I’m now five months into my Abu Dhabi adventure, and I have yet to set foot on UAE soil. I’m glad I’m not a last-minute hire, although I don’t know if there is such a thing as a last-minute hire because we foreigners have quite a few steps to take before we can fly over.
Almost immediately after you apply you will be invited to join applicant chat rooms, which lead to more chat rooms, which, eventually, leads to the one you feel most comfortable with. This is important because your friends and loved ones will have absolutely no clue on what you should do about the authentication process, or any of the other steps you will most certainly freak out about. They will not understand your new obsession with your inbox —- impatiently waiting for the next recruiter email (because every step starts with an email!).
I belong to quite a few groups but the one I turn to the most has been a sanity saver. It’s a Facebook group created for August 2014 hires. Together, we stress over and celebrate every step along the way —- from preparing for the phone interview to cheering the “your papers have been sent to Abu Dhabi for immigration” emails. It started off with a handful of applicants and has grown to almost 250 people. Some of our members are already in the UAE, some applied when I did, some before that, some are just applying now, and, sadly, some have left the group because for them the steps, for now, have ended.
These are the people I am building my new life with, and I am amazed at how connected we complete strangers from around the world have become. I am so grateful for the teachers who are already there for joining us to answer our questions and comfort us —- because sometimes we’re just a mess of nerves and totally freaking out over what we do not yet know. I am also so pleased to be going through this process with my new friends.
Most of us are finishing up our last year at our current schools, and packing up our current lives. We’re planning our goodbyes and anxiously waiting for all of our in-person hellos. We have around three more months to go before the next big wave of emails hits our inboxes causing us to post frantically and virtually yay and hug each other.
Until then, I am so incredibly calm and at peace with knowing that my online friends will be there with me when I take those steps off that airplane. How incredibly blessed and lucky are we?!
About Bettina Bennett
Bettina Bennett is currently a Cycle two and three educator here in the UAE. She is also a Teach UAE Magazine Blogger and Guest Contributor.