60 Days In

It’s hard to believe that I have been an expat for 60 days. Time sure flies when you’re having fun. School started last week, and I have struggled to get back in the groove of things. I’ve literally been off since May, so my body has been on vacation mode for quite some time. But, I shall be fine in due time.

Over the last 60 days, I’ve accomplished quite a bit including:

1. Officially becoming a resident of the UAE,

2. Moving into my apartment,

3. Venturing out and exploring my new home,

4. Creating some amazing bonds with other expats and locals,

5. Developing a new normal.

I’m so glad that I took this leap. Although everyday hasn’t always been full of glitter and roses, every hurdle that I’ve had to overcome has strengthened me in more ways than one. And for that, I am grateful.

To say that God has been faithful would be an understatement. There have been situations to arise where I not only felt His hand, but also literally saw His hand work things out in my favor. And for that, I am grateful.

Gallery

30 Days In

Today marks my one month anniversary as an expat. I’ve learned so much in the last thirty (30) days about people, my new home, and myself. This move was by far the biggest faith step that I’ve ever taken, and so far the step has been worth it. Has everything been perfect and worked out the way that I would have liked it? No. Have I had days where I thought I was crazy for making this move? Yes. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely!

Here’s to more amazing months, more great food, great friendships, and all that God has in store for me. Over the last month, I’ve taken lots of videos and pictures. Find the pictures below. As for the videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel (link attached).

YouTube Channel

Until next time, enjoy some of these pictures that I’ve taken over the last month.

Ending of a chapter; Beginning of a book

Today I resigned from the job that I’ve had for the last 7 years. I had already contacted my building principal and let her know my intentions. She was sad to see me go, but was very supportive. I sent out an email to the staff, as well as my previous grade level team. They were also very supportive. Of course some folks that I expected to care didn’t, but that’s cool too. 

There were many people that I shared a special bond with, and one of those people was our campus secretary, Anna Garcia. I texted her yesterday letting her know that I was resigning, and told her I would stop by today after turning in my paperwork. Big mistake! We both cried like babies, but it was needed. I hadn’t really processed the fact that I’m moving across the world in a little over a week. She and I have always been kindred spirits, and served as moral support to one another daily. I needed that cry. She hugged me and reassured me that I was doing the right thing. Sometimes, even with all the assurances in the world, it feels good to hear from a friend that you’re on the right track. Today was bittersweet. 

I still don’t have an actual ticket. I still haven’t started packing. Still have a few odds and ends things to do, but, I’m ready. Starting over can be very scary, but it’s always needed. 

Decisions. Decisions. 

So, over the past few months, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make. I’ve had to decide everything from whether or not to resign (and continue in this process), to what type of luggage to purchase, to how my husband and I will make things work, to what was best for my mom (since she lives with us), and the list goes on and on. The most recent decision I have had to make was between truly doing what I’ve always wanted to do career wise (be a college professor), or embark on this amazing journey to the UAE. Since my offer was rescinded last year, I wanted to make sure that I had a backup plan/Plan B if things were to change. So, I continued to apply for jobs. Never in a million years did I think that I would be offered the job of my dreams.

I’ve been applying for full time professor positions for several years, all pretty much to no avail. I’ve been able to land adjunct positions, but nothing full time. On May 12th of this year, I applied for one. That following Monday, I had an interview scheduled. The week after that, I had an amazing interview, and had a hunch that I would be offered the job. Fast forward several weeks down the line. The job was offered to me, and I was then placed in the decision-making chair. What to do, what to do? 

A few days ago, the official offer came to me with the salary attached. It was nearly $20K less that I was currently making as a high school teacher! I couldn’t believe it. What was I to do? I could accept the professor position with a lower salary, great benefits, and seemingly “arrive” at my career. Or, I could take the once in a lifetime opportunity to Abu Dhabi. I prayed, prayed some more, inquired from those who I trusted (spiritually), but still felt torn. 

As the days progressed, the more I felt a pull towards Abu Dhabi. Besides, had I worked my way up the professional ladder, acquired additional degrees and training, etc only to go back financially and back down the totem pole? That didn’t seem wise to me.  Nevertheless, I still couldn’t bring myself to a firm resolve in either direction. That was until I talked it over with my husband again. 

He sometimes says the simplest things, but they have the most profound meaning. We strategized and decided that he would stay behind until December, at which time I would come home for Christmas break, and we would go back together. But, towards the end of the conversation, he said something that stuck with me: “Do what makes you happy.” 

The more I thought about it, the more that I realized that much of my life, if not my entire life, I have done what others wanted me to do, or what would make others happy. I can probably count on one hand (with several fingers remaining) the number of things I have done in my life truly for me. Things that truly made me happy. But, I’m adding moving to Abu Dhabi to this list. I will be able to travel, pay off debt, get away from much of the craziness that currently exists in my life, and finally do something that makes NiaShanta happy. This is a scary, crazy feeling, but, I’m up for it. 

Can’t Explain This Feeling

As the end of this school year draws to a close, I’m finding myself in a funk of sorts. I can’t quite explain it. It’s a mixture of exhaustion, “over-it-ness,” anticipation, fear, and a strong desire to experience something new and different. I’ve been at my current school for seven years, and for the first time ever do I feel an undeniable peace to leave. Of course in the correct way because I do not believe in burning bridges, but the desire to leave is the strongest it has ever been. 

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been really hearing God in my spirit talking to me. He’s been telling me to jump. Jump into a new season. Jump into a new life. Jump out of the familiar. Jump into the uncertainty. Just jump. Dream. Live again. 

Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe I’ve just stopped living. Between a lot of external and extenuating circumstances with my home life and even some work stuff, I just feel stuck. Like I’m not moving. It sucks because that’s not who I am. That’s not who He designed me to be. I know there’s more to me. More to life. More. 

I’m hoping Abu Dhabi offers me the rejuvenation, re-boot, and revival that I need to live again. Because I need it. I need to live again. Believe in me again. Write again. Jump again. Breathe again. 

I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll end this post. But, needless to say, I’m feeling some type of way these days. 

2nd Time Around Part 2

I knew that I would want to reapply. After all, I had mentally prepared myself to leave the states. So, I was on the hunt again. 

I ended up returning to my school (good thing I hadn’t resigned), and was able to continue to work extra duties for extra funds. I was also able to eliminate some debt that would have otherwise been lingering over my head while overseas. God surely works in mysterious ways. 

By the end of 2016, I had secured several interviews for 2017, had been offered a few private school gigs (that I would ultimately turn down), and was looking forward to undergoing the interview process yet again. 

Fast forward to February 2017. I had two (2) interviews scheduled in Houston: one with Edvectus for a private school position, and one with Teachaway. My Teachaway interview was during the week, so I had to make plans to leave heading down after work one day. The Edvectus interview was on a Saturday, so that didn’t pose much of a problem. 

Both interviews went really well. I was offered both positions. Both had appealing packages, as well as pros and cons with both. 

Some of the pros and cons of Edvectus: 

  • I knew where I would be placed and what grade I would be teaching, 
  • The salary was almost $1,000 less with Edvectus, but all utilities were paid, and the apartment was furnished, 
  • The school was fairly new, and I had been tentatively offered a leadership position within the school, 
  • A good friend of mine (Hey Kway) had moved to the exact region where I would be teaching, and was fairly familiar with the school, 
  • I would be able to leave when I wanted to, which would eliminate the waiting game. 

So, I had in my mind decided that Edvectus was a go. That was until I reached out to one of the ladies who had recently gone over to the UAE. Her offer had also been rescinded with mine last year, but she had secured a private school position. I asked her if she knew anything about the school and placement that I had been offered. Boy did she give me an ear full! After that exchange, my zeal and enthusiasm about accepting that position was pretty much extinguished! So, back to the notebook of pros and cons. 

Some of the pros and cons of the Teachaway position: 

  • I was familiar with the process and what to expect, 
  • All my documents had been authenticated and scanned, and were ready to be sent, 
  • The salary was much higher. Since I had another year of teaching at my current school, that also boosted the salary, 
  • I’d made friends and contacts with lots of folks working within the program since we had initially started the process together. They would be (and had been) my support system. 
  • Though much regarding the departure was unknown, I’d have contact with many people who had recently completed the process and could walk me through it. 

I had a serious decision to make. I talked over the pros and cons with my husband, and prayed on it. Both offers had to be decided upon on the same day. I ultimately turned down the position with Edvectus and returned my signed offer letter to Teachaway. Was I crazy? I deduced that ultimately God was in control, and prayed that the same thing wouldn’t happen twice. 

2nd Time Around Part 1

It’s been quite some time since I’ve last posted. Needless to say, a lot of has happened. For starters, I’m still in the Lone Star state, when by my calculations, I should be in the UAE. Things did not go as planned last year. 

On June 7, 2016, myself along with an unknown number of others received an email from our recruiters. For unknown reasons, our offers had been rescinded. At the time of the email, I was in Washington D.C. participating in an annual leadership conference for high school students. Needless to say, at that very moment, I couldn’t break down, cry, scream, or really show any emotion because there were 15 exuberant teenagers looking to me for guidance, direction, and hope. So, I did what every “strong” person does: suck it up, smile, and keep moving. My husband was also present with me at the conference. I showed him the email, and he was as equally disturbed as I was. He told me that I needed to find out what was going on. So, I found a way to sneak away for a minute. I logged onto the FB hopefuls group that had served as my insight into the UAE, and saw a flood of posts from others who had also been affected. 

Before I could reach out to my placement coordinator, she was calling me from Canada. She wanted to know if I had gotten the email, and if I had any questions. She also wanted to reassure me that I wasn’t the only person, that this had never happened before, and there were supposed plans in place to prioritize and transition those who had been affected to similar programs. By this time, the reality had set in that my plans to leave would likely not happen, or that maybe it wasn’t meant to be. My emotion finally got the best of me that night as I lay alone in my assigned dorm room at Georgetown University. I remember crying out to God asking why this had happened to me, how I should proceed, and if continuing to pursue this opportunity was even worth it. 

I was in for a ride that I definitely had not planned for.