My morning walk

I love the neighborhood that I live in – it is perfect for taking walks.  Great trails and parkland.  I need to walk early in the day now because we hit triple digits by afternoon.  When I walk in Green Valley Ranch, it’s easy to forget we live in a desert.
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Mitigating Culture Shock

Eliminating culture shock, I believe is virtually impossible.  However, knowledge is power and learning as much as one can on what to expect can certainly lessen the blow.

When I was in my early 30s with three little kids, we embarked on our first overseas adventure – to Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain for 5 months and Surrey, England for the other 5.  Ten months wasn’t that long of a trip but I spent most of it very depressed.  There just wasn’t enough to read in the early 90s about what to expect as an expat – and honestly, who has a lot of time to read with 3 little kids?  I was a lot more insecure and self-conscious then than I am now.  I was afraid to put myself out there.  We had a few play date friends, but much of the time I felt very isolated, and I admit that was mostly my own doing.

Why will this trip be different?

1.  This somewhat introverted gal is determined to pick herself up by her bootstraps and socialize.

2.  Research, research, research. – Stop wishing things were more like Home.  It will never be the old Home.  It can be the new Home.

3.  This is the exciting part – this will be the time in my 50+ life that I will be able to really afford the time and expense to work on self-improvement.  I will not be working.  I will be living in a very small apartment compared to what I’m used to – so I will need to fill my time with worthwhile and worthy occupation.  I’m looking forward to finding some volunteer work, or having time to quilt again, or actually cooking from scratch instead of semi-homemade 🙂 .  I’m looking forward to learning about another culture previously unknown to me.  I’m going to finish college online.  I’m going to skype with my parents and the kiddos back home regularly – thankfully the world is smaller with the internet.

I am already gleaning information from the internet, and two very useful websites are AbuDhabiWoman and ExpatWoman.  I’ve been perusing their discussion boards and find them very helpful.

I’m not going to kid myself and think that dark days won’t come when I ask myself “Why did we come here?!?”, but I’m also giving myself the tools to make the most of this adventure.

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New beginnings

About two months ago, my recently laid-off husband (whom I will affectionately refer to as Siggy  (the alias he selected for the blogosphere, short for “Significant Other”) admitted to applying for a job in Abu Dhabi.  I knew he had been discussing Abu Dhabi back and forth with a friend of his who had recently started working there.  Siggy admitted to it because he had received a letter informing him that they’d received his resume and wanted to arrange an interview.

My gut reaction was, “Why did you do this without talking to me first?”  Siggy replied that he didn’t really expect anything to come of it.  I must confess that my limited knowledge of the middle east conjured up visions of crowded and dusty streets full of anti-American militants and oppressed women in burkas.  It didn’t sound very appealing at all.  The next couple of nights I stayed up wayyyyy past my bedtime googling everything I could find about Abu Dhabi.  I’m happy to say that my initial trepidations were calmed by what I found.

– A big, modern, new and cosmopolitan city
– A huge expat community with many Western businesses (one of which Siggy will be employed by)
– Lots of women’s groups that focus on networking and making new friends
– Not anything like the pictures of Arab Spring
– IKEA!
– Last but not least, a big new LDS Stake Center (I’m a Mormon)

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Needless to say, much more came of it – so much so that he’s been offered a job and now we are in the waiting game stage for the target date for him to move there.  I have been praying it is after July 9th – the day our youngest son returns from a 2-year mission to Mexico.  I’m thinking positively.  Still, the waiting game is a little intense.

So why am I starting this blog?  The number one reason will be so that I can share with family back home the adventures that we are experiencing and hopefully bridge some of those 8,000+ miles.  Other reasons include putting out into the universe how one gets ready to make a big leap from the US to Abu Dhabi.  I found plenty of bloggers who are already there, but not really anything about the process of getting there.

So this empty nester wife and mom, employee, college student, church volunteer and Nevada resident will be making some big changes in the months to come.  Starting a blog for me is a way to “process the process”.

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