I feel I am starting to wear out the floor between the guest room at my parent’s house and their office, which has been taken over by my things, as I begin to pack again. Packing is not an easy task, whether it be for two weeks, two months or two years. Packing always pulls me into a bit of nostalgia. Items remind me of certain times, places and people. The act of packing here in these same rooms as two years ago also reminds me of the start of my journey to the UAE and to my career as an “international educator.”
Thinking back, I feel I was very well prepared for my move to the UAE. Especially because I was part of various Facebook groups that provided more information than I would ever actually need. At the time, I had no idea how helpful (and later on annoying) those Facebook groups would be to me in the move to the UAE. And yet, there are so many things about living and working in the UAE, for ADEC and in Al Ain that no one could ever explain. You wouldn’t believe them or really even have the capacity to understand without actually experiencing it for yourself.
I haven’t had time to fully digest all that occurred over the last two years, and I hope that what I take with me from those years are only the good, funny and down-right shocking memories and none of the sad, negative or less than exciting ones. However, people often ask what it was like to work for ADEC, to work in Al Ain, to just be in the UAE in general. These are over-whelming topics to discuss so fresh off the experience. But I do have a few thoughts.
My experience with ADEC in Al Ain wasn’t a wholly positive one. My life outside of work, in Al Ain, was excellent. But, work was 7 hours a day, five days per week, and for me to be unhappy at work was difficult. I am glad I went back for a second year because it was much, much better than the first year. But in the end, I felt like I was a glorified baby-sitter. I felt that, while my students were nice and for the most part inquisitive, to them I was just a place holder in a long day of “more important” classes. And for me, that simply wasn’t enough. Additionally, it is hard working in an environment where it is clear that most people do not want you there, and while this too changed over the two years, it never fully went away. (I have strong opinions about this too, but that is for a whole different post, that I’m sure I’ll never write.)
I think that most people who are looking for an adventure, to learn about a new culture, to experience the world, etc., will enjoy life in the UAE for at least two years and I think overall ADEC as in institution is a good employer. But if you are considering a job with ADEC, please do your homework. Join the Facebook groups and read the threads, ask questions and inform yourself. A good place to start is here: ADEC Info Center. This is a very well written blog about the pros & cons, ups & downs of working for ADEC.