Today, as I explained in my post yesterday, is Sunday and the first day of the working week here in Abu Dhabi.
I went to breakfast early (and had a quick catch up with some of the lovely people I have met out here who, like me, have decided to teach on the other side of the globe!) and came back to the room to get into ‘professional clothes’ which out here means shirt, tie and jacket.
We assembled in the Ballroom here in the Park Rotana for a prompt 10am start and were introduced to the program and the days activities – form filling! A bank account needed to be opened, a mobile number for here in the UAE secured, as everything you need to do or set up is done with a mobile number, and a number of stalls needed to be visited to get various special offers and ‘best prices’ for the 2016/2017 teacher cohort – basically for things like furniture (IKEA and HomeCentre) for the housing they are going to give us, lease or rental cars, internet providers, etc.
Suffice to say that it was a well oiled process that just needed a bit of patience as there are around 180 of us here in Group 1. We were all allocated our locations today also – I will be teaching in Al Ain, on the eastern side of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, about 1.5 hours by car from both Abu Dhabi city and Dubai.
I’m kind of happy about that as I will get to experience a greater variety of life here in the emirates living in a different city, and Al Ain has some really great facilities too.
After the session, and a bit of a sit down in the lobby cafe to take all the day’s information onboard, I took a minibus to Al Wahda Mall with a group of South African teachers I have been spending time with. Four of us will be relocating to Al Ain, so it will be nice to know a few friendly faces there. We mooched about the shops and had a bite of dinner in the food court there. The malls are HUGE and 3 hours wasn’t even half of what you might need to get around the place. Al Wahda Mall is on the ‘Return visit required’ list as I found a fantastic furniture shop there – IDdesign – which had some fab sofas and sideboards, quirky chairs and unusual kitsch lamps, mirrors and objects.
Tomorrow we will spend a day over at another local hotel for a 6 hour session on the education system here and complete still more paperwork. Later in the week we will be taken out to Al Ain by bus and shown our accommodation, relocated to a hotel there while they prepare for us to move into said accommodation, given keys and a AED 20000 furniture allowance to help us to furnish our new homes.
I feel very privileged to be on this journey and am grateful to the friendly souls I have already met. I cannot wait to get started in my new school and begin to make a new home here in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.