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Just as the last mile is always the longest on a walk or run, the last couple of days in a hotel waiting for our assignment seem extra long. We have been enjoying ourselves by taking advantage of the hotel amenities, especially the pool, but there is a great deal of anticipation we are feeling regarding just “getting on” with life here in the UAE.

As much as we’d like to jump the gun on things here in Abu Dhabi, we’re content to also let things happen as they come. There is no better way to understand the culture and environment than to be still within it. Let it wash over you like a stream of experiential knowledge. You can assimilate and rationalize later. For now, letting the process happen is better than trying to stand in its way or push it to do what you’d like it to do.

There is a sense of competitiveness here amongst our fellow teachers that we didn’t fully anticipate. We kind of had the naïve idea that we would all be in the same boat, working together to get to that far shore… but it isn’t really like that. Attitudes and personalities manifest themselves quite quickly here – a reality of travel and jet lag that some of the less-experienced may have trouble in understanding.

It is better to hole-up in a hotel room for a couple of days and acclimate than to allow frustrations and fatigue to dictate how you will be perceived by those that have chosen to come along for the ride. In this place, first impressions are critical, not only for your new employers – but for your new cohort.

For the most part, we’ve chosen to stick to ourselves. Not because of any resentment towards others, but because this has been our little adventure so far – and we’re reticent to let go of that feeling of doing this as a small family unit. There will be plenty of time to meet and greet once we’re settled into our new home. At least, that’s our philosophy.

Yesterday we decided to go to Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi. We are not typical mall-goers, but the allure of leaving the hotel and venturing forth was irresistible and we had heard so much of the mall experiences here in the UAE. Well, what can I say? The Yas Mall was unlike any mall I had been to – except maybe the Mall of America in Minnesota. The mall is vast, clean, comfortable, slow-paced, and pleasant. Who knew?

There were plenty of eating and shopping options, but there was also an indoor playland (known as Fun Works) for our son to enjoy, as well. For sixty dirhams (about $16), our son could stay all day. They issued him a bracelet and an ID, asked if we wanted to buy water for him, and then took our cell phone number to call us in case of emergency.

We weren’t prepared to have him taken off our hands, so we bought some coffee and stayed and talked while he played. However, we made a mental note of it. You can take your kids there, drop them off with snacks and water, and have them monitored and supervised while they play all day with other kids in a safe environment. When the child is ready to leave, they are intercepted at the front gates and a call is placed to the parents to come and get them. WOW!

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