The Truth about Expat Life- Petals and Thorns

Dealing with change is hard especially when you are used to things going a certain way.   Sometimes people say they can deal with change, that is until change happens.  Then they are all kinds of flustered.

At first glance, you may think my life in Qatar is Roses.  And you’d be right!  I’m going to new places and paying off debt.  I’m obtaining new experiences and meeting new friends. I’m eating, a lot and smiling.  I’m making good money and don’t have to stress about paying bills.  I love my job and my life. My resumé is growing and the blank pages of my passport is shrinking.  I feel completely safe and there is no snow.  Did you hear me, NO SNOW?

But on roses are these pointy, sharp edges called thorns.  Nothing and nowhere is perfect but I tell you, living here as an American Expat Teacher definitely has it’s petals and thorns.


I actually really love my job here.  I teach first grade and I had a really good class last year.  I don’t know if that is because it was a good group of kids or because my classroom management is the bomb.  It’s probably a mixture of the two.  We will see what this year holds out and then I will revisit this thought.  I have a really light workload.  I never stay after hours or go in early to complete work.  When I take work home it is never out of necessity; it is a choice.  But there is always something happening at work.  There is always something new to prepare for that I wish I had been told earlier so that I could get a jump start on.  I receive so many emails in one day that before I finish reading one, here comes another. My classroom does not belong to me even though I am the homeroom teacher and am responsible for the room.  My students only attend one special a day, so all other teaches come into my, excuse me, the classroom to teach the students.  I have OCD about some things, like a neat, clean and organized classroom but this cannot happen when you share it with others who don’t feel the same.  I could drive myself crazy but instead I have learned to let it go.  We have helpers that clean our rooms, and some people have gotten so dependent on them, that they forget how important it is to teach children to clean up behind themselves.  So work has its share of stressors, just different kinds of stress than the kind you experience in the U.S.

My work day is 6:45-3:00pm.  Yes, 6:45 am.  My alarm is set to 5:00am every week day, that’s Sunday-Thursday.  Yes, Sunday.  Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 5.24.51 PMAnyone who knows me, knows I am not a morning person and I am still not used to the time.  I hit snooze at least 3 times and bribe myself to get out of bed.  Students start coming into the classroom at 6:45 and dismiss at 2:00pm. From 2:00-3:00, I’m engaged in dismissal duty, meetings and prepping.  I’m asleep before 10 everyday.  If not, I’m a walking zombie and need a red bull to give me wings to fly or a caramel macchiato with soy milk and a double shot of espresso from Starbucks to even function.  That is until Ramadan when the work day is reduced to 8-1.

Many teachers complain about behaviors of students and this is why I will only teach the younger kids.  I learned my lesson my last year of teaching in Philadelphia when I wanted to play super teacher and take over a failing, troubled 5th grade class.  I did it, but that was the last year I taught in a Philadelphia school; I should have just stayed in my K-2 bubble.  By the end of the year, I gained valuable experience but I will never do that again.  Just so you know, kids are kids everywhere you go.

But for every benefit there is a cost.


Are there things to do here? Yes.  Do I have time to do them? Yes, because I am not overwhelmed by work.   When I come home from work, I am not totally exhausted.  On the weekend, I am not playing work catch up so I have plenty of time to be involved in other things.  I am in a new country so there is tons to do, even in the desert.

Thing is, you have to work harder at work-life-balance here than you would at home. When you are surrounded by people you don’t know, you either have to make new friends or be a loner.  I’m somewhere in the middle.  You have to be willing to try new things and take on new adventures or you can wind up with ‘no’ life and become depressed if you are not careful.


The People

Qatar is a melting pot of cultures.  With so many people from different walks of life, come different perspectives, even on personal hygiene.  I don’t know if I will ever get used to the various smells and take on manners.  But there is so much you can learn from people who’ve grown up some place different than you.  You have to be willing to learn and ask questions and accept differences.  I am a teacher but I am also a life-long learner.


There are things to do here for fun but most times you have to create your own fun or pay for it.  It’s often too hot much of the year, so you have to wait for the cooler months to enjoy outdoor fun.  So we enjoy visiting our friends, having adult game night or just staying in and watching tv.  I used to go to the movies a lot in the states but the movies here are censored so I don’t frequent them.  Eating out is expensive and it’s hard for vegans to eat out without compromising, besides I enjoy my husband’s cooking the most so we mostly eat at home. Recently my husband and I purchased pool sticks so we play pool at our complex or swim or work out.  When it cools down a bit, we will take road trips around Qatar, go to the beaches, camp out, run on the Corniche, spend time in the Souk and become more creative.

Missing out

Weddings, parties, birthdays, births, you will miss out on all of them when you leave everyone behind to live overseas.  You also realize that people can live without you. lol. Home goes on without you and you start to wonder, what is home.  People who cried that they will miss you, stop calling and people that said they would visit, won’t.  And when you go back home to visit, things will be the same but things will also be different.


Dealing with change is hard especially when you are used to things going a certain way.   Sometimes people say they can deal with change, that is until change happens.  Then they are all kinds of flustered.  I guess we should specify what kind of change we can deal with and what level.  And a lot of times, you are not sure how much change you can deal with until it is actually upon you.  Change is harder than you think, especially when you have no control over it.  Moving overseas in itself is a huge change, then there’s culture change, job expectation change, circle of people change, all kinds of change. There is also good and bad change.

I needed this change.  I would not have been satisfied without it.

This expat life ain’t for everyone you have learn to work around the thorns to enjoy the petals!

Teach Away

When I first applied to teach overseas several years ago I went through Teach Away, an international teacher recruitment agency based out of Canada, and even though I didn’t get a position the first time, there was never any doubt that I would try again.  The representatives at Teach Away were always professional.  So, when I decided to seek employment overseas again, I went back to Teach Away’s website.  They guided me every step of the way from the original email, through the application process, to the interview and with any questions I had after I secured a position.  I didn’t pay any fees to Teach Away.  I had to pay all of the cost associated with my paperwork, and cost incurred from traveling for my interviews but no company fees.  I’ve spoken to many other teachers and they went through companies that they had to pay a membership fee to.  I’ve never used them so I can’t speak on them.  But, I have nothing but great things to say about Teach Away and my experience working with them.  I even obtained my TEFL certification with their help through the University of Toronto TEFL online course.
When I received the following email over the summer, I was both surprised and honored!

Hi Kennesha, 

I’m the content marketing intern here at Teach Away and I just wanted to reach out to you to give you a quick heads-up on a recent blog post we published on the Teach Away website featuring your blog! 
I love how your blog follows your personal journey teaching in Doha, I thought that your blog would be a great addition to our list of teacher blogs to get you excited about teaching abroad! I loved looking through all your stories, and the fact that you are a Teach Away alumni is even better!  
Once again, I just wanted to contact you to let you know about this post, and to say thank you for being such a great representative for Teach Away during your journey abroad!’
When I decide to leave my current teaching position in Qatar, and pursue another overseas teaching position, I will be using Teach Away!

Has America Lost it’s Sense of Humor?

What stuck with me the most was, what one comedian said, America has lost it’s sense of humor.  Everything is so serious and it is, but if Qatar can do it, so can America. 

Imagine living in a foreign country in the middle of a diplomatic crisis, during a time when your country recently elected a very controversial President, while sitting through a comedy show.  Wait, that’s not all.  Now imagine that foreign country is in the Middle East, a level of censorship is maintained and speaking of certain things is considered taboo.  Confused, well this is the position I put myself in 4 days ago.  Was it the best idea I’ve had here in Qatar?  I’m still not sure, but hey, I’m here for the experience right.  I didn’t think of all of this prior to paying for the tickets but in the midst of so much chaos in the world, humor is always a good idea.

So as I sat through the Doha Comedy Festival at the QNCC and laughed along with hundreds of people, natives and expats, there were times when I felt very uncomfortable.  Maybe it was the comedian from India, who made mention of hand jobs and women being able to wear whatever they want.  Or perhaps it was the stage set up of buildings with smoke coming from behind them as one comedian mentioned, with Arabic comedians.  There was jokes of marijuana, cross-dressing, terrorism and racism. But most of the jokes centered around the blockade and President Donald Trump.

Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be that funny because of where I live.  My husband and I had a conversation before we went about our doubts that it would be funny.  We even planned our code phrase for a reason to leave early.  We thought because the country is Islamic, that there would be no profanity, or inappropriate jokes. Aren’t those the things that make comedy in the first place?  There was profanity and inappropriate jokes, totally unexpected and we laughed through the entire 4+ hour show.


All of the comedians were funny and America, my native country, was the biggest blunt of jokes.  The sad part about it was, the jokes were true.  In the face of this blockade, Qatar held a comedy show, where many Qataris showed up and even the host/comedian was Qatari.  They laughed at the headlines that circulated in the media about the false reports of Qatar during the blockade.  What stuck with me the most was, what one comedian said, America has lost it’s sense of humor. Everything is so serious and it is, but if Qatar can do it, so can America.

With all of our differences, the audience all laughed together because…

“Laughter has no foreign accent.” — Paul Lowney


The Difference in Beginning Year 2 Teaching Overseas vs Year 1

When I first arrived in Doha in 2016 I had no idea what to expect except for what I had read online and conversations I had with a future colleague, Yanna and the (at that time) H.R. Representative Suleiman.  The first year was spent learning my way around and adapting to a new culture, eating-a lot, video calling, traveling, making new friends and of course working.  I was on an emotional rollercoaster.  The beginning of the second year for a teacher overseas is very different than the first.  It is easier.  Friendships and connections are already made, your housing is already established, you know your administration (granted it hasn’t changed, mine did not), you are more comfortable with the culture and all your paperwork is complete.  Thank God, that awful paperwork to get you established in a new county is done.  

So how did the beginning of year 2 go for me?


I’m still teaching first grade.  I couldn’t leave first grade if I wanted to, not that I wanted to, because I was the only first grade teacher who remained in Qatar at my school.  Last year, I was the only new one; this year I’m the only old one minus the two Arabic teachers.  Since there are 3 new first grade teachers, a new math teacher and a new Islamic teacher, that’s a whole new team btw, administration made me grade team lead. That doesn’t mean more money, nope no raise, it does mean more work for me, but it also means another accomplishment to add to my resumé.  A new group of teachers meant saying good bye to many old faces.  I miss you Reem! IMG-20170817-WA0004

A new school year also means a new group of students, like a box of chocolate, you never know what your’e going to get.  What can I say about my new students so far, well, I loved my class last year.  Like teaching anywhere in the world, one year you love your class, the next year, well…we shall see how the year progresses.  I was just kinda asked, but not really, to take a student from another class that is not adjusting well and it’s only two weeks in.  My teacher readers out there know what I’m hinting at.  Pray for me, this may be a long year.


It is hard and extremely uncomfortable for grown-ups to make new friends.  Do I ask him/her out?  Does he/she drink?  Is he/she slimy?  Ugh, she is too flirtatious around other ladies men.  Does she/he have little kids?  Does he/she drink?  Is she messy?  Oh my god, she/he talks too much.  Blah, Blah, Blah, you get the picture.  I was fortunate to click with a few people last year and we are pretty much okay with our group.  I believe that I am a pretty social person but I never had a lot of close friends, so the need for them was never a high priority either but when you live overseas, you need friends.  All you got is each other.   With that being said, I love my group of friends here.  The majority of us are married, half have kids and the others don’t.   The newbies seem okay too.  I am also happy that Darryl gets along with the husbands of my friends.


Speaking of acquaintances, when you are a famous blogger like I am… Joking!  However, I’ve been lucky enough to have helped a few people on their journey to teach overseas and I’ve even met and gone out with a few.  At our all teacher orientation this year, I was speaking with another teacher that happened to know me from a facebook group that I am a part of and she happened to work with a new teacher that I helped through my blog.  She said the teacher had been looking for me and she took me to her.  Low and behold, it was Badia.  Badia had been following my blog for some time and we were corresponding via email about teaching here.  She got the job and she was at the orientation.  When we saw each other, it was perfect.  Hugs, more hugs and OH MY GOD’S! We were even wearing the same colors.  Aren’t we beautiful! 20170817_100637

Then there’s Nancy.  Nancy and I interviewed for Abu Dhabi together before I came here. I forwarded her resumé to my supervisor and now she works at my school.  She and her husband joined us for brunch over the weekend.  20170901_122236


I haven’t done much since I’ve been back.  It’s too hot to do any outdoor activities.  We’ve gone to a few gatherings and brunches.  I’m training for a 5K, with an app, running and walking indoors in our gym and swimming a lot.  I’m getting better at my vegan diet with Darryl cooking all of my meals.  20170904_124716I’m down to only one day of fish or seafood and soon I will be a complete vegan.  I guess we are a pretty boring couple but we are a couple that spent a year apart so we are spending a lot of time watching our favorite shows and catching up and bonding.

So the beginning of year 1 was about adjusting, stress and formalities.  The beginning of year 2 is more about acceptance.   Hey this is the middle east, welcome to year 2!

How to Survive a Year in a Long Distance Marriage

Living a part from your best friend and lover is not easy. You need a lot of patience. You need to have a goal in mind, that will make it all worth it in the end. You have to believe that it will work and work at it. It can be done!

When I accepted a teaching position in Qatar, I knew I would be pretty far from anything remotely familiar to me including my husband but I didn’t know I would be 6,770 miles away. I had never been in a long distance relationship and prayed that my relationship with my husband was strong enough that my marriage could survive.  I know that distance can make or break a relationship.  Well the first year of this long distance marriage is coming to a close and I am happy to say, our relationship is stronger because of it.  I will also add, HE IS WORTH IT!  Here is how our marriage survived a long year apart and perhaps these tips can help you too.

Make time for each other

Set a specific time of day, each day to spend together.  There was an 8 hour time difference between Philadelphia and Qatar, 7 hours during daylight savings.  When my day was coming to a close, his afternoon was just beginning.  When his was coming to a close, mine was just beginning.  So we always made an effort to speak before each of us went to bed.  Thankfully he worked from home 2-3 days a week, so some days we spoke a lot more often.  We would watch our favorite shows together.  We both had an Amazon fire Stick, so we were able to watch episodes simultaneously.  Back at home, we always had shows that were ours, that we only watched together.  So we stuck to that.

Technology is your friend 

We Skyped most times, video chatted on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.  Those long distance phone calls can really add up so make space on your phone, tablet and laptop for all apps that will allow you to talk free of charge.  We kept our Family Plan with T-Mobile when I moved but added the Simple choice plan which gave us free unlimited text messages while living overseas.  Also I purchased a Magic Jack before leaving the U.S.  With this, I received an American phone number and had the ability to call American phone numbers without extra charges.  This came in handy when Wifi didn’t work.  While technology is your friend, wifi is not always friendly.

Find an airline and a credit card you really like and stick with it

The amount of points you will get for visiting each other will add up and maybe you could even score free flights or other perks.  Right before I left for Qatar, I got an American Airlines credit card because they were offering 44,000 points after you spend $1,000 within 90 days.  I figured I wouldn’t use AA much while in Qatar but those points could be used when I came home for a trip for just the two of us or to fly him to visit me.  It didn’t take long to earn 55,000 and two free admission tickets to their Admirals club.  We will be using those tickets and points this summer to fly first class to Vegas.

My favorite airline to date is Qatar Airways.  The service is always top shelf.  The longer the flight the better the service.  Joining their privilege club has its benefits too.  I set up my account to include my food preference of vegetarian and when I am flying they always have separate food for me ready to go.  The flight attendants have always been nice, the entertainment on board is good, the food and drinks are free and you’re allowed 2 checked bags, a carryon and a personal item.  Sure you will pay more for their flights but with good reason.  Eventually if you use them enough, your club status will change and the perks will increase.

Schedule your visits

I missed my husband a lot, sometimes more than others, but scheduling his visits gave me something to look forward to.  Planning our time together was fun.  You can use countdown apps or a calendar to track the days until you are in each other’s arms again.

Create a ‘thing’

Each night before I went to bed, I sent Darryl a song.  I added all of these songs into a playlist called “For Him”.   It turned into my favorite playlist of all.   It is a good mix of songs that started with the song I walked in on on our wedding day.   I started sending him these songs as soon as we were on different continents.  After his first visit, I stopped sending them.  I thought it was just a small thing that didn’t hold much value.  That was until one day he said, “I guess you aren’t sending me any more songs” and I could hear the melancholy in his voice.  It was at that moment, I realized how much me sending these songs meant to him and that it was “Our Thing”.   Needless to say, I started sending them again.  So create a thing for your mate and stick to it.   One of my coworkers who is also in a long distance marriage says she and her husband often planned to eat dinner together while on the phone, or cooked together.  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is special between the two of you.

Here are a few songs from “For Him”:

Turning Page by Sleeping at Last from the Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Soundtrack

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

A Song for You by Donny Hathaway

I Miss You by Beyoncé

I Miss You by Adele

Your time is precious, don’t sweat the small stuff

The first time Darryl came to visit, we had been apart for three months. I guess within those three months I had grown kind of selfish.  He bought me some snacks from the U.S. that I missed, but he was eating them.  I got a little upset about this because he could eat these any time he wanted back home, but I could not.  The ones he brought with him was all I had and he was eating them.  I was so annoyed.  I snapped at him.  When he left, I missed him so much and I felt really bad about the way I treated him.   Another incident happened during that same visit.  I have a teddy bear that I sleep with that he purchased for me.  When he came into my bedroom, he moved it and when I said something to him about it, he threw it on the floor.  I got so upset with him.  The next time he visited, I moved ‘Blackey’ the teddy bear from the bed to the chair.  I didn’t get upset when he ate my American snacks.  I realized that on the last visit, I wasted time being upset over petty things.

Every couple has arguments and disagreements but when you live so far apart, every moment together is precious.  Don’t waste time on small stuff.   Just remember how much you miss him when he’s gone and all the petty stuff won’t matter.

Do some regular things together when he visits

The first time Darryl visited we took a trip to the Maldives.  It was so fun.  But the next time he came we stayed at my home in Qatar.  And that visit was even better.   Why? Because we got to do regular, married couple, every day things, that we don’t get to do.  None of our time was wasted on waiting on an airplane, or a whole day of traveling.  We had some real quality time together.  We watched our shows in the same room.   We had pillow talk.  We cooked together.  We shopped.  We spent hours upon hours in bed.  We went out to eat.  We visited friends.  He drove!  He went to work with me, met my students and read to them.  We went to the movies.  He went with me to get the car fixed, which was a big deal, because he got to feel like a husband again and I got to feel like a wife.  Visits don’t have to be big and elaborate to be special.

Find ways to show him, you love him

My hubby found the holidays specifically depressing.  I, on the other hand, was in a country that doesn’t really celebrate American holidays so it didn’t affect me in the same way because there weren’t decorations up everywhere or people celebrating.  My most depressing times were right after he left.  Anyway, it’s hard to send love through a phone, or celebrate holidays over 6,000 miles away.  But we both managed to find ways to show each other how much we loved one another.

A few weeks after Darryl left initially, I found a letter that he hid in the arm of one of my jackets.  It was a love letter that he wrote for me before he left.  On our anniversary, my son bought me a letter that Darryl had written and given to him to give to me on this day. The thought that he put into that made me teary eyed.  Darryl loves watches, so one day I ordered him one and sent it to the house.  He was so surprised.  These little momentos are everything.

Make the most of your alone time

I’ve never had a lot of friends or had to be surrounded by a large entourage so being alone was not new to me.  I actually enjoyed time spent with me, myself and I, so the thought of being without friends, and family didn’t really trouble me.  But it had been a long time since I had gone without companionship for more than 2 weeks.  In fact, I have been in relationships for the last 17 years with no significant lapse in between.   This indeed was different.

But I learned to enjoy my alone time.  I watched shows that I liked and ate out when I wanted.  I shopped without guilt or hiding bags.  I went out for drinks with new friends, without feeling guilty about leaving him alone.  I spent a significant amount of time sitting in silence, just being reflective and learning about me.  I traveled and spent way too much money.  I didn’t take up a hobby but I did get back into writing, this time by way of blogging.   I encourage you to take up a hobby or get back into something that you once enjoyed but that fell by the wayside because, well life happens.  Learn a new language.  Learn to play an instrument.  Go somewhere you always wanted to go but the two of you couldn’t afford together.  Next year, I do plan on learning Arabic.  I also intend to learn how to play the violin.  I’ve always wanted to play the violin.  I recently bought a membership to get back into yoga.  It’s a great way to relieve stress since my other stress reliever is so far away.  Make the most of your alone time and time spent making new friends.  Which brings me to my next tip…

Trust and Respect each others space

My life did not end when I left and neither did his, so what’s the point of getting upset when he decides to go out with friends instead of being on the phone with me.  Living apart is not easy; living over 6,000 miles apart is a challenge.   Give each other space.  Every free minute does not have to be spent on the phone talking to each other.

What is a relationship without trust?  I had to trust that when he went out, it was not to cheat, flirt or meet people.  It was for the same reasons I went out, to relieve stress and have fun.  It is so important to think positive or you will drive yourself crazy.  I remember this one time Darryl didn’t answer my nightly phone call.  All kinds of negative thoughts filled my head.  Did he have company?  Did he have a chick over? Is he ignoring my calls? When he finally called me, he said he was so tired that he fell asleep waiting for my call.  If a man is going to cheat, no amount of worrying is going to prevent it.  You will drive yourself crazy, worrying about what he is doing.  If you love your mate, trust them and respect their space.

Surround yourself with friends that have your relationship’s best interest at heart

I’ve met several females since I’ve moved overseas, some single, some married and their spouse is with them, some in a similar situation to mine, some newly divorced.   Who you choose to spend your time with is important.  In my experience, partying with single friends is never the best choice.  They know that you are married but they still say, “so and so has friends.” That’s nice, but what does that have to do with me.  Why even put yourself in that predicament?  One of the persons that I chose to spend the majority of my time with, I mentioned her earlier in this post, is in the same situation as me.  Her husband lives in Germany and she lives here.  I feel very comfortable telling her when I miss my hubby and she doesn’t hesitate to tell me when she misses hers.  We understand each other’s feelings.  Me and another girl clicked from day 1.  She and I started together.  She is married and her husband is here with her.  We became instant friends.  Our husbands are cool too.  I like hanging with her for several reasons but one of those reasons is that she loves her husband and keeps me on track.  Both of these girls have no problem telling me when they think I am wrong about my hubby and I like that.  They don’t try to steer me away or to meet other people.  They tell me I have a good husband and I better act right.

Darryl keeps a small circle too.  I am grateful for the few friends he has, who try to keep him busy and who check on him.

Living a part from your best friend and lover is not easy.  You need a lot of patience.  You need to have a goal in mind, that will make it all worth it in the end.   You have to believe that it will work and work at it.  It can be done!

My Blog’s Been Recognized

I am very happy to share that recently I received two awards for my blog.  I am both honored and delighted.  It’s not really a nomination because there is no vote between bloggers to see who wins.  The fact that I was recognized is an award in itself.  Even though I’ve had my blog for more than 3 years, I am still trying to figure out how people get their blogs featured on different websites and in news articles.  And 3 years may seem like a long time but if you have been with me from the beginning you will know that I took around 2 years off after my first ‘crash and burn’ try at teaching overseas.  I picked it back up once I reapplied and started the journey over.  Well receiving these awards makes me feel like my blog is being read and ‘Hey’, it must be pretty good. So I guess I will stick with it.  But really, here are the requirements for receiving these awards.

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This is my second Liebster Award! Keep ’em coming!

I was nominated by Expat Panda. <-Click here to visit her blog) THANK YOU!  She is a beautiful young lady from South Africa, who like me, is teaching overseas.  She is teaching in Kuwait and I love the little memes she post in her blog.  It is her signature and I’m so jeolous that I did not think of using those first.

My blog was originally started to document my steps to teaching overseas.  I used to write when I was a little girl.  I loved to write poetry and books.  I even had a poem published in a book years ago.  One day I will write some children’s books when life slows down for me.  I already have my characters and storylines in my mind. Anyway, back to the brief history of my blog.  The first time I tried to teach overseas I did not get the job(s).   You know the rest.  Now I am here in Qatar teaching first grade.  And my blog is all about learning and growing over here.  I discuss the steps to teaching in Qatar, life in Qatar, traveling and eating.  Some might say, my blog is a little personal, but it is.  I like it like that.

My advice to anyone considering blogging or just beginning, make a list, so you don’t forget. And…

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Don’t ask me what this has to do with blogging.  I just like it.  But on a more serious note, have fun with it, but keep in mind that Big Brother is always watching.  I go by this saying “When in doubt, do without”.

11 random facts about me

    1. I call myself a Pesca-Vegan because I mostly follow a vegan diet but I do eat seafood. SMH (I love it so much)
    2. I am afraid of flying but I love to travel
    3. I have a facebook group called “For Women Living with Alopecia”
    4. I write reviews
    5. My birthday is a big deal to me and I act like a spoiled brat in the month of August
    6. I hate wearing clothes, but I love clothes shopping
    7. I like my food piping hot and if it’s not, I’m not a happy camper.  In fact, I will send it back in a heartbeat.
    8. Trey Songz could get it
    9. I want to serve more, maybe volunteer in a hospital to help kids or feed the homeless
    10. I will live forever, at least I tell people that, because I wish I could.  I really do love life!
    11. My favorite movies are…

So Expat Panda has created these 10 questions for me to answer.  Here goes..

  • What is your favorite thing to photograph?

I love to photograph sunsets, sunrises and scenery.


  • Which magical power do you wish you had while you were traveling?

It is difficult to choose just one, but I think I would love the power to teleport then I wouldn’t have to worry about the plane ride.  But, I’m cheating now, I could make a whole list of other powers I wish I had.  A second one would be to clone myself, so that I wouldn’t have to go back to work but remain on vacation while my clone worked for me.  Or maybe the power to expand and deflate my stomach so that I could eat all I wanted and not worry about getting fat. But then that would be unhealthy, so I don’t know.  How about you my readers, what power would you choose while traveling?

  • If we had a day to spend together in your hometown, what would we do?

That’s easy, we would eat cheesesteaks and visit historical sites.  Philadelphia has a lot of history.

  • Which TV show would you like to live in?

Sex and the City!  I crack me up! Thank God, she didn’t ask, which character I would be.

  • What is your “take all my money!” store?

Homecenter, TJMax, Target, Macys, Oh, I’m sorry did you say store or stores?

  • What food do you crave when you need comfort?


  • What has been your most valuable failure?

Being told no by previous employers, it brought me here

  • What’s your favorite Disney movie?

BAM! Answered that already, see ^

  • What would you have told your 16 or 18-year-old self?

Go to college right after high school, it will save you time and earn you money faster

  • Tell the world the story of how and why you started your blog.

BAM! Answered that already too. See^

Now I have to nominate 11 bloggers that are deserving of this award and pose 11 questions to them.  But, unfortunately I don’t know that many bloggers that have less than 300 followers so I nominated a few that I think are deserving.

I have nominated you…

…for the Blogger Recognition Award and the Liebster Award.  If you accept, here are your 11 questions:

  1. What is the title of your post that received the most views?
  2. What is your favorite place to visit in the whole world and why?
  3. If you were granted a redo, what would you use it for?
  4. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  5. Describe your dream job? (You can make one up if you want)
  6. What are your pet peeves?
  7. Apple or Android?
  8. Who is your best friend and why?
  9. If you could spend one more day with someone who has passed, who would it be and what would you do?
  10. What are your hobbies, besides blogging?
  11. What do you love most about your life right now?



Missing the Little Things While Overseas

I like living here in Qatar but there are some things that I really miss, that I never thought I would.  Before moving abroad take some time to enjoy some of your favorite things (outside of the obvious things like family, friends, etc…).  Here are some of the not so obvious things that I miss in no particular order.

  • The Kroc– a community center located in the north Philly section of Philadelphia.  It has a fitness center, pools, water park, chapel and more there.  My family and I went there at least once a week.  I frequented it more as my schedule was very flexible last year.  I attended several of the fitness classes: yoga, pilates, tabata, etc.  I enjoyed swimming laps and lifting weights there.
  • Sitting on my steps/front porch, enjoying a beer or glass of wine watching the cars go by.  My compound is small here and on a back street so we don’t get much action. This is a good thing and a boring thing.
  • Shopping at my favorite stores: TJ Max, Home Goods, Macys, Target. Oh how I miss you guys.
  • Corner stores: Wawa, 7-Eleven
  • The food- A few of my favorites: Little Delicious is a Caribbean restaurant located on Woodland Avenue in Philly.  It’s a hole in the wall but the food is so good.  I miss the curry goat, ox tails, rice and peas, cabbage and jerk chicken.  All The Way Live is a Vegan restaurant located in the Germantown section of Philly.  I found out about this place just before I left as I began to make the vegan transition.  It is owned by the mother of an associate of mine, it is true vegan food and it is delicious.  Atlantic Ocean Lobster and Snow crab legs, bought right from the market and home-cooked just the way I like it, by hubby himself.
  • My car, my sweet, red Valentine.  I recently paid it off and haven’t even driven it since.  That’s me and Valentine in the featured image above.
  • Hearing music blasting from the car next to me and blasting my own favorite jams as I cruise down the highway with my windows open enjoying the FRESH air (well fresher than here anyway)
  • The ease of knowing where everything is that I love and enjoy
  • Scenery- Everything looks the same here, brown, dry and dusty except for the buildings down town.  I miss the mix.  I miss going to the Poconos, getting a room and enjoying outside activities like the shooting range, ATV’s etc..
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ATV riding in the Poconos when an unexpected friend showed up
  • Road trips to another state- Without applying for a visa and driving to another country, there is no where to drive outside of Qatar.  In the U.S., the family and I would load of the car and hit the road.  We could be in another state in under 30 minutes.  It may not have been far but we felt like we had gotten away.
A quick trip to the Beach with my family
Another trip to the beach with family and my Zoey

I would love to hear from my readers: What do you miss about your home country or what do you think you will miss?

Seeing a Dentist in Qatar

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S.. But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

Before I moved here, I made sure to visit the doctor, the GYN, an optometrist and the dentist, because I wasn’t sure how these things worked here.  I could wait until I came back to the U.S. to visit them again and I would still be within a year.  I’m pretty regular with check-ups.  But things happen and all this eating has led to a cavity.  My friend, Jennifer, recommended a Dental office that she visited that wasn’t too far from my villa so I made an appointment.  Green Health Dental clinic’s location is Opp Dar Al Salam Mall, Mesaimeer road, Abu hamour, Doha, Qatar.  I called and had an appointment for myself and Zamir within 2 days, a weekend at that, at 5:30 pm.

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S..  But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

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We were seen and on our way home within 45 minutes.  The first visit was just to confirm I had a cavity and sensitive teeth, and Zamir needed a cleaning.  OK.  We made another appointment to return to get the services done.

On our next appointment only took 29 minutes.  As soon as we walked in we were seen. The filling was completed differently than in the U.S.  I am not a dentist so I can’t really explain how the procedure was but I didn’t get a numbing agent and I didn’t feel any pain.  Zamir said all the dentist did was clean between his bottom teeth and ‘Wala’.

For this visit I paid QAR 122 ($33 USD approx) and the remainder was billed to our insurance.  In all, the experience was very efficient and pleasant.  It perplexes me how quick some services are and how slow others are here.


A Fun Filled Weekend in Qatar

We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouth camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.

Often I hear people say this country is boring, and it can be, if you let it.  Lately, I’ve been somewhat of a hermit, just eating, working and chilling.  But this weekend, I decided to change all of that.  I began to evaluate my situation:  the school year is just about 2/3 done, there are only 3 months left, I will be returning home for summer break, my son will be leaving me to finish his last year of high school in the states, my husband will be joining me next year.  I want to make the most out of the rest of this school year, my son’s last childhood year and my last few months of being a married/single mom.  There is always events happening here in Doha and a lot of them are free, especially for QF employees. Just last weekend, my son and I went to the CHI AL SHAQAB International Equestrian Competition.  We watched as horses pranced, danced and modeled, ran and jumped hurdles.  It’s actually pretty exciting to watch in person.

Thursday night I went to happy hour at Zengo.  It was a goodbye get together for Dee, who started the Come Dine with Dee Facebook page; she is returning to Ireland.  I went alone, had good conversation with strangers and it was a good start to the weekend.

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Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 12.15.38 PMOn Friday, I pampered myself with a manicure and pedicure.  Yes, you can get nice nail treatments here, gel on my fingers and regular polish on my toes.  It’s a little more expensive, usually ranging from $68 USD (250 QAR) and up for these services.

Then, Zamir and I went to brunch.  We tried Nozomi at the Pearl (335 QAR).  There is a small salad and sushi buffet. The sushi was good.  You can order 2 main dishes from the menu and a dessert as well as mocktails.  Our stomachs did not make it to dessert.  Afterwards we walked around the Pearl and made our way back home.

Check out my first slideshow.

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The highlight of our fun filled weekend was Saturday.   We got up early and met up with my friend Sue and her son.  She was nice enough to go on this adventure with us and drive. We headed to the Al Shahaniya Camel Racetrack.  Camel racing is a traditional sport of Qatar.  It was a cloudy day and we were praying that it wouldn’t rain.  Rain here means everything gets canceled.  Sue had read that the camel race at 6:30am then again at 9:30am until 1pm.  It was about an hour drive.

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You don’t see this in the U.S., Camel crossing. lol
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Camel underpass

We were shooting to be there by 9:30.  When we got there, after getting slightly lost, we saw trucks in the parking lots and camels walking across the lots.  Then out of no where, the trucks all headed toward a large screen on the outside of the track.  We followed the crowd, as there aren’t any instructions on what to do.  Then all of sudden everyone starting pulling off and the camels began trotting past.  I yelled for Sue to “GO!” and we got in line.  We drove amongst the Arabs speeding, and dodging each other, going in and out of traffic, some honking at their camels (not allowed btw), kids heads popping out of the tops of sunroofs, handsome men smiling and dare I say flirting with us through open windows, yelling “Yalla!”, watching the foamed mouthed camels running together with remote controlled jockeys on top, some whipping the camels.  It was such a rush and so much fun.

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But just as fast as it started, it was over and many of the trucks disappeared.  We were left wondering, what next?  We waited awhile and even checked out the bedouins nearby. Women fully covered were selling stuff out of tents.


Then we left and hit the road.  It was still early so we decided to take a road trip to Zekreet. We were already pretty far West so Zekreet was within a 30 min drive.  Zekreet is a village in north-western Qatar near Dukhan and about 90 km northwest of Doha.  Here you can visit the beach and some other interesting sites.  Here is a list of things we did and saw along the way.

  • Murwab Fort- or what’s left of it
  • Zekreet Peninsula– Art in the Desert- East-West-West-East, 4 large, plates of iron, sticking out of the sand in the middle of no where

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  • Zekreet beach– we stopped here and enjoyed a picnic on the beach
  • Bir Zekreet– large, interesting, geological, rock formations, climb up and take pictures

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Me and Sue in the Desert
Sue and I


  • Film City– replica of an antique Arabic village.  Some say it was built as a set for a movie.

After an 1.5 hour drive back to the city, we ordered Thai food.  My son and I ended our night by attending a Paint the Night event at Misk restaurant in the City Center Rotana hotel.

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The decor at this restaurant is very Moroccan and blue. Love it.

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We were exhausted by the time we reached home, but happy at all we had done.  Other expats have lived here for years and have never taken the journey to Zekreet.  This was one of my favorite weekends in Qatar, full and tiring.

Spring break is around the corner and I can’t wait.  Hubby is coming to visit, then Zamir and I are off to see more of the world.   We are going to EGYPT!  I am so excited, words can’t even explain!  Stay tuned…


Why the Friday Brunch at the St. Regis Doha is and isn’t the Best!

Reviews are just people’s opinions of their personal preference. Take it or leave it, but respect it!

Many people in Doha write reviews on the restaurants.  Reviews are just people’s opinions of their personal preference. Take it or leave it, but respect it!  Many people have said that the Friday brunch at the St. Regis is the BEST in Doha.  That is their opinion and this is mine…
I was so excited to sit at another Gordon Ramsey restaurant since I had been to Burrger’s in Vegas years ago and had, hands down, the best burger in my life.  I was more so excited because I was finally going to eat at the raved about St. Regis Brunch.  My group sat down at Opal, avoiding the long line in front of Vine.

The restaurant is beautiful and the view of the bay is too.  Since this was our first time here, I thought someone would explain how the brunch system works here, but no one did.  I asked for a drink from the young man who poured us some water but I could barely understand him through his thick accent, not uncommon here though (one of the things I love about Doha), I’m sure my accent is thick too. lol.  Finally, I understood that I needed a bracelet to show that I was here for the alcohol.  He bought them out a little while later and through curiosity I learned that there were bar stations set up all over serving different drinks.  I liked that I hadn’t researched this brunch before I came, because once I stepped out of Opal and into the back patio area, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.  There was food everywhere.  Stations upon stations upon stations.  There are tables set up outside and inside Opal, Astor Grill and Vine that you have access to.  You can get your fill of seafood, beef and chicken.  There is sushi, salads, kabobs, live cooking stations, sides, veggies, desserts and more.  The live reggae band was great.  I love reggae. There were people everywhere, dressed in everything from almost nothing to full coverage.  It was very resort like and I loved the scene.  Quickly I realized why many people believe this to be the best brunch in Doha.

The walk from the stations to my table in Opal was a bit of a distance, so once I sat down to eat, my food was cold.  Granted it was a little chilly on this day 24/2/17, but never do I enjoy food that is supposed to be hot, cold.  I am very particular about this.  When I go out to eat, if my food is not hot, I send it back every time.  For this reason, I will always choose a  a la carte brunch over buffet.  Some people have said, they really enjoyed the grits at this brunch.  I did not.  When I saw shrimp and grits, I got all excited but they were not like home at all, bland, watery and tasteless.  Outside of collecting our plates and refilling our water, the table service was non existent and cold.  I know that it is a buffet but checking on customers is always a plus.  And all of that food couldn’t possibly be consumed within 4 hours.  Where does it all go?  Waste?  For these reasons, the brunch at the St. Regis isn’t the best in Doha.

Maybe my expectations were too high based on shared experiences or the fact that this was a Gordon Ramsey restaurant.  I know many people would disagree but that is why it is called a review.  I speak my truths based on my personal preferences.  I would love to try Opal again but not for Brunch.

In summary, the Friday, Buffet, Brunch at the St. Regis is 450 QAR with alcohol, 350 without, offers lots of food and a variety of it, great views and scenery, has good drinks, a wonderful live band, unimpressive service, average tasting food and sit outside or be prepared to eat cold food!

Side Note: One member of my party got sick afterwards for two days, unfortunately.

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