A couple of days ago was my 2 year blogaversary and now I have another anniversary to celebrate already! Three years today I moved to the United Arab Emirates.
(That last one was Canadian incase you were wondering ; ))
I can't believe it's been three years since I got on a plane and flew literally to the other side of the world.
I moved here just two weeks after I had graduated from the University of Oregon. I had one week to spend moving everything out of my apartment in Eugene and up to my mom's house and then I flew to Washington D.C. and New York for the week. I went there first to spend time with my sister and look for the neighborhood I wanted to move to when I was back from my 4 month trip to Dubai. That's right! I was only ever moving here for 4 months. I just wanted to check the place out and do a little exploring before I started working and living in the "real world"
I remember sitting with my sister in her living room and I said "What temperature in Fahrenheit is 40 degrees Celsius?" 40 is the average temp for Dubai this time of year
She said "I dunno..." and asked her husband
Her husband said "I think it's something like 104 or 105 degrees"
My sis and I looked at each other and laughed.... that couldn't be right. 104 what kind of place has an average temp of 104.
I heard her husband clicking away at his computer and then I hear "Yup 104 = 40"
I think my face fell and that was the moment I first thought to my self "what am I getting my self into"
See I hadn't really been able to think about any of the realities of moving to a far away land that I hardly knew anything about. I was way to focused on graduating. I was working full time and going to school beyond full time. I was taking 21 credits for the last two terms just to make sure I got done (12 credits is considered full time enrollment btw) on time. Someone put the idea in my head that I should check out Dubai and without thinking too long about it I just started planning. School and life was so hard that I was just looking forward to taking some selfish "me" time. I wanted to worry about me and only me.
What's the easiest way to move to a new land you ask? Well for someone whose been a student for the last forever years then the natural conclusion is to go be a student in the new land! I didn't want to worry about a place to live. I didn't want to worry about visas (whatever those were) and I wanted to be at least a little responsible and learn something while I was on my endeavor. So I enrolled my self for the fall semester at American University in Dubai. I enrolled in Arabic 1 and Middle Eastern Politics and that was it. I wasn't looking to get a degree so I didn't need to over load my self. Plus I wanted time to explore and seriously just relax. I had forgotten what it was like to do nothing.
The night before I was to take off from New York for the INSANE flight of 14 hrs my sister pulled out a world map... She said "you know where you're moving right?"
"Oh yeah I'm going the Middle East!" I beamed back at her
"Do you know where in the Middle East?"
I think I met that question with a blank stare...
She said "well just so you know" and she pointed out all the neighbors of UAE to me.
That was the second moment I wondered what I had gotten my self into.... Oh well I had a return ticket I could come back when I was ready. I didn't have to go the whole 4 moths if I didn't want to. I was a grown up now I could figure it out as I went.
When I finally made it to Dubai there were some people waiting for. Not people I had ever met before but people who were family of a friend of mine (later I learned people do this here because we're all expats and we all arrived not knowing anyone). They kindly scooped up all my baggage and hauled me off to get some dinner and show me Mall of the Emirates for the first time. That was the first time I saw men and women in the local dress. For some reason it surprised me. I guess I never put two and two together and realize that this land was "that" land. At the mall I also got my first glimpse of the over indulgence of Dubai. I mean seriously I was having dinner next to and indoor ski resort. CRAZY!
I went to my new little dorm room that I would be sharing with another student from Pakistan who was so nice and showed me all around campus.
Then I was quickly informed of the rules of the girls dorms by the mistress of the house.
No Boys past the security guard
You must sign in and out every time you enter or exit the dorms
You need a form signed by your parents to stay out past nine
You need a separate form signed by your parents to stay out all night
Seriously? Do they know where I'm from? I haven't had a curfew since I was 15!!! I didn't move all the way out here just to have to be home at sunset! I came to explore!
I looked at the lady, sighed, and said well ok I'll send it to my mom and get her to sign this for me I guess (boy did my mom have a laugh about that one)... "How old are you" she demanded. "ummm 25"
"Well lucky for you 25 years is the cut off... no need for a permission slip"
"great" i thought to my self... 25 just barely squeezed by...
I basically slept for the next three days letting my self get over the jet lag. On the 4th day was the first day of class. I showed up to arabic 1 where I quickly realized that arabic 1 was not for people who knew no arabic but rather for those who knew it but wanted to get an easy grade. I realized quickly that I was already behind the rest of the class and we had barely made it through the first hour.
Towards the end of class this really tall beautiful girl with an incredible accent came up to me. She was from Croatia staying here with her father. It was ladies night at most of the clubs the next night and she had a friend who knew all the great places to go to... I should come.
I said sure. It was not my usual to go and hang out with people I didn't know and go to places I didn't know but seriously WHO did I know? No one. She seemed nice and Hey I got lost in New York and survived that I can go out and have some fun in Dubai and survive that too....
So the next night I met up with her at Wafi City and we sat at a tapas bar and waited for her friend.... About 20 min after we arrived he briskly walked through the door waiving absently at the bouncer on his way. I thought to my self... that cant be the guy. Then my friend turned around and said "Hey! He's here!" He walked up to our table and did the three kiss lebanese hello with my friend and then held his hand out to me...
"Hey what's your name?"
"Lindsay" I replied with a smile on my face
"Where are you from?" He asked skeptically
"America" I replied "You?"
"Lebanon... and I don't like Americans by the way"
I smiled, "Well I'm not a fan of the lebanese so I guess we're equal" I retorted in my usual if-you-say-something-about-me-i'll-definitely-say-something-back way.
A year and a half later we were married
So for me, as you can guess, this move was life changing. It was never my intention to be here for three years but life has a funny way of happening when you least expect it. I have been very fortunate that the people around me always help me succeed and have my best interests at heart.