Dear newly hired teachers,
Teachers around the world are rushing to get their last objectives in and their students ready for exams. Those of us in the UAE are happily planning our next vacation adventure, while our newly hired counterparts are obsessing over their upcoming move to come and join us.
There’s no way I can alleviate any of the symptoms of ‘newbie madness’. It’s a phase that we all go through. I can, however, share a few generalities that might help when you move here.
In my culture, fermented grape juice is so ingrained into our celebrations. We even sometimes use it during church ceremonies. So, you can imagine my relief when I learned that (whew) it was also available here. It is, however, not a part of UAE culture, and while the country has made provisions for us to continue to enjoy our version of fun and tradition, we sometimes forget what’s acceptable to us is not the norm for the locals. Have as much fun as you want to have, just remember where you’re allowed to do it and how. Sometimes fellow expats forget that the local tolerance of our ways does not condone our ignorance of their ways.
Tip: Learn what’s allowed before coming here, and remember it when you make the big move.
The same applies to driving. At first it may seem as though there are no rules on the road. But there are unwritten expectations: stay out of the fast lane if you want to go slowly (um, which includes the actual speed limit), know roundabout etiquette (just because others don’t follow it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t), and expect the unexpected. Some people will park on an actual road, or make a right hand turn from the left lane.
Tip: Yield. it’s just easier that way.
Tell your preconceived notions to hush. It takes time to do this, but once you get comfortable trying new things you’ll find gems in unexpected places. Within walking distance of my apartment there’s a Turkish spa, next to it is a dental office. They look like they’re in someone’s apartment, and I first told myself there’s no way I’d go in there. It turns out that a friend of mine loves using that dentist, and the spa is now my favourite place to go. It’s incredibly beautiful inside, and they spoil me there. The same goes for some of my favourite eateries.
Tip: Just be open-minded and willing to try something different.
You’re a foreigner. Some people will like you, some won’t. Continue to remind yourself that each person you meet is unique. There is no collective ‘they’ out to get you, only you giving in to the negative or positive aspects. I choose the positive and have been blessed to meet and work with many wonderful souls from around the world.
Tip: That said do make sure you understand the norms and expectations of your work place. It’ll make clinging to the positive much easier.
And last but not least, give yourself time to adjust and take it all in. You don’t need to spend every free minute being the perpetual tourist. Some of the best parts about living here are not the ones you read about in travel blogs.
Tip: Obvious reminder, be open-minded and look for the positives in every situation.
Good luck getting ready for the UAE and have a fantastic time with your loved ones before you get here!
By Bettina Bennett
Bettina is currently a Cycle two and three educator here in the UAE.