Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid Mubarak (Happy Eid Holiday)

Yesterday was the last day of Ramadan and today is the first day of Eid.  That means that all those people who were fasting all day and being extra devote can now relax, eat and celebrate.  The stores are filled with Eid candy and sweets platters wrapped in ribbons and bows.  Apparently all the kids will get new clothes and, from the amount of parents in the toy department, I would guess toys are also common gifts for Eid.

The most interesting aspect about Eid for me is how it's decided.  The Imams have to see the crescent moon in the sky before they can declare that the holiday is official.  It seems that a few years ago in Iran, the government tried to regulate the holiday by following the lunar calendar and the Imams were upset by the break in a long standing tradition so now, some regions set a government holiday break but the actual declaration of the holiday is dependent on the sighting of the moon.  Luckily for me, this whole week was made a holiday so I have the time to set up my apartment.

One of my biggest challenges has been getting curtains for my 3 meter high windows.  Last week I went to a curtain shop (just a tiny hole in the wall) and picked out the fabric (burgandy).  I had measured the windows but the salesman wasn't confident in my measurements so he drove me home, measured the windows and promised to be back in three or four days to install them.  This is how you buy curtains in the UAE...I got three sets for around $300 and I saved the taxi fare back home :)

I've taken some photos of the surrounding area so I'll put them up in my next post.  I went to Abu Dhabi to visit my friend Karen before she leaves the county but the dust in the air made photos pretty much worthless...I did have a wonderful visit with Karen and she saved my life by giving me a bunch of teaching resources that will last a long time. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Internet hook up

I've just come from the internet company...the only internet company from the sounds of it and it was a bizzare experience.  There are no addresses on the houses so I was shown a map of the city and asked to point out my home.  Of course, the map looked completely different from my my idea of what the area looked like so my neighbor might be getting free internet when it gets connected in two weeks....I hope he doesn't do anything illegal on my account :)

For about $90 per month I got a TV package, telephone line and unlimited internet access....or my neighbor did.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First week

It's week two and I've finally got access to internet on my new work laptop in my new office so I can give an update of what's happened since I arrived ten days ago.

Unfortunatly, I can no longer harbor dreams of being an international criminal as I had my retinal scan registered with the government as part of a very slick immigration procedure at the airport.  I guess it bypasses the need to lift a woman's veils for identification and it was pretty cool.

I was put up at a swank five start hotel http://www.rotana.com/rotanahotelandresorts/unitedarabemirates/alain/alainrotana for six days while I went through orientation at the college.  My hotel room was bigger than my last apartment so that was nice.  Their gym was great and because of the time difference I was up early and able to work out before going into work everyday.

the lovely Rotana Hotel
Orientation was a bit of disaster due to several people being on holiday but there were five new hires so we banded together in survival mode and took advantage of Vijay, our driver/helper/savior.  The college is big with over 150 teachers and, what seems like, 500 administrators.  I'm sharing an office with some really nice people that I'm sure I'll be writing about in future.

My new apartment is echoing with 20 ft ceilings and tile floors.  It's huge and I'm going to get lots of exercise walking from one end to the other.  Interestingly, I had to buy all the appliances as well as furniture but they've provided me with $10,000 to do that and I think I can do it nicely for about $6000.  My whole world has become about shopping for the last few days so that I can have something to sit on and something to cook with.  Yesterday, three men took two hours to assemble my bedroom furniture set which is great...first time I've had more storage space than I can fill up...hmmm, more shopping I think :)

It's the holy month (Ramadan) right now which means that you can't eat or drink during daylight hours so that's made for long days out and about.  In addition, all the shops are closed from 2:00pm to 8:00 so shopping is especially difficult.  Next week, that will end but there is a week long holiday where all the business are closed so I won't be able to get services like TV/internet hooked up for a bit or get delivery of anything.  A bit of bad luck at the timing of my arrival but I'll survive. 

I haven't had time to take many photos as I've been running around like a crazy person but here are a few of my apartment that I took quickly before coming to work (which is a ten minute drive away).
This is what the rooms all look like..this one will be the livingroom.
You can see that there is a lovely jungle view out the window
and they all have that...limes, breadfruit and dates are growing
which brings in singing birds.

My kitchen...another lovely window view.  I've even got
Starbucks coffee for my new coffee maker

The bedroom...not much to look at so far but at least I'm off the floor now

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hired for work in the UAE

About six weeks ago I had a video interview with two nice ladies working with the Higher Colleges of Technology  in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and soon after I was offered a contract with their Al Ayn Woman's College campus.   

This is the UAE and you can see my new city, Al Ayn, just on the border of Oman.  It's about 140klms from the capital city of Abu Dhabi.

Much like working in Korea, I needed to prove my educational qualifications, get a police record and do a few other paperwork tasks for the government okay but then I was officially hired. 
They sent an airline ticket for August 13th so that's when I'm going to be off on my newest adventure...hence, this blog.  If you want to see photos and learn about Al Ayn City and the UAE along with me, feel free to follow along for the next while.  I've signed a three year contract but who knows how long I'll be there.

In the meantime, I'm just enjoying time with my family and the Canadian summer.

Sailing with my sister Christine and brother-in-law Mark

Me and my mom and dad at the pub

My nieces Asia (top) and Emerson (bottom)