Last week we officially reached six months living in the UAE. What a fast six months they have been! When I consider that this time last year, we didn’t yet know that Tony would get the job here and we had yet to start the process of listing our house for sale, packing/donating/selling our things, or any of the other steps involved in moving across the world (PAPERWORK) — well, let’s just say that I have a lot of pride about how we handled ourselves and took risks over this past year. Those risks have paid out plenty of rewards.
Suffice it to say, we’re happy here. Tony continues to enjoy his job and I really feel like I’m hitting in a stride in mine. Transitioning from working mom to SAHM was more difficult than I anticipated — because it was something I wanted, I thought it would be easy and that I’d find a rhythm to my days quickly and effortlessly. That wasn’t the case! But here we are, and I feel like Matteo is absolutely blossoming — learning more every single day. I love that I’m a big part of that growth. In many ways, Abu Dhabi is feeling like “home” far more than Arizona did when we made that move back in 2007.
Reaching the six month mark also means that Tony is through his initial probation period at work. Neither of us had any worries about reaching this milestone as work has been going well, but its still a nice marker to reach. We’re starting to make plans for the coming year (for those with careers in education, “year” almost always refers to the school year) and we’re planning out a *hopeful* preschool program for Matteo, job opportunities for me, and (of course) new travel locations. With our winter break in France/Switzerland already in planning mode, we’re left with the Eid holiday in September, spring break 2017, and summer break 2017 for which to consider travel plans. Tony and I are having so much fun plotting down our lists of countries/cities we most want to visit, all the while realizing how incredibly lucky we are to be in this position.
In light of our inaugural half year as expats, and because I know that I often go on and on about how awesome life is here in the UAE, I thought I’d list out some of the things we miss most about the US. I hope it goes without saying that, of course, topping this list is our families and friends.
Things most missed about the US:
- Target (and convenience shopping in general). Target is magical for so many reasons, not the least of which is this: It turns out I really like being able to purchase kids craft supplies, groceries for dinner, and a t-shirt I neither need nor will wear more than once all in one trip. While the UAE is known for shopping, the convenience of one stop shopping here just isn’t the same as the US.
- Amazon. Similar to the above, we miss having the ability to find something we need on amazon.com and having the convenience of prime shipping to have it at our door in a matter of days. We have a US forwarding shipping address, so technically we can shop on amazon if needed, but international shipping rates + taxes + customs costs mean we think carefully before shipping anything to Abu Dhabi.
- Driving. I don’t have my license here yet (it’s been translated into Arabic, I just need to physically go to the BMV equivalent to stand and line and pay for my UAE license). I miss the freedom of a car, and the experience of driving. Luckily, we chose our neighborhood well and Matteo and I can walk most everywhere we need to go on a daily basis — and for everything else, taxis are plentiful.
- Addresses and clear directions. America has this part RIGHT. It is still strange to me that there aren’t really mailing addresses here. Directions are all land mark based, as in “I live in the white villa at the northeast corner behind the Ace Hardware,” I miss simply being able to plug in to Google maps a physical, numbered street address and getting reliable directions.
- Climate. We lived in a small town northeast of Phoenix before moving here, so I thought I was used to heat — and I was. What I am not used to is heat AND humidity combined. It’s March, but the heat is coming already (the humidity never really went away, but wasn’t bothersome with lower temperatures). I am concerned about how I will keep Matteo happy and entertained when it gets too hot to be outside.
- Scheduling. It was something we warned about, but its true that scheduling an appointment (like when we were getting our internet set up) was a PIA. “We will be there today, inshallah,” basically means “if we get around to it,” If you think cable companies’ window of Noon-6 PM is bad, you have no idea.
Those are all terribly minor complaints though, and for every annoyance there are many more things that make us very, very happy to be here. One we’ve talked about before, but can’t overstate, is the abundance of quality time we have to just be together as a family. It’s amazing! Tony is home mid afternoon everyday and doesn’t bring work home with him. Can you understand what a change that is from our lives a year ago? Not to mention, that I’m home full time with Matteo — a change that has benefitted our entire family!
Yes, we sure are glad to find ourselves as expat residents of Abu Dhabi.