So far the UAE is a pretty smooth place, at least compared to the other Arab countries we've lived in. It's like you could almost believe you were in Europe or the US and then you come across a sign like this - check out their courtesy policy:
In other news, we are spending most of our time unpacking and settling in. I'll tell you what, it took me until today to get over a strange aversion to emptying our suitcases. I kept thinking thoughts like, "why should I bother? We'll just be leaving soon again anyway. I don't want to take anything out of the suitcase just to have to put it back in again." Of course this doesn't make sense now that we are at our final destination for the foreseeable future. But it's no surprise I feel that way since we've been on the go for the last four months. I tallied it up and since May 14 when we left Ithaca for Egypt, we've spent the night in no less than 19 different places (if you count that night in the Newark Airport, and I do). It feels good to finally hang something up on a hanger for once.
We went to church on Friday, and yes, that means we attended church twice in one week (we also went last Sunday in Portland. We're righteous like that). The makeup of the congregation here reminds me a little bit of the one in Beirut, namely that it is heavily Filipino with everyone else being from miscellaneous countries. And man, do those Filipinos know how to run things. Relief Society (the women's meeting) was like a well oiled machine. I was so impressed. It's a good thing they have it together, too, because the Sharjah congregation meeting is filmed and broadcast over the internet to Mormons living in parts of Kuwait, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Jeremy says he's really excited to give a talk and say something shocking over the live webcast. And talk about pressure to keep your kids well behaved during the service!
Even though we've lived in the Arab world before, the UAE is plenty different. We've experienced a few hiccups already, like when Jeremy bought an assortment of liquid handsoaps to stock our freaking FOUR bathrooms (as Miriam pointed out, we could each choose our own!). Two of the brands were familiar (Dettol (my secret love), and Lux) but the other one was LifeBuoy. And wow, is that stuff disgusting. I used it for the first time at the kitchen sink and it was like waves of sensory revulsion suddenly descended on me. There was the initial gross smell, then as you sudsed it, an even more revolting smell was released. It seriously made me gag. So yes, that soap will be going in the guest room bathroom, thank you very much.
We walked around campus the other afternoon and it is gorgeous. It's a little bit Taj Mahal, a little bit US Capitol, and a little bit ancient desert outpost. Just beautiful.
One crazy thing is the plug shape system they have going on here. The outlets are those funky, crooked UK three-prongs. So are many of the things you can buy here. Many, but not all. Anything tech-y seems to have the round two-prong generic European plug, which doesn't fit in the UK socket. Then of course we have a few American plugs among our stuff so it turns out we have to get a bunch of plug adapters in all different variations. Thank goodness for universal power strips. Someone is making a fortune here selling those.
But things are going well. We're happy even if the jet lag is still brutal and we look forward to getting to know this place better.