So. It's October now. I have missed two whole months of blogging.
That's right, I've turned into one of Those Bloggers - you know, the ones who start with the grandest of intentions then disappear forever?
I won't tell you how many other blogs/pages/identities I have online. Okay, I will. Closest estimate is...five email addresses, 8-10 blogs, 2-4 facebook pages, only one twitter (I deleted the other one), and semi-active participation on several fora. To say I don't blog is to say I don't blog here. The lack of internet access at school has actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as those are the few hours of the day/week/whatever when I'm not online, posting, thinking, digesting.
I think I may have to cut back.
Right. So I live in Abu Dhabi now. My facebook page/group has turned into a mudslinging free-for-all with hints of sanity popping through from time to time. I try to avoid it and have more or less given up moderating - because they're all adults, and if "just sayin'" is the persona they want to put out there, then more power to them. Or less, as the case may be.
My apartment is small, and on the 18th floor. To the left I can see (besides more construction, which is the main architectural theme of Abu Dhabi) Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which is the Grand Mosque, which really is quite grand. (No. I haven't been yet. Colour me lazy.) To my right I can see the other buildings in my construction site/complex. They are much nicer looking and larger apartments...but I think we have fewer problems in our building. Behind me is the Executive Airport (Al Bateen?) and ahead of me in the distance is some body of water - ultimately the Arabian Gulf. It's not so bad.
My friends are, to my consternation, all teachers. I live in a commune (and not the hippie kind, either) filled with teachers and families of teachers. This is the very opposite of what I hoped for, living in Abu Dhabi rather than Al Ain. On the other hand, I live in a proper city. With, y'know, stuff to do.
There's plenty to do in Al Ain, of course. Just...not city things.
My school is about 30 minutes down to road toward Dubai. It's apparently a pretty big school, and quite old. (By old, I mean about 20-25 years. They don't have actual old buildings here, unless they're national heritage sites.) It's all girls, of course, and I'm slowly coming to grips with what my job actually entails. (This changes on a daily - even hourly - basis, so progress is by the inch.) My girls are in grade 11 and vary in age from 14 to 19. They are pretty evenly split Emirati & non-Emirati. Every day they tell me my eyes are so beautiful (which is disconcerting, until I remind myself that my appearance is in every single way a completely foreign appearance...but still feels odd) and that my hair IS NOT ORANGE. That's right, they think I'm blonde.
My sister will never accept this.
The year started out with titters and whispers and "Why are you so fat?" I expected this and am not offended. I mean, it's not a secret to me that I'm rather large, so why shy away from the fact? I took a page from Jack Black's book and simply told my students I like to eat! Ice cream is delicious, y'all. Ask Ben & Jerry.
Besides my physical appearance, my students seem to like me. It's an uphill struggle, and I have more than one student who just sits there and stares at me for the hour and does nothing. On the other hand, I have a few students who are overachievers. (I have NEVER taught overachievers before and am at a loss other than to tell them to bring something to do in class while we wait for the talkers to shut up. Not that I say shut up, of course.) One class I have promised to teach a Spanish word a day, and they in turn teach me a new Arabic word a day. Better still, they teach me correct pronunciation! Sort of. And they titter and giggle and laugh outright when I actually use Arabic.
Some things, though, are the same the world over. Students are SHOCKED (shocked, I tell you!) when you overhear their complaints - especially in another language - and answer them in English. On Thursday (last day of our week - which starts on Sunday, lest you think we have it easy...which we kind of do) one of my students was complaining in Arabic to her seatmate about the work they had to do and why they couldn't do it at home.
And I answered her!
You have never seen eyes so wide and round. It was awesome. And instantly shared across the classroom - Miss knows Arabic!
That's right, girls. Don't mess with me. As my Spanish-speaking students in Texas quickly learned (and my English-speaking students in England always resented), I know everything.
And that which I do not know, I can surmise, guess, learn, or assume. Therefore, it's a rare day that my students get away with anything that I am not aware of. Sure, the little treasures get away with things every day. But usually those are just battles I am too tired to fight. Though if I hear "Sorry, Miss" one more time, I might actually scoop out my eyeballs with the broken end of a pencil and hang them from the white board.
But I think this is more than enough of an update for the past 2 months. I've left out loads, added some details that are utterly useless to the majority, and no doubt offended someone somewhere about something. Well, so it goes. Happy reading, friends. Now send me comments so I'm inspired to post more often!
photos from the following: blog4students.wordpress.com & northjersey.com