Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things I Just Can't Seem to Get Straight...

I have been in UAE for 2 months 19 days and four hours. But who's counting? As I noted in the beginning, learning to live here was exhausting. Everything (and I do mean everything from using the bathroom to dialing a phone to paying for groceries to knowing what to wear to everything else in the daily life) I had to figure out. Now I have been here long enough that most things I know well enough to teach other new arrivals. But there are a few things that I just can't seem to reprogram my brain for. These include:

  • How to dial the phone. There is a different procedure to use for dialing a mobile number or a cell number from a mobile number or a cell number. The numbers on people's business cards are not necessarily exactly how you would dial the number. If they have the country code in the number you have to drop it. You might have to add a zero to it, or you might have to drop some numbers depending on what kind of phone you are calling from. Melissa is pretty sharp. She is in her twenties. I think that helps! She has tried to simplify it for me. I hid my request disguised as an attempt to put things down in writing to help other new arrivals. She found the simplest way to put it. Reduced my half page write up to four simple lines. I still need to look up those four simple lines whenever I dial. This is just too new a trick for this old dog. And you know what they say about teaching new tricks to old dogs. That dog won't hunt...

  • I don't seem to be able to reprogram my brain for a Sunday through Thursday work week. When Thursday arrives I say "Thank God it's Friday." When I am organizing plans for the weekend, I always tell people "Saturday" when I mean Friday. Same problem with Sunday.

I put out a meeting agenda this week. The meeting was on Monday. My mind processes this as "OK. I have one day to prepare after the weekend. So I put together the meeting agenda and send it to verybody with the heading "Agenda for Tuesday's Meeting." I have the wrong day on the agenda as well. Result: I have confused everybody and it takes a bunch of emails and corrections to straighten it out.

Additionally, with the 11 hour offset from the timezone at home I am always confused on what time I've set up for Skype calls, etc. Fortunately Outlook, our electronic mail/calendar program for work, automatically adjusts time when an appointment is set by someone in another time zone. Unfortunately my brain does not do the same.

  • Metric System. How many of you were told in the second grade that you needed to learn the metric system because by the time you were in JR. High this would be the US standard? Didn't happen, did it? In second grade they brought out a felt bag with little wooden cubes. Purple and red and green and blue ones. We grouped them into rows of ten and then ten rows of ten. And talked about centimeters and decimeters. I remember it as great fun. How pretty those cubes were. The tactile experience of moving those around. I loved the metric system. Loved as in past tense. Now not so much. We never moved to the metric system and now that my brain is past the formative years I just can't seem to adjust to thinking about the metric system.

Or to calling the letter Z "zed". Which they do here too. Though there are other British terms that I will come home using I'm sure. Like football for soccer. Perhaps I will pick up a limey accent as well. There are lots of Brits and Aussies around, including in the office. And many non-English speaking nationalities learned their English from the Brits so they speak with that accent as well. I digress. Circling back...the metric system trips me up. This also affects my ability to complain eloquently to you all about how hot it is here. "It's up to fifty-degrees" just doesn't get that much empathy. But saying it's 120 does. But I never know when it's 120 because all the signs and all around are discussing the fifty thing. All I can tell you is it's damn hot. Oh, but now cooling down to 48! Hope is on the way.

  • The money thing. The conversion rate is somewhere around 3.6. Which means things aren't nearly expensive as they initially appear to be. Like a hotel room for $400. Only it's really $108 US. So I get in this pattern of reading a price. Gasping at the price, remembering I get to divide it by 3.6 and the result is so much nicer. Problem is some things are still expensive. But I have already talked myself into relief that it's not 3.6 times as expensive and have my money down before I consider if it really is a good deal. The money thing requires too much thinking. Fortunately I do have a good app on my iPhone for money AND metric conversion. But I wish my mind could just do it, you know?

And so it goes. Two months. Twenty days. And now...five hours. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this, Sis! I can't imagine having to figure this stuff out. My brain doesn't work very well when it's hot. OK, it just doesn't work as well as it used to not matter what the temperature. Keep smiling! LOVE U!!