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Technology, Travel, and a Year of Firsts

Moving to the United Arab Emirates, or the UAE, has been a sequence of newness, some a translation from familiar spheres of life, and some an entirely novel experience unto itself. February of 2024 marks a year since I first visited the UAE and made the decision to accept a job offer that would once again shift my life halfway across the globe.

Moving itself was a whole new experience. The last time I hopped across the Atlantic, I had only myself and a couple suitcases. Moving with a partner, pets, furniture – all of which, from people to posters, needed to be screened, documented, and stamped in some way or other – was a larger, more staggered, and more bureaucratic process than what I had experienced before.

In contrast, traveling abroad while a resident here – a first I accomplished the last two weeks of 2023 for a trek through Sri Lanka – was astoundingly easy. I had the opportunity to fly out of the newly opened international airport in Abu Dhabi. The airport is a 15 minute taxi away from my apartment complex (which luckily avoided being under the routes of the reestablished flight paths), the terminals are well sign-posted, and the airport interior is nothing short of opulent (a standard I’ve come to expect of the UAE at large). Airy, immaculate, and gorgeously designed in ways it didn’t strictly need to be, the airport approached even being fun to navigate.

Returning to my new home was a similarly seamless process. Where I’d expected to wait in a customs queue for at least half an hour, the virtual customs station that logged my fingerprint, my face, and my passport and matched them to my visa-linked biometrics, made the process less than five minutes.

I’m still working through the longest period of adjustment to a new country that I’ve ever experienced, but the more ground I cover here, literally and figuratively, the more excited I become to experience even more firsts as I continue to adapt.

Byte By Byte Column

By Dr. Miceala Shocklee

Shocklee is a part-time freelance writer and editor and a full-time staff veterinarian with SeaWorld Abu Dhabi Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates. Miceala started her career in Santa Monica and West Los Angeles and now writes of her adventures from other shores.

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