I never thought living in the Middle East would be an option, let alone, a major life changing event for myself and my family. But here we are, three years from the day we landed in Abu Dhabi, back in 2010, living abroad in the UAE. We’ve lived in two hotels over a period of three months and three houses over three years. The children have attended three schools (four if you include home school) since arriving. We adopted a dog from a lovely family, and she’ll forever be in our hearts, thanks to her crazy antics. I’ve taught in both the local government and privately owned schools. My children have had three birthdays. My husband celebrated his 40th. We’re about to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary in September.
In three years we’ve been to the top of (and stayed in) the Burj Khalifa, relaxed in the Atlantis the Palm, walked through the majesty of the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, camped in the middle of the beautiful Al Ain red sand deserts, belly danced in a Bedouin oasis, sat while henna designs were artfully applied to our arms and legs, attended a royal wedding, taught royal children, invited into several palaces, partied at Armani Privé Club, played in Ski Dubai, took flight at iFly Dubai, awed in the sights of Yas Island’s Marina Circuit, slipped and slid at the iconic Yas Island Water World and savored traditional Arabic and Indian cuisines.
In three years we’ve tried eating on the floor and eating with our hands in the UAE, released turtles in Sri Lanka, toured Christmas markets in Germany, went to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, relaxed on the beaches of Phuket and came alive in the hustle of Bangkok and had “Turkish Delights on a moonlit night” in Istanbul. We swam with dolphins. We hosted family from the U.S., a friend from France and welcomed new expats from home as they embarked on the same journey. We’ve celebrated our American holidays in a strange land, joined in with local celebrations and have met people from all over the world.
Our son learned to ride a two wheel bike, play golf and earned his green belt in karate, the oldest two kids lost their first teeth here and my two youngest learned to read. The kids now say: bin for trashcan, bits for pieces, rubber for eraser and often say many words with a British accent. We’ve made great friends, have said tearful good-byes to some and seem to welcome new ones daily. Accepting the job which led us here was scary, as there’s always a fear of the unknown. But after living here for three years, we couldn’t imagine our lives any other way. When this chapter closes, we eagerly look forward to where our next adventure will take us.