Goodness. Eight months. We've lived in Abu Dhabi for eight months.
The short of it - we're doing well. We actually kind of like living here. The weather (currently) is great. There are always a ton of things going on in the city so we're never bored. We love spending time between the pool and the beach on the weekends. Life has reached a normal routine and we're feeling comfortable and at home. Joe's job is the major challenge for all of us. It's strenuous and wearing on everyone although mostly, Joe.
But, in eight months, we:
-have found a lovely apartment in a great neighbourhood. After a stressful search and decision, we're really happy with our choice.
-have furnished said apartment. Slowly, piece by piece, we have places to sit, sleep and eat. We have nothing hanging on our walls and to the average person, we likely still look like minimalists (fine by me) but it's coming together.
-have found a wonderful nursery school that Jasper has settled into and he has learned so much. His vocabulary is quite amazing these days and we love that he's creating his own little world.
-bought a car! We've been driving company cars since we moved overseas but this change in contract and status means we are left to our own devices.
-have hosted cousins, friends and both sets of parents in our new home and tried to show them, with our limited experience, what Abu Dhabi has to offer.
-traveled to Oman for a weekend, visited Dubai, Al Ain and the Empty Quarter in the UAE. While our feet have been itching to hop on a plane (this might be the longest we've gone without air travel,) we're also thankful for time to plant our feet in Abu Dhabi and explore the surrounding areas.
-have rented a PO Box, found doctors, secured our residency, hired a weekly housekeeper, found dry cleaners and takeaway options and favourite grocery stores and coffee roasters. We're always exploring and learning but we also feel like we know what we're doing.
-have made a couple of friends. This is always a challenge for me (introvert) and is still very much a work in progress but I don't feel totally alone here anymore.
-have driven all over the city, navigating the crazy drivers and the streets with multiple names, become accustomed to valet parking and have emerged with the general consensus that driving here isn't so bad. Jasper is adept at identifying Ferraris, Porsches & Maseratis and comments on traffic and crazy drivers from his car seat.
-have experienced both sandstorms and unseasonable amounts of rain in the desert.
-maybe most significantly, have grown a baby. Well almost. She has a few weeks to go but before we know it, family life will be turned upside down. Easily the biggest curveball and stress (for me) of our move was learning I was pregnant in our first weeks in the UAE. The move felt manageable until the first trimester set in and suddenly I felt terrible and had to figure out how to be pregnant in the Middle East, care for a toddler and get us settled all without any sort of support network. But, here we are, nearly on the other side, and still standing with anticipation of a baby girl joining our crazy life.
While we feel settled and comfortable here in Abu Dhabi, it often takes one full year to really grasp the cycle of seasons in a new home. In the immediate future we'll experience our first Ramadan in the Middle East, surely to be a learning experience. I'll deliver a baby in the UAE and return to the sleep deprived newborn days which are both a challenge and a joy. And, we'll experience a full summer in the desert. We arrived at the peak and witnessed the descent. Aside from a short vacation to Canada, we'll see the entire season this year. Transitions take time and just as we round the corner with one, we'll begin the next.