On solid ground.

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Even before going to the hotel, I stopped at one of the many shopping malls to purchase a phone. Not only did I want to be sure I had a way to be connected to family back home, but I knew I needed one for all of the immigration processes I was about to go through.

Finally settled into my hotel, I took a long look out of my 17th floor window and, from that high, decided that this new place wasn’t all that different from my old place (minus the sand and heat). I also decided I would do something nice for myself that night and have a gourmet dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant.

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After a tasty amuse bouche of seared scallop topped with squid ink foam and jalapeno jelly, and a filling goat cheese tortellini, I headed back to my room for the hope of a good night’s rest. Instead, I stared wide awake at the TV flipping between the two English-speaking channels until nearly 4 a.m.. This was partly due to the time change (Abu Dhabi is eight hours ahead of my hometown), and partly due to the anxiety of spending my first of two years’ worth of nights in my new “home.” Not to mention the plethora of medical testing I was about to undergo for sake of obtaining my Emirates ID. But I shut my eyes hard and willed myself to sleep. And awoke two hours later exhausted, but ready.

Up, up and away…

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I left the security of my home back in the United States on September 1st, 2015. I certainly wasn’t sure of what to expect, I just knew I was taking on one of the greater adventures of my life. The friends, family, and colleagues I left behind all told me how brave I was for doing this and what a great opportunity it was going to be. While I believed that, my head and heart were unable to reconcile it. Every minute I spent in the air was another several dozen┬ámiles I was putting between myself and my loved ones.

Once I landed, I decided to do my best to swallow my sadness and really take in this unparalleled opportunity to learn about and submerge myself in a culture I would only otherwise read about. I hoisted my backpack on my shoulders and disembarked the plane to embark upon this new journey that is Angel in Abu Dhabi.