My First Ever Roster!!!

Jan 25, 2010

This afternoon I was miserable as I sulked in my apartment missing Ryan. I had little motivation to do anything. Dragging myself to college took a lot of effort and a bit of coffee.
I managed to make it through the evening and it wasn't so bad once I'd arrived. School is always so overwhelming that it tends to distract me from thinking about my personal life, which is sometimes exactly what I need. I practiced serving passengers drinks and meals, reliving my waitressing days. There is a lot to know and a ton of steps, but I think with practice and repetition it will be simple.
At midnight I arrived home to my dark apartment, once again hit by a wave of homesickness. Coming home isn't the same without having somebody to hug as soon as I walk in. I grabbed my laptop and headed to the living room. Ryan is still in transit so I knew that I wouldn't have any emails from him just yet. Just before heading to bed I checked my Emirates email account, and to my extreme happiness, my very first roster had been published!! As I ran through the destinations I was overcome with excitement. In February I fly to Istanbul, Khartoum, and have layovers in Brisbane, Auckland, and Jakarta. AHHH! Really?! I get to go to all of those places?! The highlight of my month is without a doubt Brisbane/Auckland. Despite having already been to Australia and spending 3 months living in Brisbane, I'd secretly been hoping for a flight there. It will be nice to be some place familiar and hopefully catch up with some old friends and a few family members! As for Auckland.... New Zealand! What more can I say? I've always wanted to visit but I ran out of time and money while I was on that side of the world.
This is all so crazy, so surreal... so amazing. I'm 5 days from finishing training and less than 2 weeks from flying!

Time Flies When You're Having Fun.

It's been an eventful few days as Ryan and I tried to cram as many activities as possible into our last few days together.
Last week I was frustrated by the fact that our batch has been switched to evening classes for the service portion of training. While sleeping in is amazing, being at the college until 11:30 pm each night is not my cup of tea. Time seems to drag by much slower and the hallways are dark, empty, and scary. Thursday was the first night and I was exhausted by the time that I finally made it home at 12:30 am. That didn't change the fact that I was waking up at 4:30 am on Friday morning. Ryan and I dragged ourselves out of bed, hailed a taxi and met up with Atila, our Hungarian hot air balloon pilot. He drove us and a vehicle full of other couples an hour into the desert, where we watched in awe as the staff quickly inflated 2 giant balloons and instructed us to climb in. Once everyone had secured themselves, we were off.... floating 4,000 ft above the desert while watching a breathtaking sunrise. After a nice ride we came to a gentle landing in the sand below. And by gentle, I mean we crash landed before the basket tipped onto its side as we held tightly to the handles. It was a bit of a rough impact but it gave us a few good laughs. We headed back to my apartment, slept a few more hours and then made up our minds that we'd go to the beach. Ryan and I tend to be very slow moving from time to time. By the time we'd left, ate lunch, and arrived at the beach, it was already 4:30 and the sun was going down. Despite not being able to spend time in the sun, we were lucky enough to watch the sunset behind the Burj Al Arab.. beautiful!
Saturday we were determined that we'd make it to the beach. We headed out earlier for once and spent the afternoon playing in the waves. Ryan built sand mountains as I soaked up the January sun. My idea of a perfect day. Afterwards we rushed home to meet my friends Naf, Cathy, Fran and Ash. I was happy to introduce Ryan to them so that he could finally put faces to the names. Naf is originally from Pakistan, so we went to a Pakistani restaurant and let him order a selection of food for all of us. It was so delicious and we ate far too much.
Sunday was a lazy morning. Ryan and I went for breakfast before cleaning every inch of my room in search of his missing i-Phone, to no avail. He thinks that he must have left it on one of the buses, which is very unfortunate and not cheap to replace. Hopefully it turns up somewhere here and I can ship it home to him!
This morning at 5:30 am we woke up early yet again, this time to head to the airport. I was feeling pretty emotional as I watched him pack his suitcases. We took a taxi to the terminal and wandered around for an hour before he had to proceed through security. It took every bit of strength not to burst into tears as I hugged him goodbye, but I managed. I watch him disappear through the doors and my heart sank. I love reunions, but I hate goodbyes. I reluctantly left the airport and caught the metro home. Once I'd reached the comfort of my apartment I closed the door and cried for a few minutes. I think it was necessary. My room looks so empty without his clothes and cameras spread amongst it. My flatmate left this morning for a long layover, so the silence is a bit hard to handle right now. Despite how hard this morning was, I think it will be easier this time. We were able to spend 10 amazing days together, and I think that the memories will satisfy us enough to make it until our next reunion in a couple of months. I've made great friends here as well, and they are sure to keep me from feeling too lonely.
Time to cheer up and head to school. 6 days left, and I'm finished! I can't wait to start flying and see some more of this great big world.

So Happy Together

Jan 21, 2010

I haven't had much chance to blog lately, as I've been quite preoccupied with classes and showing a special visitor around my lovely Dubai home. Ryan arrived last Thursday night and it took a lot of restraint not to run up and kiss him when I saw him in the airport. I live in a Muslim country, so doing so could land me in prison. We were overwhelmed with excitement as we hailed a taxi and checked into our hotel. I'd been awake since 4:30 that morning, and he'd just got off of a 12 hour flight, so it was an early night for us. We woke up the next day and headed to the Dubai Mall... the biggest in the world, and the best viewing point for the Burj Khalifa (which, if you don't already know, is the new name for the Burj Dubai). He has now been here for a week and we've had a lot of fun. Despite having class each day, we've still managed to cram a lot of activites in... shopping at the world's largest malls, sunset on the beach overlooking the Burj Al Arab, a dinner cruise on a dhow boat.... and of course... heading to the top of the Burj. So amazing.
As for college, I've finished security and attended "Nujoum" which is a day dedicated to cabin crew, although I can't say much more about it than that, as they try to keep it top secret for future Ab-Initios.
There is so much more to tell, but I'm sure you can all appreciate the fact that I'd rather spend the next few days just taking in as much "Ryan time" as I can before he heads home on Monday.

How to Save a Life.

Jan 12, 2010

A month ago today, I sobbed and said goodbye to my boyfriend and mom before going through airport security.
4 weeks later, I've settled into Dubai and I'm into my 3rd week of training... Group Medical Training, better known as GMT, since everything in this industry is abbreviated. After 3 days, I've learnt how to do CPR, inject an Epi-Pen, what to do in the event of a heart attack or broken bone. I've even been taught how to deliver a baby. (After watching a far too graphic video, I've decided that when it comes to having children, adoption sounds great.) The content is quite dull, and discussing blood and injections and gaping wounds makes me a bit queasy. I really don't know how all of you nursing students can handle it.
Only 2 more long days and it will be Thursday... the end of GMT and the arrival of Ryan! As you can imagine, I am very excited to see him and be a tourist with him. It will be nice to just be together, and explore the city with our cameras. I haven't had much a chance to take photos since I've been here. Photos and blogs will most definitely come, but not until after he goes back to Canada. I want to take advantage of all of the time we have together while he is here. When he leaves I'll be an emotional mess for a few days and all of you lucky folks will get to read about it.

OH... I almost forgot to mention... a very awesome fellow cabin crew member living here in Dubai informed me of a way to access Flickr!! I'm back online! Thank you soooo much!

Exploring the Desert

Jan 8, 2010

Breaking up the monotony of life in the city, several of us from the college headed for a desert safari tour this afternoon. We met in front of our apartment blocks and attempted to separate into groups of 6... which for some reason, took forever. We finally piled into land rovers and set off, far from the skyscrapers. We drove down the highway, singing along to the radio for about 30 minutes before heading off-road and parking in the middle of nowhere. Our massive group of cabin crew members to be ran around taking photos while the drivers let some air out of the tires in preparation for a crazy ride.
After we'd all returned to our vehicles we held on for our dear lives (while shouting out flight attendant commands such as "Brace! Brace!") as our driver sped over sand dunes... up, down, 360° spins... so fun! A few members of our group didn't enjoy it quite as much as I did, specifically those still recovering from hangovers from the night before. We continued for about 20 minutes, and I thought of Ryan and Kevin the entire time... they both would absolutely love driving like maniacs over massive sand dunes.
The vehicles stopped once again as some of us opted to give sandboarding a try. My classmates had high expectations of me, the Canadian. I grew up a short distance from the Rocky Mountains, yet I've never once tried snowboarding. I decided to give it a try on sand instead, and quickly discovered that I'm not a natural. In fact, I only lasted a few seconds before losing the board and running the rest of the way down the hill. Oh well, at least I tried!
Once everyone that was brave enough had had a turn, we rushed back to the comfort of our air conditioned vehicles, and drove over the dunes a bit more.
Eventually we reached the base, which was like a theme park in the desert. There were camel rides, quads, dune buggies, a bar full of overpriced alcoholic beverages, and traditional Arab attire available for everyone to try on. After a couple hours of fun in the sand, I headed to the top of a sand dune to watch the sun set over the desert. What an amazing thing to see. It's like you see on TV... a giant yellow ball slowly falling into the horizon. Photos don't do it justice, you need to actually witness how breathtaking it is in person. Afterwards, it was the best part of the day... DINNER! We were served an amazing buffet of delicious Arabic food, and amazing barbequed skewers. I ate until I couldn't eat anymore, and then sat down and watched a belly dancer took to the stage. For a desert safari tour in the United Arab Emirates, I was slightly disappointed that the belly dancer was a blonde, Russian-looking woman, not an Arab. She just didn't give us the same traditional cultural experience.
After a long, sunny day in the beautiful desert, it was back to Dubai. I'd definitely recommend a desert tour if you ever have the chance to visit the U.A.E... such a cool experience, and a welcome change from the chaos of the city.

Evacuate! Evacuate!

Jan 7, 2010

My awesome Ab-Initio Group!!
After what seemed like a never ending amount of emergency training, I can celebrate tonight, as I'm finally finished!! What a relief. For the past 2 weeks, our days have consisted of 6:30 am bus pickups, and theory classes followed by practical application in the simulators. I learnt what to do in the event of a fire, emergency landing, severe turbulence, decompression, and the list goes on. I quickly realized how much responsibility is placed on the shoulders of cabin crew. It's scary, but at the same time it makes me quite proud to know that my job is important, and that in the event of an emergency, other people's lives could potentially depend on my knowledge and
actions. After a long day of training, I'd arrive home at around 4:30 pm, ready to head straight to bed. Generally we'd have about an hour of homework in the evening followed by studying for the exams that we had nearly every day. Today was the last exam, and I'm happy to say that I passed and my SEP Training is complete until next year, when I'll have to head back to the college for a refresher course. I rejoiced outside of the classroom with my batch-mates, thrilled to have completed the toughest part of training. 3 more weeks and I'll be finished everything!! Time is going by quite fast and I can't wait to start flying.
Another exciting moment came today when I got to practice doing manual safety demos. On Emirates flights, a video is usually shown highlighting the safety features of the aircraft (how flight attendantish did that sound??), but occasionally the technology malfunctions and we must resort to the good old fashioned pointing at emergency exits and showing passengers how to fasten their seatbelts. I enthusiastically carried out the demonstration, and then our trainer got me to do the PA as the rest of the group had a turn.
Once we were finished for the day, we headed downstairs where we got our very own heavy duty plastic suitcases, filled to the top with all sorts of fun things... OUR UNIFORMS! Naturally, I tried mine on the moment I got home, giddy as I once again realized that I am actually less than a month away from being a flight attendant. Oh the excitement.
Tonight the rest of the group is going out to celebrate, and although I'm feeling lazy and reluctant
to join them, I probably will go just because EVERYBODY is going to be there and I don't want to be the social outcast of the group quite yet.
SEP is done, it's the weekend, and Ryan will be here a week from today. Ahh, life is good.

Brain Full of Boeing... and LOVE!

Jan 4, 2010

Week 2 of SEP (Safety and Emergency Training, for those of you who are not fellow cabin crew members) and I'm exhausted. It's been 3 1/2 years since college, and getting back into the life of studying and constant exams has not been easy. In fact, as I type this blog, I'm procrastinating studying for the exam that I have to write tomorrow morning. I'm cramming my brain with emergency equipment locations, areas of responsibility, and aircraft systems of the Boeing 777... fun!! (Sarcasm, pure sarcasm.)
It's really not as bad as I make it sound. It's just a lot of information to retain in such a short period of time. On Thursday, I'll breathe a sigh of relief as SEP training will be over! (Providing that I pass the next two exams with a grade of at least 80%.)
I'm starting to lose track of the days of the week... it happens to everyone in this industry, from
what I've been told. On January 2, whatever day of the week that was, Ryan and I marked 7 months of dating. We usually set aside the 2nd of each month as a date night, so I was a bit sad to spend it alone on the very first month of the year. On the bright side, I was able to spend a fair amount of the day talking to him on the phone and online. Long distance relationships aren't easy, but they can work.
This morning I woke up feeling groggy as usual... you never really get used to 5 am wake up times. Ryan called and the phone signal was terrible, so I was even less motivated to get out of bed. I grabbed my laptop and sat up in bed talking to him on MSN instead.
"What are you doing on January ___?" He asked. Seriously, making plans a day early is
an accomplishment for me, so naturally I answered "I have no idea...". I thought nothing of it, Ryan is a little bit crazy sometimes. After a few minutes of hinting, I discovered that he was contemplating booking a flight to Dubai!! No way!!! I was overcome with a sudden rush of excitement. I miss him soooooo much. After a few minutes of contemplating dates, he announced that he had confirmed a flight from YYZ to DXB on January 14... AHHHHHHHHH! That's next week!! Lucky boy, is flying over on an Emirates A380. Maybe my opinion is biased, but I don't think he could have made a better choice in terms of airlines. Although I'll still be in training, I finish around 4 pm each day and we'll be able to spend every night, and 2 weekends together. How amazing is that? How amazing is HE?
Despite my high stress levels right now resulting from training, I'm still the happiest girl in the world. 9 more sleeps, and we'll be together again. If only we could kiss at the airport without being arrested... but I won't start getting greedy now.
Okay, I'm starting to feel guilty about blogging as opposed to studying, so it's off to spend some time with my books now. Wish me luck!!

Project 365 - The End

Jan 3, 2010

Do you ever go to bed with that terrible feeling that you've forgot to do something extremely important that day? That was exactly how I felt last night as I was lying in bed. Had I forgot to complete an assignment? Did I forget to hang tomorrows outfit up to dry? No. It was simply the first day in a year that I went an 24 hours without taking at least one photo.
As most of you are probably aware, last year I did a project known as "Project 365". The point of the project? Take a photo every single day for an entire year. At the end of the year, your photography skills are likely to have improved, and you'll have a great way to recall what you did on any particular day of that year. I can proudly say that although there were a few nights that I nearly forgot about my photo... I didn't miss a single day. Even when my beloved pink camera broke, I rushed to borrow one from my mom or brother, but I was persistent and determined to complete the project.
So, was it life changing? Not necessarily. Originally, it just sounded like a fun idea, and my photographer friends Ryan and Ron were doing it as well. I didn't know a thing about cameras or photography, but I figured what better way to learn. A year later, I wouldn't go as far as to call myself a photographer, but my photos definitely improved as the year went on (with the exception of frequent lazy days, where I'd generally take a photo of food, or of my puppy, Titan). In April, my camera broke, and despite my lack of knowledge, I had my heart set on a Nikon D60 DSLR camera. Ignoring the advice of those who told me to save my money and purchase something smaller and easier to use, I bought my camera (along with a Nikon D60 for Dummies book) and I've loved it since day 1. Friends got used to me carrying it around with me wherever I went, whether it was going to work, or to a restaurant, my camera never left my side.
In June, I started dating Ryan, who if you weren't already aware, is an amazingly talented photographer. I envied the way that he could take a photo of absolutely anything, and it would always look great. I begged him to teach me more, and when I was patient enough to pay attention and listen, I did learn a lot. He'd quiz me on white balance and aperture and words that were completely new to my vocabulary. Slowly but surely, I started to get the hang of it. Taking photos unexpectedly became my newest hobby.
Back in January, I expressed how I'd wished that I would have done the project a year earlier, while I was traveling and doing much more interesting things than staying in Red Deer, Canada. Looking back now, I'm so glad that I did it in 2009. Sure, a lot of my photos were random, boring, last minute shots taken shortly before midnight.... but for each photo I'd write a description. To read through them now would tell an amazing story of an incredible year... the good times, the bad times, new adventures, new experiences, the daily life of a girl in her early 20's.... and of course falling in love and landing my dream job. I should turn it into a book.
All of my photos can be found on my Flickr account (click the link on the side of this page), with the exception of the last few days, which I've yet to email to Ryan. Unfortunately, the United Arab Emirates blocks access to my beloved photo sharing site, so for the past 3 weeks Ryan has been uploading on my behalf.
As far as 2010 goes, I've been asked, even begged countless times to continue the project for another year. It was amazing how many people followed my photos for the entire year. When I was late uploading photos, people would ask for more, as if waiting for the next chapter of a book. I can't thank them enough, because on the days that I was frustrated with my lack of creativity and inspiration, reading the awesome comments made it so worthwhile. Unfortunately, I've decided not to continue Project 365 in 2010. As I'm sure you can understand, my life is so busy these days and will only get busier when I start flying in a few weeks. Some days I'll spend the entire day prepping for flights and actually working the flights, which leaves little time to worry about taking a photo. Not to mention, time zones across the world will constantly confuse me when it comes to what day the photo was actually taken on.
However, I have decided to try Project 52 instead... which is, you guessed it... a photo each week for a year. It will still give me the chance to take a lot of photos, but it will be a lot less demanding and time consuming than Project 365. Stay tuned, 2010 is going to be a great year for photos!

First Blog of 2010!

Jan 1, 2010

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2010, I hope that everybody had a great time celebrating the beginning of a brand new decade.
On Thursday, I headed to the college for my very first exam. It didn't feel like New Year's Eve at all. I breezed through the verbal part of the exam, where the trainer asked me questions and I replied using proper aviation terminology and basically reciting my manual word for word. Unfortunately, the practical portion of the exam wasn't so simple. I walked into the door simulator room, and smiled and said good morning to the trainer. He stared at me with an expressionless face, and pointed at the simulator. I walked over, suddenly feeling extremely nervous. He shouted out commands and I carried them out, with a few minor mistakes. I could recite the list of procedures word for word, but being watched and evaluated makes it so much more difficult. Fortunately, I did just fine and finished the exam succesfully. One down, many to come.
After my entire ab initio group had completed the exam, we headed to the Boeing 777 simulator, and practiced more emergency drills. It's always so scary trying to remember everything. Attention to detail is so important, because one mistake could be the difference between life and death in some situations. For those of you who think that flight attendants are nothing more than glorified waitresses... well, you are generally right, but you have to realize the huge amount of responsibility placed on our shoulders. Sure, it's our duty to make sure that all of the passengers recieve their meals, but we are also the ones in charge of saving their lives in the event of an emergency. So please be nice to your cabin crew next time you fly. There is a lot more to the job than you see from your seat. Later that afternoon, we practiced ditching, which is an emergency landing on water. We crawled onto the slide rafts, hopped into the freezing cold water, and learnt techniques to stay warm in the water before climbing back onto the rafts. There was more theory, and then we were free for the weekend!
That was when I realized that it was New Year's Eve, 4:00 pm, and I had no plans.
Everybody was exhanging phone numbers on the bus, trying to make plans for the evening. Eventually we decided to go to Barasti, a bar on the beach with a huge New Year's event planned. A few people went to get tickets while the rest of us stressed over what to wear. It was 11:00 pm by the time that we finally arrived, and the place was packed. It is a really beautiful location, right on the beach with the city as a backdrop. There were approximately 6,000 people drinking, eating, dancing, and celebrating. I grabbed some greasy food, met up with more people from our group, and waited by the pool for the countdown. The DJ announced 60 seconds until midnight, and I frantically tried dialing Ryan. Unable to get a signal, I joined in with the countdown and proceeded to hug everyone and scream, as it seemed to be the thing to do. Wow, 2010. I finally got ahold of Ryan and wished him a Happy New Year while watching the amazing fireworks display over the water. We spent the night on the beach shouting out flight attendant commands. It's so great to finally know people who are as obsessed with flying as I am. I made it home at around 3:30 pm, called Ryan, washed the sand from my feet, and flopped into my bed. I woke up at around 10 am and waited for a much aniticipated phone call from Ryan. At 10:58 am, my phone rang and I was on the phone as he counted down to 2010 at home. It was cool to count down twice! I welcomed him to the new year that I'd already been in for 11 hours.
Later on in the afternoon, I was sitting in the restaurant downstairs (taking advantage of the free wireless since my internet has been down for a couple of days) when I heard a huge boom of thunder. I know what you are thinking... "There are thunderstorms in Dubai?!". Well typically, no. Here in the desert it's hot and sunny every day, just as it had been an hour earlier. The skies opened up and rain POURED down and the foods quickly flooded. Dubai has a terrible drainage system, which is somewhat understandable given their usual absence of rainfall. I returned to my apartment building to find water all over the floor, and I had to resort to taking the stairs, as the elevators were inoperable. Dubai spends billions of dollars on building giant buildings, palm tree shaped islands, and shopping malls, but when it rains they'd rather flood the roads that improve the drainage system.
I still can't believe that it's 2010... it's going to be an amazing year.