Tonight Jenia and I attended a snazzy welcome party for new ADEC teachers at the Rotana hotel in Al Ain. We met a few of the many new teachers on hand, and when a young lady named Kim asked for advice on how to make it here and survive the year to return for another, I told her this: “Go with the flow. Relax. Don’t worry about the pressure–it just doesn’t matter. Don’t let them stress you out.” Yeah, my biggest and best piece of advice is that pathetic. I mean, the best I can say is “roll with it, baby?” Pretty much, but I do emphasize the “it just doesn’t matter” part pretty heavily, too. Generally, we Western teachers have a work ethic and such that will more than get us by here, and if we just apply what we already know and don’t allow administrators to stress us out, we’ll be solid additions to the workforce. Oh, and, as one veteran teacher told me last year, “Take the tea” whenever it is offered by your Arab co-workers. Go have a chat, ignore whatever work you might have for a few minutes, and be social. That helps you build relationships, and those can be helpful (if not critical, in some cases) to succeeding at work.
One other thing that is an incalculably helpful resource–there is a group of expats called Al Ain Life (the ones that staged tonight’s get together) that has put together a truly splendid booklet offering insight into the whole residency process (how to get your electricity switched over to your name, for example), unraveling an extremely and unnecessarily complex part of settling in. We picked up a hard copy tonight at the event, and it’s wonderful. Al Ain Life (people we know personally, by the way) are more than happy to share a digital copy with you. If you’re interested, comment below, and we will sort out a way to get it to you.