Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teaching in Egypt

Is now summer and every teacher is enjoying one of the perks of the profession, which is being on vacation! This is the perfect time for teachers to look for new jobs and I decided that I wanted to give a few pointers about what to expect while teaching in Egypt.
 
Teaching is one of those careers that requires patience and  a lot of hard work. It gives us the opportunity to connect and make changes in our students lives. If you are looking for new job in Egypt as a teacher and you are not currently in the country please read these carefully.

  1. Your best chance at getting a good salary is to go with International Schools. Salaries depend on qualifications but do not let the fact that maybe you have only one year of experience deter you from taking a good salary. You are not in the US or the UK anymore and things here are different. 
  2. Negotiate and Expat package. If you are not in Egypt this the best time for you to negotiate accommodations, transportation and salary. Schools are always stingy and tell you no but you have to be firm about it because after it you cannot change anything.A good salary ranges between $2000-$2600 a month. They pay you monthly.
  3. Work permit. This point is very important, must of the schools will either ignore this or tell you that you need to do it yourself. Do NOT let this happen. Mogama is the place where you get visas and believe me it is not apt for foreigners. The place is a nightmare. I know of people that don't renovate their visas just to avoid going there. You do not speak the language and frankly this is not something that is up to you. The school needs to stop being lazy and get this done. Fight it if you have to they are not going to fire you for it. With the new government issues they are actually visiting schools to check this out.
  4.  Education in Egypt is Business. This point made me crazy before I really understood it. Is never about the Education and how the child needs this and that. No, is about mommy and daddy paying money, outrageously amounts of money so therefore they now what is best for their children.  You are never good enough. Egyptian parents are the worst, the child is never wrong. Bad thing is they don't just go to you they go the administration and demand to know what is going on. Then the administration comes back to you and says just re issue the test and give him a a review again with the same test. Education much? I think this is why this country is the way it is, lack of good Education! 
  5. Never give your number to parents. They will ask, they will demand but you have to be strong! You sanity depends on it! It is not a joke. I always say, I don't remember the number or the school policy is not to give it. I don't care what I use at that moment as long as they don't get it. They can be your worst nightmare, calling you at all hours of the night and talking for hours if you let them. You giving your phone number is like tutoring them whenever the parent feels like it. 
  6. Never give 100% They are some great schools here with good administrations... maybe in my dreams. Anyways my point is the more you give to them the more they will exploit you. There is no concept on teamwork on this groups of teachers and everything will fall back on you. Look first how the school works and then follow the example.Working in Egypt is laid back and not fast paced.
  7. Brace yourself for Quizzes and Homework.  The amount of quizzes I had to give in one of the schools made me the most unbearable teacher in the universe. I hate for anyone to tell me what is best for my teaching program when they don't know what they are talking about. Can you believe I had to give 2 quizzes a week per each of my classes I had two grades so make that 4 quizzes a week. One page of homework is not enough they ask you to give them at least 10 pages of homework for first and second graders a day! Madness.
  8. Changing Schools. For those teachers who want to change schools and stay in the country I have some bad news. Do not expect an expat salary. Is very rare that this happens. After you are here they pay you more than Egyptians of course but not the same as if you were back home making the negotiations. This is one of the things that makes me upset because is just plain ridiculous. Did I just loose my English skills because I am living in Egypt??! 
Consider this tips and try to make the best of it as all of us who are here do. Egyptian children can be difficult and spoiled rotten but overall they are very loving children. Prepare yourself for the personal questions the
little ones do not care about personal space this is Egypt. Be sure to plan carefully and explore before making any choices. I hope you find a good school this year!


My students in an outdoor activity

If you have any questions or comments about your experience feel free to comment! Thank you for reading and following me.



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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Home or Away?

I am thinking of visiting Europe this year. I absolutely hate long airplanes trips and going back home is a long way. One of the best things about Egypt is that is close to Europe! One of the biggest hassles is trying to find a good website that offers you good deals and are true to what they are offering. Is good to always do a search of the websites and other customer’s experiences. Never take something at face value because they have a website. Remember to check with your credit card company too in case of fraud to see what your options are. Some credit cards give you a few days for you to make a complaint and stop the payment

As I was checking deals to try and sneak a last minute trip with habibi I found the page of Parkdean. They have different parks around the UK for family vacations. While in their page I saw a quiz that said home or away? Basically you take this quiz and you are also participating in a contest to win a holiday. 

Honestly this is the first time I visit their page and I love the options they have for every type of budget. you can also take your furry friends! I definitely recommend them and their reviews on their Facebook page are great.

I went the the quiz and saw this amazing beautiful pictures and then saw that they had a timer! So I started choosing the ones I thought were the correct ones. I was feeling so confident until my score came up. I got 320 points! Then they take you to this Leaderboard to see how you did... that's when I knew I needed to get a better score. I decided to make a competition with my readers to see who can get a better score.  Are you  up to the challenge? You can access the quiz directly here http://www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk/homeorawayquiz/#



Enter to win a fantastic Parkdean Holiday worth up to £750




















Know your Newquay from Nice? Take the Home or Away Quiz to be in with a chance of winning a UK family holiday worth £750 with Parkdean Holidays.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Crazy times!

This past months have been a roller coaster for me. There where a lot of holidays in Egypt and the heat has started! Also very important thing I am dealing with taxes situations back from home and that is just stressful enough. A few things that I will like to point out is that Egypt is making a great advancement and is changing to daylight hours starting tomorrow. The clock will be one hour ahead. So be aware that this is going to change. Also they are going to change it back during Ramadan... no idea why because is the same, but hey whatever rocks the Egyptian governments boat.

This month a lot of foreigners are leaving the country to go back home. Others are staying like me, and enjoying the different tourist sites. If you are going home remember to take an extra suitcase to buy what you can't find in Egypt!

My advice is please check the weather before going anywhere I do not recommend you to go to the Pyramids in a 40C weather! You are going to melt! For those looking for vacations check the best deals now is practically very low season in Egypt there is absolutely nothing going on.

The elections are coming so avoid coming during the last two weeks of May. Things may get dicey. Always carry water. This heat is something that we are not use to. Is dry and you feel like you are waling in an oven. Also if you get a taxi, before you get in ask if the AC is working. They are always wanting to save money or lazy to turned it on. For them is normal to sweat and be hot. Do not compromise on this, traffic is awful is some areas and what you think may be a short ride can end up being a long one.


I promise to write more often, I have been crazy busy and also catching up on series! Yes, I found a way to look at TV series from the US, UK and Canada. Projectfreetv.com and watchseries.com are great sites for this. So no need to miss out on anything. If you are home and there is nothing to watch catch up on some of the most favorites TV shows online.

Here is a picture of one the mosques in Downtonw Cairo.



Thank you for reading and following me!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Aspects of Expat life

The great guys of HiFX have come up with a campaign which offers tips to people looking to move abroad. When I was approached I immediately loved the idea. I am both happy and excited to be working with them in this new campaign. You can visit their page for more information and other contributions from fellow expats at www.hifx.co.uk/resources/expat-tips/.  In my contribution I decided to start with a list of a few things that future expats may consider. Do you have what it takes to be an Expat?
Let’s find out! Being an expat is not an easy task. You have to think hard and plan ahead. There are some factors you should consider. If you have what it takes, your life will be full of surprises, challenges and adventures.
Here is a list of things that will put in perspective what life as an expat is like and will help you make a decision.

Be ready to miss Special Events: If you are thinking that you will get a flight when your best friend or family member gets married… think again! When you are living in another country and far away from your family and friends it is not going to be easy to attend these special occasions. Not because you don’t want to, sometimes it just might not be possible.  

Social Media and the Internet are your new best friends! If you are not a big fan of social media, well I suggest you reconsider it. Social media is going to be your best way of staying in touch with your family and friends. Share with them your experiences and also for you to keep up with what’s happening back home. It also works as an excellent tool to find expat groups.

Search for words like expats in (country you are going to) you can ask to join them and most of them are very friendly and willing to help you out with any kind of information. I recommend you join before going to that country as it will help you. They have gone through the same things and can lead you in the right direction.

 Language- This is your opportunity to learn a new language! Embrace it. At the beginning is going to be a little difficult but do not despair, keep moving on. I suggest that you try to learn some basics before moving, that way you won’t be so lost. Learning another language can have a positive impact on your CV. If you love languages this is your opportunity to expand your knowledge. Do not make the mistake of thinking that because English is the universal language everyone will understand what you’re saying. You are no longer in your country so not everyone will be happy to talk to you in English and some may not even understand.

When in Rome… Ever heard this saying? Make it your motto for the first few months. Become an observer and try to blend in as much as possible. Some countries are easier than others to adapt to. Be careful and always be aware of your surroundings. Become a chameleon. If you are a person who complains about everything, then maybe you should reconsider the idea of becoming an expat.  

 The eternal tourist: Do you enjoy being a tourist? Well when you are an expat you’re kind of an eternal tourist! Isn’t that amazing? Everything is new for you! Even the smallest things get you excited.  Don’t forget to explore this new place, go out and make new memories.  

 Try new things: Lose your reservations and go all out! This is a time to try things you normally won’t try at home. Don’t be shy! Especially with food! What a wonderful experience is to eat new things! Forget about searching for new recipes, you have the opportunity to learn from the locals.  If you don’t cook, then is your chance to indulge and be happy doing it.  Picky eaters can suffer in an expat life but there are always ways to find your favorite foods.  Choose your country wisely so you do not encounter too many problems in the food department.

 Fight for what you want: This point is very important. For you to be a successful expat you need to be a fighter. Do not give up when loneliness rear its ugly head. Do not consider going back because it just wasn’t what you expected. If you really want to be in that country and enjoy this new path, sometimes you have to fight for it.

I hope that you find these tips useful. I have been an expat for two years and I don’t regret it. Sure there are times I get homesick but I love my life. If you are thinking about being an expat let yourself be captivated by where you’re going it will help you ease in to your knew life to have a little crush on the country. If you want to learn more about my life you can look for me in Facebook and Twitter




Saturday, February 15, 2014

Opposites attract?

Hey everyone! I hope you had a fabulous Valentine's day yesterday. I passed the day thinking about love and relationships. I mean me and habibi have been together for two years already and we feel like it was the first day all over again. At the same time we are total opposites! I mean I am the kind of girl that likes to laugh, hyper, love food, I am totally loud in everything I do and love music! My habibi is so quiet and serious but still has a sense of humor he is the one that does things and you are not sure if he did it or not! He doesn't love music as much as I do! I mean I hear music for everything! I sing out loud and dance. I concentrate the best when I'm hearing music or background noise. My habibi is the total opposite, he likes silence and if he wants music he enjoys classical the best.

He always says to me you are so noisy! LOL I say yeah so what? He already got use to it. If I am too quiet he just goes to me and says, "You okay babe?" to what I am surprise and say "Yes, Why?" he says "Well you are so quiet today... you sure you are ok?" Isn't he a cutie? He understands me so well! Same as me I already know when instead of putting the music loud just use earplugs because he is in thinking mode!

Even in food we are different. He is the kind of healthy eater. I am the total junk food eater! I learned to make a balance with the food but not with desserts! I am a total sugar freak. I mean I can eat pizza, french fries, potato chips, nuggets, burgers and sweets every day. See a unhealthy pattern there? Habibi loves to eat veggies and fruits. He loves french fries and burgers too don't get me wrong but he prefers always healthy things. I have ruin him in a way he loves to eat desserts with me now! There is always cookies, cupcakes and anything you can imagine. I make them or he buys them for me.

My point being that I feel like we complete each other. I believe opposites attract because in a way they have things the other doesn't have. I am totally emotional for everything he is totally rational. But in a way we make it work. There is not a dull moment in our house. We laugh more than anything and we play pranks on each other. We enjoy the chance that we have. We learn from each other also. Our religions are different, our cultures are different but in all the difference we found a perfect blend.

Love is in the air! Well maybe is not! LOL My advice just enjoy life. Sometimes we focus too much in finding someone perfect and we are not going to find it. There is compromise in every relationship and the secret of success is to look at the bigger picture. Focus on the good things and not the bad things. Forgive and forget and move on. Wishing you all the best from a very rainy day here in Cairo!




Sunday, February 9, 2014

Abdeen Palace Museum

This past weekend I went to Abdeen Palace Museum. It was built by Khedive Ismail to become the new official government headquarters. The construction started in 1863 and it took 10 years to be finished. It was inaugurated in 1874. Now it serves as a Museum.

The lower part of the palace was divided into five museums. The Arms Museum, Medals Museum, the Presidential Gifts Museum, The Silverware Museum and The Documents Museum. All of this are not that big and the prices are 15 LE for the entrance and 15 LE for your camera. Is open from 9am to 2:20pm from Saturday to Thursday.

The ticket place is a little tricky because it doesn't have a sign. I suggest you just go to the back entrance which is the one opened at the moment and ask there, they will redirect you. The first thing you see when you enter is this huge chandelier which is stoning! Then after passing security you get in the gardens. The gardens are beautiful but unfortunately you can't see much because is closed due to the Army closing off most of it. They will provide you with a guide once you enter the museum if you don't see anyone, don't be afraid to ask they are very polite. The tour will last about maybe two hours maximum. If you want to see the living quarters and ballrooms you need to pay 350 LE which to be honest is too much! You can see a movie of the inside of this rooms once you finished visiting this mini museums, so you can decide if is worth a try.

I enjoyed the collection of weapons. I am a little of tomboy in some of these things and I love swords, daggers and all that stuff so for me was fascinating. King Farouk the 1st was a vast collector and the museum is filled with every weapon you can imagine. He even had a dagger from the Nazis. In the document section I saw letters from Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1936 as well as a letter from Adolf Hitler. All in all it has a lot of great history. If you are a history buff and want to see some interesting weapons, documents, silverware and medals this is the place for you. Even if you don't is a good place to go and see for only 30 LE.  One of the things I really found hilarious was the Presidential Gifts you would think that country's will give meaningful gifts to one another... not! That was interesting to say the least. I would give this museum a 7 out of 10.

Here is the website of the Palace for more info. http://www.abdeenmus.gov.eg/intro.html


Here are some pictures I hope you enjoy them and go visit the palace. Thank you for reading and following me!















Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bossa Nova Camp

Today I am very happy to give my readers a chance to experience Egypt in a different light. Egypt has so many secret places full of history and charm that is too much sometimes. I came across this place by a fellow American expat who is married to an Egyptian just like me. She ventured in this new Camp or hostel and they made new changes and they are running for business!

 If you enjoy camping and being in touch with nature this is your place. Just like you go to Fiji and relax you can do the same here. The view is amazing and Sinai is one of the most beautiful places in Egypt. I love Sinai! Enjoy this interview and I hope you have a chance to visit the Camp.


What is Bossa Nova Camp?
Bossa Nova Camp is a simple home away from home paradise located just north of Nuweiba. It looks out onto the Red Sea and has a magnificent backdrop of the Sinai Mountains.
Does the name mean anything in particular?
Bossa Nova means “a new trend”. We believe that visiting Sinai doesn’t require you to be surrounded with hundreds of other tourists in order to experience what Sinai truly has to offer. At Bossa Nova Camp guests can experience tent camping or experience “luxury” camping at its finest.

Can you explain the facilities and amenities of the Camp?
Bossa Nova Camp has 8 bamboo huts located directly on the beach and 14 other huts with stone flooring. There is also a 1 bedroom chalet available for those who like a more private setting.  There is a public bathroom separated into male and female for those staying in the huts to use, while the chalet has its own private bathroom. Bossa Nova Camp has 2 fully functional kitchens and offers fresh bread daily, which is cooked on site. Electricity is provided for approximately 6 hours per day or as needed by guests. Bossa Nova has two extremely large sitting areas for guests to enjoy conversing with others. One is located directly on the beach the other is located closer to the kitchen area. Both are furnished in traditional Bedouin style. The coral reefs that are located off of the Bossa Nova Camp beach are some of the best Nuweiba has to offer.  The multitude of colorful fish and other aquatic organisms is a must see! Other items located on site includes but not limited to: a boat for use, snorkeling gear, children’s toys, a volleyball, badminton, and a library composed of a collection of books passed between travelers.

Are there any special offers at the moment?

Yes! During your birthday month we offer an additional 10% off your stay with us. We are creating discount packages to include trips to St. Catherine, the Blue Hole and many more.

Can you provide some history of the Camp? How did it start and why?

While vacationing in Nuweiba as a family several years ago we found this camp and stayed several nights in it. We loved the location and the coral reefs. Last year, when we traveled back to Nuweiba we learned that the camp had been closed down. We contacted the previous owners and decided that we wanted to venture out and open the camp again, this time with more of a foreigner’s touch. We have been working hard giving the camp a complete make-over and now have it open and ready for guests to experience what Nuweiba and Sinai have to offer.

What can people expect at Bossa Nova?
Here at Bossa Nova you can expect to feel like you are at home from the minute that you enter the camp. The view from the entrance gate is non-other than the best and then you drive past several of the bamboo huts before parking and entering the Bedouin style main hut.  More than likely, you will have already been greeted by our dogs that “protect” the camp by sunbathing most of the day.  Once you enter the main hut, with its gorgeous sea view, you will be greeted by someone who works here and offered a welcome tea.  At Bossa Nova we believe that you should feel like you’ve been here before and comfortable. There are 6 different sitting areas in the main hut, 2 extra-large sitting areas directly on the beach and several other secret spots around the camp.  Guests can request their breakfast and dinner at specific times, resulting in the personalized service everyone expects while on vacation. For guests that want to explore, a simply request will have almost all wishes granted. Guests will find staying here at Bossa Nova an exceptionally easy, relaxing and enjoyable time. The hardest part will be leaving the camp and returning to their everyday life.

What activities can you do?

Some of the best coral reefs in Nuweiba are found off of Bossa Nova’s shore. It is home to a variety of different species of fish as well as the black sea urchin (water shoes are recommended). Behind Bossa Nova is a mountain that consists of a medium difficultly climb. It is a great way to start the day and watch the sunrise over Saudi Arabia. Other activities can be arranged such as, but not limited to:  camel rides, horseback riding, 4-wheeling safari tours, trips to the Blue Hole, St. Catherine, Pharaoh’s Island, Castel Zaman, and many more.

What is so special about the location?

Bossa Nova isn’t just a business; it’s a home for those who work here. It is well taken care of and Bossa Nova goes over and beyond what guests expect when coming to and Eco lodge camp. Bossa Nova is special because this camp is located close to all the major attractions that Sinai has to offer but away from the “typical” tourist hype and congestion.

If you are the one managing the camp, how is it to have a business in a foreign country?

As an American helping to manage this camp it is an amazing and completely rewarding experience! I personally work with the local Bedouin to ensure that trips and experiences that my guests have are both authentic and memorable.  Running a business here in Nuweiba has been a major adjustment from city life. People and things run at their own pace and timetable.  Learning how to relax and really take things in stride has been the biggest adjustment for me.

How do you like living in Egypt so far?
I love being in Nuweiba because it has everything anyone could want to experience in the outdoor setting. During the winter months, if I am missing the cold, I spend the night on the beach and then complete an early morning hike up St. Catherine to experience snow. During the fall and spring time, I go sand surfing at some of the local soft white sand desert areas! Finally, during the summer months (when it is the hottest) I relax under the shade of the palm trees reading a book and taking my swims checking out the coral reefs at the camp. I couldn’t think of a better life than one here.

Things you miss from home.

I really miss my friends and family. As an American, not too many of my friends will venture out to Egypt (even before the revolution). I do have several European friends that have stayed here at the camp and experienced what Sinai has to offer. I just wish more Americans would do the same. The world is a fairly safe place (and often much safer than the US itself). I wish more people would just come and experience it!

Is there any other information you would like to share?
There are several ways to receive discounts at Bossa Nova:
At Bossa Nova we understand that word of mouth is the best feedback we can receive from a guest. We have a referral program which gives the person that refers people to us a discount during their next stay. The discount increases as the number of referrals increase. 
We also offer 10% discount if you stay during your birthday month. It is just another little token of appreciation that you thought we were special enough to spend your birthday with.

For guests that want to stay with us long-term we have special rates for you. The longer you stay the more discounts you receive. 
















Twitter: @BossaNovaSinai
Webpage: Coming Soon
Mohanned at (+2) 01221255508 or (+2) 01006777739  (He speaks English and Arabic)

Email: bossanovahideawaycamp@outlook.com



Thank you for reading and following me until the next post! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New year!

Happy Holidays and Happy New year!! This past year was wonderful it went so fast I still can't believe that is over. I love this time of the year I have too many reasons to celebrate! I landed in Egypt on January 12 so now is going to be two years since I came to Egypt. I start the new year with my birthday, I was born on January 2, then I have my Mother in Law's birthday on the 7th, then my Habibi's birthday is the 22 and my little brother and ant's birthday is the 23. A lot of birthdays for one month!!! Is like we save everything up for the beginning of the year and then after that we have the occasional birthday.

I guess if I have kids I should plan ahead to avoid overbooking January is too crowded as it is! Looking back I have had a lot of fun this year and honestly I am hoping for this new year to bring a lot of good things. I know in my plans for this year is to go visit my family I haven't been back since I came to Egypt. I am grateful that Skype and Time Face exist. My Christmas day would have been horrible with out it! I saw my nieces playing with their new toys and smiling, my brothers both of them are in different places but I got to see them both!Talked to my whole family in Puerto Rico each of them coming outside the house because the connection was bad on the Face Time so they could see me. Moments like that make me happy. There is no greater thing than seeing those who you love and miss even if is just for a moment. 

In all this I always think about my mom. I remember her laugh and her expressions and each time it gets a little easier not to cry at the memories. But I wish she could be in Egypt with me and meet my Habibi. I could go with her an show her all the wonderful things about the Pharaohs, my mom loved it. But I am happy and grateful for the family I have and for the moments that I share with them. One thing I love about them is that we are so loud, we love food and we love to laugh... a lot! We are not a boring family. My grandparents from my mom side were both comedians and even had a TV show in the 70's in Chicago. So what can you expect? We have no shame! I am so looking forward to Habibi spending time with all of them. For now is been small doses of the family!

I wish all of my readers many good things for this year! I have a few post coming up and to be honest things are looking a little ugly in Egypt we have the new parliament on January 12 if I am not mistaken and the anniversary of the revolution on Janurary 25th. If all goes well and we survive with out any bloodshed, I think there will be a lot of new things on the blog! So keep praying for Egypt and look for my new post if you are visiting soon I have an interview with an interesting party about a new way for tourist to experience Egypt. Don't miss it! Have a wonderful year people!



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