.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

I haven't learned Arabic words that would phonetically start with an 'o' yet, so, I'm using an English 'o' word...

orange - bortukali (bor-tu-KAHL-i)


N is for...No Car

 Monday, April 16, 2012

I do plan on visiting other blogs and commenting. I just haven't had the time or the energy. But I will soon.

N is for...No Car

I miss driving. I didn't think I'd ever miss it this much, but I do.

Before moving to Abu Dhabi, I sold my car, an electric green 1999 Ford Mustang. She was my baby. I absolutely LOVED my car; had a hard time with the decision to sell her. She was the first car I'd bought myself. I loved her cos she was a 'Stang, but even more so cos there weren't too many cars on the road her color. That was the main reason why I chose that specific color. I don't have a pic of my baby with me, but she was similar to this car...

Anyway, I sold her cos she was sick. It would've cost me more to keep her. And a mechanic was interested in paying more than I thought I'd get, so there you have it.

I have not bought a car here in Abu Dhabi, nor do I plan to. But I do plan on renting one sometime soon. Taxis are cool, but after awhile, you want to be able to go places without having to count on taxis or other people. And like I said. I miss driving. I'll have a car one day soon. Until then, I'll let other people navigate through the madness of Abu Dhabi streets. The driving here...crazy. I don't look forward to dealing with that.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

na'am - yes


M is for...Morocco and Mom

 Sunday, April 15, 2012

I know my theme this month is my Abu Dhabi experience, so you're probably wondering what does Morocco have to do with Abu Dhabi. It's part of my experience, I promise.

Three weeks ago, we had our Spring Break. 

Best. Spring Break. Ever. 

The first week, I went to Marrakech, Morocco. I LOVED it! OMG, it was so beautiful! Although Morocco is a predominantly Arab country like the U.A.E. it was not the same. The atmosphere was different. Friendlier. More relaxed. I saw more smiles. Don't get me wrong. Abu Dhabi is a great place to live. And there are some friendly people. It's just that I saw more in Morocco. Marrakech isn't as rich as Abu Dhabi. I didn't see many high rise buildings. But it was still beautiful to me. And it rained! It doesn't rain much here, so we were excited to see rain. Mountains, waterfalls, greenery, all add to the beauty of Marrakech. 

I love the accent of the people there. They speak French, Arabic, English, and Berber (Berbers are the indigenous people of Morocco...kind of like the US Native Americans). Their accent was a mixture of French & Arabic. Beautiful. I especially love the accent when a gorgeous man spoke. Yes, the men were gorgeous. I'd heard about Moroccan men before going, but I paid no attention to it. I'm glad to say it is true. The men - actually, the men and women - are beautiful.

I have to say, I fell in love with Morocco. If they were hiring English teachers, that would be the next place I move to (unless, of course Puerto Rico came calling). By the way, we also visited Casablanca. Gorgeous as well! I took too many pics to add, but here are a few...

Mountain View

We climbed a mountain to see the beautiful waterfalls!

Takes your breath away, doesn't it?

Beautiful Casablanca beach!
The second week, my mom visited. I was so excited! I miss my family and having my mom with me...priceless. We relaxed the first few days so she could get over her jetlag and time difference. We visited the Grand Mosque, Dubai, Emirates Palace, Marina Mall, went on a dinner cruise...and enjoyed each other's company. By the time she left, Mama said she felt like a queen. I'm glad, cos she so deserves it. I love my mommy!
We visited the Grand Mosque. Had to wear shaylas in order to get in.
And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

ma'a salama - goodbye
marhaban - welcome


L is for...Languages

 Saturday, April 14, 2012

I am a woman on a mission. That mission - should I choose to accept it (sorry couldn't resist) - is to become multilingual. Knowing only one language is so...blah. Knowing more than one language, tho, opens up a whole new world.

Since I live in Abu Dhabi now, I'm trying to learn Arabic. It's a beautiful language. And they talk so passionately here...with so much expression. I'm not so sure I'll be able to read & write it. I mean, it looks so confusing! For example, the word, car, looks like this, سيارة (I got this from Google Translate, by the way). I've learned that it sounds like sayara. I'm learning more and more Arabic words everyday. Not so sure about writing/reading it, but who knows. Hopefully, I'll be able to hold a basic conversation in Arabic. One thing I notice is they love it when you make an attempt to speak their language.

I wish I'd started learning new languages as a kid. It's so much easier to learn when you're young. I see my students and how quickly they're picking up English within less than a year. They're going to be totally bilingual before they even reach the 6th grade! Unfortunately, I started in my late teens. I know and understand Spanish, tho I'm still learning how to respond.

But I started and that's what counts. I'm determined to be multilingual. And when the time comes for me to have kids, so they will be multilingual, too. 

So, after I've conquered Spanish and Arabic, what language should I learn? Japanese? French? Portuguese? Who knows! The sky's the limit!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

la - no


K is for...KG1

 Friday, April 13, 2012

I teach the local children, literacy, math, and science (all in English).

Public education in Abu Dhabi has four groups: KG (1 & 2), Cycle One (1st - 5th grade), Cycle Two (6th - 9th grade), and Cycle Three (10th - 12th grade). When I started my Abu Dhabi journey, I'd hoped for Cycle One, more specifically 4th grade. After all, my favorite age group was 4th - 8th grade, and my employer was not hiring for Cycle Two. I'd hoped and prayed for 4th grade. In my interview, I was told 4th grade boys (beginning in Cycle One, boys & girls are separated). I came to Abu Dhabi expecting 4th grade.

Then I got my assignment.

I was going to a KG school. Just so you know, KG1 is equivalent to US preschool and KG2 is equivalent to US Kindergarten. KG??? I sooo didn't want KG, but that's where they sent me. My school is brand new. We met a few weeks before school started so we could come up with everything that comes with being a new school. We patiently - ok impatiently - waited for our assignments. I'd hoped for KG2 instead of KG1.

Then I got my assignment.

KG1...three and four year olds. I've never taught kids that small! I don't count summer camp at church. I swallowed my disappointment and started the school year with a positive attitude.

I must admit. This is one time I've been glad God said no to my prayer request and gave me something else. I absolutely adore my students. They're my babies. So precious and wanting to soak up everything they learn. Yes, some of the behavior drives me crazy. The good thing is, they're at the age where we can change certain behaviors that they've gotten away with elsewhere. And seeing their growth! Man, I LOVE watching them grow. I have students who didn't say anything at the beginning of the school year & now they're participating in class, playing with their classmates. I have students who cried at the beginning of the school year cos they wanted to stay home with mommy. I mean, everyday. Crying like someone was doing terrible harm to them. And now? They love coming to school. When they call my name, run to me, and give me big hugs? Ahhh, pulls at the heartstrings. And their English! Some of them have picked up English quickly. They even help with the students who may be still struggling.

My employer made changes, so I now have two classes instead of one. Double the work, but double the kids for me to reach (have to think positive about this change or I'd go crazy, lol). Here is what my schedule looks like:

  • 8:00 - 8:30 Calendar
  • 8:30 - 10:00 Class #1
  • 10:00 - 10:40 Planning Time
  • 10:40 - 12:10 Class #2
  • 12:10 - 12:30 Dismissal
Looks easy, huh? Students leave at 12:30, but teachers have to stay til 2. Teaching 50 three and four year-olds who don't understand my language isn't as easy as people think. Although my day ends at 2, I'm usually DRAINED by the time I get home. It feels as if I was at school all day. I don't love the technicalities of teaching (how they want you to teach, the paper work, the evaluations, etc), but I love teaching. Despite the energy I lose and the technicalities, I love what I do. The excitement my students get when they understand a concept in English is soooo contagious. Seeing the smiles on their faces, hearing the excitement, having them show their love for me, makes it all worth it.

I'm so glad God put me in KG1. Did I mention they're my babies? Cos they are. My heart. I love my babies!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

kabeer - big
khamsa - five (the "kh" sound is from your throat...like your about to spit; gross I know, but that's the only way I could describe it).


J is for...Jogging

 Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ok, so you're probably wondering what in the world does jogging have to do with my Abu Dhabi experience, right? It's because it's here in Abu Dhabi that I've actually taken up jogging. Well ok, more like walk/jog, but must we be so technical? Believe me, my doing any kind of running is huge cos I don't like running. At all. Walking as a form of exercise? Of course. Dancing? I LOVE dancing! Running? Yeah, not so much.

It's my friend's fault. She pestered me into, um I mean she convinced me to jog around the area where our apartment building is located. I figured, I'm in Abu Dhabi, doing new things, why not add jogging to my new experiences? So yeah. I'm jogging. Ok, walk/jog, but whatever. I even bought brand new running shoes. I was so excited about my purchase - I mean, what woman doesn't get excited about new shoes - anyway, I was so excited, I told her about it. What did I do that for? Now, she's got us running (me, walk/jogging) more. *blank stare*

I'm not gonna complain too much, tho. Especially when I see the results. Who knows. Maybe I'll actually like running.

Then again. Maybe not.

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

Al Jum'a - Friday


I is for...I Love My Life!

 Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I love my life!

Really I do. I mean, sure there are a few things I'd add, like a husband, children, and a successful writing career/business. And yes, there are things I'd get rid of, like pesky student loans and these unwanted pounds, but overall? I. Love. My. Life.

I am so blessed. Even without this Abu Dhabi experience. God has been so good to me my whole life. BUT, I'll just concentrate on my recent experience. I feel I need to remind you that this time last year, I was seriously struggling financially. I'd been subbing, which started out paying pretty good, but ended up not being enough to pay bills. I'd applied to several jobs, got close to being hired, then for some reason, I didn't get the jobs. Talk about heartbreak. I'd seriously thought something was wrong with me. Why am I not getting hired? Am I missing something? These questions and more went through my mind. And then came the opportunity to teach in Abu Dhabi, an opportunity that I was only seconds away from ignoring when I heard a still small voice say, "Go for it."

I won't go through the story again. You can read the posts here and here. Needless to say, I got the job and now I'm here in Abu Dhabi, having the time of my life. Yes, I've experienced challenges. Yes, I've felt like going back home at times, but God has been with me every step of the way, pushing me, keeping me from giving up. He's been giving me the strength I need. And overall, the experience have been a good one.

And let me not forget the fact that I have an awesome and supportive circle of family, friends, and church family. While I'm here, on the other side of the world, they are back home praying for me, encouraging me, and following my goings-on. The funny thing is, some of them have told me that they're living through me. ME! Never thought I'd hear someone tell me they'd be living life vicariously through me. It still boggles my mind. I love my support.

God will eventually add the husband, children, and successful writing career/business. I'll eventually get rid of the loans and the unwanted poundage. But other than that, I wouldn't trade my life for anything!

And now for some Arabic vocabulary...

ismee - my name is... (although some say it's esmee, guess it depends on where you are).


H is for...Henna

 Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I know I'm a day behind with the posts. No worries, I'll be all caught up by Sunday.

Henna is actually a plant with different uses. The most popular uses here in AD are temporary tattoo and hair coloring. The most popular areas where women get henna are the feet and hands/arms. They get intricate tattoos that sometimes cover both the top and sole of the foot or a design that starts at the hand and continues on up the arm. I've seen some beautiful henna designs as well as hair color. 

From what I hear, henna is very popular with brides here. They get an intricate design, where the artist hides his/her name within the design. During the wedding night, the new husband tries to find the name. Interesting, right? Makes for an interesting wedding night. ;)

I've been thinking about getting henna, especially when my time comes to walk the aisle. I've seen gorgeous henna design that sparkles. I'm thinking that's what I'll be getting when I get married.

And now for more Arabic vocabulary...

hatha - this


About This Blog

This blog is all about my adventures while living in Abu Dhabi. Come along with me for what will be an awesome experience. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!

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