In just a few days we will have been here in Abu Dhabi for a month, and finally I have a feeling of being somewhat settled. What a relief!
We are thrilled with the apartment. It's in the middle of a busy part of town, within walking distance of Abu Dhabi Mall. There are tons of restaurants in the surrounding blocks, as well as every other type of store you could need (except a teacher supply). We feel like we could be in downtown Dallas or New York City, except for the call to prayer that sounds from the mosque a block away several times a day. We found a wonderful Lebanese restaurant just around the corner where all three of us ate for less than $20, and there was a bakery next door to it! It will take us a while to try out all the unfamiliar sweets.
The apartment itself is spacious and in good shape, although not new. We've enjoyed Mark's cooking. He made some baked chicken and potatoes with lemon garlic seasoning the other day. It was just like home. The kitchen is so small that really only one person can work in it at a time. What a shame. I now have a coffee maker, so no more instant coffee, and we found that lactose-free milk is easy to come by. It's imported from Saudi Arabia. The best part of the apartment is the cleaning service. Three times a week, our floors are swept and mopped, the bathrooms are cleaned, the towels are changed, and the beds are remade. Luxury.
I'm settling in at school, as well. I spoke with my principal last week, and she asked me how I liked teaching there. I told her that the boys were challenging, but it's okay, because I like them. She said she had heard they like me, too. It's hard to keep that in mind sometimes when they are refusing to line and up and would prefer that I chase them around the courtyard or classroom (which I refuse to do), but I do feel like we are slowly establishing a relationship and an atmosphere of trust in the classroom. I taught the letters E, F, and G this week. I also reviewed addition to ten and counting by tens and fives. In science, which seems to be my students' favorite subject, we sorted living and non-living things, and decided that all living things had some characteristics in common. I know it's not what I'd be teaching second-graders in the US, but for students who are learning in a foreign language, it's a triumph.
Today is my first day that I've just stayed at home to do nothing. It feels wonderful. Mark and Abby left at 10:00 am to go with a friend to Oman. They have to exit the UAE and re-enter to get a new visitor's visa good for thirty days. I'm still waiting on my residency visa, but I have had my medical check, and that was the last step in the process. Soon, hopefully, and then I can start the bureaucratic process of sponsoring Mark and Abby for their residency visas. However, for today, I'm planning to make an example of place value for my lesson on Sunday, to finish the book I'm reading bout Genghis Khan (historical fiction by Conn Iggulden), and have dinner with a friend I met on facebook and at the Aloft hotel. Maybe Mark and Abby will be back in time to go to dinner with Tiffany and her son, too.