A Steve Jobs Speech Inspired Me To Move To The UAE
By DeAnna Taylor
Nicole Stroud hails from the Bronx. Five years ago, she made the move to Abu Dhabi to become a 9th grade English teacher.
We spoke with her via email about why she decided to move and what life is like abroad.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to move abroad?
Nicole: I’ve always believed in living a life that was fulfilling. I enjoyed my profession as an NYC teacher; however, I yearned for more opportunities to travel and save money. I did some research and realized many opportunities would give me the very thing I wanted overseas. After watching the Steve Jobs commencement speech with my 6th-grade students, I made the decision that I would apply to teach abroad. I wanted to make sure that if I ever encouraged my students to do something that I could equally share how I’ve done the same. After five years abroad, I am debt-free and have traveled to over 25 countries.
TN: What about the speech spoke to you?
Nicole: The part of the speech that spoke to me was when he discussed following your heart and intuition. I was inspired to listen to my inner voice that said I wanted to travel and live overseas. Lastly, trusting that the dots will somehow connect and create my future. He mentions in his speech that we don’t get to connect the dots looking forward, they connect when we are looking backward. I’ve been able to see how this experience needed to happen for me look deeper into myself.
TN: What was the process like applying for your job abroad?
Nicole: I applied for a job through a recruiter site, (teachaway.com). You submit an application based on place of interest, and you wait for them to get back to you. If you fit their requirements, then you attend an interview which takes place over several major cities. After the interview, you’re told to wait until they get back to you. I got a call back after a couple of weeks; they then made sure I submitted all of my educational documents (degree and such for attestation) & FBI report. Each country may have different requirements. Once completed, they told me always to check my email because I’d get my visa and information stating when I’d fly out to Abu Dhabi. I had two weeks to pack up my entire apartment and get ready for life abroad.
TN: What are the positives of living abroad for you?
Nicole: The positives are learning and immersing yourself in another culture. I completed an Arabic class, and it was difficult; however, I was able to understand better the challenges my students face as they learn English. I also love that I’ve been able to establish relationships with people from all over the world. Lastly, life abroad really allows you to dig into your personal development. My spirituality and understanding of self have grown vastly over the years.
TN: What are the challenges as a Black woman in Abu Dhabi?
Nicole: Dating can be a challenge if you’re not open to dating outside of your race or cultural background. The other downside of dating is being seen as overly sexual. In addition, I believe having real connections can be hard on this side. It is a process creating meaningful friendships; it can become cliquish based on the section of America or the world you represent. Lastly, though I am a baldie, so it can be difficult finding the proper hair and face products that I use back in the states.
TN: Do you have any tips or advice for others looking to move abroad?
Nicole: Be open, curious and flexible. Be open to it not going exactly how you have it planned. Journal or document as much of your experience because time flies. Remain in contact with your loved ones back home, include them in your process. Look up Facebook groups for your country of interest so you can start creating bonds and once you arrive, look up groups on meetup.com. Embrace your growth.
TN: Where can we find you on social media?
Nicole: You can find me on IG: @theauthenticjourney.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.