My first week of teaching in Doha!

I can’t speak for all schools in Qatar but if the first week was any indication of what this school year will be like for this teacher, I am in for a treat.

I woke up this morning with my feelings all over the place.  I woke up this morning missing home.  I wanted to call my sister but it was 3:00am in the states and she would be asleep necessary for work in a few hours.  It might have been 10am and the weekend for me but not back home.  I tried to call my other sister that works overnight but no answer, probably busy at work.

I woke up this morning wanting a lobster and egg omelet.  The kind my husband used to make for me at home for breakfast while my little Zoey would be sprawled out on the cool tile floor, panting, waiting for something to drop so she could gobble it up.  I haven’t eaten eggs in over 2 months or any other animal product other than seafood and the thought of eating an egg makes me cringe.  Then I thought about Ackee and Salt fish.  Ackee, when cooked, looks alot like eggs but it’s actually a fruit from West Africa that is more prevalent in Jamaica.  I had a Jamaican best friend when I was a kid and her grandmother used to cook Ackee; that was my first encounter with Jamaica.  Maybe I am just missing my island.  The island of Jamaica.  I call it mine because I love it so much.

I woke up this morning missing HOME.  Why?  I wanted to leave home for so long.  I hated home.  Is there something missing from here that I can do to make it feel more like home, the parts I miss, or should it feel different since I didn’t like it there?

img_2162Good thing Darryl is still here because he does a great job of trying to make me feel better.  Here is the breakfast he made for me.  It is very colorful, like the Caribbean.  But even he will be leaving me soon to return home.  His medical exam is finally scheduled for Sunday.  Once that is done, it won’t be long ’till we have his RP and his passport will be returned.   Right after that he will be back to work and school and it will be just me and the boys.  I received Zarien’s RP yesterday.  Since he is younger than 14, he doesn’t have to get a medical exam done or fingerprinted so his RP was complete.

My students started this week and the first week is a wrap.  I can’t speak for all schools in Qatar but if the first week was any indication of what this school year will be like for this teacher, I am in for a treat. Week 1 was really good.  I like my students.  Some are really funny.  There are about 3 high flyers so far but nothing major.  My class list has 19 students but two have not shown up yet.  One has dropped as of yesterday; I wonder if I will get any replacements or will I have 17 students for the school year.  Smile!  They seem to be very respectful and some are well traveled.  One little girl loves Target (in America she says). Some have been to Turkey, London, America and Germany.

The typical things that teachers worry about,  I don’t deal with here.  I have a helper who sits in the hallway and goes behind the children as they go to the bathroom.  She sharpens pencils, and cleans my room.  She die cuts letters for me and cuts out laminates.  She makes Reading A-Z books for me.  She carries and moves things for me, organizes and sorts things for me.  Well maybe not for me, maybe for the kids.  There is a copy room, where two gentlemen copy, enlarge, laminate and give out supplies on demand and big jobs in time.  There are housekeepers who walk around and just clean all day.  There is an IT room, where two gentlemen set up printers, and show you/me how to use a smart board, work your/my computer and help with all other IT concerns.  There is a printer in a classroom where I can print to, when I want, and pick up small print jobs (in color).  There is a library with two librarians, and lots of books.  The routine books that I read in the beginning of the year, they have them.  I went in, asked for three book titles, and walked out with all three.  The majority of the things I ordered and said you need in a previous post, you don’t even need.  They were right when they said, there is an abundance of supplies and resources in our school.  And most times other teachers are giving stuff away or you can borrow from them.  I stressed for nothing.  I spent a lot of money on ordering stuff, mostly shipping, that I don’t need but I am not sending it back.  I will use it or save it.  But take it from me, SAVE YOUR MONEY.  If you are still wondering what to bring, bring decorative stuff, like if you want a class theme or something and some give away trinkets for the kids (maybe some things that say America or something from your home country with a logo).  That’s it.  We have a Reading A-Z, a Brainpop jr. and IXL online account.  There are probably more accounts that I don’t know about.  There are 3 other first grade home room teachers.  They are all helpful and nice. They are from Jamaica, Lebanon and Canada.  Also part of the first grade team is 2 Arabic teachers, and a math teacher from America.  I teach one English class for an hour a day, 1 Science class per week for one hour, and 2 Walk To Read (a scripted phonics and reading program, completed in small groups) lessons a day- 1 with a first grade group and the other with a Kindergarten group.  On average I teach no more than 3 hours straight or 3 hours in a day excluding the 1 hour lunch and recess time that I cover 4 days a week.  Pretty sweet right. An example of my typical schedule: 7- Meet kids in room, 7-8 prep (kids at math in room), 8 pick up kids and take to PE 8-9 prep, 9-10 Walk to read with a group of first graders, 10-11 cover lunch in class and recess in class (red day, too hot to go out), 11-12 Walk to read with a group of kindergarteners, 12-1 prep (Arabic in class), 1-2 Teach English, 2- wait for parents to pick up kids, 2:15 take kids to the late pick up area and meet with my grade group for a meeting or PD or work in room, 3 out the door.  This past week I didn’t teach for more than 2 hours a day because kindergarten had not started their scripted program yet.  I had to test my kids this week to find their level for WTR while the kindergarten teacher I will be working with covered my class.  Next week I will be covering for her while she does the same and she will be covering for me while I complete Aimsweb.  Aimsweb is new for me as well but I am anxious to learn it since that is how so many schools are assessing now. We are not required to hand in long scripted lesson plans or sub plans.  We collaborate for the big ideas and hand that in. Then we come up with our own learning experiences for our kids. My sub plan was just a description of what to do with my kids when I’m out.  I was given permission to leave early Sunday to take my son and husband to their medical appointments.  That is why I needed a sub plan for whomever will cover my last English period.  Compared to what I am used to, working as a teacher in Philadelphia, this is AMAZING!  I hope it stays this way.  I work 6:45-3:00pm.  The students are gone by 2:15pm.  Other than waking up at 5 am with the sun IMG_2147.JPGevery day, I LOVE IT.  This is how teaching should be.  Let’s see how I feel after a few months.  I still have to run one after school activity, once a school year, once a week for 6 weeks and join a committee.  I’m thinking of a gardening after school activity and I’ve joined the social club (for new teachers that will be joining for next year).  (Maybe I will start a healthy cooking after school activity).  I just thought of that.

Zarien likes his new school Qatar Academy Doha and Zamir does not.  Talk about role reversal.  Hopefully he will adjust. Hopefully we all will.

One month later

Everything is an adjustment here…

On August 17, we boarded a plane and headed to Qatar.  I had no idea what I was stepping or should I say flying into; I just knew I wanted out of Philly and to live somewhere other than the USA.  So how are we doing 1 month later?  Well I do not have regrets but there are days when I wonder was this the best idea, like the day a week had gone past after I was supposed to have been paid but wasn’t (and still have not been by the way, but I did receive an advancement so that’s a pretty good indication that I will be eventually).  Like the day I realized that my husband was not going to receive his Residence Permit and in turn not have his passport back in time to fly home next week and back to work.  And there were many days similar to these where I expected something to happen but it didn’t turn out the way I expected.  I often have to remember to not have expectations.  But then there are other days when I’m super surprised.  Like when I first arrived I sent an email to the supervisor of my housing compound about my mattress not being new; I didn’t get a return email about it so I bought a mattress topper from IKEA but then a week later, I got a knock on my door from the security guard with a new mattress in tow.  Or the time when I found Pine nuts and ground Flaxseed at one of the food markets after I had just about given up on them (that was just yesterday by the way). Everything is an adjustment here and it already feels like I’ve been here for a year.  But I am here now, I don’t plan on going back and there are some interesting things here.


Tomorrow I meet my new group of first graders.  I know students often have mixed emotions about returning to school.  Well guess what students, so do teachers.  I am nervous and excited.  Not only is this a new country, a new school, a new group of coworkers and administration, a new curriculum and new culture, not to mention I vowed to never return to the class as a elementary school teacher again.  So much for that.  And if your paying attention to the date, our first day is on a Sunday.  The work week in Qatar is Sunday-Thursday.  That makes Friday and Saturday the weekend.  I will be using the PYP curriculum this year.  I am excited about that.  It looks good on a resumé.  Each grade at my school has a helper.  I haven’t quite figured out the extent of their help.  So far I know that they sharpen the pencils for our kids, can cut out laminated paperwork, organize your cabinets, put up your bulletin boards and much more.  I am not used to this and find it difficult to ask but like everyone else I assume I will get used to it and will use my resources to make my life easier.  There is also maintenance persons who are always cleaning and are there for you as well.  Picture coming in to your class room on your day off and finding two young ladies in your room, scraping the old name tag adhesive off of the desks.  Then asking security to communicate to two other men working on the premises to come into your room and scrape old labels off of the outside of your cabinets.  Yeah that happened.  My classroom was also full of supplies and resources, including a leveled library and interest books.   My classroom has a smart board, elmo, projector, MAC, dry erase board, and chalkboard.  It is a small classroom and for the first time in my teaching career I felt like it had too much furniture in it.  Believe me when I tell you, American teachers would give anything for these luxuries.  On the other hand, the school is growing so much that it is running out of space and my students will spend almost their whole day in one class including lunch.  First graders get instruction in Language Arts and Science in English from me, and math from another English teacher.  They get instruction in Language Arts in Arabic as well as Islamic Studies and Qatar History. They also have specials like PE, Music, Art and IT in English.  It is a private school.

Sometimes it feel like nothing makes sense here or works right but maybe it just takes time to get used to.  I am getting used to using a 12 hour clock, but at first I wanted to take my new alarm clock back to the store because I thought something was wrong with it when it read 00:32.  I tried to take my new printer back today because it just doesn’t seem to work right but they wouldn’t accept it until I have a tech come out and reinstall it because of course it worked fine in the store.  It reminded me of when you go to the doctor’s because you are sick and when you get there, nothing is wrong. Don’t you hate when that happens?  But I didn’t know a tech would come to my house and do that.  My shower spout is too close to the shower wall and so when I wash the water goes everywhere including the bathroom floor.  Mind you all the bathroom floors have drains in them but who wants a wet bathroom floor every day. Well they came to fix it several times, and eventually even replaced the spout but water still gets on the floor.  I’ve gotten used to it now, besides it is so hot, it only takes a few minutes to dry anyway.  I haven’t been able to find shower liners here at all, but I guess they figure, what’s the use.  Oh and store hours, I haven’t quite figured out yet.  Many stores open up early, then close around 11:00 am and then reopen around  12:30 pm and others close ’til around 4pm.  Most times it’s best to shop early or late except on Friday or Saturday evening because it’s the weekend.  And don’t even get me started on the driving and construction here.  If you get a chance research slip roads and roundabouts in Qatar.  If you want to get to a store on the other side of the road, drive one mile and do a u-turn or at the roundabout take the 4th exit.  I actually like roundabouts now but boy do they take some getting used to.  It’s kind of like playing a real life game of Frogger.  And it may be a roundabout at that corner tomorrow but don’t get used it, because it might not be there tomorrow.  There is construction going on everywhere here.  They are really building this state up but google map and WAZE (another gps app) can’t keep up, so driving can be frustrating.  On the upside, I rented a car for a month and the last time I gassed up, it cost me (you ready for this) a whopping 38.75 QAR which amounts to $10.71.  I also passed my driver’s test on the first try so I was able to pick up my driver’s lic for 250 (it was either 250 or 150, I can’t quite remember) QAR once I received my RP.  That’s about $70.  And yes I also received my RP, which is sort of like your Social Security card/State ID.  Once I had my medical done, I had to get fingerprinted and a few days later I got my RP and I got my passport back.  The whole process took about a week, which surprised me because I had heard horror stories about people not getting their passports back for months.  We are still waiting for the boys and Darryl’s RP but I am hopeful that they will be here within the next two weeks.

I don’t know if I will be able to save any money this first year.  There are some expenses that I hadn’t really considered and I will have to get used to spending here. Tomorrow the boys start school and I had to find them a driver because their school is about 30 minutes away from our house and in a total different direction than mine.  Most drivers/companies that I spoke to want 2200-3800 QAR/mth, which equals to about $608-1,050.  I never read that in any of my research, so I want to share that because I think that is important to know.   I found one who quoted me 1950 QAR/mth which is about $540.  This is the cheapest so far.  A driver is supposed to come and pick up my boys tomorrow, take them to school and bring them home after school. Prayfully everything will go well.  I will then pay them for one week at the end of the week.  And food, OMG, is expensive here, especially if you want food that you are used to because that kind of food is imported.  I’ve been spending about 1000 QAR a week ($276) in groceries.  That doesn’t include what we spend on eating out.  For now I am renting a car on a monthly basis for around $550.  I plan on continuing this at least until I complete probation, eventually I will buy a vehicle and that is another expense. The good thing is it is pretty easy to get a loan here after a few months.  The bad thing is, it is pretty easy to get a loan here after a few months.  My job also gives 20% of the price of a new car (no older than 2 years old) and if you decide to stay and work for 3 years here, you won’t have to pay that 20% back.  Another good thing is that they give us a monthly transportation allowance, but my son’s transportation will eat that up alone.

There are 3 main food markets here: Al Meera, LuLu Mart and MegaMart.  Megamart is a little on the expensive side, sort of the Whole Foods of Doha but they do have a lot of American foods.  Al Meera is in between, kind of like the Acme and then there’s LuLu. LuLu is like Walmart supermarket.  It has everything but maybe not what your used to but if you see something good, stock up, because you might not see it there again.

Things to know about shipping.  It’s expensive to get things shipped here from stores. There is no way around it.  My sister sent me my first care package which was some things I had ordered and sent to my house in the states.  It cost her $31.00 to send a small box weighing 2 lbs via FEDEX (thru the USPS) but it got here in 3 days, which I thought was super fast.  It didn’t come to my villa, even though she put my address on the package.  Someone had told me to make sure she writes my Qatar phone number on the package or I might not get it, so she did.  So the QPost (the main post office here) sent me a text message that said I had a package and to pick it up. When I went to pick it up, we had to pay 15 QAR.  They said the fee was because I didn’t have a p.o.box. I didn’t know I could get a p.o. box.  You can, for 500 QAR ($138) for the year.  I haven’t gotten that yet, because this week was EID and everything shuts down for EID.  EID is like Christmas and the 4th of July all in one.  Anyway, I also bought an ARAMEX account.  It is a shipping company that provides you with a U.S. address.  You can ship things to that address and the company will ship the items here for you for a fee of course.  Come to find out that if you are a Qatar Foundation employee it is free to join Aramex.  I wish I had known that before I paid $45.  Recently I shipped quite a few things thru Aramex.  My heaviest order was from a teacher resource store and the weight is 29lbs.  It will cost me 963 QAR thru Aramex ($266).  Yes, that’s alot of money.  It should be here tomorrow.  We will see what happens.  Next I will try the p.o. box and see which shipping method is the most cost effective.

Okay I know this post is long but stay with me.  Here are a list of things I wish I had bought with me: Many times before I came I asked people what teacher supplies should I bring and most people just said Sharpies and Expo markers but as a teacher that likes to have specific things I am finding myself purchasing things that I had at home and could have just brought with me, which pisses me off.  Table caddies, specific decorations, name tag clear pockets, routine story books, seat sacks, etc… If you like your room a certain way, bring it with you.  Curriculum stuff, leave home.  Besides teacher supplies, I wish I had brought: shower liners, nutritional yeast (can’t find it here), snacks (little bites, skittles, my kids miss these, peanut chews, dipsy doodles, I miss these), shower curtain rings, grits, dryer sheets, stock paper, bed sheets, mattress covers (the kind that zipper), instant oatmeal, static guard.

Besides all of this I have had some fun too. I have taken many trips down to the Corniche- it’s like Penns landing x 2, Sand dunning in the

desert, img_2035

img_2047bowling, shopping, paint nite with Darryl

and two trips to very beautiful beaches minus the jellyfish. img_2004I even have a favorite store.  It’s called Centre Point.  It has lots and lots of aromatherapy products.

Well it is time to say good night.  My alarm clock says 22:06.  I think that means 10pm and I have to get up earlier than I ever have for work, 5am.

The first 7 days in Doha

So things aren’t perfect but I like it here.

I started this post days ago but when I tell you I’ve been sooo busy believe me.  And now, instead of it being 7 days in Doha, it’s more like, 8, no wait, 9.  Yes it has been 9 days in Doha.  My sense of time and days is all off.  I rise and sleep earlier than I ever have.  The sun rises around 5am here and it’s dark around 6pm.  I’m usually up before 6:30, sometimes by 5am and down by 10, sometimes by 9pm.  I’ve never been a morning person, but Qatar is turning me into a Grandmom, up early, down early.  Anyway enough about that.

I know that I have only been here 9 days but it feels more like a month because we have done so much and I owe that mainly to my new job.  I have experienced some wonderful things and some things that just don’t make sense to me but the good definitely outweighs the bad so far.  I have this new saying, “It’s Qatar.  Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t!”  It is my way of coping with some things that don’t always go as planned and that happens a lot.  For instance, I will be teaching First Grade instead of Kindergarten.  I found that out on the first day of work. (I actually think it might be a blessing in disguise). Another example: We waited 5 days for internet.  It was supposed to be fixed/installed for 3 days straight but everyday, “It’s Qatar. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t!” Fortunately it did on the fifth day.  And there were other minor occurrences but I won’t bore you to death with them.

I started work last Sunday and my family was able to go with me for the first week.  We received our orientation schedule for the next 3 weeks but were told it is subject to change. So within one week, I toured my new school, which is nice, I’ve met all the new staff, we turned in all our gathered paperwork, took several trips to the mall, arranged by our school, had an eye examine for my driver’s test, saw my classroom and was given time to work in it, had my medical exam, took a trip to Ikea, toured Education City, signed up with the bank, scheduled my written driver’s test, which is tomorrow, and took a trip to Sheikh Faisal’s Museum today.  I really appreciate my administration using this first week to take us around and get things done that will make our stay in Doha easier.  It also helps to ease us into work.  The children do not start for another 3 weeks.  Our second week begins tomorrow, where we will get into some curriculum things.

I really like my new coworkers (hopefully it is not just the honeymoon phase).  We are a diverse bunch.  I work with people from all over, South Africa, Australia, Jordan, Turkey, U.S.A., etc.. It is so refreshing to be around like-minded individuals. I hope the rest of the staff are just as wonderful.

There are malls everywhere here.  I love to shop but this is too much even for me. I’m not here to spend a whole lot of money and this definitely does not help my addiction.  And the Ikea is great including the food there.  I can only imagine what the mall of Qatar will be like. It will be the biggest mall in the world.

Last night my husband and I attended a teacher’s social event at the Hilton Hotel in West Bay, Doha.  It wasn’t a lot of people there for the event but the majority of the attendees were my coworkers. We had a blast.  I won some prizes and my husband recited Rapper’s Delight.  We even had a drink or a couple, okay, okay, a few.  Yes, you can drink alcohol here, at hotels and if you obtain a liquor permit, once you get your RP (Residence Permit), you can also purchase alcohol to consume in your home.

It is very hot here, but bearable in small doses.  When I say small doses, I mean like, walk from your house into the air conditioned car, out of the car, into a building.  A few days ago, we decided to walk around our neighborhood around 5:30ish in the evening.  I think we got about 6 blocks when I decided I had had enough.  I felt like I was being smothered, so we turned around and came back home.  I’ve also been experiencing headaches.  I think it might be due to the sun, or dust, not sure which. But I haven’t had any allergy attacks, so that’s good.  During the day, the heat is dry and the sun is so bright that my sunglasses fog up as soon as I walk outside.  In the evening, the humidity is so prevalent that you feel smothered.

Okay so here are some tips for my followers whom are considering working here:

  1. Bring patience and leave the chip on your shoulder home. Bring humility too.
  2. On the day, you are scheduled to meet with H.R. bring a packed lunch.  You will be waiting a while. Also keep a few copies of your passport photos. Don’t give them all to H.R. Believe me you will need them.
  3. Be sure to switch your cellular provider to Tmobile before you come here and download SKYPE and Whatsapp.  Tmobile provides you with free text and wifi calling and 2 Gs of data monthly while here. You can call back home for $.20 a minute.  You can SKYPE back home for free and use Whatsapp.
  4. Please follow this advice- Have a couple thousand dollars that you can access.  You will need to buy things for your accommodation, food and a Qatar SIM card if you want to get things done here, before you get paid. Remember you are starting over from scratch basically.  Bring some cash and exchange it for QAR and keep some in your American bank account.  Also check your bank to see how much are international fees when you use your card here.  You may or may not receive your first pay when you expect it.  I didn’t. But hey, “It’s Qatar…” you know the rest.
  5. Check the money you get from the bank before you leave America.  They will not exchange $50’s and $100 bills that have dates older than 2007 here.  I read that somewhere before I came but I forgot and they sure didn’t take $200.00 of my money.  But Ikea does take American money and they had no problem taking those bills.
  6. Be sure to make a copy of your passport because your job will take it until you get your RP and you need your passport to exchange money here.  Some places will take the passport copy.
  7. You can rent a car with a International Driver’s Permit until you get your RP, but I don’t know why you would want to rush to drive here.  It is aggressive and UBER works but that’s money again.
  8. The process to obtain a drivers license is crazy.  Do not come here with an expired drivers license or you will have to pay for driver’s school and it is not cheap. When you go to schedule your driver’s test, bring your American Driver’s Lic and a copy of it.  You will also have to pay a fee, but you can only pay it with your Qatar bank card.
  9. Here’s the kicker though, I tell you all of this but rules and policies change like the wind here, so tomorrow may be different rules. LOL!
  10. Most things you can find here, you just have to look for it.

So things aren’t perfect but I like it here.  I’ve also embraced my villa and my compound has some perks.  Smaller compounds usually do.  My husband and I have worked out in the gym together several times, which is literally 10 feet away.  My house is large and the air is the bomb.  My kids are adjusting well too.  Everyday is like an adventure.  I promise to post pictures and videos soon, but I have to get to bed.  It’s late and I have the written part of the driver’s test at 7am.

Update: I passed my test today!  Here’s the process to obtain a Qatar Driver’s License if you have an American Driver’s License.

Step 1: Pass your eye exam. Simple and is done in the mall.

Step 2: Schedule your written test, purchase a manual for 55 Riyals about $15 U.S. Read thru the manual.

Step 3: Take the written test (theory test) consisting of 20 questions. You can’t get more than 4 wrong.  You can download the app Qatar Driving and take some practice test. After you pass the written test, you can take the driving test or schedule the driving test.

Step 4:  Take the road test.

I have Step 4 scheduled for next Sunday. Wish me luck and stay tuned for the results.

Welcome to Qatar

Experiencing it is different than reading about it.

It’s almost been a full two days since my arrival in Qatar and honestly where do I start?  I often wondered, while reading other’s blogs, why they just drop off and why there is such a break in between their post and now I know.  1) You get so busy that it becomes difficult to make time for it or  2) You get so overwhelmed that you don’t know where to start or 3) You are too tired to even care.  I am a mix between 1 and 2.  Let’s start with the journey…

The Journey

My sister, best friend sister and mother in law drove with us to PHL airport.  We needed all three cars as we had a lot of luggage.  It was sad saying good bye and I’ll admit I shed a few tears.  We checked in our luggage, which took some time because as I mentioned before, we had a lot of it, 8 pieces to check in to be exact and 8 pieces to carry on.

IMG_1295

The weight allowance for checked luggage on Qatar Airways, leaving from U.S.A, economy class is 23kg or 50lbs. You are allowed 2 free checked bags at this weight.  If your bags weigh more than this, but not to exceed 32kg or 70lbs, than you can pay $50 online up to 6 hours prior to your flight or $65 at the airport.  We knew that 3 of our bags were over the weight but did not pay online so we had to pay $195 at the airport.  We could have shipped our items but shipping freight to Doha is expensive, more than $1,000 for not much so we opted to just pay overweight fees.  It cost $200.00 per extra luggage, which still would have been cheaper but for 60 pounds over weight, 20lbs for 3 bags each, we still saved money.  Also they have the right to reject extra luggage so we didn’t go that route and plus the added cost of buying extra luggage just didn’t balance out. They also check the weight of your carry-on bags which should not exceed 7kg or 15lbs. You are allowed one carry-on per person and a personal item, which is really two carry-ons. Several of our carry-on bags were overweight but the attendant who helped us let us go.  They also requested a copy of our visas at the airport.  I have no idea why. I n all, I think we did pretty good with packing and the luggage in general.

Once we got our luggage squared away, we got our boarding passes and proceeded to security.  We waited in line for our turn only to be told to go back downstairs to the ticket desk because only our first initials were printed on the passes.  This was now 1 hour from boarding time and we started to lose patience.  We got that taken care of and got thru TSA without incident.  We found our gate and had only enough time to use the bathroom and then line up for boarding.

The plane was huge.

IMG_1301

It was the biggest plane I had ever been on.  The inside was beautifully lit with pink and blue lights.  The seats reclined.  The 12+ hour flight was ok. There was some turbulence but not too bad.  The flight attendants were nice.  They were always coming around with their carts offering beverages (including free liquor, even Hennessy).  They served three meals and even accommodated my vegan diet. (BTW you can select your seats and special diet online prior to your flight)  Even though we were prepared with jackets, blanket, pillows etc.., they also provided some of these things like a blanket, eye mask, ear plugs, compression socks, pillow and headphones.  My husband said they kept flashing messages on the tv to remind people to walk around, hydrate and moisturize to help with the long flight.  But I never saw those messages; that must have been while I was asleep.  They provided a variety of movies, tv shows and music channels to keep you entertained.  It was a long flight but it didn’t feel super long and I only slept about a total of 3 hours.

Upon landing in Doha, my husband and I were the only 2 people that clapped.  I always clap when I land, because I’m happy we made it safely and I clap for the pilots for a job well done.  Is that just an American thing?  Well, we exited at the back of the plane, strangely, on the tar mat and boarded a bus, which took us to the arriving terminal of the airport.  I prepared myself for extreme heat but it wasn’t too bad, maybe because it was 6:00a.m.  We went through customs and collected our items without incident.  I exchanged some U.S. money for some QAR (riyals) and purchased 2 Qatari SIM cards.  My Vice Principal met us and….

Don’t expect to get what you expected

…she told me that my housing had been changed.  The villa that I was told that we’d be living in and was looking forward to living in, close to my son’s school and the mall, with a maid’s quarter, 4 bedrooms, 3 living rooms, etc, etc… was not to be.  Instead we have been placed in a 3 bedroom villa with 1 living room, and no maids quarter,  30-45 min from my sons school.  It is one of the Beverly Hills Gardens compounds.  And although it is nice, it is not El Berr, as expected.  On a positive note, it is close to my job, the beach and the airport.  Also one of the teachers that I have been SKYPing with over here is now my neighbor and we work at the same school.  I only met 2 of my 16 neighboring families because most of them are still on summer vacation.  From what I have been told, there are several families with teenage boys that live in this compound. That is another added bonus.  We have a nice pool and small fitness center.  Our villa is furnished with older furniture but it’s not too bad. We had some dishes, an ironing board and iron, and some other things that the school purchased for us.  It’s called a soft package.  One of our neighbors and a school leader took us to the market to get some food later that day because none had been left for us contrary to what was supposed to happen.  When we got back, someone had dropped off some bread, milk, eggs, and jelly.   I was glad we went to the market, because who can survive off of that menu.

We were so tired that I really can’t remember much after that.  We took a nap, then were taken to a different market.  I had a headache that night, not sure what from.  It could have been from a number of things.  I took two tylenol PM’s and went to sleep about 2:00a.m.  I didn’t wake up until after 1pm.

I used the fitness center today while the boys swam in the pool.  It’s nice to have a fitness center in the front yard.  I can get used to that.  Tokitha (my friend from North Carolina) and I hooked up today.  She sent me a driver and we all went to the mall.

I’ve read many blogs and post online about the rude nature of some of the people here but…

Experiencing it is different than reading about it

… some people really do brush by you, reach over you, lean over you, stare at you and bust in front of you without a single word.  I just look up like WTH and keep it moving.  For the most part, everyone has been nice and Qatar is like a melting pot of many different cultures.

Neither our cable nor our internet works.  Thankfully our neighbor gave us her code so we can access the internet while sitting on our steps in our house.  It’s the little things.

Life in Qatar will take some adjusting and patience, I just hope I can stay positive and keep an open mind.

On another note, I completed my TEFL online course before I left the states.  I have obtained another certification.  It was completely online and done at my own pace and even though I already secured an overseas job, it still makes more opportunities available to me and I learned a lot.  And I accomplished what I set out to do, which was to complete it before I left.

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 3.37.21 AM

…So welcome to Qatar!

IMG_1353

39 is going to be a great year

One week to go!

Two days ago, I turned 39 years young.  Not everyone feels comfortable admitting their age or accepting it, but I am quite comfortable.  I feel good about it.  I look good for my age too so that helps. LOL!

Two days ago, I got back from my trip to Jamaica.  I absolutely love Jamaica.  There hasn’t been one time when I’ve gone and haven’t enjoy myself.  It’s usually just my sister and bf sister but this time we took the young girls, their daughters.  The youngest was turning 21. We had a ball.  We stayed in Montego Bay at the Grand Palladium resort.  Although the resort was very pretty aesthetically, I probably won’t stay there again.  It was a little far from everything, and over rated.  I prefer to stay closer to the action and to the locals. Here are some of the highlights: snorkeling in the middle of the ocean, climbed Dunns River Falls, bobsledding, Mystic Mountain look-out, partied, ate.  Here are a few pictures.

Yesterday I got good news from my H.R. rep that put my worries to rest.  Everybody’s visa has been approved, including my husband.  Now we are packing.  39 is going to be a great year and a year filled with firsts.  I can’t wait. ONE WEEK TO GO! Stay tuned…