What are you doing with your houses here? Renting them out. One to a real estate broker and the one we're living in to Linda, Mike's co-worker whom we completely trust. Lucky, that.
We're storing all out stuff in an unfinished room upstairs, except film and other things like crayons that could melt.
Will Bethy be going to school there? I really, really hope so! Right now all the international schools seem to have looong waiting lists. I have stressed and stressed over finding a school for her. I am told the thing to do is just go to the school I want, find a sympathetic administrator, and cry. Hey, whatever it takes is all good by me.
Do you speak Arabic? Laa. That means no. Everyone there speaks English. All the signs are in English as well as Arabic. This having been said, I'm going to try to learn some Arabic so the locals will give me credit for trying. Bethy will be learning Arabic in school (it's compulsory) as well as Islamic culture. I'm cramming on Islam as well as Hinduism to try not to offend anyone more than absolutely necessary. (Don't want to be an "ugly American").
What are you taking with you? Not much. We could have gotten a half container (20 feet) and waited a month and a half for it to arrive there, and then had all the stuff delivered (this assumes both that we would find our house that quickly and could live without the stuff for that long), but we decided no. Instead we're taking two suitcases apiece (possibly an extra small one apiece, we're researching that option) and are most limited by weight rather than space.
I got my scrapbooking gear down to a 12x12x3" box. (gasp in either horror or admiration, my fellow scrapbookers). One packet of photos that span about 10 years worth. My new little digital camera and the 1983 SLR manual camera.
The kids' books and toys were hard (and heartbreaking) to whittle down. I am making good friends with the local kids' consignment lady.
The kitchen is mostly in storage now, but I'll take a few things, nothing breakable except the egg coddlers, and they're pretty sturdy. Most electronic gear stays home, (it would get fried there: 220 volts instead of 110 like here), though we will take our laptops and some CDs, a few DVDs for us in addition to the ones for the kids. (Did you really think we'd leave the Lord of the Rings set behind? Not all who wander are lost.) I hear Knight Rider reruns are a favorite TV show there, so we're bracing ourselves.
We're also going to get hip with Skype and the grandparents are equipped with webcams, so hopefully that'll mitigate the grandkids-are-far-away issue a little bit.
Are you going to come home on a regular basis? While Mike's company provides airfare twice a year for us after the 1st 6 months, whether we come home to the USA is going to be highly dependant on how the kids (and we!) do on the loooong flights. I hear the women and children flee Dubai in a mass exodus for the summer months. At first I thought that was pretty wussy, but then when I realised that even the Australians go home for the summer, I may have to rethink my disdain, Aussies are made of pretty tough stuff! If they're going home, who are we from the temperate NW to think we can stick it out?
This having been said, we plan on doing some super-cool traveling while we're there. Egypt. Italy, maybe Greece? Oman for sure. How cool is that? Mike really got me to agree to go by smiling coyly and saying "We could go to Egypt for the weekend..." How could I say no to that?
How can you afford all this? Companies pay for their employees to go to Dubai. Otherwise it would be far too expensive to live there. Most of our day-to-day expenses will be either taken care of or supplemented by SNC Lavalin.
What about medical care? We have our immunisations all taken care of (Hep A and B, Typhoid, Polio boosters) our medical records in tow, as well as the blood tests required by the UAE to enter the country. (HIV, Hep B). The kids did very well with the shots and blood draws, though Thomas gets all riled up if we come within shouting distance of the clinic. (and shouts). The hospitals there are supposed to be great, and our doc here provided us with 2 kinds of antibiotics in case we have any problems before we get a physician there.
What else have you done to get ready? We're making out our wills, have our international driver's licenses (hopefully these are not directly related to one another!), getting power of attorney for Mike's Dad in case something should happen to Mike and I would need to leave the UAE with the kids, selling our cars and extra stuff. Forwarding our mail, cancelling our phones and utilities, trying to get a landscaper to do maintenance on our house, getting Dirhams (UAE currency), finding homes for the cat and plants (thanks Mom and Dad!), you get the picture, right?
So what did I forget to answer? Are we drooling on ourselves? Are we nuts or just lucky?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Something to check out: here is a blog that I am excited about: http://dubaidailyphoto.blogspot.com/
I hope to do something similar with our blog. But with cute kids factored in (bonus!)