Best of the Blogs

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time (or assiduously avoiding it because I'm altogether too chatty and self-absorbed) you may be aware that I read a lengthy list of blogs (see right) every day. Well, I check on them every day, though it's a rare day when more than one person has updated. However it works out, there are a few that I love, and I'd like to share them with you in one link-tastic page.

Also, don't worry, I'll talk about my own application journey a teensy bit too. I mean seriously, how could I not? It's allabout me. Sort of. Well, in my blog anyway. Sometimes.

So here we go. First and foremost, I want to draw attention to a BootsnAll blog/article (and the Boot Boards in general, for those travel- rather than teacher-related questions you may have) that I have surely mentioned before but still say is one of the best. Everyone will post a list of questions for potential TEFLers to ask their proposed employers, but often I find those questions either ridiculously simplistic or painfully self-evident. And they leave huge gaping holes that TEFLers only discover later, midway through their international teaching experience. Beverley Gallagher solves this problem with her MUST-READ article, 17 Questions.... Look, if you haven't read the article and begun at least researching the answers, why not? And speaking of researching answers, this FAQ and the links within will certainly open your eyes. (As will a trip to Dave's ESL Cafe, but I think you already knew that.)

Right, on to the actual blogs. Ayanna, a secondary teacher out in the desert (ie: not Abu Dhabi City or Al Ain) has a calm, meditative blog. She doesn't post often, but each post brings insight. And some bits of Islam for those of us who are not practitioners of the faith (she, of course, is!).

Brandy blogs from a cheery, Quite Interested, place. Her blog is clearly written for her friends and family back home, but it's still informative about living in the UAE. And it's fun to read. Sometimes she posts videos, which are a kind of nice perk.

Mixchel should really blog more. Her posts come at a rate of about one a month and don't deal in specifics, but she approaches living on the other side of the world with a kind of zen mindset. And she conveys the discombobulation of working in a society quiet unlike the US in its most basic tenets. With humor and appreciation.

The McAlisters and the Trumpys are two families with school-aged children who upped sticks and moved to Abu Dhabi. Both families are settled in Al Ain, and these two blogs give one an idea of how to live and work in the UAE with a family. I don't have a family or even a spouse and shall be travelling alone, but I hope this blog is informative for people in several different situations. So I follow. Also, these blogs sometimes share perspectives between husband (homemaker) and wife (breadwinner).

Finally, I can't help but recommend Jennifer's blog. For many reasons, I look forward to reading it every day. She is also in Al Ain, where her sister's family were placed as well. She posts often, about both life and work. Plenty of photos. And she is perhaps the most realistic of bloggers. Everything isn't always sunshine and roses, and she's not afraid to post with an attitude. Sometimes I have to laugh, because she doesn't have a lot of patience for inconvenience, and the UAE (from what I've read, as I am yet to get myself over there!) does not practice a Western-style time-is-money mindset in the least. Yet she carries on, teaching elementary school girls, doing her job and doing it well. Additionally, she posts plenty of photos and writes about her work life as well as life outside school and the new and exciting things about living in the UAE. (Most recently, the fish spa experience. Which I totally want to do.)

There are other blogs which are interesting for a variety of reasons. Everyone on my blogroll has a unique perspective and a specific style, and all of them are worth your time to read. Some of the bloggers are married, some single, some are widowed. There are parents and children (including a mother-daughter pair!), pet-owners and world travellers. I believe everyone on my blogroll went over in August 2010 or later. All of the "Best Of" bloggers above went over in autumn of 2010. I believe everyone is from either the US or Canada, though I'd like to add some Brits/Aussies/Kiwis. Only one or two are Muslims, several are practicing Christians, and one or two are "none of the above" - Buddhist, agnostic, non-religious.

Happy reading!

A special note: you'll find as you read that I haven't included any bloggers whose experience has been overwhelmingly negative. As in "so bad I went home". First, I didn't include them because by and large, those bloggers didn't blog their negative experiences and so aren't actually helpful even as preparation for the worst case scenario. Second, those bloggers are no longer blogging and in some cases have deleted their blogs. So there's no info about transitioning home or any of that either. I am not trying to sugarcoat TEFLing in any way, nor living in Abu Dhabi or working for ADEC. I'm trying merely to post things that are useful for other people preparing to take this trip themselves. But if you'd like to read about those who left (or who have little positive to say), for full disclosure I give you the following:

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