Friday, August 12, 2016

Today is a big day!

Greetings everyone,

Today is the day! Wheels up in...

Until next time... Happy Days! -Ashley

Thursday, August 4, 2016

It's official, I'm leaving!

Greetings everyone,

Well the time has come! Yesterday around 6:40 AM central time, 2:40 PM Abu Dhabi time, I received my flight itinerary and e-visa  (work entry permit). Barring any booking issues, I'm scheduled to fly out of Birmingham, AL, USA Friday, 12 Aug 2016 (gotta get used to writing the date like this). I'll fly from BHM airport to DFW (Dallas). Then I'll board a 15 hour flight that will take me non-stop to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates  (UAE).

I have confirmed all the details (name spelling, DOB, passport #, etc.) is correct. Now I wait on the travel agency to send me my official e-ticket.

Woohoo! Now, to finish packing...

Happy Days!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Yay! I'm in group 2!

Greetings everyone,

So the time has come. I received an email today notifying me I would be traveling with group 2. People are brought over in groups as their visas process. Well mine has apparently processed and cleared the immigration process. One of the recruiting agencies reported to its clients that group 2 would depart around August 11-13, 2016. So that means I have a little over a week if those dates hold firm.

If you're interested in joining my mass text group to receive text updates about when my plane takes off and when I land safely, please download the app below. Once you download the app, send me a message in the app so I can add you to the group chat. Also, if you don't have my phone number stored in your phone, the app won't work.

Google Play:

Apple App Store:

I will keep you all posted as I receive more info.

Until next time...

Happy Days!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Quick update

Greetings all,

The Facebook groups are buzzing as the 1st posts of people receiving their golden tickets (plane ticket & visa) are showing up. All of the posts I've read so far have folks flying out of their respective locations on 21 July 2016 (I have to get used to writing the date like that).
I am not in that number, and im ok with that. It gives me time to put things in order. People who are with the recruiting agency, Footprints, received a notice saying group 1 would travel between 21-23 July and group 2 will travel between 4-6 August. Teachaway, my recruiter, didn't send such a notice but instead the teachers are receiving their golden tickets.
Now, I could very well leave in group 2 or not. Lol. Only time will tell. I'll keep you all posted.

Until next time...
Happy days!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Updates: What's happening now?

Greetings everyone,

As July/August grows nearer, I am receiving more questions about when I'm leaving this country (USA). It's so hilarious to watch people's reaction when I say, "I don't know. Sometime between mid-August to mid-September barring any visa delays." Most people are astounded that I don't have all my ducks in a row. One of the first things that you're told when you apply for this position is to have lots and lots and lots and lots of patience.

We, as Americans, are accustomed to things going  a certain way, and when things don't go that way, we complain, threaten someone's job, are extremely rude to people, etc. And this works in a lot of cases. Well, that isn't the way of the world. Everyone isn't living in a "give it to me now" society. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is such a place. People believe in letting things happen organically. So, basically, what that means is:

  • I don't know my departure date. I may only have 48 hour notice to board a plane. 
  • People are brought over in groups. Last year there were about 7 groups that were brought over between August and November. I don't know what group I'm in, and I won't know until I receive my plane ticket which could be anytime between August and November. 
  • Yes I will have quit my job without the real promise of another. Technically I haven't signed a contract yet. (UAE law requires a medical test taken upon arrival be passed before the job offer is official.)
  • I don't know which part of the emirate of Abu Dhabi I'll be living/working in yet. (won't know until I get there) The emirate of Abu Dhabi is divided into three regions: 1. Abu Dhabi City (think of downtown), 2. Al Ain (think of the suburbs), & 3. Al Gharbia, also known as the Western region (think of the country). For more detailed view, see the map below. 
  • I don't know what grade I'll be teaching or at what school I'll be placed. 
  • I have an opportunity for someone else to do the worrying/planning. I'll be sent my plane ticket, and all I have to do is get on the plane. The bill is paid. The legwork is done. I must trust, which can be hard for so many. I'm normally a planner, but can go with the flow kind of person. So, I'm taking this opportunity to just let things be what they will be. The saying "Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be, will be) will be held near and dear to my heart. I'm hoping this will lead to a reduced stress environment. :) 

Now here's the real kicker! Over the past two weeks, about 20 people (that I know of, but the actual number is much more) have had their offers revoked. Meaning, they no longer have job offers in Abu Dhabi. Almost all of these people were scheduled to teach Cycle 2 & 3 English (middle & high school). Most were devastated. They are now stuck trying to find other positions within the UAE through private schools or the other government schools in the 6 other emirates. Yes, this is as bad as it sounds. Some of these people had quit their jobs, sold their homes and cars, and are broke because this process began for them in January (remember those who were delayed). So yes, some people who have been jobless for 8 months have had their offers rescinded. Yikes!! Some of the people I know have found other positions in the UAE, but most haven't. This truly breaks my heart, but I'm relieved that it wasn't me! 

I know you must be thinking, how can you continue on this path with so many unknowns and the threat of the offer being revoked? Well, truthfully, I have put it all in God's hands. Whatever he has for me, will be mine. A famous phrase in the UAE is insha'allah, which means if it's God's will, it will be done. Though my religion is different, I find a commonality in it with this phrase. I must have faith that God's plan will be done.  I know that he hasn't failed me yet, and he never will. 

So with a great amount of faith, I'm leaving all things familiar behind to pursue a dream and a chance at a better quality of life! 

Stay tuned for my next steps in getting my life together for this move. 

Until next time...

Happy Days!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

More Preparation

The time has officially come and gone. Kevin and I turned in the required 60 day notice for our apartment.

Flashback to mid-May...

I went by the leasing office to find out what we would have to pay because we would be terminating our lease about a month early. Well, the leasing agent and assistant manager on duty told me the fee would be in my lease, but since I don't had a month and 3 days on my lease (after the date of my notice), I would probably only have to pay August rent and prorated rent for September. So I left the office to actually pen my 60-day notice.

I returned to the office a couple weeks later to actually turn in the 60-day notice and to get clarification on the early termination fee for my lease. You see, I had reviewed my copy of my lease and found an astronomical figure equal to two months rent. I had to be reading incorrectly! I don't even have 2 months left on my lease after my notice.

Lo and behold, the figure was correct. But God...

As long as I give a 60-day notice, I am exempt from the termination fee! I just have to pay July's rent as planned.

Cue holy dance!! I had to use some serious restraint to keep from shouting all over that ladies office. LOL.

Moral of the story:

  1. God is AWESOME!
  2. Read your lease carefully. I just missed the sentence about the 60 day notice. 

With this new information and a thankful spirit, Kevin and I will prepare to move into my grandmother's hotel. Opps, I mean house until I receive my Golden Ticket (precious plane ticket and entry visa). :-)

Until next time...

Happy Days! -Ashley

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sorting out the banking situation

Greetings everyone!

Since today is my second day off (1st without other plans), I'm trying to get more of my checklist done. That's definitely easier said than done as my bed has been calling my name all day long. It is especially hard not that I've found this Harry Potter marathon on Freeform. LOL. Such is life.

Well, I did manage to write the post about our legal documents. Yay! Then I needed to call my bank, Regions, to find out about international wire transfers. Got that done too!! Woohoo, I'm on a roll.

Here's the details on that phone call.

I can transfer money from my NBAD account (National Bank of Abu Dhabi) for a fee of course. Incoming transfers are $18 each (from Abu Dhabi, UAE to Alabama, USA). Outgoing transfers  are $45 each (from Alabama, USA to Abu Dhabi, UAE). The exchange rate changes daily based on the market. Today's exchange rate is:

After 5:00 rolled around, I realized I forgot to ask if the wire transfers could be done via my online banking account. Other than that the process seems simple enough, but I wonder if I can find cheaper fees at another bank or credit union.

That's next on the list. I guess I'll do that on Monday.

Until next time...

Happy Days!

Preparing our Legal Documents

Hello to all!

I've come to the point in my checklist where I am ready to take care of Kevin (the hubby) and I's legal documents. I've managed to complete our Last Will & Testaments. Surprisingly, it was pretty simple. I found a free template online, and just filled it in with our information. I had to tweak a few sections due to our individual needs, but for the most part, I didn't have to think hard at all.

My next step is to research whether or not living wills, also known as advanced health care directives, are needed since we're still young and don't have any debilitating conditions or terminal diagnoses. I found a free template just in case it is something we need.

Until next time...

Happy Days!

Friday, May 13, 2016

YouTube is Awesome!

I've had a great time the past few days exploring videos related to Abu Dhabi on YouTube. Well, I found a couple of videos that might interest you as well.

First, here's a video of what my apartment could look like. This person is in a suburb of Abu Dhabi. The accommodations vary greatly depending on what region one is place in (Abu Dhabi City/suburbs, Al Ain, and Al Gharbia-sometimes referred to as the Western region).

Next, here's a video of a person's experience flying over to Abu Dhabi. What's cool about this video is he shows a glimpse of what his hotel room looks like.

Here's an example of an apartment/flat in the Al Ain region.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find an example in the western region. Sorry.

Overall, it looks like Kevin and I could be placed in any of the 3 regions as we don't have any children, yet... Most people with children are placed in Abu Dhabi City or Al Ain. Singles and couples can be placed anywhere. If I had to choose, I think I'd vote for Al Ain or Abu Dhabi City. The western region has less to offer as far as entertainment/things to do are concerned. I plan to have an active life. It would be nice to be within a short drive or walking distance to those type of things.

Until next time...

Happy Days! -Ashley

Monday, May 2, 2016

Documents Submitted!

The day has finally come. I submitted my documents on April 17, 2016. Today, I received an email telling me that my docs have finally been submitted to ADEC! I'm so happy! This is a weight lifted off my shoulders!

Now, the REAL waiting begins, and I need to really get busy on my checklist. August 2016 will be here before I know it. I'm truly hoping to start my journey on time; however, I'm prepared for the worst. I'll keep you posted as I trudge through these next steps!

Happy Days! -Ashley

Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's the little things...

On one of the FB groups I follow diligently, a member posted a photo recently. She bought a key chain. Just a simple key chain that had her sorority's pink and green letters on it. Though these are obviously the wrong colors for me, I can appreciate her message. 

She said, "It just occurred to me that when I board the plane, I will not be taking any keys with me, so I just bought a new key chain to open all of the new doors I will get to open (literally and figuratively)."

This just spoke to me. I decided that I was going to our local specialty shop and get my own key chain (DST of course). I decided this and haven't told anyone. 

Well, I just stopped by to visit my mom and what did she have for me? A key chain! How could she have known!?!? Oh well, I'll take it! Thanks Mom! 

Until next time...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Delays, Delays, Delays

As Kevin and I plan for this journey, we learn more and more about the "Abu Dhabi" way. Americans live a very rushed, "I want it now!," lifestyles. One of the challenges/adjustments we have to deal with is timing. One phrase I'm getting to know is "Insha Allah" or "Insha'allah" which means "if God wills it." The culture and climate is less rush rush according to my research. 

Some expatriates, or expats, find this concept difficult to deal with as we're accustomed to a different mindset. However, I'm surprisingly looking forward to a slower paced lifestyle. The one thing I'm going to have to adjust to are the delays with governmental stuff. For example, beginning January 1, 2016, the United Arab Emirates had a new law regarding work visas for expats go into effect. 

What does that mean exactly? Well, here's an example. There are about 150 people who were supposed to leave for Abu Dhabi in JANUARY 2016. Yes, you read that correctly. Though delays are the norm, delays that long are not. Well, many reported in the recent weeks that they have received an email stating they they would not leave until August 2016! ARRGGHH! Now, what makes this difficult, is that these people have been without a job since last December. By the time they actually leave, they will have been out of work for 8 months. YIKES! 

Luckily, it seems the government is working on a solution to the problem faced by the companies hiring expats as well as the expats themselves. 

How does this affect Kevin and I? Well, our expected departure date is August/September 2016, but we're preparing for delays just in case. My research shows that in previous years most people were in Abu Dhabi by the end of October, beginning of November. However, the latest I've read about is the end of November. Either way, we have plans in place for survival. I'll be a substitute teacher since I will have to give notice at my current teaching post. Our apartment lease is up at the end of August; so we should be okay. But, if not, we're going to move in with someone. So don't everyone offer us their spare room all at once. LOL. 

Until next time...


Where is Abu Dhabi?

Since I've announced my big move, people have been skeptical. When you tell people you're moving the the Middle East, the reaction is always interesting. People have actually said things about me getting my head chopped off! 

Well, as I try to educate them about the area, some have their fears alleviated while others continue to try to "scare me straight." For my husband, Kevin, and I, this is a journey of faith. Most importantly, we know who supplies all our needs, and we have faith that the Lord will provide. 

So, for those of you who don't know much about the United Arab Emirates, visit this blog to watch a video about the country. 

Happy Days!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Checklists Galore

Hey folks!
While waiting on paperwork to be processed, I've been searching for other things that need to be done to prepare for the big move. Well, thanks to the many Facebook groups, I've found several "checklists." 

Here's the kicker; I'm not a naturally organized person. I have to really work at it. So I thought I had found a pot of gold with these checklists. Alas, I was wrong! Having multiple checklists was driving me crazy. I couldn't seem to keep anything straight. 

Solution! I combined them all into one working document. I'm going to share this document with you in  hopes that I will help you prepare for your journey. Link to my document:
I will also post the links to the other documents in case you would like to see them. I did consolidate some of the information. 

If you have any questions, additions, or deletions, please feel free to drop it in the comments or shoot me an email. 

Documents found in the file sections of the FB groups I belong to (a comprehensive list is at the end of the document linked above). 

Happy Days!