I haven’t written a blog post in what feels like almost a year, so I’m admittedly rusty and also feeling a bit scattered with all the change that’s happened in my life over the past two months. In July, I packed up my things, sublet my beloved apartment in Brooklyn, and moved halfway across the world to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
It’s interesting for me to write this post and look back at the transition with hindsight. The truth is I didn’t handle the move well. I was imploding for months before, stressed out by not knowing when I would actually leave, wondering if time would be on my side and make it possible for my love and I to go together (it wasn’t), and basically avoiding any emotions I had with leaving everything (and everyone) behind. To numb myself against any and all feelings, I drank too much and did awful things like pick fights with the most important person to me outside of my immediate family. He deserves a medal for sticking with me. I was on a war path of emotional yo-yoing and self-destruction. At one point, I contemplated not going at all.
MANY things did not go as planned and, after eight months apart, I was only able to spend four days with my boyfriend in Trinidad as my ticket came several weeks earlier than expected. But now as I’m here, and settling into my first month abroad, I’m learning how to come to peace with everything, accepting that things happen when they’re supposed to, if at all, and (I say this lovingly) the Universe gives zero fucks about whatever timeline I had envisioned in my mind.
So how am I doing? Welp, despite living in a country where ladies can drink free virtually every night of the week (even though alcohol is technically a no-no here), I haven’t been doing much imbibing – maybe once or twice per week tops. I’ve been much more content to take it all in, relax, and learn to navigate a new country that has a lot quirks and perks. And I don’t need to be shit faced to do it. Bonus! I still stress, and I still miss the hell out of my man, but I’m learning how to enjoy my life as it is right now.
I’ve got a long ways to go in terms of getting where I want to be and living a lifestyle that is healthy, body/self/soul loving, but I’m letting that go too. The truth is I’m taking small steps and trusting, as best I can, that things will fall into place. It’s easy in the world of Instagram and Facebook, to look at people who’ve spent years building towards an end goal that you desperately want to achieve and being completely unrealistic about how to get there yourself. Comparison is a cruel little demon and I’ve been tearing myself down over failed attempt after failed attempt to transform overnight into a fitness loving, healthy lifestyle junky. My entry into this new life and world has been fueled by a steady crawl towards self-forgiveness and transformation, one that I am going to chronicle as best as possible via this site. I definitely left the States (and Trinidad) feeling like I was going to step off the plane a new woman, leaving all vices behind, but it’s just not the case. Some things I’ve improved upon and other things are still a work in progress.
And guess what? I’m okay with that.
So what has Abu Dhabi been like? I’ll do a brief list and hopefully this might help anyone who is contemplating a move to this tiny, desert country.
- You get to meet so many different people from all over the world, in ways I never did even living in New York City. I’m loving the people I’ve met and have formed fast friendships here.
- Gas is ridiculously cheap. I spent $15 USD filling up my tank.
- Ladies Night. Ladies drink free. Enough said.
- I got placed in Abu Dhabi City on Reem Island. This is EXACTLY where I wanted to be. My apartment has three pools and fitness centers so my weekends can be spent working out and getting some much needed vitamin D.
- Local (or anything from Asia and Africa) produce is pretty inexpensive compared to what I would pay in the States. Yes, if you want the imported stuff, you’re going to pay an arm and a leg, but it is possible to enjoy a relatively low cost of living. A bag of avocados for $3 USD? Yes, please.
- The architecture here is so innovative and unique. I’ve had many a breathtaking car ride. It also helps that the majority of the clubs and bars are attached to beautiful hotels so you are never at a loss for ambiance.
- People are generally very helpful and friendly here, which I have both needed and appreciated.
- I LOVE my students. Yes, we are honeymooning and they will start to act out a bit more as the months go by. I came to this country hearing horror story after horror story, but my 7th grade girls are so sweet. I could not feel more blessed in that regard.
The Bad (or Just Weird)
- People drive so dangerously here. They speed and tailgate and it makes for stress inducing commutes.
- Toilet paper is somewhat optional. In the city, in areas where expats and particularly Westerners are known to frequent, you’re okay. But otherwise, the preferred method of “cleansing” is a hose that is attached to the toilet. Let’s just say, that gets messy.
- This isn’t “bad” per se, but it has been interesting. Technically there is not supposed to be drinking and women are to dress conservatively (skirts, long sleeves, collarbone covered). However, it’s not actually practiced everywhere or in all circumstances. There are bars and unlimited cocktail brunches all over the place. Women go to clubs wearing things I would never wear even in the States. You have to learn to navigate the spaces. I’ve seen women in spaghetti strap tops and shorts in the mall, but I also know that sometimes local men will demand that they leave if dressed that way. Oh, and if you get into a cab wasted, you will be going to jail…for a while.
- People answer their phones no matter what. In the middle of teaching a class? Answer the phone. Middle of a meeting? Answer the phone. It’s rude not to answer here, but I am still trying to wrap my head around the idea that interrupting a meeting with me to answer your phone is not also rude. Meh. (shrugs shoulders)
- I won’t name names, but let’s just say that getting things delivered, set up, or installed can be a complete nightmare here. Take deep, deep breaths.
So there you have it. I apologize for the long-winded post, but it’s been a crazy month filled with lots of things to talk about. Let’s see what the next month brings! Inshallah, it will be good.