I Ain’t Missin’ You At All…

What I miss:

Family & Friends- What can I say about this? We had free wifi at the InterContinental hotel for our first week in Abu Dhabi. Although Viber was blocked, I was able to Skype quite often with my family members. Kate is 8 hours behind me- and Jenna, along with all my Chicago-area family, is 9 hours behind, so though it doesn’t always work out to be a great time to chat, I’d talk to them either early in the morning or around midnight my time. After moving into my apartment, my internet was supposed to be hooked up on Aug 23rd but I’m still waiting on Sept 7th. Grrrrr. I’ve been able to find a few wifi spots but it’s definitely not the same as being able to chat from the comfort of my own place. I’ve basically been staying in contact with a few friends through either FB messenger or email. Typing email on my iphone has gotten really old, so I often relay only the short version of my ecapades. My blog lets people know I’m alive and well and conveys most of what I want to report. I’ll also sporadically call my kids internationally and say, “Talk fast but don’t leave out the good stuff!” Can’t wait to get all my tech up and running. There’s an IT guy who will come over after I get internet and he’ll fix everything so I have a local phone, a U.S. phone to make super-cheap calls, and Apple TV- I haven’t seen a tv show since I left the hotel and even then the only English channels were CNN and a comedy channel that showed older John Candy-type movies and two-week old Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers episodes- I didn’t appreciate it while I had it, mostly because all of the Tonight Show episodes were repeats as I had just watched them while I was still at home.

Online Ordering- The only thing you can easily order online here is food! Fast and free delivery from most places. We don’t have addresses in Abu Dhabi so you either have to get a PO Box to have mail sent from home or use a company called Shop & Ship that accepts your overseas delivery and then sets up a time to bring it to you when you’re home. In Lombard, I lived next to a Target and still had most things shipped from there, which shows you how much I hate walking into stores. I’m also an Amazon Prime member since approximately 75% of my expendable income goes to them. Soooo missing the convenience factor right now. We have to go to the crazy “malls” for almost everything here. What a nightmare!

Structure- Way back when (aka last week), my school began at 8:00 and let out at 3:05. Our current hours are 8:00- 3:15. Next week we’re scheduled to work 8:05-3:30. What’s up with that? Routines here change at the drop of a hat. Someone stamps a piece of paper and voila! the bill becomes a law. These minute changes really do affect my drive though. Starting early, I avoided the two backups I now hit while on the road. They’re maybe 3-5 minute backups, which is no big deal compared to bumper-to-bumper Chicago rush hours, but when I left ten minutes earlier I avoided them altogether. Why not just keep leaving earlier, you ask? NO ONE gets to work early and no one stays late. In fact, you can get locked inside the courtyard if you linger too long after the final bell.
Speaking of bells, they go off randomly at school. And when they ring, whether it’s the correct time or not, we switch to the next period. That time might be added on to another class during the day, or the final bell may just ring early. You never know. So classes have run anywhere from 30-70 minutes and we just keep teaching until we get the signal. That, coupled with the fact that I meet with three 10th grade classes for 15 random hours within each two week period, means I just have to plan broadly and keep track of where I leave off with each class. I miss the continuity of life and school at home.

A classroom- The girls stay in the same room all day, save for a 25-minute break after 3rd period and a 20-minute break after 5th. Yes, they’re cooped up most of the day and tend to get rowdy. Plus, they have no fine arts, no P.E. class, no after-school clubs or sports. I miss these things for a few reasons, one being that some students are not academically-oriented and the fine arts classes let them stand out where they’d otherwise be invisible, and also because the activity of gym class or even 5-minute passing periods would allow them to socialize and release some of their energy throughout the day. When on break, the girls just mill around in small groups or walk back and forth across the school’s open-air, inner courtyard (mind you, at this time of year it easily hits 105 each afternoon). No after-school activities means I have no opportunity to moderate a club or watch them play games, which is a side of my students that I’ve always enjoyed seeing. I only know them in the single environment of the classroom.
Since the girls stay in the same room all day and the teachers rotate, we have to bring all our supplies for everything we’re doing each day, up and down stairs, no less. I get to decorate one half of a bulletin board in each room. We just started working on our bulletin board sections today since the girls finally have some work to display. I miss having a “home base” at work because I could really put their creative powers to work if given the means.
A favorite saying around here is “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” And for as exciting an adventure as this is, I can also reassure everyone I know and love that “There’s no place like home!”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Beth Petrick
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 19:16:35

    I am so proud of you for taking this journey!
    Let me know when I should come visit….hopefully no locust or other large insect season. Do you need any american products like dryer sheets, peanut butter, chex mix, or …..? Chris and I are going to miss Deb’s Halloween party this year (Michelle C’s wedding) so at least we won’t be missing one of the few times we see each other each year.



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