Have you ever had a crazy idea? Or have you ever had an idea that you thought you’d never actually carry out? Well I did, and I actually went through with it. Back in 2014, I decided that I wanted to move to Abu Dhabi for 2 years to teach (This is my 4th year, but that’s another story). I’ll admit, it did seem random that I wanted to teach abroad because, other than a trip to Canada in high school, I had never even been out of the country. And now I wanted to go across the ocean and LIVE there??? Yep, sure did! I’ve been here for 4 years, and it’s been a wonderful experience. With this year being my final year here, I want to share and reminisce on some of my experiences I’ve had out here in the desert. So, I’ll start from the very beginning.
Before you go on, I want to let you know that you also have the option of watching the corresponding video of this post.
Benefits of Teaching in Abu Dhabi
Wow, you live in Abu Dhabi? What made you want to move there? That’s one of the top questions that I get whenever I’m home visiting and get to talking to people about living in Abu Dhabi. I meeeean, after I heard all the benefits, my question was “why didn’t I go sooner?”
- Higher salary – The year I came to Abu Dhabi, I had 9 years of experience. The salary I was to get was some thousands of dollars higher than my salary in America. Not only that, but the salary was…….
- Tax free salary – Need I say more? No income tax to pay. So you get ALL of your money because there’s also……
- Free health insurance – And I mean free. Nothing comes out of your check…..you get to keep it ALL. You don’t even have to spend your money on housing because guess what……..
- Housing is provided – Raise your hand if you’d like to have someone else paying your rent or mortgage. You can’t see, but my hand is up!
There are some other benefits as well. The company sponsors a spouse and up to 3 children, so you can bring your family along with you. If you have more than 3 children, they can come as well. You’ll just have to sponsor them yourself. If you’re thinking of growing your family, go ahead. New moms get 3 months of PAID maternity leave, and from what I hear…..you’re not gonna come back from the hospital with a huge bill. I also get an annual flight allowance for my dependents and me to go home, but I think this particular benefit might be getting tossed out the window. I’m not exactly sure.
The Point When I Decided to Move
I had heard about all of these benefits of teaching in Abu Dhabi years ago when my college friend moved there. She just made it seem like the best move ever! But, I was not about to live THAT far away from my family, and I DEFINITELY wasn’t going alone. Well, I found myself hearing about all these benefits of teaching in Abu Dhabi again while I was living in Atlanta, and a teacher friend was looking into moving there. I put her in touch with my college friend who was there and loving it, and the two of them began to communicate. I was on the sidelines secretly getting jealous that I wasn’t going when a short conversation changed everything.
Setting: At home in Atlanta, talking to my teacher friend about her moving abroad.
ME: Wow, you’re really moving, aren’t you? You’re leaving me!
TEACHER FRIEND: Well, I’ve been meaning to ask you……I mean I know it’s a long shot…..but have you thought of maybe moving and teaching over there too?
ME: Girl, if I were single I’d go! All these benefits? They’re just throwing money at people! If I were single, I’d be on that plane with you!
MY HUSBAND (who had been sitting on the couch next to me this whole time): I’ll go.
I bout snapped my neck, turning my head so fast to him.
ME: What? You’ll go to Abu Dhabi??????
MY HUSBAND: Yeah, I’ll go.
ME: Are you for real? You’ll pack up our entire life here, and move across the world for TWO YEARS?
MY HUSBAND: Yeah!
ME: Well if he’s okay going, then………..OKAY! LET’S GO!
I’ve Decided to Move to Abu Dhabi! Now what?
The process of making this Abu Dhabi thing happen wasn’t that hard. The first thing I did was make a profile on www.teachaway.com (no, I’m not an affiliate……just sharing what I did). A couple of days later, I got an email inviting me to have a phone interview. Nailed that! Then I received an email inviting me to the in-person interview. I had to fly to Chicago for that interview, so I was constantly asking my husband if he still wanted to go. “I’m bout to book this ticket to Chicago. Don’t have me wasting money on this flight and hotel if you’re gonna change your mind about moving to Abu Dhabi!”
So of course the Chicago interview went well, and I was scheduled to go for the 2014-2015 school year. It didn’t seem real! I was gonna be moving to another country! I was excited, but thinking about all that I had to do forced me to keep my excitement under control. We had to throw away, donate, or store everything in our apartment; and we had to find someone to keep our cars. I was unsure about how I could dress, so I had to go shopping for conservative attire. I had to pack up everything in my classroom. We also had to get certain documents authenticated (what the heck does that even mean??). There was just so much! And all the while my friends, family, and coworkers are asking me a gazillion questions and preparing themselves for my departure.
Telling My Family and Friends About Moving to Abu Dhabi
Deciding to come here seemed so out-of-the-blue to my family and friends, and to be honest….it kinda was. One week I was living my life in Atlanta, and the next week I was taking steps to move abroad. So out of these 3 groups of people: friends, family, and parents; 2 of the 3 were immediately on board with the Abu Dhabi plan. Can you guess which group was NOT on board? I’m sure you’ll guess correctly.
My friends were so easy. When I told them about wanting to move to Abu Dhabi, they were super excited for me! They had a ton of questions, all of which came from a place of interest, enthusiasm, and intrigue. They were my cheer squad! “Yeah Ronelle, you should go! Gone and getcho money! Take tons of pictures and videos for us!” My siblings were similar. Though they’d be sad that I’d miss little family get-togethers and family events, they were encouraging and wanted me to go and have the experience of a lifetime. Now back to my question: Can you guess which group was NOT on board????? I think we all know the answer to that question.
The Parents. Dun-Dun-DUUUUN! Lemme tell you…..they did not like the Abu Dhabi idea. My mom would still sometimes say to me that I tricked her and moved to Atlanta for good when I was supposed to come back to Indianapolis. So I knew that telling her that I wanted to move to the other side of the planet was not gonna be okay with her. Like my friends and siblings, my parents asked a lot of questions. But their questions came from a place of concern, doubt, and worry. “What’s it like over there? Is it safe? Why do you have to go over there to save money?” They would have done anything to keep their baby girl from moving that far away. But at the end of the day, they knew that the decision was already made and I was going. So, they stopped fighting me about it.
And they are so ecstatic that this is my final year here.
It’s August! Time to Leave, Right?……..Wait, Not Yet?
Our apartment lease is ended, our belongings are in storage, my 5 suitcases are packed, and I’ve said good-bye to all of my friends and family. The only thing left to do is get on the plane and be in Abu Dhabi in time for the beginning of the school year. Well, it’s not that simple. Hundreds of English teachers were being brought in, so we had to go in groups. Because I turned in all of my documents extremely early, I was confident that I’d be in the first group.
I remember when teachers first started posting in our Facebook group that they got their tickets in their email. Everyone went nuts……myself included! I was glued to my phone, checking my email, checking to see who else is going in group 1, just bright-eyed about receiving my plane ticket. But then the group got quiet, and no one else was getting their tickets. It was crickets. I was so disappointed. The next group of teachers didn’t get notified to leave until a week or two later, and there I was again, stalking my email and getting disappointed three times over.
I think the worst part about waiting was all the questions from EVERYBODY. When are you leaving? Why are you still here? Have you heard anything yet? When will you know? What’s taking so long? Do you really have a job? All the teachers knew that we could get our email at any time; and when we did, we’d be leaving 2-4 days from then. All we could do was wait. But when that email finally came………lemme tell you…….my heart bout jumped out of my chest! It was go-time, and a few days later we were in the air!
MORE TO COME!
And THAT’S where my Abu Dhabi season really begins! But, don’t think that I’m gonna bring you to the beginning of my journey and just drop you off. No way! I’m gonna be back soon with more posts about my life here in Abu Dhabi. It’s April, I’m moving back to America in July, so they’ll be coming sooner than later! I will tell you now that living here has been an amazing experience, and I’m so glad that I came. I can’t wait to show you more!