TAIW – Thank Allah It’s Wednesday

Ironically, the have the restaurant here… T.G.I.F, but it doesn’t really true here as you have your first workday on Saturday. We’ve changed it around as TAIW.

We’ve had a busy week here with school in full blown session, lots of compound activities, and trying to rest in the process.

Let me first say that we are still really enjoying living here. The temperature, or at least the humidity, has dropped off a little bit and going outside at least becomes bearable. Our villa is coming together nicely as we purchase small items to fill it out. We purchased a new printer that can print some photos, so we’ll be adding some photos and frames around the villa to make it look a little homier.

Last weekend, we were hosted by our friends next door to a delicious pancake breakfast. We then had some brunch of scones and other Kiwi snacks with some other friends a few villas down. This seems to be the thing to do with the newbies here, and Jamie and I have already discussed having a good southern meal for our compound friends some day.

Our kitchen is coming together nicely as we purchase small items to help us in there. We still haven’t purchase dishes. We received 4 plates, forks, spoons, etc when we arrived, but it is getting old washing the same 4 things over and over again. Our trip to IKEA last weekend came up empty on something we liked, so we’ll try another home store somewhere. There are only a dozen in the city, so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Tamimi’s, which is like Safeway back home, drives to our compound to take us to the store. Jamie and I have used this before and it might be something we do often from now on. It is very convenient. There is also a compound bus that leaves 3 days per week and takes us pretty much wherever we need to go. This is also a great option to get us out of the compound so we can shop. Of course, all of these procedures will change once we get a vehicle, but it is nice to know we have the option.

On Monday night, we went to the compound next door for “night out.” The compound next to us is the BAE (British Aerospace) compound. BAE is HUGE around here and employs probably hundreds of people. They are actually building a super compound outside the city, so Las Dunas will be vacant. We are hoping we can move in there as the facilities are nicer. They have a “pub” inside their compound, so we were able to go over there for some drinks as well as take home some. Good food of fish and chips were delivered and we overall had a wonderful time with our co-workers and new friends. Since Saudi has really no nightlife, this is just another example of the type of activities one can do here. It isn’t much, but it is fun.

Tuesday nights are poker nights here on the compound and apparently have been for years. I participate and really enjoy it. When the weather cools, people also play bocche, tennis, and of course more of the pool. I have done OK at poker, but there is always room for improvement. A group of ladies went for yoga on another compound, but Jamie didn’t participate.

Wednesday night, we had a pot luck meal for the newbies on the compound. There is actually a small compound committee that organizes these events and I believe they organized Thanksgiving meals, Christmas dinners, and other holiday festivities for those who want to participate. It was a good showing last night and we enjoyed it. Great food. Props to the single male who made the pizza spaghetti!

Since everything comes to life during Ramadan at night, I was driven around by a nice family to purchase some necessary items like a vacuum cleaner, surge protectors, and other things necessary for our villa. We have a shipment still coming in from China that will round out our belongings, but so far so good here.

Hope everyone enjoys there weekend.

Tuesdays are poker nights here on the compound.


A new colleague and neighbor of mine found a driving range and desert golf course about 30 minute drive outside the city.  He had been previously and was telling me about it, so I just had to go.

As you will see from the picture, it really does seem as though it is out in the middle of the desert.  Well… it is.  There are some sort of warehouses around where we were and plenty of electrical lines, but for the most part, it was all sand, sand, sand.

My first impression was of the quite funny sign that told all ladies to make sure they had “male protection.”  Women can play out there with no problem and even do not have to wear an abaya, but do have to wear long sleeves and pants.  No one was playing today, but my friend tells me that women do play out there.  The South Koreans who live in Saudi love to play golf.

We arrived and as you can see from the pictures, it is a small 2 shack operation, but with a solid cover for driving range balls, a small putting “brown,” and even some mats thrown down so you can hit on the range.  The yardage is marked accordingly.  There is actually 18 holes on that course complete with rules and everything.  Apparently, you purchase your own little square piece of artificial turf, drive the ball down the lightly packed fairway, and then try and your ball on the finely packed “brown” (green).  Walking only.

We only hit about 50 balls each, but we will definitely go back when the weather cools down.  Not a bad rate to play either, and it will certainly be an experience.

Welcome to the Kingdom!

Back in the US

I had a full workday on Thursday (remember, this is like my Saturday), and Jamie also went in to get some things done in her classroom.  I was able to pretty much get everything ready, but still had to work on Friday to finalize some documents.

Thursday night, we were invited to the U.S. Consulate for a party.  This was a cool experience and needless to say, security was very tight getting into the U.S. Consulate in Saudi Arabia.  Several little checkpoints.  I guess since it is technically US soil, they were allowed to serve alcohol, but Jamie and I wondered how they even got it into the country unless they have their own landing strip.  We mingled for a few hours and met some new people and headed home.  It was a nice outing, and they said they have those gatherings about 1 time per month, but you have to be invited.

Friday was an off day for us and we were able to catch a ride to the Hyper Panda (like WalMart) for some household items.  The store was closing for the midday prayer and wouldn’t open again until later in the afternoon, so we just headed home, where I worked on some school stuff.  That evening, we ordered out to Baba Habbas, a “fast food” type restaurant probably similar to KFC, except it has Arabic food.  We were introduced to Shawarma (Read about them here). Theyare delicious and pretty inexpensive, so they might become a stable in our diet.  It came with some hummus, so that made it even better.

Today was our first day of school with the kids, so since I have some Internet here at school, I thought I’d post this quickly.  Still no Internet at home.  Successful day with the students so far, and I’m sure I will be putting more up about the school in later posts.

Still no questions from anyone, so I guess I am doing a bang up job with the posts.

Back to School

On Saturday, Jamie and I went back to school.  Our work week actually runs from Saturday to Wednesday, so our weekends are Thursday and Friday, and this was our first week at our new jobs.  Jamie and I have been getting up early at 5:00 and go down to our gym to workout/run.  We have breakfast and then hop on the bus which picks us up right at our doorstep.
Since it is Ramadan and practically no one is on the roads, it only takes us about 15 minutes to get to the school.  Before going into the school, the bus has to go through the U.S. Consulate security gate.  This was an interesting process the first time we went through, but no it is just part of the whole ordeal.  We just have to stay on the bus and show our school ID.

Our school is rather large and has a perimeter of about 1 mile around.  It sits directly next to the U.S. Consulate and the land is actually leased from King Faud University of Petroleum and Minerals.  The lease expires soon, so we don’t know what will happen then.  Our campus actually contains 3 schools all operated by a non-profit organization called International Schools Group (ISG).

Jamie has a classroom in a normal high school type building while I actually have more of what looks like a mobile room, only perhaps a bit nicer than what you see in the States.  The students will have to walk from building to building for their classes and lunch, which makes it a bit different than most set ups back home.

Our schedule is pretty similar and we teach an American curriculum.  School ends at 3:30, and we really can’t work past 5:00 because they close the gates to the school, and you have to go through the U.S. Consulate to get out.  Jamie and I hop back on a bus at either 3:30 or 5:00 and head back to our compound.

Lately, we’ve been pretty much crashing and napping or going shopping in the evenings.  We still do not have a vehicle and have to rely on others to take us around.

I received my schedule today and I will be teaching 7th grade math and science as well as one “elective.”  I do not know yet, but I believe I will do either Journalism or Model United Nations as my elective.  Jamie is teaching 10th grade Modern World History and 11th grade U.S. History at the high school.

So far so good at the school, but our school implements several new software programs that takes getting used to.  These include Moodle, Skyward, Atlas Rubicon, and First Class.  All have the strengths and weaknesses is appears, but it is good to know the school pays for quality programs to help teachers with record keeping.

I haven’t received any questions, so if you have any, email them my way!

Where Have We Been?

Eric and Jamie

Jamie and I left our lives in Cartersville, Georgia, USA, for Shekou, Shenzhen, China on July 31, 2008. Since then, we have been working as middle school teachers. These last 2 years have been amazing as we have had our first overseas living experience. It has been nothing short of spectacular as we have had the opportunity to work with amazing students, teachers, and administrators, see the world, and experience various cultures. I believe we have both grown as people, and it has also brought us closer together as husband and wife.

While working and traveling, we have been both been writing our dissertations for our PhD’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Our host country of China and city of Shenzhen was a perfect match for us for our first international teaching experience. We lived in Shekou, China, a city within the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. It was also the first time we lived in a large city, so we lived in a high rise apartment, walked everywhere, and took public transportation. We didn’t own a car and didn’t ever need one. Living in Shekou was a great lifestyle as we were able to afford a housekeeper (AYI) and live comfortably on just a small amount each month. This way, we were also able to save some money and traveled extensively in southeast Asia. While the teaching at QSI and living in Shekou was a wonderful experience, we decided to seek other opportunities abroad. We went to a job fair in January 2010 in Bangkok, Thainland and interviewed with 7 schools.

We have accepted new jobs are moving to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in August to take new international teaching positions at International Schools Group. We are both very excited for this opportunity and the many new adventures that we will no doubt experience while living in the Middle East, but also we are also sad to be leaving China, a country that in itself has been a wonderful and enriching experience all to its own.

We have had the opportunity to travel China and southeast Asia with both of our parents, my niece, and even brought my wonderful dog Griffey over here to live with us. Griffey was sent back to the USA in May 2010 and has not circumnavigated the earth.

Eric: I am now teaching 7th grade Math/Science in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Prior to these international school placements, I taught middle and high school social studies in the state of Georgia for 7 years. I’m originally from the small town of Calhoun, Tennessee (Go Vols!) and went to high school at McMinn County High School. After high school, I completed my Bachelor of Arts Degree in history at Middle Tennessee State University minoring in Geography and Secondary Education. I was a brother of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity all four years. Upon completion of student teaching, I took a job in Cartersville, Georgia teaching Georgia history to 8th graders. In 2004, I completed my Master of Science degree in Educational Administration from Jacksonville State University in Alabama. I coached baseball and basketball in Cartersville for 5 years before moving to a high school in Adairsville, Georgia teaching just about every social studies and coaching the Mock Trial team. My hobbies included traveling, reading (Gresham, Baldacci, North Patterson, Connelly, and Dan Brown), golf, tennis, and politics. Recently, I’ve been trying to get back in shape by running and have been proud with my progress. I am hoping to finish my dissertation for my PhD in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University sometime before my hair falls out.

Jamie: My husband and I moved to Saudi Arabia in August of 2010 to take teaching positions in Dhahran where I am teaching high school social studies. Prior to this, I have been working in Shekou for 2 years teaching in a middle school. Before this, I worked in Calhoun, Georgia for 4 years teaching every high school social studies subject. After graduating from Rome High School in Georgia, I went to the University of Georgia and earned a Social Science Education degree in 2004. I have since graduated with my master’s degree in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University and working on my PhD dissertation in Curriculum and Instruction from Capella University. I love reading and traveling as well as spending time with the most wonderful husband in the world.

We actually met in 2004 on a blind date set up by one of Eric’s former students’ mother. We started dating and were engaged on New Year’s Eve of 2006 and subsequently were married on June 2, 2007 in Rome, Georgia. We are avid travelers and cultural readers and decided we wanted see the world and began searching for teaching jobs abroad. We figured since we were still young and without any children, now would be the best time. We have had amazing travels through China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, and Bali, Indonesia.

We will be teaching in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia starting in August 2010 to teach middle and high school for a 2 year contract. We are excited about this new experience and hope that it opens up new travel opportunities for us.

Sharing stories, expertise, and experiences from international educators around the world. In the spirit of amplifying diverse voices. TIE's blog space is not subject to editorial oversight. TIE bloggers have a long history in various aspects of international education and share their thoughts and insights based on personal experiences.