Abu Dhabi Memories · Memoirs of the Innocent

A Confuse 20-Something on her Future Plans

It’s a beautiful Saturday in this part of the world. Winter is finally coming, and weather is finally bearable. Soon, I will be able to take a walk in one of the city’s famous walking park, the Corniche road.

I’m here in my bed right now, writing. I’m on for a three-day weekend, so yey! Did you know? Tomorrow is Islamic New Year, or they call it Hijri. The Islamic calendar uses the lunar calendar, so most of its celebrations have different dates every year as it depends on moon sighting. Last Wednesday, it was officially declared that the Hijri New Year will be on 2 October, so today, it their New Year’s Eve.

Once again, I was absent for a whole week from my blog. It has been a crazy week for me and it is only the beginning. As a hotelier, we have “pick-up seasons,” in our language, this means when our hotels are filling up. For leisure hotels (such as resorts), this is usually summer or autumn or when it is a good time for the beach (in this part of the world, summer is dead because it is sooooo hot, we can’t bear the heat). In the UAE, pick-up season starts in September all the way to March, this is because the weather here is just perfect!

People often ask me how the weather here, being that it’s a desert. Well, in summer, if we were made of plastic, we’d all have melted by now. We’d go up to 40-50 degrees Celsius, and because we’re a desert and we don’t have much trees here, the heat is much worse and the humidity! But in winter, we go down to 15 degrees Celsius. Now, for those of you who experience snow, that’s not impressive, I’m sure. We do have the Arabian Gulf and the wind is crazy, it gets so cold I won’t ever go out without a sweater on. The best month to visit the UAE (if you plan to) is in February-April, weather is not so cold but hot enough for the beautiful blue beaches here.

So anyway, yeah, it’s busy season now and I had to do so many things for all the promotions the hotel is doing right now.

I’ve been thinking about my future lately. My contract here will end in March and I’ve been thinking of not renewing it. In fact, I am 90% sure that I will no longer renew my contract with my employer here. Career-wise, it’s a smart move because I’ve been feeling stagnant here and I need to grow, so I’m looking for new challenges and landscape. To be honest, I don’t see myself growing here in the UAE, despite its hospitality.

I don’t have much options, I can either go home and look for a job there or put up my own business (which I would need capital for, which means I’ll probably take a loan but I’m not ready to commit to that yet), or go somewhere else to look for a job. Another option is that I take my Masteral degree somewhere abroad. I’m really leaning towards the latter but this is also going to cost me, so I’m going through scholarship funding, and it’s not easy at all! I don’t know where to start and I’m so confuse right now. I’ve always wanted to go back studying so I’m really hoping this option would work out for me.

Anyway, this is just my meandering mind once again. Hopefully, things will work out. I’m glad I have this three-day weekend to think things through and to write some entry here.

So, what do you think I should do? 🙂

Abu Dhabi Memories · Daily Prompt · Stories

Thursdays are for the Deadlines



Today was a crazy day at work and I just want to express that. My head has been pounding for some time now but I refuse to take medications. I’m a strong believer of mind over matter. 🙂

I’m now in bed after ten hours of work with deadlines to catch and  basically everyone coming into my office to let me know they have last minute requests. I work in Marketing and “last minutes” are the number one words in our vocabulary. It happens so much that it becomes the norm, and I absolutely detest it. Sadly, it’s part of the job. 😦

Basically, I’ve been slogging the whole day and needed a breather. And even though my head is aching like crazy, I’m still staring at my computer, writing (even though I’ve stared at my work PC basically the whole day). I should really take a rest. Help!

And for those of you who have not read my “About,” I work in the Middle East, in Abu Dhabi specifically. So Thursdays are our Fridays, and because it’s the last day of the week, all the requests come rushing in on this particular day.

And so now, to relax myself, I’ve turned on my Bon Iver playlist, because Justin Vernon is a celestial god who graced Earth with his presence and music. If you’ve not heard of his ethereal voice, do yourself a favor and go to YouTube now. 🙂

It’s kinda weird how I was writing this entry and  opening up another tab to find out that today’s daily prompt is “slog.” WEIRD!

Abu Dhabi Memories

A Night of Hookah and Relationships

In a small restaurant filled with smoke of different scents and flavors, I sat with three of my colleagues. I took a hit from the long pipe covered with purple cloth decorated with Arabic ornaments. I inhaled, and I heard a faint rustling of bubbles coming from beneath me. Slowly, I tasted the very mild but unmistakable flavor of apple. As it scratches my throat, I immediately release a puff of smoke, filling the air with scented mist. I was never much into shisha or hookah (as some of you call it).

We talk about our week, often times lingering on a specific event – digesting each detail and trying to make sense of it. At one point, in our mild dizziness, we spoke about relationships – our expectations and how we truly feel about it.

“I don’t want to be with someone I don’t see myself with in the future,” said one of the girls, (we’ll call her Girl 1). “I want to be in a serious relationship, if we’re not on the same page, I feel like I’m wasting my time. And I don’t really need that kind of burden,” she added in her very mild Spanish accent.

I nodded my head.

“I’ve always seen relationships as investment. I invest my time, my love and mostly, myself with someone when I’m in a relationship. I want to be with someone who is as invested as me, who wants to make the relationship,” I said.

“Well, right now, I’m into something more casual,” said Girl 2, in a non-nonchalant tone.

“Well, you are still 20, so why not,” I trailed off, looking at Girl 2.

Our only male companion, who stood up a few minutes ago to go to the restroom, now stood at the back of his chair, waiting for a server to pass by before he pulls out the chair and sits on it. All of us shrugged and dropped the subject, like we had an understanding that we didn’t want him to hear whatever we just talk about.

The chattering continued, and I took several more hit on the shisha before feeling dizzy. It didn’t take long before we all decided to go back home.

We got outside, the warm humidity of the city hits my face. Summer is coming, the temperature is rising, we all feel it in the night.

We walked back to our place, the starless sky looming above us. I walked with Girl 1 while Girl 2 and Male walked a few feet ahead of us. We took off from where we stop our conversation and had an exchange of similar views.

She then told me about her ex-boyfriend whom she moved in with at one point.

“He was rude to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“At first, it was nice. He feels jealous here and there, but then it got overboard. He would tell me I was being flirty and that I should respect him more and act a certain way because that’ll make him happy.”

“When we have our fights, I ask him why he was doing that. Why he would force me to be someone I’m not. He told me because that’s what I’m supposed to do – that I needed to respect him and that his word, his decisions should be something I follow.”

I listened to her, feeling sorry for how it went down with this guy.

“Well, eventually, I got tired and exhausted. I didn’t want to be in that kind of relationship anymore. I ended it, it wasn’t easy. Slowly, I was able to pick up the pieces that he tore away from me and now, I’m recognizing myself once again.” She gave me a smile, a bitter yet triumphant one.

“Good for you, no one should lose themselves in a relationship. No one should be forced to be someone else just because the other person says so” I told her, giving her a smile back.

I was glad she got away from that kind of relationship before it got worse. I saw this young, confident, beautiful woman in front of me who wears her scars on her sleeves. She was only just beginning to see the world. And that relationship only made her stronger.

Abu Dhabi Memories


Hey everyone, sorry for the absence! I was having a wonderful birthday celebration by going on a mini-vacation in Dubai. 🙂 🙂

Can’t wait to catch up with everyone’s post. Also, me and my friend Annette will be launching a new project!

It’s great to touch base again.



Abu Dhabi Memories · Memoirs of the Innocent

A year into being an Expat

Today marks my first year in Abu Dhabi, well, technically, I landed yesterday but my life in Abu Dhabi didn’t start until the day after, which is today – exactly a year ago.

I packed my bags and left all the comforts that a home has to offer to fulfill one of my dreams. As a person who loves travelling, I’ve always dreamed of being an expat – to work and live in a different country and meet a variety of multi-cultured people.

I’ve always been independent – I’ve moved to a different city for college and stayed after graduation for work. Technically, I’ve only been visiting my hometown since 2007. I’ve made a life in my second home, Cebu City, a metropolis in the Philippines. I find myself saying “Cebu” when someone asks me which city I’m from in the Philippines and always add the fact that my hometown is a tinier city called Ormoc.

And even though I’ve had enough training of being far away from my parents, it didn’t made adjusting easier for me. When I landed, I only knew of two people in the city and we didn’t even meet until weeks and months after. I came here bare and raw, with nothing but my bag filled with hopes and promises of growth and self-discovery.

Abu Dhabi has been a gracious host. It has given me some worthwhile experiences and has afforded me memories I wouldn’t trade anything for. I have met people from around the globe and my knowledge on culture continues to expands. I work with diverse nationalities with very different culture and yet, we find ourselves together working to reach the same goal.

I’ve seen things happening in Abu Dhabi that would never happened anywhere else in the world. Amazing architectural beauties that fills the heart of the city, I’ve taken glimpses of new luxuries I couldn’t have even imagined. There’s always a Ladies Night somewhere where we could drink cocktails and dance all night long.

And mostly, I’ve learned to appreciate the rich Islamic culture of this country. I’m glad that I have gotten myself more acquainted with Islam and how it is an integral part of every day life here. If I have any questions about it, I only ask my Muslim friends and they’re happy to talk to me about their faith.

I am glad that I took the opportunity to work here. It might not be rainbows and sunshines all the time, and it might have been difficult when I didn’t have a physical support system but I’ve grown. I might not be able to point what’s different about me, but I know somehow I am. I think differently, I might talk differently now, I might even have  new habits, and this is part of growing up. I’ve met people here that I’ll always cherish.

Have my hopes been fulfilled? Not everything, but it’s a continuous process. I might not find everything that I wanted here, but I definitely found something. I’m not entirely sure if my goal to self-discovery has been successful, but I know this journey has pushed me in so many ways.

It’s been a year since I haven’t been home. I’ve missed birthdays, family trips, get togethers, Christmas and New Year but it made me stronger. I’m planning to go home on May and I cannot wait to hug my family, my friends and my dogs! I’ve missed so many things from home, and I really cannot wait. 🙂


-May J


Abu Dhabi Memories

New Beginnings

I really don’t know how I ended up here, in another country, a thousand miles away from home. It only took one word: yes, and I saw myself packing my stuff, leaving 23 years worth of memories behind. It may seem easy, but it’s a swirl of emotions.

A promise of self-discovery, of independence and of cultural experience, was what it took me to kiss my parents and hug my friends goodbye. It’s been two months since I made the nine-hour flight that brought me to the cultural city of Abu Dhabi, and I continue to embrace the path I chose.

The last time I saw my parents was before I left for Manila two days before my flight. They brought me to the Cebu airport. It was one of the most difficult flight I ever made.

Since leaving home, I have been bombarded by questions of “how are you doing?” And I always answer the same way, “I’m okay so far.” Moving here made me realize what adjustment really means.

I knew exactly what I was getting into; I only knew two souls in this city, a friend from high school and another from college. This practically makes me alone. To put this in perspective, I’ve only seen these two people once in the two months I’ve been here. Understandable, since they’ve already made lives of their own here and I don’t want to bother them so much.

Most of the time, its all flowers and sunshine here. But there are moments when I feel like I’m floating in a vast body of water and a sudden wave crashes into me, then I’m drowning. When this happens, the reality of being alone in this big, unknown, culturally-different city suffocates me. I find myself questioning if I made the right decision of leaving. Thoughts of uncertainties and doubts flood my mind. I comfort myself with the thought that I will be a much better version of myself than I was before I left my sheltered nest.

Being emotionally invested is probably the biggest adjustment every OFW had to go through, well at least to me, it is. Everything is new, you don’t know anyone, and every one you love is oceans apart. Despite all of these, you will have to learn to love the new job, to love the new country – no matter how different it is from home, to meet new people and slowly trusting them. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes breathtaking moments to finally have that connection you’ve longed and missed when you hopped into that plane. You hope that one day, you will feel a belongingness, enough to make this foreign land feel like home.

I feel truly blessed to have met a few people who adopted me and made me one of their own. Their company is the thread that holds my sanity amidst an abyss of loneliness. I am grateful for the friendship they offered when they didn’t know a thing about me. I don’t think the introvert in me would have survived if it weren’t for them.

Right now, I am still in the process of taking everything slow. As a hotelier, I go to work in the morning and after ten hours in the office go home to my accommodation. Most of the time, I’ll be too exhausted to do anything else but feed myself. On weekends, I mostly find myself at home catching up with my favorite TV shows or reading a book, rebooting myself for yet another week.

Sadly, I am yet to go around the city. I have expected that I can do this on my own, but I overestimated myself. The Grand Mosque and Etihad Towers for example are far from where I live. I either take a cab or a bus (I also don’t know how to ride one), and when I do get there, I wouldn’t know what to do. Also, its way too hot in this country at this time, it’s almost summer and you do not want to find yourself outside the streets meandering at this temperature. I find myself embarrassed when someone asks me if I’ve been around town, because it is a constant reminder that I am yet to make friends who will show me the treasures of this city. Ouch! Also, as I am writing this, I have only realized that I haven’t taken any photos around where I’ve been.

On the rare occasion that I do get out, it’s because of work. Here I am in Al Forsan, a multi-million sports resort in the city.

In spite of all of these, I feel optimistic. I am slowly feeling comfortable and I hope soon enough, I’ll find myself going out more, by myself or with some friends. I would want to be able to use this time to discover my limits. As of this moment, I am still between the line of my comfort zone and what’s out there. One foot has left the box, because moving into a new country alone counts as a huge leap. One foot is still inside because I find myself shying away from people and places.

Slowly, my box will get bigger and wider. The things I thought I would never be able to do will be part of my comfort zone and I will have to find other ways to step out of the line again. I feel excited with the prospects of seeing what I can do and what I can’t do, of success and failures, of gaining and losing.
When I was making the decision of leaving home, a quote popped into my mind and it says,

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders”

This quote has been a part of my decision-making process ever since I first read it. Whenever I look where my dreams go, it always wanders to places I’ve never been, of faces I’ve never seen, of languages I’ve never heard or spoken and it remembers memories I am yet to experience. It constantly reminds me to travel and experience more.

I may not be sure how I ended up here, but I sure have no regrets, regardless of the struggles.

This is where I’m supposed to be right now, the future is the sum of all the decisions we make. And I want my future to be a canvas full of twists and turns, of stitches and burns, of memories and melodies.

I don’t know how to end this, so I’ll end it with a quote I use as my desktop wallpaper: