Sunday, January 31, 2016

National Day: The UAE Turns 44!

   Emiratis have the most National Pride I've ever seen. Last Decenber, the UAE turned 44. Nations day here is alaways a very big deal. There are green, white and red lights everywhere (the colours of the UAE).  Since it is December 2 and 3, it almost feels like the lights are meant for Christmas also. At our school, our students dress up and wear their best outfits. They put on a show, sing and dance. 

It is the one day of the year I wear makeup and get all dressed up.  

The students' gave us roses.  And one parent made this lovely collage. 

My vice principal and I look cute in our National Day best. 

Students wear lovely gold headpieces. 

This year National Day was paired with Martyr's Day (similar to Veteran's Day in the States or Rememberence Day in Canada). These are public holidays, so we had a 5 day holiday, can you guess where I went? Check out the next post to find out! It was the trip of a lifetime. 

Innovation Day

 Last November, we had Innovation Day at school. Each departed had to do something and involve the students. Since I don't really get a chance to do any 'fun' experiments in science class, I decided to do Elephant toothpaste with the students. 

These are the ingredients used. Just google 'Elephant Toothpaste' to get the explanation of the chemical reaction that occurs. You can even do it at home with your kids, they will love it!

Kids loved it! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Twitter Chat?

Hello Again, 
   I am thinking of doing another Twitter Chat, would people be interested?  I can answer any questions people have for about an hour.  If yes, I will let you know the time and day.


Monday, January 11, 2016

A Single Girl's Guide To Solo Travel

Hello Readers from near and far, 
    I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this little piece of my world, here on the big old internet, I always appreciate comments and questions.

As you ,may have guessed, I love to travel.  There are times when there is no one to travel with or I want to go somewhere that others are not interested in.  At 35 years old, I have started to travel solo more and more.

I know that many people are apprehensive about travelling alone, especially as a female.  I think that it is something that everyone must do at least once in their lives.  You learn so much about yourself, when you are in a foreign place and you have to rely on no one but yourself. Plus, if you want to take a nap in the middle of the day you can and not feel guilty. :)

If you are going to venture off and travel alone here are a few suggestions:

  • Start small, if you are a little unsure try to go away for a weekend alone at first, then you can build up to a longer vacation.
  • For flights I use Skyscanner, Kayak and Expedia usually to book my flights.  When I can I try and book the flight directly with the airline or with a well known site, just in case anything happens and I have to cancel.
  • Pack as little as possible, you should be able to carry your own suitcase around.  You have no one to impress, your on your own!  You can also wash things in the sink if you must (or shop!).  If my trip is to a warm destination and five days of less, I try to only back a carry on.
  • If you land at night, arrange for the hotel to pick you up, it may cost you a little more but it can be better than having to look for a taxi at a late hour.
  • If the time you arrive is not too late, ask the info desk (or check google maps) the fastest/cheapest way to get to your hotel/hostile.
  • Don't be afraid of hostiles, you can meet cool people and many of them are just as nice as hotels.  Since I am not 20 anymore, I sometimes book a private room in a hostile.
  • Do whatever interests YOU!  If you like cooking take a cooking class.  There are also many free walking tours of most European cities (just google FREE WALKING TOUR).  While I was in Europe at Christmas (more about that in a few posts).  I took free walking tours of Prague, Milan and Amsterdam, they were fantastic.  All I had to do was tip the guide (5-10$ usually).  These tours were super informative and a nice way to met a few people.
  • TripAdvisor will be your best friend.  When looking into hotels, I find it best to stay near the city center, then you can walk around easily, or near public transit such as a metro or a tram. Use TripAdvisor to look at reviews of the hotels that you are interested in. is also great for booking hotels and for hostiles.
  • Depending where you go it is OK to tell a little white lie.  I have been to Bali, Jordan and Sri Lanka alone and a few more.  I often tell men that I am married, if they ask and that I am waiting for my husband to come.  Some countries frown upon a single woman over the age of 25, why aren't you married, why don't you have kids are you crazy? (Yes these are things that I have heard in my life)
  • Ask questions, if you are heading out ask the hotel their advice on where to go, if you are lost don't be afraid to ask for direction.
  • If you want someone to take a picture of you, I tend to ask an Asian tourist (I know this sounds bad, but maybe it is because I lived in Japan and they are the nicest people under the sun), but I feel like they are least likely to still my phone.  You can also invest in a selfie stick.  I know that they look a little ridiculous but they come in so handy when you are travelling, especially alone.
  • Use Google maps, especially the walking feature or the public transit feature.  You can download the maps ahead of time to your city so that you can use them even if you don't have wifi.
  • Invest in a sim card, usually they have them at the airport and you can get them with some data for 10$.  I have an old iphone and i just place the SIM card to the country I am travelling in in there and I use it as a hotspot for my current phone.  This way I have some wifi at all times if I need it for any reason.
  • Post on Facebook, now some may see this as showing off, but i see it as a way for others to know where you are.  If anything were to happen at least people know where you are or have an idea.
  • Send someone you trust all your travel info;flight, passport copy, hotel info. Once again, if anything were to happen someone knows where you are and can contact you.
  • If you get sick or are in trouble, go to a 5 star hotel, they usually have access to a doctor.
Hope that helps!  Feel free to ask me any questions!

Happy travels!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Reader Questions

Hello readers!
    I have had a lot of activity in the past few days and I just want to that you all for reading. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions: Haneefa underscore c at hotmail dot com. 

I got a few questions from Aamena and I thought they were very relevant. 

Differences between being at a private V/S public school (A.D.E.C), and which is better? (work hours, salary, benefits, accommodation, vacation time...)

Adec pays more, but they have less vacation time (only 2 weeks at Christmas not 3).

Adec work hours depend on what grade you teach and also if you teach boys or girls, but roughly it is 7:45 am-2 pm. Less if you teach kindergarten.

Benefits are about the same for both. Adec supplies you with accommodation, I think in some private schools they give you the money and you have to find your own. 

*3 things you wish someone had told you about living in Abu Dhabi
-it really isn't as strict as you think
-there are stores from all over the world here
-always be open to new things

*Is lunch served to teachers by the school? Or do we bring our own?
-they sell somethings but most teachers bring their lunch.

*When family/ friends visit do we need permission from our school or landlord for them to stay with us? (Rules about having male relatives/ non-related males in our apartments)
-no rules you do what you like. Just be cautious if you are 'dating' a male. 

*What is the main use of transportation? (Do most people take cabs/ rent cars?)

Depends where you live here in al ain most people have a car. But I have friends who have been here three years without a car and just use taxis.

*Biggest shock culturally for you?
-how different the school system is here.

*Advice on items and clothing to pack and leave behind?
-bring all your favorite pieces because you will wear them. Bring your heels, your short skirts, your dresses. 

*What is the dating scene like in Abu Dhabi as an expat? Do's and Don'ts?

It is ok. Many more women than men so that can be hard. 

*General Advice about teaching in Abu Dhabi

Come with an open mind. 

*Does ADEC have an age limit?

I have heard that they will not hire anyone over 58 years old.

Hope this helps! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Plus Sized Modeling

This outfit is curtesy of Forever21+ in Dubai. 

I am a plus sized girl and I am lucky because I think I carry my weight well. I am not afraid to dress trendy and I think I have a great sense of style.  I would love to have plus sized modeling contract but I feel like those days are over. I auditioned once in Montreal to be a mode for a plus sized Canadian store but I didn't get it. If you are in the UAE and need a plus sized model, holler at ya girl! 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Clinton Street Bakery

  This is a salted caramel milk shake, sounds delicious right!? Right! This is from Clinton Street Bakery in Dubai. They serve delicious breakfast and everyone is always raving about their food, I finally got to taste some of their yumdelicious menu last November. 

   Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is chicken and waffles. 


The chicken could have been seasoned a bit better, but we won't look a gift horse in the mouth. The meal was still mouth watering and tasty. 

This yumdelicious (yes I made that word up) plate consists of pancakes with chocolate chunks, need I say more?

Next time you are in Dubai and favour a yummy breakfast head to Clinton Street Bakery near Burj Views, near the Dubai mall you will not be disappointed. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Game Nights

This is C. She loves to host game nights with her husband J. They usually prepare some food (jerk chicken wings) and the rest of us will bring some drinks and snacks. We love Taboo and at times the games get heated. It is all in good fun and it is a great alternative to going out. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sri Lanka--A Must Visit

In mid-October I went to Negambo Sri Lanka. We had a long weekend and Sri Lanka is only about three and a half hours away and it is super cheap. I flew into Colombo and I was staying in Negambo about half an hour away from Colombo, the country's capital. I stayed at Jetwing Sea.

There was a lovely pool and I was right on the beach.

The people of Sri Lanka are some of the nicest in the world. I made a reservation at the seafood restaurant (they bring in the catches of the day and you choose what you want, they weight it, you choose how you want it prepared and then you eat!).  They set me up with a beach view restaurant and treated me like a million dollars: the chef even came out and chatted with me for a bit. 

I had a delicious jumbo prawn in a butter garlic sauce.

I went into 'town' one day and walked around. I almost caused an accident because a driver was staring and not paying attention to the road. All in all a very enjoyable experience. Some guy even tried to holler, he was sad when I didn't give him my number, 'you don't like black?'. Ummm, sir, I am black too.

    I could have done more, but in all honesty I just wanted to relax on this trip. If you have a chance I highly recommend Sri  Lanka, you will not be disappointed. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Wine Down

Back in October, I went to one of my favorite events in Abu Dhabi; Wine Down. This is a wine pairing event usually held at a nice restaurant in Abu Dhabi. This time it was held at Caramel Lounge on Saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi. The cost is about 45$ and you get 5 courses paired with wines. This time the wines were from South Africa.

Delicious shrimp.

Mini shawarmas (grilled chicken inside)

Beef sliders

Delicious pudding dessert. 

I know that there will be another one held in 2016, so if you are in Abu Dhabi you should definitely attend.