Coral and Ennis Johnson: Updates from Dubai

In February 2019, we had the joy of meeting educators Coral and Ennis Johnson at the ISS-Schrole Advantage San Francisco job fair. By the end of the fair, we also had the joy of celebrating as they accepted positions at the American School of Dubai, Coral as a Learning Support Specialist and Ennis as a Technology Teacher! You can relive their fair journey in this feature posted in March.

Now that the Johnson family has made the move, catch up with what has been surprising about life in Dubai, what advice they offer to other educators thinking about teaching overseas, and more:

How was the family move and transition to Dubai?
The transition for our family has been one we’re still working through.  It has been such a rollercoaster of emotions from leaving our family on the other side of the world to getting to know our new family on a new side of the world.  We are still adjusting, but definitely enjoying every minute of this new adventure.

What has life been like at your new school and positions (and for your kids at a new school)?

Our school has been the absolute best.  Everyone has been extremely supportive and kind in helping with our transition.  We absolutely love this new environment with such an amazing student body and wonderful staff.  Going to an international school for the first time is truly an experience.  It is extremely different than public school in the U.S. The ability to meet staff and students alike from all over the world is like culture shock – WE LOVE IT!

Our kids have done so well with the adjustment.  They are absolutely loving all of the clubs and activities they are able to be a part of here. The school culture truly supports new students, so their teachers have been working tirelessly, I’m sure, to make the change and adjustment for the girls a positive one.

What have you been enjoying about living in Dubai?

Coral: My FAVORITE thing about living in Dubai would be the food!  There are so many different cultures represented here in Dubai that you can practically find food from every continent.  Dubai is also a very much delivery culture. I am able to have my groceries delivered when I don’t feel like going shopping, medicine delivered from the pharmacy, gas delivered to my car, and all of the yummy restaurants deliver.

Ennis: My favorite thing about Dubai is the mashup of almost all landscapes.  If you want the beach like Miami – Dubai has it. If you want tall buildings and a great city feel like NY – Dubai has it.  If you want the ability to go to concerts, the opera, fabulous brunches, comedy shows, any and everything – Dubai has it. There is always something to do even for the kids, so it has been a big deal for us to literally have to plan to do nothing.

What has been challenging about living abroad, and how do you adapt?

The most challenging part about living abroad for us is leaving our friends and family.  It can be difficult to form new relationships with people, especially when you have 2 semi-introverts on this journey together.  Adjusting to a completely different way of life: from plug sockets to food options has been a bit challenging, especially for our girls.  Things as simple as finding the cereal they like have turned into a grocery store hunt. Learning to drive amongst a myriad of different cultures i.e. different road rules have been an adventure.  We came from the imperial system in the U.S., so coming to a metric system has been a whole different ball game through conversions of temperature in Celsius, street signs in kilometers and so many other things.  We are still working through the value of coins here in Dubai. It’s kind of funny.

Anything surprising that you’ve learned or experienced about living abroad?

Something that was surprising to us was how much our quality of life has changed.  Quality of life has actually changed exponentially for both us and the girls. We are able to travel more than we ever have been previously.  The girls are involved in much more activities because the school offers so many things. We’re halfway to debt-free which is a big deal for both of us!

Another thing that has been surprising to us is how much the status of teaching is valued.  Not only do parents appreciate you and respect you, but the students do too! They are so grateful and thankful everyday that it can become overwhelming.

Lastly, any advice for people entering this upcoming recruiting/fair season and thinking about making the leap? 

Just do it!  It is the best decision we have made for our family.  We have given our girls the best gift we could ever give them that will last their entire lives.  Embrace the challenges, enjoy the struggles and get ready for the best roller coaster ride of your life!

Thank you so much to the Johnsons for sharing these family updates! You can find Coral and Ennis on Twitter, plus follow more of their adventures through their amazing vlog, Journey with the Johnsons.

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