What are we doing here?

Some background information on our move to Abu Dhabi, since many people have inquired:

Jeff is doing a post-doctoral fellowship with NYU Abu Dhabi. It’s guaranteed for two years with an optional third year, which we will probably take.

When Jeff first told me about the position, I told him no. Don’t even apply. I am not moving to Abu Dhabi. After having two kids on the opposite side of the country from both of our families, I really wanted to move closer, not farther away. And the Middle East? Not high on my list of places to visit, let alone live. I am a woman. A Jewish woman. A loud-mouthed Jewish woman. Not a great fit for a Muslim country.

About a week later, I was having lunch with my sister-in-law Lisa and we got to talking about the idea. I realized that I was being pretty closed-minded and that there were many reasons why a move like that could be great for our family. I have always wanted to live abroad (Jeff and I met while we were both studying in Germany), and while I would have preferred a European city, this was the opportunity that was presenting itself. The timing would be perfect for our pre-school aged kids and they would be exposed to a new culture (in fact, many new cultures, since Abu Dhabi is a real melting-pot, especially at the university) and have the chance to learn Arabic, which could be really advantageous for their futures. And the travel opportunities from this region are soooo amazing. It’s a three hour flight to India. And not long to Turkey and North Africa. And I could take the girls on a safari in East Africa.

So I told Jeff that he should at least apply. There was no reason to close the door. If he didn’t get the position, we would do something else and if he did, we could then decide whether it was the right choice. And so he did apply. And as he went through all the different stages of the application and interview processes, I became more and more excited by the real possibility of the move.

This postdoc is a lot nicer than many of the others that Jeff was looking at. To begin with, most postdocs are only a year long, and since you have to apply for an academic job on the academic calendar, he would have to go on the job market in the fall just as the postdoc was beginning, not yet reaping any of the benefits of the extra year. Two to three years will give him ample time to do his own research and get published (especially since the NYUAD postdoc has no teaching or research requirements – he’s essentially getting paid to do his own work). And the pay is…pretty nice. Pretty darn nice. And there are so many added perks: our housing is paid for, the girls’ educations are paid for, our moving expenses were covered, Jeff has a travel allowance, etc.

So, yeah. Obviously Jeff did get the job. We made the decision as a family (a.k.a. we showed Adele “Aladdin” and asked if she wanted to move there) to accept the offer and move to Abu Dhabi. Of course, there are things that I am not happy about. When I first googled “living with kids in Abu Dhabi,” some website came up that said there were so many fun things for kids to do in Abu Dhabi, but that if breathing fresh air was important to you, you should not move there. Um, I do think that my kids breathing fresh air is important. And it is oh so far away from family. I am just hoping that people are excited enough to visit (both us and the many tourist attractions Abu Dhabi has to offer) that they are willing to make the long, expensive flight. And we’ll see how the whole being Jewish thing goes. It is very important to me to raise Jewish children and that will be difficult without a greater Jewish community, but we are at NYU and I’m sure there are other Jews here too…I just have to find them.

Long story short, we are here in Abu Dhabi for three years. Please come visit.


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