Guest Blog: Advice for Newbies

Hi, my name is Patricia. I lived and worked in Abu Dhabi for three years.  During that time, I had a vast array of experiences ranging from horrifying to blissful.  And, yes, many of these experiences were at work!  Each environment and experience will be different, however, here are a few things that helped me throughout my expat adventure!

  1. Know Yourself: Know your strengths and weaknesses, and your limits.  Know what you can and cannot bear. Don’t allow anyone or any situation to push you to the point of no return.  Take care of YOU, first.
  2. Know Your purpose: Stay focused on your goals, whether they are financial or personal.  That will be the one thing that will keep you from losing your mind when things get crazy.  If you don’t have goals, get some! Otherwise, you won’t make it.
  3. Be Open Minded: Learn the culture.  Be willing to learn about the people you will be serving and living among.  The more open you are, the easier the transition.
  4. Forget What You Know: Put aside everything you did at home; things work differently here. Change is constant. You need to be flexible and go with the flow.
  5. Build Relationships: Try to establish good work relationships with your fellow English and Arabic colleagues.  If you show yourself friendly, and willing to learn and share, it will pay off well.  Working collaboratively with my Arabic colleagues helped me greatly with discipline and communicating with parents.
  6. Seek Solutions: If you happen to find yourself in a negative situation, take care of YOU and seek resolution.  Pursue solutions through your organization’s procedures.  Don’t allow negative feelings and situations to linger; it can be bad for your physical and mental health.

With that I say: Welcome to Abu Dhabi!

 Patricia and I at Tribes in Dubai.

Treat Yourself: Fresh Flowers

I’m not the kind of person who waits for other people to give me flowers. However, the flowers I give myself are usually the supermarket variety. Recently, thanks to Groupon, I was able to treat myself to an arrangement from the florist for the cost of my usual supermarket bouquet. I got to choose the flowers I wanted and they opened up beautifully! Every once in a while you should definitely treat yourself to fresh flowers from a florist.

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A Tribe Called BALA

Abu Dhabi City

January 23, 2016

Dear Reader,

Today, I travelled to Dubai for the first ever meet-up of the Facebook community BALA, Black Americans Living Abroad.  We met at Tribes restaurant at The Mall of the Emirates. It was a wonderful afternoon of good food, good people, and good vibes.  I was reminded of how important it is to connect with like minded people; sojourners who are traveling the same path.

Wishing you many opportunities to connect with your tribe,

Fondly,
Maxima

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The food was delicious!

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Appetizer, grilled calamari


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Entree, butter fish

A few of the awesome people I met…
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Pink Polo

November 14, 2015

Last Friday, I hitched a ride out to Ghantoot Polo Club to attend the Pink Polo Match; an event designed to increase breast cancer awareness.  It was an absolutely perfect afternoon, not too hot with a bit of a breeze.  After getting a bite and doing some abaya shopping, I settled down at the edge of the field, on a bright pink bean bag and enjoyed the festivities.  Reclining there, surrounded by green grass, flowering trees, and beautiful horses, I left the desert behind and was transported for a few hours to someplace reminiscent of home.

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I snagged a perfect spot!

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Skydivers!

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Police dog demonstrations

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Pink balloon release

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The line-up

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The game is on!

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I love swag! Coupon and gift box from Bottega Verde.

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I bought this lovely Abaya from Ayaso Boutique. They designed a special collection for the event.

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In the Company of Women

Abu Dhabi

October 30, 2015

Dear Reader,

One of the first things I was told when I arrived here was: You have to experience an Emirati wedding! So, you know I was praying for the opportunity. Well, tonight I attended my first Emirati wedding!

The first word that comes to mind is sumptuous; it was certainly the most sumptuous affair I’d ever experienced. We were greeted by a fragrance bar featuring French perfumes and Arabic perfume oils. Then, we walked the red carpeted receiving line where the mother of the bride and other female family welcomed us. You see, here the bride and groom have separate wedding receptions, so this was an entirely female affair.

Next, we entered the richly decorated ballroom. Here, ladies shed their abayas and shaylas to reveal beautifully coiffed hair and elegant ballgowns. We were plied with an endless flow of tea, Arabic coffee, and sweets while we waited for the bride to arrive. Then, dinner was served family style at each table followed by a procession of waitstaff bringing in dessert. The evening ended when the groom arrived to meet his bride.

It seemed to me that the wedding is a singular moment in the bride’s life. She enters alone, to be saluted, celebrated, and sent off by the community of women. One gets the sense that, though she will soon be united with her new husband, this community of women will always be her anchor.

I’m so delighted to have had the privilege of being a part of this wedding celebration. It has made me rethink what a wedding can be.

Fondly,
Maxima

P.S. Taking pictures is not allowed inside the venue.

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Wedding swag...I prefer these to our traditional favors.

At Ease

Abu Dhabi

October 22, 2015

Dear Reader,

Some days, right in the middle of instruction, I’m struck by the fact that I’m teaching Emirati children!  Even though I’m feeling more at ease these days, I haven’t stopped being amazed at this life I’m living.

The past month has been quite busy.  The capital is brimming with activities, as the intense heat of the summer begins to wane. One of the highlights of the past few weeks was attending the season opening concert of the National Symphony Orchestra. It was a wonderful performance at the theatre at the luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel.

My calendar is just bursting with plans for the next two months!  There’ll be more concerts and shows as well as a polo match.  And, I’ve planned two major trips.  So, stay tuned!

Fondly,
Maxima

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Ready for the Symphony at Emirates Palace Hotel

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The theatre at Emirates Palace

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The National Symphony Orchestra, UAE

Eid Mubarak, Y’all!

Abu Dhabi

September 25, 2015

Dear Reader,

This week, muslims around the world celebrated Eid al Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice.  It is a commemoration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, in obedience to God, and it marks the end of the Hajj (pilgrimage) season.  Since the holiday was observed on Wednesday and Thursday, it meant a long weekend for many of us here in the UAE.  It was wonderful to have some down time to explore my new home and connect with new friends.  I hope you can take time this weekend to recharge and connect with those you love.

Fondly,
Maxima

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Such a blessing to be a part of this group of ladies!

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Ladies who brunch...

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Nolu at The Galleria

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I had the Belgian waffles.

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The view from The Fairmont as we waited for Rooftop Rhythms poetry night to begin.

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Poet DeTime, from Tampa, was phenomenal!

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Enjoying a night out in Abu Dhabi...

Strength from Ritual

I was baptized in the Anglican Church and, traditionally, my family is Anglican. However, as an adult, that denomination has never appealed to me. So, it’s surprising how much I’m enjoying worshipping at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church here in Abu Dhabi. I think the ritual of it all makes me feel anchored in this sea of new experiences.
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In Praise Of The Comfort Zone

Abu Dhabi

August 5, 2015

Dear Readers,

It’s been one month since I embarked on this journey. I have not had the euphoric start that some people are experiencing, but its ok. This is a singular experience for each of us.

It’s been hard for me to get excited because my comfort zone has been blown to smithereens!  I’ve come to realize that a comfort zone is not an entirely bad thing. For an introvert like me, my comfort zone is my launching pad into this very extrovert-centric world and my refuge when it gets to be too much.  I need the routines, rituals, patterns, and places of my comfort zone in order to thrive.

Of course, a comfort zone can devolve into a rut if you’re not careful. A rut is a place of stagnation. It does not allow for movement or growth. You have to shake up your comfort zone every now and then, to keep it from becoming a rut. And I’ve shaken mine up in a really big way, here lately!

Right now, I’m rebuilding my comfort zone; creating a new normal. I’m starting to feel good about where I am. God has surrounded me with good people and placed me in a wonderful nesting place!

So keep your comfort zone…just keep it permeable so that new ideas, people, and experiences can come in! But, if you feel a rut coming on, don’t be afraid to blow that son of a gun up!

Fondly,
Maxima