The Difference in Beginning Year 2 Teaching Overseas vs Year 1

When I first arrived in Doha in 2016 I had no idea what to expect except for what I had read online and conversations I had with a future colleague, Yanna and the (at that time) H.R. Representative Suleiman.  The first year was spent learning my way around and adapting to a new culture, eating-a lot, video calling, traveling, making new friends and of course working.  I was on an emotional rollercoaster.  The beginning of the second year for a teacher overseas is very different than the first.  It is easier.  Friendships and connections are already made, your housing is already established, you know your administration (granted it hasn’t changed, mine did not), you are more comfortable with the culture and all your paperwork is complete.  Thank God, that awful paperwork to get you established in a new county is done.  

So how did the beginning of year 2 go for me?

Work

I’m still teaching first grade.  I couldn’t leave first grade if I wanted to, not that I wanted to, because I was the only first grade teacher who remained in Qatar at my school.  Last year, I was the only new one; this year I’m the only old one minus the two Arabic teachers.  Since there are 3 new first grade teachers, a new math teacher and a new Islamic teacher, that’s a whole new team btw, administration made me grade team lead. That doesn’t mean more money, nope no raise, it does mean more work for me, but it also means another accomplishment to add to my resumé.  A new group of teachers meant saying good bye to many old faces.  I miss you Reem! IMG-20170817-WA0004

A new school year also means a new group of students, like a box of chocolate, you never know what your’e going to get.  What can I say about my new students so far, well, I loved my class last year.  Like teaching anywhere in the world, one year you love your class, the next year, well…we shall see how the year progresses.  I was just kinda asked, but not really, to take a student from another class that is not adjusting well and it’s only two weeks in.  My teacher readers out there know what I’m hinting at.  Pray for me, this may be a long year.

Acquaintances 

It is hard and extremely uncomfortable for grown-ups to make new friends.  Do I ask him/her out?  Does he/she drink?  Is he/she slimy?  Ugh, she is too flirtatious around other ladies men.  Does she/he have little kids?  Does he/she drink?  Is she messy?  Oh my god, she/he talks too much.  Blah, Blah, Blah, you get the picture.  I was fortunate to click with a few people last year and we are pretty much okay with our group.  I believe that I am a pretty social person but I never had a lot of close friends, so the need for them was never a high priority either but when you live overseas, you need friends.  All you got is each other.   With that being said, I love my group of friends here.  The majority of us are married, half have kids and the others don’t.   The newbies seem okay too.  I am also happy that Darryl gets along with the husbands of my friends.

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Speaking of acquaintances, when you are a famous blogger like I am… Joking!  However, I’ve been lucky enough to have helped a few people on their journey to teach overseas and I’ve even met and gone out with a few.  At our all teacher orientation this year, I was speaking with another teacher that happened to know me from a facebook group that I am a part of and she happened to work with a new teacher that I helped through my blog.  She said the teacher had been looking for me and she took me to her.  Low and behold, it was Badia.  Badia had been following my blog for some time and we were corresponding via email about teaching here.  She got the job and she was at the orientation.  When we saw each other, it was perfect.  Hugs, more hugs and OH MY GOD’S! We were even wearing the same colors.  Aren’t we beautiful! 20170817_100637

Then there’s Nancy.  Nancy and I interviewed for Abu Dhabi together before I came here. I forwarded her resumé to my supervisor and now she works at my school.  She and her husband joined us for brunch over the weekend.  20170901_122236

Leisure

I haven’t done much since I’ve been back.  It’s too hot to do any outdoor activities.  We’ve gone to a few gatherings and brunches.  I’m training for a 5K, with an app, running and walking indoors in our gym and swimming a lot.  I’m getting better at my vegan diet with Darryl cooking all of my meals.  20170904_124716I’m down to only one day of fish or seafood and soon I will be a complete vegan.  I guess we are a pretty boring couple but we are a couple that spent a year apart so we are spending a lot of time watching our favorite shows and catching up and bonding.

So the beginning of year 1 was about adjusting, stress and formalities.  The beginning of year 2 is more about acceptance.   Hey this is the middle east, welcome to year 2!

I guess 3 times is a Charm

Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday. I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this…

Dear Kennesha,

Teach Away would like to congratulate you on receiving a letter of offer from the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). Please be advised that signing a letter of offer secures your position for an August Term 2016start, provided you meet all visa requirements….”
Finally, I got my offer letter from ADEC yesterday.  I know I already accepted a position with Qatar so why am I so happy to get this… Well if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’ve applied to teach in Abu Dhabi three times.  I was turned down twice and low and behold, they said YES, on the third try.

The other teachers that I speak to on occasion through text also received their offers.  Congratulations Nancy.

The wait was so long….But I am sincerely happy for them! I can always visit my new friends in Abu Dhabi.

In the meantime, the paperwork continues for Qatar.  One of the most daunting task has been schooling for the boys.  I have applied for admissions for them at Qatar Academy Doha and at GEMS for my youngest son, since GEMS only goes up to 10th grade at this time. I’ve also received an email from Qatar Academy Sidra with the necessary paperwork to complete for enrollment.  I’ve looked at other schools too: American Community School of Qatar, American School of Doha.  But their tuition is above what Qatar Foundations will reimburse for tuition and that somewhat defeats the purpose of choosing Qatar so I will stick to where they will pay the tuition.

 

It is also difficult to process all the paperwork when you have to wait on businesses, postal service and other people.  Fortunately, my ex-husband and I are in an ok place.  I picked him up so that he and I could take care of the paperwork that needed his signature.  Without hesitation he handed over his passport so I could make a copy (yes they requested a copy of my ex-husband’s passport to confirm signature matches); he signed the applications for new passports for the boys; he signed the letter saying he gives permission for me to sponsor my boys in QATAR.  Now that the letter is signed and I located our divorce degree, I have to send them off to be translated into Arabic.  Once they come back, I can send them off with the other documents to be authenticated.

My new passport arrived yesterday with 24 pages, more room for stamps.  I am hoping the boys passports arrive within the next few days.  I need their birth certificates to go in the stack of papers needing to be authenticated.  They had to be sent away with the passport applications. The boys have both gotten their physicals and blood work back.  Mine is complete; I just have to go back to the doctors to have him complete the paperwork, since the lab forgot to check for my blood type, and since it had been more than 72 hours, I had to go back and get poked again. !OUCH!  My husband still has to get his blood work done. My FBI and criminal history report has arrived.  Still waiting for Darryl’s Criminal history report to arrive. The boy’s current schools sent over their transcripts and grade reports.  I am still waiting for the charter school that they attended 2 years ago to respond to my email for their grade reports.  That is the difference in Private and Public schools, Professionalism and ease of receiving responses.  The boys need 3 years of grades.  I will probably just wind up locating their report cards from 2 years ago.

I’ve told my jobs that I won’t be returning for Fall.  Thank goodness I don’t burn bridges when it comes to money, because they told me I can always come back.  I’ve also told the teachers I coach and the principal at the school.  Needless to say they were all happy and excited for me.

In the meantime, I am trying to get my house in order, cleaning, buying bins, organizing. My basement is full of early learning and elementary supplies.  This is giving me an excuse to CLEANU UP.  I’m also shopping for 100% cotton, rayon and linen clothing.  This is giving me an excuse to SHOP.  Like I need an excuse for that.  lol. Till next time…

 

Boys or no boys

No word yet from Qatar Foundations or AUS (Kuwait) but I am 25% through my TEFL course with the University of Toronto.

I have been reading this blog http://www.abudhabiyew.wordpress.com.  The author is currently teaching in Al Ain and is from the UK.  Her blog is very informative as it begins when she first applied as does mine.  Like me, she didn’t put it out there until after she was offered a position.

I am noticing from reading other blogs that teachers don’t really talk much about what it’s like to teach over there.  I wonder why… I will have to look for more blogs and stories online about this.  I will be sure to discuss this if/once I am over there blogging.

I spoke to another teacher who taught in Abu Dhabi a few years ago.  She and I became Facebook friends when I applied the first time.  She got the job, I did not. She taught over there for a year and then came home because her mother was ill.  Her two young sons accompanied her.  I asked her for the true pros and cons.  This is what she said: Pros- The money is great and you get to travel.  Cons- You don’t know what you are going to get until you get there.  She said make sure I ask for Kindergarten.  (I did) She also recommended I not take me boys.  (What?) She said, girls adjust better than boys.  Another teacher took her sons and they did not do well at all, she said.  I would prefer not to leave my boys behind because part of the reason I am doing this is so that my boys can experience life somewhere else.  If I had to choose going over there with or without my boys I don’t know what I would do.

The decision is getting more difficult as I have given my oldest son the choice to go or not since he only has two years left at his high school and it is a great school. I prefer my boys be with.  I don’t know if I could go without them.  I can’t see myself not raising my own kids.
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