Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Missed You!

    Hello readers! I have missed you.  I know that I have been gone for too long.  First, I would like to that all of you for reading.   I also never realized how many people actually read and I am flattered.  I have been approached in Abu Dhabi by readers and I appreciate all the love I have received.  I remember when I started on this journey I always wondered why there were so many gaps between posts on other blogs I read and now I understand.  Life here is soooooo busy! Between work, setting up the apartment (I am still not done with that) and making the most of the weekend, there is little time to blog. But I am here now and ready to share what has been happening in the last few weeks. 
    Let me start by saying school isn't that great. The kids try my nerves and do not really listen which sucks for the kids that really want to learn. Since ADEC is like Big Brother and probably reads this blog too, I will leave it at that.

Here are a few pics from the beach in Abu Dhabi. The area is called the Corniche and it is like a boardwalk with restaurants and little food shops.  There is frozen yogurt, a Cold Stone's and even a Cinnabon! Whenever I come to Abu Dhabi I try and come to the beach. I used to go to the public beach, but there were too many men and even in a modest black bathing suit I was getting too many stares ( there were also only about 3 women at the beach), so I have started going to the "family" beach.  You pay 10 dirhams (about 3$) to get in and about 7$ for a chair and an umbrella. The family beach only allows families, females and couples. It is worth the money, no stares and you can enjoy the beach in peach and quiet.

It is crazy to think that in November you can still be at the beach! Love it! 

I know I said I would leave school alone. But there is one thing I will say; students can be very generous.  I told one class that my other class said some mean things to me and the next day I got these:

The camel snow globe is my favourite. 

    I love horror movies and I had read that the UAE had produced its first one (directed by the guy that did Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and it would showing at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, so I bought a ticket.  The showing of Djinn was last Friday at the Emirates Palace Hotel, the fanciest, most beautiful hotel I have ever seen.

I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I really enjoyed the experience. I actually sat in the second row behind the actors and actresses from the movie, they looked like they were at the Oscars, absolutely stunning.  The movie itself centres around Arabic folklore and creatures called Djinns that are evil spirits that can posses people and shapeshift. To be honest the movie wasn't that great and at times it was even comical but all in all I am so happy that I went.

The FiFA U-17 World Cup is presently in the UAE and they were giving free tickets to games. So I snatched up a few to the game in my city last Wednesday. It was Nigeria vs. Iran and it was great! I was reluctant to go out so late on a school night (I try to be in bed by 10pm, since I get up at 5) but it was worth it. 

Once again, very few women in sight and I swear these men act like they have never seen women.  The Nigerian fans were going crazy, they were chanting, they were playing drums and it was such an amazing vibe. Nigeria won 4-1.  I have tickets to the finals next week in Abu Dhabi bit cannot go because I have a friend's birthday and will be lambasted if I do not go to that.

This weekend I am in Abu Dhabi for the Formula 1 races and a Jay Z concert! Woot woot. More pics to come! 

School may suck, but the weekends make everything worth it!!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Walk Around Town

     Things have been going well with my fitness regime. I was on vacation for Eid this week and did either Jillian's 30 Day Shred or this ghetto version of P90x that I got at Target a few years ago called 90 Day Trainer. This morning I woke up and wanted to do neither. I strapped on my polar and went for a 30 minute walk. The weather is cooler now (34C) so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to go out. Here are a few pics from the walk:
Not bad for a walk. I was sweating like a midi though.  I only walked with 500 ml of water that was a huge mistake should have walked with at least a liter. 

Oh how could I forget to tell you!?     I signed up for the Color Run in Dubai on December 14! Yeah!!! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Day Trip To Dubai

 My friend has a cousin thAt world in Dubai and she wanted to visit him and asked me if I wanted to go, of course!  We are lucky because Dubai is only an hour and a bit away from Al Ain. 

Her cousin helps people invest in re estate, this is the view from their place:

As you can see it is breathtaking. Their place overlooks the Dubai Marina.
  We then headed to the Souq which is an open air market.

   As you can see there was so many things to see.

For those that do not know, shisha also known as hookah or water pipe is a pipe that you can smoke flavoured tobacco . In the UAE as in many parts of the idle East it is a very popular was to socialize much like having coffee with friends at home. 

  We also drive by Burke Khalifah the tallest building in the world.
All in all a great day! I will be back Dubai, see you soon! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Apartment Pics

   Things are finally looking like some type of normal around here. Today was the first day of our Eid vacation, we have 9 days off! Since I still do not have my passport back I will be sticking around the UAE. I have lost my voice ( probably due to the AC / heat outside) so I am trying to rest up for the next few days and then hopefully head to Abu Dhabi.  I have working on getting my place together.  Here are a few pics.  I must I am proud of what I have accomplished in such a short time.

  Here you can see the living room and my bedroom.

Anonymous asked if I would incorporate any local fabrics. I actually saw some beautiful decorative bowls ( I could use them as fruit bowls) and I actually might go out and get one.  Thanks for reminding me.

I am so happy that so many of you like my blog, thank you so much! I just got Internet at home today so I will be posting so much more! 

Xoxo Haneefa 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Moving In

     Two weeks ago we got our apartments, we had been waiting for this day for so long, I was ecstatic.  My excitement was soon extinguished when I discovered that the building I was placed in was sub par.  We were 22 placed in the building, it has minimal security (compared to the other buildings) and a lot of (male) foot traffic.  Considering we were all single females in our building we were a bit concerned.  We went down to ADEC to express our concern about the living situation and we were told that there was nothing that they could do at the moment. There were to many families that still did not have housing so we would have to stay put for a few months.  I was not happy, but at the end of the day, after all the emails that I sent and all the visits to ADEC they were not budging on their stance.

   I figured the only way to get through this was to make the best of a bad situation.  I got two woman to clean my place (cost only 70$) and that took care of the awful smell that had set itself into the apartment.  I also have to be out of the hotel later today, so last Friday I decided that I was not going to sleep until I had all my furniture and appliances purchased.  The best part of living in the UAE is that the malls are open until midnight, so that was a huge help in getting everything done.

   The positives of our building is that it is in a great location near the town centre and I have many friends living in the building.

     My friend and I went to IKEA in Dubai since it is closer to use than the IKEA in Abu Dhabi.  The hour drive went quickly and we showed up at IKEA at 11 am.  As per any IKEA in the world, it was crazy busy.  We spent 4 hours there.  After all was said and done I had to get the furniture I purchased delivered.  Since I had not purchased enough furniture for free delivery (you have to spend about 715$, I spent about half that. I had to pay for delivery, I also paid to have the furniture assembly since I had about 7 pieces that needed assembly.  The cost was reasonable at about 170$.  The best part was the furniture was going to be delivered the next day.

    After we went to IKEA we made a stop at the DUBAI mall, my friend is from Chicago and she wanted some Garetts Popcorn. I had never had this before and let me tell you that it was delicious.  I guess everyone needs something to remind them of home.  This mall was huge, I was in awe.  There is also an indoor aquarium that you can buy tickets to walk through.  Imagine going to the mall in your city and having an aquarium on one wall of the mall, that is how large this aquarium was.  There were sting rays and a bagillion fish.  I am going to have to go back and have a closer look next time I am in Dubai.  I also got a look at Burj Khalifah, the tallest building in the world.  Let me tell you that I was in awe, Dubai is something else.  I swear that Dubai had a head office specifically for "the largest/tallest/biggest"  because honestly that is the name of the game there.  I just read that they have been approved to have the largest man made lagoon in the world.

    On our way out of the mall we were getting ready to leave our parking spot, when we got a tap on the glass.  I motioned to the young lady that we were leaving and that she could have our spot.  She then tapped again, all I could think was"Jeez these people are impatient"  I rolled down the window and she explained to me that her husband had gone in the mall leaving her and her two children in the car and she doesn't know how to drive so if I could park her car for her.  Wow!  I still cannot believe it.

   When we got back from Dubai, my friend showed me her apartment, I was so bitter because it was new and beautiful, the only down side is that the location is a bit out of the way from Al Ain town centre.  They also have a new mall right next to them where they are building a gym.  She proceeded to drop me home and I showed her my place.  We came to the conclusion that the rooms are nice, but the bathroom (especially the floor) and the kitchen floor are the real issues.  They need to be regroutted.

   I went to a place called Pan Emirates and purchased a bedroom set.  Bed, 2 side tables and a dresser with a mirror all in dark wood.  I got a grey L-shaped couch and a glass coffee table.  They were having a special where you get a 25% check based on how much you spend and you have 3 months to use it.  I am happy because now I can get a TV stand and maybe some prints for the wall with that money.  After Pan Emirates, I went to get my fridge and stove from Sharaf DG is it similar to Best Buy.  Last but not least I got a mattress.  I am not sure if I mentioned this earlier, but ADEC gives each teacher almost 6000$ as a furniture allowance to set yourself up.  I know that there are some people (especially single guys) that go really cheap on their stuff so that they can save the money for vacation.

    For now I am set, I still need to get all the kitchen stuff like cutlery and small appliances like kettle and coffee maker. Since my bed and mattress is not coming until Tuesday I am going to have to sleep on a sleeping bag tonight.  The internet should be put in in 2-3 working days.  So that is also going to be interesting living with no internet at home.

   I have to admit that even with the few things that I have purchased the place is looking much better.  I am debating if I want to get someone to paint.
   When things are in there place I will post a few pictures. Until then thank you for reading!  New readers welcome! If you have any questions, place them in the comments and I will answer them!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

One Month In the UAE

One Month in The UAE
     Yesterday marked one month that I have been in the United Arab Emirates.  What a month it has been.  From my 10 day “vacation” in Abu Dhabi to my move to Al Ain, it has been a roller coaster ride in cultere shock and a upward climb in patience.
Last weekend I got my hair braided. I found a salon called Nail Corner in Al Ain (funny thing is they do not do nails) there are three Ethiopian women that work there and they do braids, weaves, cornrow and blowouts.  The prices are very good.  I got medium sized box braids and it was only 85$ including hair.  As with any black hair salon I had to wait about 2 hours before they even touched my head.  They do not take appointments, you just walk in.  The finished product took about 3 and a half hours to do, which I consider pretty fast, most of the time there were two women were working on my hair.  Just like the rest of the UAE there are no addresses, you find places by telling people what landmarks they are near them.  In this case the salon was in such a little nook that I had to have someone show me where it was.

Saturday night my molar filling fell out and I was freaking out because I had no idea how to get to a dentist.  I went on Facebook (my best friend out here) and asked people in the area if they knew anyone.  The dentists here are located in the hospital so I went to see him.  I was shocked at the fact that I when I called they said I could just come in that afternoon.  I went to the hospital, registered and went to see the dentist who saw me right away.  Since I didn’t have my health card with my insurance information yet the doctor did a temporary filling that should last a week (it also only cost 15$).  I will go back soon and get the work that I need done.

***I just called the dentist and I have an appointment for Saturday, which would be like having an appointment on Sunday in Canada because the work week starts on Sunday.  I hope it goes well.  Funny thing here is that everything is tied to your cell phone, so when I made an appointment at the dentist I got a text stating the date and time of my appointment, I find that kinda cool)

I received my apartment last week and that is a bit of a disaster.  The place that we have been assigned is not appropriate and I spent 4 hours at the ADEC office trying to get a new place.  We were told that we would be able to move in a month or two.  So I am debating if I should stay in the apartment with the bare essentials or move in with a friend who lives a bit farther out.  Decisions, decisions…

****I have decided to stay in the apartment and pray that they are serious about letting me move in a few months.  I am honestly just going to get the essentials to live there.  I have scoped out a bedroom set (bed, two side tables, dresser with mirror), a fridge, stove, a couch and a coffee table).  For now I think that is all I need. I had two women come the other day and clean and it smells much better than it did when I first arrived.  The worst part is the bathroom; there is no tube just a square of a shower.  I cannot really complain because I am not paying rent.  I just find it a little unfair that some people get these luxurious new places and I get this place. I guess I just have to pretend I am on HGTV and flip the apartment.  I swear if I had money I would get the bathroom redone.

This weekend I am suppose to head to the IKEA in Dubai (it is closer to me than the IKEA in Abu Dhabi) to check out what they have. The priority right now is curtains.  Some of the girls in my building are just going to dry clean the ones that they have, but I think I am just going to throw them out. They are old and musty and remind me of the apartment before I moved in so they have to go.

Thank you so much for your comment:

Zan—I agree with you I do not let them go usually they do not ask again.  If they do I know that they really have to go).  The other issue here is that there is no break in between classes.  The students have five 45 minute classes in a row with no breaks or recess, so honestly I am sure that they will have to go to the bathroom.

Katrina—That you for reading and always commenting!  It is always so nice to know what people think about what I am writing.  The teaching supplies are nonexistent. I have had to buy everything to use in the class from whiteboard markers, to paper to even a printer (another teacher and I split it and I keep it in my office).  I have been told that if I need anything to ask the student to bring it for me.  I asked for food coloring and I was told to ask my students to bring it.  This also goes for the curriculum resources.
The lessons have to be flexible because there English is still not the best and they are so slow when they work and the class time is short.  Some classes the girls work well so it takes them 15-20 minutes to do the activity when another class may take the whole 45 minutes and some groups with still not be finished.  Let us just say we are on week 5 and I am on week 2 of the curriculum. I spoke to a few Education Advisors and we were told that even if1/3 of the curriculum gets done it is better than nothing.  Once again thank you for your continued support, it really means a lot.

Billie—Thank you for reading!  Honestly I have not had any racist here yet. I do get stares from men often.  I have rented a car and at one point I had to cover my head because I was getting so many stares while I was driving from other drivers.  Women are allowed to drive here but most of them are driven and I rarely see women driving.

Have a great weekend!