Class of 2030

Yesterday, the class of 2030 received their first diploma, the Kindergarten Diploma. This group is like no other group I’ve taught before. This was one of the largest group students I’ve ever taught (I had 29 students up till Christmas) and one of the most diverse group of students. My 29 students held passports from 14 different countries. Besides English and Arabic being spoken at home there was also French, Portuguese, Russian and Malayalam. This year was definitely a challenge and they gave me a few more white hairs then I wanted…but as my students crossed the stage to get their diploma, all I could see was how much progress each of them made (some more than others).

This group is a talkative bunch, it doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday morning and they’re trickling into the classroom or Thursday afternoon and they’re getting dismissed…they’ll be talking about something. It doesn’t matter how often I try to separate certain ones, they’re like little magnets, they’ll always find each other and continue chatting away.

This group of mine, they love to dance. Because of them I’ve learned how to floss, dab (although I’ve been told it’s not cool anymore), and do the Fortnite dance. I also learned that the Cristiano Ronaldo move that he makes after he scores a goal is not a new dance move 🙄. But just as I learned new dance moves from them, they learned some from me. You’re welcome world, these kids can rock an amazing chicken dance, the Macarena (although they only know it as the Maxarena..thank you GoNoodle!), and some have graduated onto the running man.

Dear society, I’m releasing this fearless, loud, funny, artistic, inquisitive and sassy group of mine into your hands. Some cliff notes about them…for my fearless, they’re ready to take on the world at full force but even though they may seem like they have no fears, do check up on them every so often…everyone has doubts about themselves every so often. Some of them have this false bravado about themselves, please don’t see them as being cocky..they’re just trying to be as brave or as smart as their older siblings. For my timid ones, please be patient with them; it takes time to draw them out of their shells. Some of them will take up to spring break to stop crying in the morning. When given the chance they will surprise you on what they’ll be able to do.

Take care of them, these kids are ready to take on the world and are eager to show you what they got.

Love,

The Miss

Class of 2008

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10 years ago I graduated with my B.Ed. I had just come back from a year abroad student teaching overseas in Thailand and that August I was going to be moving to Cairo. In the past 10 years, I’ve moved from Thailand 🇹🇭 —> Egypt 🇪🇬—> South Korea 🇰🇷 —> Japan 🇯🇵 —> a year off in Canada 🇨🇦 —> United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪.

Never in a million years did I ever dream that teaching overseas would be a viable career. While living overseas often seems (and looks) like a dream, it definitely has it’s not often documented drawbacks (new currency conversions to remember, new grocery stores to find, missed birthdays, weddings, baby showers, etc.). BUT I’ve got to visit and explore so many countries. I’ve immersed myself in new cultures and languages completely foreign to me. I feel in love with tom kha gai from Thailand, koshari and shawarma from Egypt, dak galbi (sorry soju, you and I are never ever getting back together) from Korea, curry udon (and sushi obviously) from Japan and the delivery food services in the UAE.

But most importantly, I cherish the friends I’ve made overseas, the friends that became my second family, my traveling buddies, the ones to explore new cities and try new foods with, the ones that understand the frustrations of living overseas (Why can’t the construction around the apartments be finally done?!?) or understand the joy that a box of NORMAL kraft macaroni and cheese means. These teacher friends I’ve worked with are now scattered around the world, some back to their home countries, some teaching in different countries meaning possible new places to visit/stay OR even better a possible job connection. These are some of the reasons why living overseas has been an absolute wonderful and unforgettable experience.

evelyn

Turning 29 (again)

So I celebrated my second 29th birthday yesterday. It’s hard to believe that I’m actually the big 3-0. Last year I celebrated my birthday in Atlanta, we had left Florida after a two week trip and missed our connecting flight to Minneapolis so Delta put us up in a hotel in Atlanta. It wasn’t quite the 29th birthday celebration that I was expecting, but it was the first time in 7 years that I was celebrating my birthday with family. 365 days later I find myself celebrating my 29th birthday again in the UAE. 🙂 I honestly didn’t think that I would be celebrating my last 8 birthdays outside of Canada when I first started doing my teaching practicum in Thailand 8 years ago; I honestly thought it would just be a one year overseas gig before coming back to Winnipeg and settling down.

It can be hard celebrating birthdays overseas when you’re away from family and close friends. The last few years I’ve always hated having my birthday in October, especially if it was my first year in a new country. At that point you’ve only known people for about 6 weeks, so you’re still trying to figure out people. Trying to figure out who are the people that you can get along with, and who you should avoid. At the same time you’re still trying to figure out the city/area that you live in, trying to see where the good restaurants/bars are. So it can be stressful trying to figure out who/how to celebrate your birthday. The second year tends to better, especially if there’s a lot of friends that are part of the returning staff or friends outside of school are still in the country.

I was lucky because the Hijri New Year happened to fall on Oct 15th, my birthday present from the country was a long weekend Thank you, I appreciate the unexpected day off. There was conflicting rumours going around the school that because of the New Year, the whole country was going to be dry (aka, not serving alcohol) so I kept it classy, and had dinner at a Thai restaurant with friends. I’ve come to realize that after living in Tokyo, my ability to stay out late and party has gone down hill. I totally blame Tokyo’s last train at midnight and me refusing to stay out till first train at 5:30 for my inability to party hardy like I did when I was living Egypt and South Korea. I remember nights in Egypt where I used the first call to prayer as a sign that it was time to go home, now being in bed by 10:30 is my goal on a week night. Maybe it’s a sign of maturing…but considering I was just laughing my ass off watching the mutant spider dog videos (youtube it) while eating birthday flavoured Oreos, that’s probably not it.

Weekend of Thanks

So it’s Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, and unfortunately we don’t get the Monday off at the school. But to compensate I’ve eaten a lot in the last 48 hours. The Canadian Business Council hosted a Thanksgiving Brunch on Saturday, and the Canadian staff at the school hosted a Thanksgiving “All Day Feast”, There is so much food in the staff room, that I’m really glad my classroom is a bit further away from there. We have turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato, stuff, other delicious and healthy stuff like salad and carrots. And of course pumpkin pie, I don’t think any Thanksgiving is complete without pumpkin pie. 😋So to say that I’m full might be an understatement, the food baby is definitely back and a sure sign that I need to start eating healthy….after I finish this second plate of mashed potatoes and stuffing. 🙂

So let me end this off with my Thanks, I’m thankful for being able to be in a new country. New adventures, new cultures, new food. I’m also thankful for working at a school with staff that knows how to roast a turkey 🙂

Thanksgiving lunch at the Beach Rotana hosted by the Canadian Business Council.

Thanksgiving lunch at the Beach Rotana hosted by the Canadian Business Council.

The Canadian staff all chipped in a made a feast. Not seen is the table of desserts.

The Canadian staff all chipped in a made a feast. Not seen is the table of desserts.

Thanksgiving Lunch at school.

Thanksgiving Lunch at school.

Travel Tuesday: Sagano Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, outside Kyoto, Japan. March 2013.

Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan. March 2013.

Just west of Kyoto, there is this area called Arashiyama. Arashiyama is most noted for the Iwatayama Monkey Park and the bamboo forest. The bamboo forest is this beautiful forested area of bamboo. If you’re lucky you can walk throughout the whole forest and only see a handful of people. I’ve gone twice, once in December and the second time in March. I definitely preferred going in March as the colours seemed more vibrant, the weather was nicer and we had more hours throughout the day to explore. But that being saidI would love to go back during a summer month to see the colours even more vibrant throughout the bamboo forest.

I added this picture with the people to give a reference on how tall these beautiful bamboo trees are.

a recap of the last three weeks

My plan of at least recapping my week has been a failure so far, life has been hectic. Since writing about my day trip to Dubai, I’ve managed to get sick twice (kids are germy), stuff myself with delicious traditional Arabic food, go the Gold Class movies, go to Oman for the day, have my first holiday (Eid), had a bed party, go to a beach club AND kick off the start of October with a Bon Jovi concert! Still with me? Totally confused? Let me help rewind and explain what I’ve been up to for the last three weeks.

September 18: Gold Class Movies

In Canada, there’s the VIP movie options, the ones with the recliners, better snacking/dining options and the option to have booze. They have the same thing here in Abu Dhabi (minus the booze of course). Went and saw Everest and it was such a great experience.

Gold Class Movies

September 18: Watching Everst at the Gold Class Movies

Recognize these buildings?

September 19: Oman for the Day

September 19: Oman

A long day that I hope I don’t have to repeat too often. A funny sign that we passed on our way to Oman.

September 23-26 Eid Al Adha

Since it took so long for the country to finalize the dates for Eid Al Adha, it made booking any trips really difficult. By the time it was finalized, the prices has risen so much that it made more sense to have a Stay-Cation and “save” some money.

September 23: Bed Party Basically movies and breakfast food all day. We started off with the classic, Breakfast Club, then moved on to 10 Things I Hate About You, and then Pitch Perfect.

September 24: Saadiyat Beach Club

September 24: Saadiyat Beach Club

September 24: Saadiyat Beach Club

October 1: Kicking off October with a bang!

Bon Jovi concert. So much fun. What a great first concert in Abu Dhabi experience. Next week Dave Matthews is in Abu Dhabi as well, and I have tickets to go. I don’t know as much of their songs as I do with Bon Jovi. But I guess I have a week to start listening and familiarizing myself with their work.

October 1: Bon Jovi in the UAE. Under the open sky.

October 1: Bon Jovi in the UAE. Under the open sky.

October 1: Bon Jovi in the UAE. Under the open sky.

October 1: Bon Jovi in the UAE. Under the open sky.

Travel Tuesday: Thailand Paradise

Maya Beach, Ko Phi Phi, Thailand. December 2009

A longtail boat at Maya Beach, Ko Phi Phi Leh, Thailand. December 2009

Thailand holds a very special place in my heart. I did my final teaching practicum for 10 months in Thailand. It was the first time I actually lived on my own and it was the time where I actually traveled extensively. During those 10 months I traveled throughout Thailand but also got a chance to visit Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. I fell in love with the great food in Thailand, the mountains in the north, the beaches in the south and the temples (and shopping) in between. I was definitely heart broken when I left Thailand and wasn’t sure when I would ever get a chance to go back. 2 years later when co-workers in Egypt were talking about going to Thailand for Christmas, I quickly jumped on that band wagon and looked forward to spending Christmas on a beautiful beach. Even though I lived in Thailand for 10 months it still wasn’t enough time to go and see all the beautiful beaches that Thailand has to offer so I was pretty excited when we decided that we would go to Maya Beach on Ko Phi Phi Leh as that was one of the islands that I didn’t get a chance to check out during my 10 months in Thailand. There are two ways to get to Maya Beach, either by a speed boat or a longtail boat pictured above. We arrived by longtail boat as it was part of our beach and snorkelling package. It was a glorious day of being a beach bum and snorkelling.

There was talks of going to Thailand for the Eid Al Adha break, but unfortunately it ended up being a 4 day holiday instead of the rumoured 9 day break. While it would have been fun to go back to Thailand, eat my fill of pad thai and tom kha gai, do some cheap shopping and be a beach bum, it just wouldn’t be enough time for the 4 days that we’ve been given off. Instead of traveling for my first break, I’ve decided to stay in Abu Dhabi as part of my stay-cation; explore the city I live in first before exploring other parts of the world. I’m excited about this 4 day break, I kicked it off by getting a pedicure at a nearby place and there are plans of taking advantage of the pool at the apartment and possibly even a massage on Thursday.

Thailand will always hold a special place in my heart and I will always love the opportunity to go back. So who knows maybe I’ll go back within the next couple of years.

Travel Tuesday: Fanoos Lanterns

Fanoos Lanterns. Cairo, Egypt. September 2009.

Fanoos Lanterns. Cairo, Egypt. September 2009.

I was looking through old pictures when I stumbled upon this picture of a fanoos lantern that I took exactly 6 years ago when I was living in Cairo. 6 years ago on this exact date, I was in Egypt but hadn’t actually started teaching yet. 6 years ago, cases of Swine Flu going around the country and with the Eid break happening we actually didn’t start work till Sept 29. So during that month of no school, we had a orientation for two weeks and then I ended up going to Botswana and Zimbabwe to go Chobe National Park and Victoria Falls a few days after this picture was taken.

I fell in love with these fanoos lanterns, these beautiful lanterns would hang from trees in clusters or big ones would stand guard outside doorways in the area I lived. Just looking at this picture reminds of me of such good memories that I had when I lived in Egypt. When I realized that I was coming back to the middle east, I was hoping to see some fanoos lanterns, but it seems like it’s more of an Egypt thing. Looks like I’ll have to head back to Egypt next year during Ramadan to appreciate these beautiful lanterns.

Visiting Dubai

Burj Khalifa at night.

Yesterday I got a chance to head to Dubai for the day. Dubai is about an hour, hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi. We left in the afternoon, so that we could see the Burj Khalifa at night time with the fountain show. Our first stop was heading to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah where there’s supposedly beautiful waterways between the buildings around the area and a stunning view of the Burj Al Arab, I saw supposedly because right now the waterways are under renovation/construction so parts of the waterways were dammed up and huge cranes were on site and marred the view of the Burj Al Arab. After doing some shopping we had a quick lunch at got out of the Souk Madinat Jumeriah before our free 2 hours parking expired.

Since you can’t get into the Burj Al Arab unless you’re staying at the hotel or dining at the restaurants, we did the next best thing which was drive along the public beach BESIDE the Burj Al Arab and took pictures. Hopefully I’ll have a chance one day to actually go in the hotel. Since rooms start at 5490 Dirhams per night (that’s almost $2000 CAD) I’ll probably have to settle with just dining at the hotel.

After seeing the Burj Al Arab we headed over to the Dubai Mall to do some window shopping and pretty much killed time until the sun set so we could go outside to see the Dubai Fountain show in front of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Maybe it’s because we went on a Friday evening, but the mall was pretty packed. The only thing I ended up buying at the mall was popcorn from Garrett Popcorn shop. I remember living in Tokyo and being in Harajuku when Garrett had recently opened, the shop was pretty small, but the line up to get into the store was super long and continued to be long months after the store open. So after seeing those long lines, I wasn’t too sure if I wanted to both trying it. My friend convinced me to buy some yesterday and while I’m still not completely convinced yet.

After we deemed it dark enough we headed outside and made our way towards the fountain show and tried to fit the whole Burj Khalifa into the whole frame of my camera. It was a bit difficult but I somehow managed to fit the whole thing in. After seeing the two fountain shows we made our way back to Abu Dhabi with a quick stop at Ikea. Anyways here’s some of the pics from yesterday’s adventure.

Burj Al Arab

Burj Al Arab. I can’t wait to come back on a less hazy day.

It's a gold vending machine. I didn't even look at the prices, I was just so shocked that they had one.

It’s a gold vending machine. I didn’t even look at the prices, I was just so shocked that they had one.

Burj Khalifa during the day

Burj Khalifa during the day

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15! My friend had told me during her previous trips to Dubai she had seen 1 a few times. We had no such luck this time, but it was still pretty exciting to see 15.

Timmies in Abu

Timmies in Abu

Timmies in Abu

Shockingly I’m not a huge Tim Hortons fan. I actually prefer Starbucks coffee over Tim Hortons but that saying I do like Timmies’ iced cappuccinos and their doughnuts. Over the years I’ve started collected Starbucks mugs from the countries I’ve lived in (I didn’t do countries I’ve visited, because I would probably run out of cupboard space in my nonexistent house), the only one I’m missing is my Egypt one; hopefully I’ll be able to head back to Egypt for a visit, and a stop at Starbucks. But since seeing this mug I decided to make the exception and add this Tim Horton’s mug to my little family of coffee mugs from around the world. No worries, I’ll probably add the Starbucks ones too. 😉