What’s your name?
What brought you to the United Arab Emirates?
We’ve always wanted to live abroad and never had the courage to do so. After doing some research, I came across some opportunities in the UAE that also was very lucrative and decided to just take a leap of faith.
What’s the process of becoming a teacher in the UAE and does someone have to be a certified teacher in their home country before they are allowed to teach English there?
Requirements are always changing so this is difficult to answer. Before, a teaching certificate would suffice. Now it appears that they are cracking down and you will need a bachelors degree in education to be able to teach here. A lot of the jobs go through a recruiter so it may be best to let them check your requirements and see if what you have is sufficient or not.
How did you go about obtaining a visa and how long did it take?
Since I work for the government schools, the education council handles the work visa for you prior to arrival. There is not a set time on how long it takes as the visa process is handled behind the scene. It also may depend on background checks as well as the time of year when they are processed. If I had to guess, I would say it averages around 4-8 weeks.
What adjustments did your children have to make moving to a new country?
Our kids adjusted pretty easy as this country is very kid friendly. The biggest adjustment would probably be going to a private school and riding the bus to school, which they still enjoy. We also now live in a high rise apartment instead of a house with a backyard and neighborhood kids to play with.
Are there any particular challenges parents might face enrolling their children in school in the UAE?
The biggest challenge would be the cost. Private school here is very expensive and some parents have opted to homeschool. Other challenges would be figuring out which curriculum you want your child to learn. Space in the school you want could be an obstacle as the schools fill up fast and sometimes require a waiting list.
What was the biggest adjustment for you?
The biggest adjustment for me has been work life. I was a principal in the US and we had a lot of after school events and activities that I needed to attend. Here, you leave when it’s time to leave and you come home to enjoy your family time. The pace of life is also much slower and laid back.
How easy is it to meet other Americans?
It is very easy. There so many expats here and many American teachers. Also, there are many Facebook groups to join to meet other Americans in the UAE.
What can be expected in terms of housing costs?
Working for the government, all of our housing is paid for and we have no out of pocket expenses.
If you had a friend planning to spend only 24 hours in United Arab Emirates, what would you suggest that they see or do?
I would definitely take them to Dubai. It is much more lively and everything is big and grand. The Burj Khalifa is always a main attraction as it is the tallest building in the world. Coupled with Dubai Mall, which is the largest mall in the world, those would definitely be the star attractions to take a friend to spend the day at.
To learn more about teaching English in the United Arab Emirates, visit Jina at Global Eksperience.