So it’s all very well being inspired, but how could I make it happen? My mind was buzzing with ideas but the first hurdle would be to convince my boss to allow me to have the time off! I work in higher education and Academics are allowed a sabbatical so it stood to reason that there must be a similar arrangement for staff … and there is: unpaid leave. With all fairness what I was contemplating was officially called a ‘career break’ and at that time plenty of people were taking time off to do one thing or another so I needed to put together a plan that would suitably impress my boss, and hope that he would allow me my job back on my return.
I was due to visit my friend Charlie over in Abu Dhabi in March (2016) so one day while we were enjoying tea and cake I mentioned my idea. She was all for it! Charlie was a real inspiration to me as she had followed her dreams, left the UK and was now married with a gorgeous son, an amazing house, a great job and was very happy. Rather than just taking some time out maybe I could follow her example and find a job in the Emirates?
I must say I was tempted. I had been to Abu Dhabi and Dubai a couple of times and enjoyed the buzz. Coupled with the great weather, trips to the beach (when it wasn’t 45 degrees), trips to the desert (ditto), ladies nights at the big hotels, Micheline-starred restaurants, great ex-pat community etc. The thought of living the life of luxury and growing rich on a tax-free salary certainly appealed.
Charlie’s sister was a teacher and was currently interviewing for teaching positions in the Emirates, these sorts of roles came up quite frequently and included great benefits. Music teaching was something I did for a short while at the start of my career, and while I have an M.A. in Music I was unqualified as a teacher so not really in a position to go for a fully-fledged teaching job. We had a brainwave and decided I should obtain a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification. This would give me skills and options should I decide to not just take a career break but something more permanent.
It was with regret that I left sunny Abu Dhabi, but normal life had to resume. I duly enrolled on a TEFL course and began thinking a bit more about what my trip might involve and what I might do.