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Kahleel: Journey

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Abu Dhabi makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Abu Dhabi, etc.

My name is Kahleel and I am originally from Jamaica but lived in New York for the past 10 years. I moved to Abu Dhabi in August of 2012 to teach English as part of an initiative by the Abu Dhabi Education council to reform the educational system by making it bilingual.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

I began blogging prior to my move to Abu Dhabi about 3 or 4 years ago. I wanted to document my life experiences and have a forum to express myself. The move to Abu Dhabi is a part of the journey I’m on.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

I think this is my favorite post.

Tell us about the ways your new life in Abu Dhabi differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

I think my life in Abu Dhabi is a lot calmer than my life in NY. The pace is a lot slower here and I really appreciate that. I don’t feel rushed when going places; it is a nice change of pace.

I think that I acclimated quite easily and didn’t experience any major culture shock.

The biggest difference that I noticed was that some things I consider to be polite such as saying “excuse me” when you need to get by someone is not practiced here widely.

Also, children stay out really late here. It was surprising to see kids out at the malls at 11 pm or even at the playground at midnight.

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Abu Dhabi? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

Before coming, I did a lot of research and spoke with people already living here so I think for the most part I was as prepared as I could have been for the move. I also came with a very open mind which helped a lot to get me settled.

One thing I would have changed is that I would have brought more of my regular clothes. I thought the culture was uber conservative and brought one suitcase of clothes, I definitely regret that. You can wear whatever you want as long as you maintain some level of modesty and respect for the culture.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Oh that is hard. I guess it would be the time I went to the home of one of my students and was given something to eat. The entire time I thought I was eating camel meat. I had to eat this strange meat for fear of offending my hosts. Interesting experience to say the least.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Abu Dhabi?

  • Research, research, research. Talk to people, learn about the culture
  • Be prepared to be flexible
  • Clear your mind of all expectations and preconceived notions about what you believe about the country.

How is the expat community in Abu Dhabi? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

Coming over with a bunch of other teachers has made it a lot easier to connect with other expats who share similar interests. I suppose we have it easier than most people who come alone; having 200 other people who happen to live in the same building as you and some of whom work in the same school definitely helps.

 I can’t comment on the wider expat community as I have not interacted with many other expats. There are organizations out there such as InterNations and Meetup that help to bring expats together, I just haven’t taken advantage of these organizations.

How would you summarize your expat life in Abu Dhabi in a single, catchy sentence?

Oh that is hard…hmmm

“Living large and in charge.”

Antoine Mariaux

"Thanks to InterNations, I've received very useful tips about the Emirates and expat life in Abu Dhabi."

Maria Loura

"The idea to connect expatriates in Abu Dhabi is just fantastic! Have been looking for such a platform for a long time."

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