We’ve begun

This is my restful place for a glass of wine post long work sessions. Tiny dog loves it out here after being cooped up indoors all day.

I am currently in Baltimore for a week, working directly with Dr. Rebecca Landa, the director of CARD at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, and her team. It is an incredible opportunity to work with such prestigious names in the field of Autism Spectrum Disorders. 
That being said, we are spending long days and the discussions and planning can be exhausting due to the limited knowledge any of us have about the family we are going to work with.
 I have met one of my colleagues and the only other western professional who will be in KSA with me. He is a Speech Parhologist by trade but we will be working together as consulting professionals to the entire team. The team in place consists of an occupational therapist, physical therapist, special educator, speech pathologist and a few personal care staff. It has been explained to us that, on paper to the staff, he is the supervisor (due to his male status) but that we will realistically be working together to plan and make decisions. He will then be sharing them w/most of the team. I more directly liaison with the personal care staff (all females.) I keep trying to hand off all supervisory duties to him but he isn’t buying it, lol! 
Good news, he is great! Smart and easy to get along with. We have a similar sense of humor and working style and I think we will be well suited as colleagues. What a relief to know I will not be in this alone, I’m so pleased to have him! And he has expressed the same sentiments. Additionally, he is bringing his family along so his wife will be in a similar “western female” boat with me.
It appears that our travel schedule has already changed and we will no longer be in Paris in August…it’s now Spain… I’m sure you are all heartbroken for me! Still on for LA in the fall but apparently the family makes last minute schedule changes frequently so we can’t really plan on anything.

Goodbyes

My friend Mandy posted this and it resonates with me a lot currently. She will be one of my harder goodbyes but I know that she will be one of those people covered by number 9 “If you matter to them, you will talk again.” To be fair, we won’t ever actually stop talking, lol!Anyway, I’m at T minus 33 hours for my flight to Baltimore.  Headed to the beach to enjoy some final hours in one of my favorite places.

 

My Crossfit folks rock!

Tomrrow may be my last day at Crossfit PBA. This great group of people has pushed and supported me to become stronger than I have ever been. I have enjoyed almost every minute, and that is saying a lot for a girl who hates the gym! We have shared a lot of laughs, some tears and quite a few grunts, yells and cuss words! I will miss these people every day and know that they will be waiting with open arms to kick my ass when I return to the states!

There is one Crossfit box in KSA, it happens to be in Riyadh and is an all female affiliate. I hope it is close to where I’ll be living so I can continue to maintain my fitness. 
And tomorrow, I get one last WOD with my two favorite movements. Hang power cleans and kettlebell swings. Well programmed SJ!
Thank you guys for getting every morning off to a great start.

Fascinating photos

I have a hit list of places I’d like to see when I am in KSA. This article shared by my friend Lisa encompasses some of them. I plan to do a post on it at a future date. Then I will update with photos as I check them off the list. Incredible country that so few people will ever get to visit. As a traveler I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.

http://proof.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/13/john-stanmeyer-the-timeless-sands-of-saudi-arabia/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_fbp2014613stanmeyer&utm_campaign=Content&sf3298054=1

Travel joy

The guy who booked my travel missed the part that I would be in CT & could easily fly out of Boston OR New York to Riyadh. So, I’m booked on a flight from Boston to New York to Riyadh, bah! 

For non New-Englanders this means I will drive two hours north from CT to take a 1 hour flight that lands me 2 hours south of CT where I will then spend a 4 hour layover prior to departing for an 11 hour 45 min nonstop to Riyadh. This adds about 7 hours of traveling to an already long stretch. I’m gonna be whipped when I finally arrive! 

Employment Authorization

My contract and employment authorization arrived yesterday. The funny part is that the authorization could be for anything…the funnier part is that it is for “Domestic Manager.” Glorified housekeeper, anyone? I’m thinking you all need to watch for me on Downton Abbey, KSA edition in the near future.

Joking aside, it is a little worrisome but I did receive an email stating that this was to “facilitate” obtaining the authorization in Saudi and that it has no bearing on my contract. And my contract does, in fact, state that I am contracted as a CBA and then proceeds to spell out job duties that are commensurate with that title. So I think I’m ok.
Additionally, I have to submit this authorization with my visa application in addition to all documents supporting my career. Does it seem a bit odd that I’m submitting diplomas for bachelors and masters degrees and a copy of my board certification for my role as a domestic manager? Or is that just me?
Always an adventure here! I’m still living the dream, just relocating it eastward for a while. 

Flight info

I have a ticket. I will be flying directly from JFK to Riyadh, 11 hours and 45 minutes, no layover. That is going to be a looong stretch! But Saudi Arabian Airlines look pretty luxurious. Bigger seats than most and they have footrests. Plus the food actually sounds good. I am looking forward to a new standard in travel. 

Now debating how many bags to lug! I think it may be 4. My huge kite bag and three suitcases, one of which will be hand luggage. I’m going to look homeless at the check in counter. Lol, I guess I kind of am! Still no news on my apartment in KSA. Looking forward to that. I’ve heard they are pretty luxurious. 

T minus 2 weeks

I’ve just booked my flight & a hotel in Baltimore. I get to attend a week of training at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Fabulous professional opportunity! Then I’m on to CT for a visit with family & friends before heading off on my trip. 

This has me lugging multiple suitcases, a huge kite bag and a tiny dog from FL to Balti, to CT then on to Riyadh. I’m sure I’ll provide comic relief to at least a few people along the way! 

Visa joy

I am currently going through the process of acquiring a visa. It is required that I sign a form agreeing to abide by the laws of Saudi Arabia and it proceeds to list these laws.  Check them out, the death penalty is mentioned…it is a bit intimidating!

Saudi Laws.pdf
http://viewer.docstoc.com/
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