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Amidst the marking, exam prep, and spring cleaning, don’t forget to take a minute to enjoy the coming of spring – find a minute to tiptoe through the tulips and stop and smell the flowers! Here, at Teach Away, we’re taking advantage of patio weather for our lunch breaks, and we’re loving it!

If you’re sitting on the fence about our opportunities in Abu Dhabi or Brunei, you might find yourself itching to apply after reading out about which group of glamorous gal pals are heading over to Abu Dhabi next month, as well as learning about the little known ‘Venice of the East’ located in Brunei! Lovers of spring flowers will be happy to read about the unique cherry blossom experience in Japan, and teachers who are planning to head to Abu Dhabi this summer might feel relieved to read a Teacher Story about driving in the UAE, so don’t miss out on this month’s Telegram!

Keep up the hard work!
-The Teach Away Team

In this issue:

“Sex and the City” goes to Abu Dhabi… and so can YOU!

A Visit to Brunei’s ‘Venice of the East’

Teacher Story: Driving in the UAE

Japan Springs into Sakura Season

SATC goes to Abu Dhabi… and so can YOU!

Female Kindergarten teachers, you may not think that you have much in common with the sexy SATC cast, but you might be surprised to learn that now you do!

Here’s your chance to live in the shoes of Carrie Bradshaw and classy company! Are you a female kindergarten teacher who just happens to be eagerly anticipating the upcoming Sex and the City movie? What if we told you that you had a chance to teach where Carrie and friends will be spending some glamorous girl time in the upcoming sequel?

Teach Away is currently looking to place 600 female Kindergarten teachers in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, so now is your chance to apply for a lucrative position in the cosmopolitan city of Abu Dhabi! Nature-lovers might prefer a placement in Al Ain, known as the “Garden City,” famous for its natural oasis, mountains and greenery; while those who prefer homier feel may enjoy a placement in the growing city of Madinet Zayed.

Sure, you may not find Cosmopolitans being served as frequently as seen in North America’s favourite show, but you can still wear your favourite pair of heels and strut your stuff down deserts of gold in Abu Dhabi. (Well, you wouldn’t really be strutting around the desert in heels, but you could sport a pair of skis or a snowboard and do some ultra cool sand skiing!) Cosmo-lovers, take note: You will need to purchase a liquor license to consume alcohol in the UAE. And fashionistas be aware: Your usual ensemble may need some slight alterations out of respect for the cultural norms of your surrounding community. Western women may find enjoyment in redefining their style while living in Abu Dhabi.

At the workplace and within the classroom, female teachers are expected to wear non-revealing clothing. Shirt sleeves, for example, should cover your arms down to your wrists. Ankle-length skirts are a popular choice, although loose slacks are also permissible – as long as your legs are covered! Reinvent your look with cool, loose fabrics made for the UAE’s hot and humid weather. And once outside, for the most part, dress how you like – always keeping in mind local norms and cultural expectations. Beach lovers are free to bring along their favourite bikinis (for the beach only, of course!) and can boast a gorgeous tan 365 days a year!

The UAE is a progressive Muslim country where women enjoy an equal status to men. Women’s enrolment in educational institutes is high and they also enjoy leadership positions within the work place. Expect to feel safe and secure in the UAE, but it is always sensible to take precautions similar to those you would take back home.

Teach Away’s next round of interviews will be held mid May, just about the same time that we fashion junkies and Cosmo lovers will be lining up at theatres to see our favourite foursome heading to Abu Dhabi for the vacation of a lifetime. Follow in the footsteps of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda and apply for a teaching position in Abu Dhabi today!

A Visit to Brunei’s ‘Venice of the East’

Spring has sprung, and love is in the air. What better time than to head over to one of the most romantic tourist destinations on earth, to ride in a gondola, hand in hand with your loved one, serenaded by Italian love songs? Ah, the magic of Venice. But what if we told you that one of Asia’s best kept secrets has been compared to this meeting place of lovers? Brunei, located on the southeastern island of Borneo, is home to ‘Venice of the East’ (a term coined by Italian explorer Antonio Pigafetta).

If you think that catching a “water bus” in Venice is cool, now you can hail a “water taxi” in Brunei’s Kampong Ayer (also called the Water Village). This village, literally built on water, is situated in the middle of the Brunei River in Bandar Seri Begawan. While Venice has become more and more of a tourist hub over the years, the Water Village is still home to 39,000 locals, living in houses held up by stilts.

If you don’t want to fork out the cash and travel over water in a water taxi, take advantage of the vast number of foot bridges, which will connect you to lodgings, restaurants, shops, schools, and mosques – part of the 4,200 colourful buildings which make up the Kampong Ayer’s numerous sights to see. More adventurous travelers may enjoy veering off the more tame pedestrian walkways and getting lost in a maze of tiny streets and swinging bridges.

Although this unique cluster of villages has been around for over 1,300 years, today it enjoys all the modern conveniences of a tech-savvy city situated on dry land. You’ll have no problem tweeting pictures of the incredible views or updating your facebook status to make your friends back home jealous – since neither electricity nor internet access are hard to come by. Other amenities, such as air conditioning, satellite television, and modern plumbing are all integral parts of what makes Kampong Ayer, for the most part, a self sufficient village. Residents also have access to a hospital, police station and marine fire station, which makes the Water Village an exotic location to visit, and a well-rounded place to live.

Driving and Getting a Car in the UAE

story by Ronna Lynn Fraser
photo by Steve Thin

Roads in Al Ain are a lot like roller coasters—except instead of hills and valleys, you go round and round in round-abouts! When I first arrived in the UAE, I was really scared to drive; however, now I’m finding it to be quite fun!

Driving here in the UAE, there aren’t as many rules to follow as back home, except that you should be respectful and aware of cars driving in the fast lane, or they will ride your tail-end—literally! When you see a car driving behind you, flashing its lights, this means that you are driving too slowly, and you are expected to move over and let it pass. It might sound scary, but you get used to it. I am sometimes one of those drivers, so if you see a little red sports car flashing its lights at you, that’s me—so move over!

Probably one of the easiest things I have EVER done is purchase a vehicle in Al Ain. From the very beginning, I knew what kind of car I wanted: A Honda. All I had to do was go to the dealership and get one. Looking around, I knew which car I wanted, but the price was just a little too steep for me. I kept looking, but I just kept going back to my little red coupe! Hisham, the General Manager of the Honda Dealership, asked me if I knew what I was looking for. I said, “Yes, I want that red Honda Accord Coupe, but it’s just too expensive!”

“No problem!” He responded. “I will make it work for your budget!” And you know what? He did! Because it was November, it was good timing to get a deal, and I was able to get the car I really wanted.
There were a few things I needed to purchase my car:

1. A letter from ADEC with a statement of my salary
2. A translated copy of my driver’s license from my home country
3. Car insurance
4. A UAE driver’s license

Mr. Hisham was marvelous because he took care of almost everything for me. He had a driver go to get my license translated, and then he had a driver pick me up to get my UAE’s driver’s license. It was VIP Service ALL the way!

I filled out one piece of paperwork at the Honda Dealership, and then Hisham submitted it at my bank, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Within one day, the loan department had contacted me, and soon dropped by my school to have me sign the paperwork for my loan. (You are automatically approved for a car loan as long as you have the necessary documentation.)
Two days later, I had my new car.

This entire process took no longer than 5 days! Everyone took super care of me and helped me along the way! How great is that?

When I went to pick up my car, I was scared to drive home because I was sure I’d get lost. Now, after having been driving in Al Ain for almost 5 months, I have realized that Al Ain is just a big circle with signs everywhere! I was a little nervous getting behind the wheel of my beautiful new car; however, I made it home that first night in one piece, and have been driving happily ever since!

Japan Springs Into Sakura Season

In April, donning rose-coloured sunglasses in Japan may be somewhat redundant. This is a time of year when the entire country is already covered in various shades of pinks – trees are in bloom with soft pink sakura (cherry blossoms), and the streets are decorated in fallen pink petals. What better time than now to head outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature? Or, for less poetic readers, it’s simply a wonderful excuse to party.

Although the Japanese pastime hanami, or flower-viewing, may not sound like the ultimate party experience, it is! Now’s the time to get your red and white picnic blanket out of winter storage and pack it, along with a bunch of goodies and (more importantly) drinks, for the picnic of a lifetime. If you aren’t familiar with onigiri and sake (rice balls covered in seaweed and Japanese alcohol), you soon will be.

Whether families, friends, or co-workers, you’ll notice groups of Japanese people flocking to parks cloaked in pink. Your surroundings will suddenly appear as surreal as a scene out of a book: Gorgeous cherry blossoms and traditional Japanese lanterns will nicely accent the landscape of children happily munching on rice balls, young men manning barbecues, and middle-aged women portioning out the food. As the sun sets and the beer and sake bottles begin to empty, you may discover young couples stealing kisses under the protective veil of the blossoms while older men may begin belting out traditional songs late into the night.

Hanami is a great time for English teachers in Japan to get a true taste of Japanese culture. You’ll love to hear your normally formal boss’ animated stories and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see some of your more reserved Japanese acquaintances coming out of their shells.

Sakura Stories:

Kathleen – I’ll never forget my first hanami experience. One of my adult students invited me to join her, her husband, and a group of doctors (his colleagues) for a picnic of never-ending drinks and dishes under a sky of pink petals. I was excited, but a little nervous to spend my evening with a group of doctors who I could barely communicate with. As the drinks went down, my male companions went from stiff and formal to confident and tons of fun. They went from speaking not a word of English and barely looking my way to surrounding me with a million and one questions to practice the limited English they knew. It was a crazy night, and it certainly opened my eyes to a whole new world of Japanese culture.

Adrian – Wandering around the downtown streets of the northern city of Sendai I remember seeing the sidewalks gradually changing in colour from gray to pink. As I walked nearer one of the city’s parks, more and more cherry blossom leaves scattered the pavement, washed from the trees from the earlier April rain. The closer I got to the fortress-like wall circling the park, the louder the chatter from within grew. As I passed the entry-path, the flutter of pink petals and yukatas (summer kimonos) enticed me in. Inside, under each tree, sat university students, families, or company employees all out and enjoying the camaraderie that hanami (cherry blossom viewing) brings. As I walked amongst the trees, between the friendly strangers, I quickly found myself a part of this camaraderie. I only wish now that hanami lasted longer than a week.

Katarina – The first time I experienced hanami, I had been staying with my Japanese homestay family, the Hondas. I remember the excitement within the house, the food preparations, and the many arts and crafts my Japanese brother and sister were bringing in from school. A buzz was in the air, and I could not help but share in the joy. I learned that this traditional Japanese custom is about so much more than just viewing flowers! We spent one day in a nearby park under a sea of light pink blossoms, chatting, playing, and taking lots of pictures. I remember how excited Mrs. Honda was that the weather held up because she had planned another outing at Kumamoto Castle for the next day. I will never forget the magic of cherry blossoms, hanami, and the experience as a whole.

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