In the Beginning…

For the past 11 years, I’ve generally felt “manageably overwhelmed,” though I look back and truthfully admit I’ve enjoyed the ride. Our little ranch house in Elmhurst, IL, as much as we tried to love it, failed us time and again until we finally gave it its walking papers (sold to a builder, which is fairly common where I live) and “moved on up to the big time” in our present condo. When you’ve had nothing but trouble, I’ll attest to the fact that a pool, clubhouse, and underground parking are dreams realized. I’ve been working full-time for the past ten years, sometimes with an extra part-time job or two, and also obtained my Master’s degree this past spring, all while raising two girls who will both be in college this fall. Unfortunately, I’ve barely been scraping by, knowing I needed to do something more for my kids and myself.

It took awhile to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I haven’t been happier since I decided to teach. I’ve encouraged my own kids to explore different paths to ensure that they have a good job after college, make decent money, and have some flexibility while raising a family. To date, my biggest accomplishment is the peaceful and joyous relationships I’ve created with my daughters, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I think I’ve successfully drilled into them that life is nothing but one big experience and they shouldn’t be afraid to explore unknown territory… which led me to teaching in the United Arab Emirates. I was surfing the net one day and happened upon a website to teach abroad in Europe. I soon realized that I was over the age limit (?!!) for that particular program and it hit me… if I want to make things happen I have to do it now. My research led me to opportunities in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Hundreds of English-speaking teachers are hired yearly and move to the wealthy desert metropolis, so why not me? Yes, it’s far away (more than 7,500 miles from Chicago). But depending on how you look at it, it’s also just a plane ride away, albeit a LONG one. I happened to apply at the perfect time (February) and after my initial Skype interview I was informed that in-person interviews were taking place in Chicago the following weekend. Yay, no time to get nervous! After wading through the process, I was offered a position for the fall. Hearing this, I realized that I needed to quickly finish my Master’s degree, something I had put off due to lack of funds, because my pay would jump significantly if I obtained it before departure, but would not increase if I completed it once I was there. Done. Let’s just chalk April, May, and June up to sad times. But I plowed through my last two classes (online) and the cats were happy that I was huddled up at home every weekend working away on my laptop.

Upon graduating, I thought this summer would provide some badly needed respite from the chaos I’ve experienced in recent years. However, I’ve encountered an extreme amount of stress- setting up the girls to make sure they’re ok until I see them at Christmas, figuring out how I’m going to handle money, payments, cars, mail, and bills at home, working out all the tech aspects of moving to the UAE (HUGE stress factor), sorting, donating, throwing away, selling, organizing all my stuff while preparing the girls to leave for school in August, resigning from my jobs (but tutoring in the meantime), and taking that one last Berg Girls roadtrip (Memphis) for good measure. Now I’m waiting for my authenticated documents to be sent back from the UAE Embassy in DC. Pressing matters also include extensive dental work (major stuff for all three of us!) and an endless stream of paperwork, along with tying up a thousand loose ends.
So there you have the short version of it; the adventure has begun.

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