Teaching in Abu Dhabi

For today’s blog post, I’ve collaborated with a fantastic follower of my page – Kathryn Lonergan who is a post primary teacher working in Abu Dhabi. I first spoke to Kathryn a year ago… just as she was beginning her preparation for her move to the Middle East. She tell us about the reasons she is teaching abroad and the highs and lows of her experience there….
Life in Ireland
Kathryn says “I was working for 7 years in a great school in Meath and took a career break for a year after a period of illness. My second year was refused so I decided to resign.
I took up a post in another school in Dublin but after a while I felt like I needed a change. That, coupled with the fact I was last living in a TINY room in North Dublin with 4 other teachers in their 30s and my car on the verge of permanently breaking down – meant that I felt I had no option but to look abroad.
I had no savings to speak of as an Lower Paid Teacher and the prospect of my own apartment in the sun was a real incentive.
Getting a ‘Good Job’
I’ve been out here since August and it’s had its ups and downs. I was lucky, I got into a good school with few behaviour issues. I am gaining IB experience (education system held in high regard in International Schools)  and working with students and staff from all over the world.
The Move to Abu Dhabi
Speaking of her initial settling in period Kathryn says…. “There was about 15 of us started together (8 Irish!) and we all get on like a house on fire. Its lovely having an apartment and a pool and the social life is great. There are lots of outdoor activities and opportunities to get fit (or fat, with all the brunches!)
The Downside
The downsides are plenty but not enough to send me home yet… It’s very expensive, especially for food. A tub of yoghurt that you would get in Lidl for €1 is €5/6.
There are lots of unexpected charges too, renting a car and tolls, a property tax that we didn’t know about, internet is €100 a month!
The Social Side
“Everything revolves around being social so unless you want to sit in your apartment on your own, you have to go out and end up spending money. ” Kathryn outlines.
Teaching at Second Level
“I’m definitely not missing the horror stories of the new Junior Certificate – though I definitely have an increased appreciation of how good the education system is in Ireland. Students here are paying 12.000 plus a year in fees for the same education we get for free.”
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Advice for Those Considering a Move to the Middle East
She suggests: “Make sure you ask all necessary questions…but be prepared for no answers.
Eg. Is accommodation shared / individual? What bills are included? Is there municipality tax? What does their health insurance cover (mine doesn’t even cover inhalers so 80 euros a month!)
What is the working day? What is make up of school, nationalities etc?
Are flights home only when you leave or once a year? They are really starting to cut back on these Kathryn warns.
Other than that, if you are open-minded, adaptable, optimistic, patient, up for new challenges and meeting new people, then go for it. The time is flying by.” she says.
Overall, it seems that Kathryn’s experience abroad is mostly a positive one. If you’re considering the Middle East for your Career Break or as an Newly Qualified Teacher – go in with your eyes open and ask the questions that you need to help you figure out if the opportunity is for you.
Thanks a million to Kathryn for her wonderful insights into life and teaching in Abu Dhabi. It’s fantastic to learn of her experience first hand.