Monday, marked the conclusion of year 3 for me. Three years teaching in a foreign country. Three years living in a foreign country. What happens is, your foreign country doesn’t feel so foreign anymore. It begins to feel more like home than your native country. But one of the biggest differences is that you often find yourself saying goodbye more.
The double edge sword to being an expat is the wonderful relationships you build with new people but having to also say goodbye when those new family members decide it’s time to move on. This has happened every year so far and each year the group I began working with dwindles. There are only a few of us left from the original crew. One of my favorite couples, The Marshalls, have left. It’s difficult to find good couple friends; they are one of the good ones and we will miss them dearly. We made sure we spent a lot of time together before we all went our separate ways for the summer and vowed to keep in touch and meet up in another country. I believe I have truly made some lifelong friends here. It’s easier to build genuine relationships with other expats because usually you have commonalities and all you have is each other.
This is the first year I truly felt comfortable in Qatar. I pretty much know how things go and how to find things. So if people are wondering how long it takes for your host country to feel like home, I’d have to say about 3 years.
Work had its share of ups and downs. Although it doesn’t always feel like it, there were definitely more ups than downs. I was offered a new position for next year which I am very excited about. I will be the early, elementary Reading Specialist. I will provide reading intervention for 1-3rd grades. I will not have a class, instead I will work with small groups of students. I moved out of my classroom and into a smaller room. I’m sure the first grade team will really miss me lol.
This year was filled with fun times in Qatar. ATV riding over sand dunes in the desert at sunrise, clay shooting, Virtual Reality Gaming, paint ball, visits to the beach, small parties with friends and more.
This year was also filled with fun times outside of Qatar. My friend Jennifer and I went on our first girls trip together and our first wellness retreat. It was also my first time in Thailand. That trip sparked a year of self-care, desire to detox at least once a year and a fondness for Thailand. I’m already planning my next retreat. My husband and I spent 9 days trekking all over Sri Lanka, enjoying beautiful beaches and green scenery. We ran from elephants and monkeys and saw enough temples for a whole lifetime. We hiked mountains and chased whales.
In April, I returned to the U.S. for two weeks. My mother was having surgery and I needed to be there. During that visit, old qualms were forgotten and many hugs were passed. That visit home was very timely, as several other family members were having health issues and I was able to visit them and be a source of comfort for some. I was able to handle some personal business with my home and spend some quality time with my sons. And since I hadn’t planned on returning to Philadelphia during the summer break, I am glad I got the opportunity to go in April. I also appreciate my job for allowing me to go.
After summer vacation, Darryl and I will be moving, again. I have moved each year that I’ve been in Qatar. But before that I have an amazing summer planned for us, including planes, trains, boats and top bucket fillers. First stop Amsterdam!