Middle Times

It’s past mid-term, and in a term with only one day off in 12 weeks, everyone at work is tired.  The students are tired of coming to school, the teachers are tired (especially the ones in the English department, who have to cover for each other when someone is out), and everything seems to be sagging just a bit.

I’ve been sick, which is never fun, and although I did visit a doctor and get the requisite note to be sure I will be paid for the days I took off last week (which then has to be scanned and uploaded onto ADEC’s website for approval by my principal first, and then afterward by someone I’ll never meet in some building I’ve never been to), I’ve spent a fair amount of time working when I probably should have been at home recuperating.

But as I said, we’re in the middle now, and these are the sorts of things a person goes through anywhere.  I am, like most everyone else, ready for a break.  In a month, we’ll get a couple weeks off between terms.  I can’t wait.


When I moved here almost two years ago, I couldn’t help but compare everything to home. I had traveled quite a lot, and spent plenty of time in foreign countries, but I found the UAE a difficult place to live. The bureaucracy was frustrating, and the sheer ineptitude that became obvious in some quarters was aggravating. The driving was terrifying. The heat almost unbearable at times. The job–wow. I found myself very easily caught up in the spiral of frustration and negativity that causes many newcomers to leave the area, walking away from their employment contracts.

The comparison game is a part of moving abroad for the first time, and I don’t think it can be helped. But keeping in mind that all the frustrating and aggravating things are actually part of the reason you move, that is, to experience a new place, pitfalls and all, improves your mindset some.

And it also helps to remember that life at home is filled with trials and tribulations, too. They’re familiar ones, but not necessarily less irritating.

If you’re an expat reading this blog, what kinds of frustrations do you face, or did you face when you first relocated? I would like to see a list of things–balanced by a list of similar ordeals back home.

I’ll start: I still find the sluggish pace that many citizens here stroll when they’re in the mall or other places an annoyance. They’re usually in gaggles, and I have to slow down, wait or say “excuse me,” or try to dodge the obstacles wasting and intruding into my spare time.

To balance that, the numbers of inconsiderately loud mall rat teenagers in the USA is plenty irksome. They intrude into my consciousness and bother me in a whole different way, their petty conversations, punctuated by an excess of “like” and “whatever” and “oh my god,” my personal least favorite Americanism, and etcetera lowering my IQ with every passing second, making my eyes cross and compelling me to duck into whatever unappealing but quiet shop lies nearest.

I can learn a lesson from the slow-moving locals in the malls here. Take it easy. Enjoy the moment. Relax a little. But it’s true that I can shop more speedily at home.

Your turn. What is a peeve you face or faced, and what is something comparable from home? It can be big or small.

Last week Jenia wrote a post querying readers, seeking comments. There were a fair few responses. I need your help to make this post worthwhile, too. Let the comments roll.