Monday, August 8, 2011

Welcome to Abu Dhabi

The start of the odyssey
Have you ever had a newborn who reverse cycled (slept all day, stayed up all night eating)? That's exactly how I felt upon arrival: tired, hot (she was a June baby after all), and desperately in need of a shower.  The first plane ride was fairly uneventful and quite short, compared to the almost 13 hour flight that followed. On the long flight, I was given a fabulous, emergency exit seat.  This meant tons of room, the bathroom was conveniently located, and did I mention the leg room?  I think I will request seating in that section every time I fly.  There were tons of movies, tv shows, games, etc. to choose from, but after eating dinner (at almost midnight), all I wanted to do was sleep, which I did for about 4 hours off and on.

Arrival at the small mall
We arrived in Abu Dhabi after another short flight and were greeted by people holding signs up and directing us to a gathering place. There our names were shouted out and we were each handed our pink visa and a lanyard with an ADEC Teacher card in the id slot.  Once we had visas, we were hustled to the immigration department, where eyes were scanned (you must remove your contacts for this), the visa was stamped, and then we stood in line to have the visa stamped again.  YOU SHOULD MAKE COPIES (AT LEAST 4) of this PINK paper as soon as you can (this is the sheet you will need to get your phone, utilities, etc.) because it will be taken the first night of orientation along with your passport (and 2 copies of each).

The Yas Hotel is next to and actually has the
Yas Marina Circuit Formula One Race
Track go under part of the hotel.
Then, we had some downtime to get over jetlag, use the hotel facilities (AMAZING - two rooftop pools!!!), and visit the local malls & IKEA.  There are a lot of products and brands that we use in the US, which was a delightful surprise since we had heard otherwise. Along with many new things to try out or observe.  The malls were very familiar feeling, with the exception of the lack of music playing in stores, prayer rooms, and no food or drink available during daylight hours due to Ramadan. That has been very hard to get used to and I think we all are a bit dehydrated despite refreshment rooms at the hotel pools.  Even chewing gum is prohibited during the day.

How to fit five people in a normal sized cab...
Rose was in the front seat.
Last night, we had our first orientation meeting and learned lots of useful stuff (when family might be able to come, a schedule for the week, ALL housing will be unfurnished, received our banking stuff & filled out related paperwork, medical card dates, and when we might learn our placements).  Today, we had our medical checks where everyone was tested for hepatitis, syphilis, HIV, leprosy, tuberculosis, and weighed, measured, and blood pressure was taken.  I was in Group 2 which meant we left at 7 AM. Tomorrow, I am off to the police station for finger printing. We depart at 10 PM from the hotel.  We were told we may get an advance on our 1st check and our furniture allowance soon. 
After tomorrow, I have the rest of the week to wait to hear on housing and miss my family & friends. 


Rebecca said...

What an adventure. I am very excitied for you. Your blog is great!!

Elle Bea said...

Love the picture of all of you in the cab! I can't wait to meet up with you in just a few days!! Though I wish I was with my fellow New Englanders, I am kind of glad you all went first so I know what's to come! haha

Margaret Landsman said...

Do you see other people at the mall? Women?

Jasmine said...

Thanks, all! Yes, Margaret, we see lots of people at the mall, including women in varying degrees of dress - from skinny jeans and shorts, to full burqas.