Although I was born in Canada, my parents are from Trinidad and I LOVE soca music. I listen to it everyday. I found out that there was going to be a soca boat party in Dubai so of course I got tickets. The organizers will be having these parties once a month. I really had a great time. They played reggae, soca, African tunes and hip hop. We borded the boat around 3:30 pm and left the dock around 5 pm. We got back around 9 pm.
My visit to a student's house started from a funny converstion.
Student: See you tomorrow Miss!
Me: Sara, tomorrow is Friday,it is the weekend I won't see you! (Weekend in the UAE is Friday and Saturday)
S: Miss, I come to your house!
S: Then you come to my house!
S: Miss, please! Every year I ask teacher to come to my house and no teacher ever come.
Me: Ok Sara, ask your mother and I will come to your house one day.
S: She say it ok
Me: Ask her this weekend and tell me on Sunday.
S: Miss, Miss my mother said ok, you come today!
Me: Sarah, I will have to drive on the day I come ( I usually go to school on a school bus) so I will come Thursday.
Everyday from that day on she asked to make sure I was coming.
Last Thursday after school myself, the English and the Math teacher headed to Sara's house.
We entered to this:
Damnnnnnnnn homey! All this for us! Fruit, cookies, coffee,dates and nuts! I was in heaven. The room itself was huge with sectionals located around the room. All I could think of was the kick a** party I could have in the room.
I helped myself as we conversed with her mother, who looked no older than 38, yet had 7 kids (my student was number 4). Then Sara's mother announces, 'Now time to eat!'
Ummmm, excuse me!? What was all this?!
Before I could say anything, this was placed before us:
Rice with lamb, eggplant and potato. A delicious salad, hummus and bread.
Everything tasted so delicious. I thought I was going to explode.
Then when it was time to leave, they gave us loot bags! Gift bags with treats like a scarf, ornament box and a key chain. Unbelievably hospitable.
Teachers under the 'tent' that is sometimes used to have BBQ'd and lounge. Notice my loot bag in hand.
Hello readers! I almost forgot that I never continued the story of my wonderful Christmas vacation. After leaving Laos we headed to Vietnam. I have been To Vietnam back in 2005 ,but I had been to the south. This time we headed to Hanoi which is located in the north.
My friend and I were walking around a lake located in the center of the city and these girls came up to us and asked if we had a minute. At first I thought they were selling something but it turned out they are university students that are studying English in their free time and they are told to practice with native speakers and wanted to speak to us. We ended up talking to them for about an hour and I have to admit it was one of the highlights of the trip. They were so nice and interested in us. I even have one of the girls as a friend on Facebook now. They were so thankful for us taking time to talk to them that they bought us an ice cream.
At the beginning of our trip we had promised ourself a spa day, a day dedicated to ourselves. Well, we took this treatment in the picture above that last 7 hours and only cost us 100$! I felt like a Kardashian! I have never been at the spa for a whole day! They even gave us Pho, the traditional noodle soup of Vietnam for supper.
The second day we were in Hanoi was the best day of our whole trip we took a four hour drive to Halong Bay, which is considered a UNESCO heritage site. We then took a two hour ferry ride to this:
Pictures do not do this place justice. I think this is one of my favorite places in the world. SO. Beautiful. there must be God because only he could have created something so breathtaking.
We then stopped at a fishing village and took a row boat.
Even this little guy was taking people around.
We then headed to these beautiful caves.
They have placed colored lights in the caves to give them that color.
View from the top of the caves.
Next stop was Cambodia. If you do not know about Cambodia's violent, genicidal past look it up, it is shocking.
Cambodia is know for its Angkor temples which has been on my travel bucket list since day one, they did not disappoint.
Cambodia is also known because Tomb Raider was shot there. This is when Angelina Holie encountered and adopted her son.
This is the temple where Tomb Raider was filmed. I love this picture, granted it does have a filter on it but I find it stunning.
This is amok,the traditional dish of Cambodia. It is a fish soup in a coconut curry broth. This time it was served in a coconut, creative presentation. Amok can also be made with chicken.
This is the famous Angkor Wat temple. There was a line about three New York street blocks long to go to the top to see the sun set at the top.
Cambodia is also know for its fabulous night markets.
And that my friends concludes my three week worldwind tour of four Southeast Asian countries in less than 21 days.
Today I was subbing a grade 8 class and a student asked me if I am married.
Student: Miss, you married?
Student: Miss why not?
Me: I don't know.
Student: Miss you very beautiful! Why not married!?
Marriage here is a big deal. If you are over 25 and not married something is wrong with you. Some of my students in grade 11 and 12 are even engaged! So I guess the fact that I am 33 not married and no kids shocks them.
First, I would like to welcome all the new readers. Thank you for all your kind words and if you are in Abu Dhabi feel free to message me, I am always open to help in anyway I can. I know it can be hard when you first arrive or are waiting to come so leave a comment! To those waiting on your tickets, they will come.
Last week something happened that took the wind out of my sails. A staff member at my school made an extremely racist comment. I was so shocked that I had to leave the room and be by myself for two hours to deconstruct what was said. The fact that someone would say something about blacks in front of a black person floors me and leads me to realize that she probably didn't realize the magnitude of her comment. Nevertheless it was said.
Later that night when I was home, I still couldn't believe what happened and then it hit me. Many Middle Eastern individuals in this county (even Middle Easterners living here from other Arab countries) have never encountered a black person that wasn't a nanny, maid, security guard or prostitute. That is the sad truth my friends. Not only am I a teacher, I am a science teacher at that. Their minds have been blown and they cannot comprehend. In fact I am probably the first black teacher at my school.
Many of you who are coming out here to teach or are already here have to realize that compartmentalization is a huge factor in 'making it' out here. Yes, I am here to work and that is what is paying my bills and allowing me to live my dreams, nevertheless, teaching here is not like home. You will have kids that do not listen, you will have administration that will not listen, heck you will have parents that will not listen. You will have days that you question your decision to move and you will have days that you may cry yourself to sleep. Remember at the end of the day if you want to keep your sanity you have to take all those events, pack them up in a box and put them away in the back of your conscious. Do not let those moments ruin the great things that you are experiencing, do not let those moments stop you from being great. Do not let others get to you. Do not let them bring you down. I know this is easier said than done but you have to do it. You have to leave work at work. This is why having a great group of friends is important. You will need people to vent to and who can console you when times are tough and you feel like packing up.
I always think of myself as a pioneer, this may sound cheesy but I think of all those young people during the Civil Rights movement and everything they went through. I have to show the world that blacks are not only good for entertaining and sports. We are educated, well travelled and multilingual. We are beatiful. We are educated. We are accomplished.
Please so not take this post as a deturant, if anything this is the reason why you SHOULD come over to the UAE. People are always shocked that I am from Canada and not an African country. I speak French and a bit of Japanese. I have two degrees and have seen more of the world that anyone in my family and most people in the world. Just today I was asked why I want to go to Sri Lanka for my Spring Break, my answer: why not. The world is my oyster. I love being an ambassador for my race and breaking those stereotypes not only as a female but as a black female. I am not perfect but My goal is to educate others so that racial comments like the one I heard will no longer occur.
My life is too sweet. I will not let anyone stop me from living the dream.
Yesterday my blog had 364 views! What!? I have never had that many views since I started. I just wanted to say thank you for reading. When I first started this adventure I could barely find a blog on teaching in the UAE, not to mention a female blog by a BLACK female that is updated on a daily basis (I have found one). This is the reason behind Black Girl In Abu Dhabi. Who knew that I would have touched so many people as well as made a few friends on the way. I am always surprised (I shouldn't be it IS the internet) when I am stopped about my blog on the streets of Abu Dhabi or have a friend tell me their friend reads my blog and they did not know of its existence. Funny this is most teachers who are here don't know I have a blog, I don't really advertise.
Once again thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and thank you for your interest. To the prospective ADEC teachers I was once in your shoes, keep the faith your ticket will come!
Nevertheless, I curious as to the sudden readership increase in the last few days. How did you find my blog? I am just curious to know, feel free to comment below.
Happy Valentine's Day! I have a friend here whose husband is in Afghanistan and cannot be here with her on Valentine's Day so he booked her a hotel room in Abu Dhabi and she asked me to come with her. Let me tell you he went all out!
We were relaxing enjoying the room when the door rang. Two people came in with the following!
Naa asked me the following question in the comments:
How do you deal with the homesickness and communicating with family and friends given the time difference?
This is an excellent question. The UAE is 9 hours ahead of Montreal. I have to say first of all that I have made a great group of friends here that keep me occupied and keep my mind of my family and friends at home. This really helps with the homesickness. Making friends is essential when you teach/live abroad. You must find a group of friends that you can laugh with, vent to and hang out with. This will be key to keeping your sanity especially when work is not going well.
Next I will say that social media and technology are you best friends. Here is a small list of a few essential items I would suggest you possess if you are teaching/living abroad:
1. Email--stay in touch with everyone. I have an iPhone and all of the following things I talk about I can access all day from my phone, all you need is data.
2. Facebook-- I only joined Facebookin April when I knew I was moving out here, it is wonderful way I stay on touch with everyone at home as well as join groups that keep me up to date with events in and around the UAE.
3. Instagram-- I share amy pictures and my friends do the same .
4. Skype-- I have turned my 70 year old mother onto Skype and she loves it, she gets to see my cute little face (her words not mine) I can show her my apartment and it feels like we are together again.
5. Whatsapp-- THE BEST! I can voice message my friends here and at home and it feels like we re having a conversation for free!
6. Magic Jack: this is an app and you can also buy the device to connect to your computer. I paid 10$ to have a Montreal number (on top of the roughly 70$ for the device) and I can call Canada and US as much as I want. My friends and fam can also call me.
I must admit the 9 hour difference is a bit awkward but I mostly call my friends and family when I get home from work ( it is the morning in Canada) I make it work.
Ten years ago when I was in Japan I had none of this so I really feel connected to everyone, it is almost like I never left!
Hope that helps! Feel free to leave any questions I love to answer them.
I have to admit, there are a few things in the United Arab Emirates that are pretty sweet. For example, when you buy fresh shrimp at the grocery store they will clean them for you, for free! You can get your car washed while you shop at the mall for about 5$. But one of the best things in the UAE is visiting the doctor when you don't feel well. Remember I come from Canada, the land of free medical care, nevertheless, if you go to a walk in clinic in Montreal when you are sick will be there for a minimum of three hours and don't even talk about the emergency room! Ha!
I wasn't feeling well yesterday, I wasn't feeling well when I woke up this morning, so I called in sick. When you are sick and work for ADEC you have to produce a doctor's note if you want to get paid for the day off. I took myself to a hospital located about 5 minutes away and registered my information since I have never been there before. I was in and out with a prescription and a lette for my school in less than 45 minutes!!! Whaaaaaa! I love it! The appointment cost me about 15$ with our insurance and (this is the best part) my prescription was 0.35$! Yes, 35 cents!
I am feeling much better and I am happy I took the day to rest.
I am going to keep this short. People are leaving. Teaching in the UAE is not for everyone and it is not easy, my school is tough but I have goals (finacial and personal) that will keep me here no matter what until I meet them. The situation in Canada is not the greatest for teachers. I am even toying with the idea of extending my two year contract for an extra year or two. Everyone has their own reasons for leaving and I cannot judge anyone's decision. But what you hear/read is real,the turnover here is crazy.
On December 14 my friend Kaitlin and I set off for our three week winter vacation. We were flying out of Dubai through Bahrain to Bangkok (reseeding this now I sound like a celebrity!). We would spend one night in Bangkok, then head down to Koh Samui for a few nights and hit up the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan.
While in Bangkok we saw as many temples as we could fit in one day and ate some great food. My favorite temple was Wat Arun ( Temple of the Dawn).
This temple had some crazy stairs to climb to reach the top. It was all worth it.
Thailand is known for its fantastic food we sampled Pad Thai and mango with sticky rice once we got off the fairie.
I have to admit I have been to Bangkok before, twice, and it has really cleaned itself up. I am not sure if it is because of where I stayed, but the all around feeling I got was much better than I remember almost 10 years ago.
We then headed to Koh Samui. We got to hang out at the beach for a few days, but it wasn't enough for me. I love, love, love the beach and for my Spring Break I am planning a lot more beach time.
This is one of my favorite pictures of the whole trip. Because it was cloudy it gave this fluorescent effect. There are no filters on this pic! I love it! Simply stunning!
We took a 45 minute crazy,bumpy speed boat ride to the Full Moon party. Please add a Full Moon party to your bucket list if you have not been already.
The number of people was crazy, there were fire dancers and you could get fluorescent tattoos.
The Koh Samui airport is one of the most beautiful that I have ever seen. Most of the shops are located outdoors.
We headed from Koh Samui to Chaing Mai which is located in the north of Thailand.
I have never been to Chaing Mai before and one of my goals was to spend the night with a hill tribe. We took a two day/one night trek. The first part of our adventure involved an elephant ride.
From their we did a 2.5 hour trek up a mountain to the hill tribe. I felt as if I was climbing to heaven. The incline never let up. This was the hardest part of the whole trip for me. I was so slow and at so many times during this trek I wanted to give up. Not to mention I slipped once or twice and almost plummeted to my death. Nevertheless, I persevered and I did it. The view from the top was breathtaking.
We spent the night in a small cabin and since there was no electricity we went to bed by 8 pm with only the stars watching over us.
Even though we had blankets and two layers of clothes, this was one of the coldest nights I have ever spent. It reminded me of the Ice Storm of '98 when we lost power for 11 days in Quebec. I even had a hat and gloves on and I was still frozen to the core. In terms of temperature it was probably 8-10 C but it felt much worse.
The next day we took the 2.5 hour trek down which was much easier for me than for others. I must say that my legs were broken for about a week after.
Since my friend and I cannot get enough adventure (and we were waiting to get paid) we took a 13 hour over night bus from Chaing Mai to Vientienne, Laos. We thought we were going to be on a big Voyageur type bus, but it turned out that we were in a packed 12 seater mini van. Since we are soooo lucky we were at the back next to the luggage. Yippee! During the 13 hours of fun the luggage kept falling on Kaitlin and I was pressed up against the wet window behind a cigar smoking gentleman.
The next morning we made it to Laos. I must admit I didn't know much about this country before the trip, but I love the French influence that it possesses and would definitely go back.
This is the Patuxai. The concrete for this structure was donated by the United States to build a runway for an airport, instead Laos build this wannabe Arc de Triomph. It is beautiful. Once you walk underneath this is what it looks like:
Reminds me of the Watch The Thrown cover.
After Vientienne, we headed to Vieng Vien. We spent Christmas Eve at an Irish pub getting beat at pool and eating street banana pancakes.
The scenery here could not be matched :
Honestly, if God did not create this beauty who did?