What is it like teaching in the UAE?

My journey to Abu Dhabi all started with one of my friends from university getting a teaching job in China. I was so intrigued by how easy the process was for her that I immediately wanted to give it a shot myself. I have always wanted to teach in the Middle East so my friend put me in contact with the person that made it all happen, Nicole from SA-Recruitment.

As we started the process, I never wanted to rule out anything, so Nicole sent my CV to schools in both the Middle East and in China. I had a few interviews with schools in both Dubai and China and was still waiting to hear back from them when a school in Abu Dhabi requested an interview with me. At first, I was hesitant, but I took the interview and it turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me.

I have been in Abu Dhabi for about 3 weeks now, and I have been loving every single moment. When I first arrived in Abu Dhabi, it didn’t even feel real. I think I was still in shock but finally after all the paperwork and waiting, everything had worked out and I could finally start this amazing adventure.

I came a few days earlier as I wanted to settle in to my new home before the term started. I was picked up at the airport and taken to my accomadation by one of the staff members from my new school and he helped sort out my local sim-card as well as answered all the questions that had been racing through my mind since I got on the plane. There happened to be a Spar supermarket within walking distance from my apartment, which immediately made me feel at home and I was able to buy the few things I needed.

The first 5 days were incredibly overwhelming, most of the teachers stay in the same accommodation as me but most were still on holiday. For the first time in my life I felt so much out of my comfort zone but I adjusted quickly and took taxis everywhere as I explored Abu Dhabi.

When it was finally time for school to start I was so excited. The day before school started for the students all the teachers came in for a professional development day. This was a great opportunity for me to meet my new colleagues and to become familiar with the school. By chance another South African teacher started with me so we immediately bonded.

The school is brand new, with amazing classrooms and great technology. We have our own office as a Kindergarten department where we work during the day and after school. The staff are all so friendly, and helpful. We work as a team and share the workload which makes teaching so much easier. I have had a really easy time fitting in and I am honestly so content with my choice in choosing this school and can’t wait for the what the rest of the year will be like with my amazing kids.

After school and the weekends are just as fun. There are so many malls and different places to go to in Abu Dhabi. It turned out that the South African girl that was with me at the school had previously taught in Abu Dhabi so she was already so familiar with everything. She introduced me to her group of friends who all happened to be South African, they immediately made me feel so welcome. This past weekend we went to a South African braai night (something that is really common here, surpirsingly) it was great to have red wine with all the steaks, chops and pap you could eat. Afterwards we went to go watch a live band at a place in the city and only ended up getting home at 3am.

I feel so at home here while at the same time I’m always doing something outside my comfort zone. I honestly can’t wait for what this year has in store for me but I do believe that moving to Abu Dhabi was the best thing I could ever have done. I also can’t wait to travel during the holidays and all the weekend activities that lie ahead. So, thank you Nicole and SA-Recruitment for all your hard work and finding me a position at such an amazing school!


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