Fun and Active Things to do in Qatar

Get out there and find some fun

When you’ve been an expat for a while in the same country, the glamour and newness begins to wear off. I’ll admit, I’ve gotten quite comfortable in my routine just sitting at home, cuddled up, watching Kodi or Netflix. Once my personal training sessions ended I GOT LAZY! So I began looking for some fun and active things to do here, at least until I re-open my gym membership. You may be quite surprised by what this little country has to offer.

It started out with Paintball. It only lasted an hour as I purchased the voucher from Qgrabs for a one hour session but we had a good time. Our party of 6 got a little beat up and for 3 of them it was their first time. Jennifer was not ready for the pain that comes with getting hit with a paintball. The course is in Sealine and if you’ve ever been to paintball before, you will automatically think as I did, “Is this really the course?”. They should get a little more creative with the course. Nevertheless we made the most of it.

The Paintball course

A couple of weekends later, we rode out to Sealine again, but this time to ride ATV’s over and through the sand dunes. It’s different than riding through the mountains and mud in the Pocono’s like Darryl and I are used to. Instead of getting dirty in mud, you get covered in sand. I recommend riding the bikes with 4W drive (350+ riyals) because they can handle the dunes. The smaller bikes will get you stuck in the sand (250- riyals).

If you want to save the world by killing off Zombies or Robots, head over to Zero Latency. It is a multiplayer virtual reality game. It’s located in the Tawar Mall, inside Bounce. For 35 minutes, minus the 15 minute introduction, and 70 riyals = $20 you can do just that. For more money you can play more games for longer periods of time.

You and a few friends will battle together. You step into this empty, dark room, that is until you gear up with your heavy artillery back pack, gun, ear phones and virtual glasses. Then the room is transformed into a virtual world that looks real. My back was hurting afterwards because well I’m old and I have a bad back and that backpack is heavy, but it was loads of fun. I killed 71 zombies, all in a days work but they also killed me and I came in last for kills. I’ve never been that good at video games anyway.

Something I am good at is real shooting. You can even do this in Qatar. Well you can’t actually buy a gun and go bust some rounds off, like in America, at least I don’t think you can. But you can do some clay pigeon shooting at the Lusail shooting range. It’s located very close to the Lusail Circuit, along Al Khor road and about 10-15 minutes pass Festival City and Ikea. It’s open Sat-Wed, 4-8pm. You get 25 shots for 100 riyals almost $1 per shot. (You can shoot shot guns if you are a member)

My accuracy was 20%. That’s pretty good for someone who has only done clay shooting one other time. I’m so much better with a real gun.

Almost!

The point is, your host country is what you make of it. So get out there and find some fun. What are you waiting for?

If you are an expat, I’d love to hear of some fun you’ve found in your host country. Be sure to leave a comment.

National Museum of Qatar

I enjoyed the museum more than any others in Qatar

When I first moved to Qatar, I used to marvel at the architecture. No two buildings looked the same, which was very different than the ones in Philadelphia. But there was one building in particular that I thought was so ugly. It was being designed in the likeness of a desert rose on the Corniche.

Rose-like formations of crystal clusters including sand grains are called desert roses. Desert roses only grow in arid temperatures and are native to East Africa and Arabia.

Well several years later the building is complete and its’ official name is the National Museum of Qatar. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to visit it, I have to eat my words. (What do I know about architecture anyway) The place is beautiful, inside and out and it was built around the restored Palace of Sheikh Abdullah bin Jassim Al Thani!

If you are a resident of Qatar, the admission is free. For everyone else, admission is quite reasonable at 50 Riyals= $13.00. Parking is also free of charge and you can get a ride on a golf cart from the parking lot to the main entrance and back. You can wear what you want (but please have some respect for the culture, take a scarf along with you). You can take pictures too without flash.

Before or after going into the Museum, I suggest walking around and checking out the grounds. Along the exterior, are 114 individual sculptures of black, Arabic Calligraphy that make up a fountain set within the museums lagoon. In the Museums courtyard is a sculpture of hands holding up the Qatari flag.

The Museum tells the story of Qatar, its’ people and its’ history. The museum tour begins with this…

A silver burka structure

I am curious to find out why this was the first of the exhibits to see but as it was pretty crowded when we went, I didn’t get a chance to read the signage. (If anyone can provide some insight, I would greatly appreciate it)

Once inside, you walk in a circle through three chapters: Chapter One-geology, archaeology and natural environment of Qatar, Chapter Two-history of life, Chapter 3-how Qatar became the nation it is today. There are many artifacts, videos and photos. It is also interactive and would be a great place to take WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN! Children and students can learn about habitats, inventions and tradition here. I was amazed at the amount of history I learned there and the jewelry.

At several points through out the walk through, I got a little dizzy. There are points where the floor dips and the entire museum uses the structure of disc to showcase history. At several points I also got a little upset at the blatant disregard for museum etiquette, examples: children climbing on displays and picking up things while parents pretended not to see them, or allowing it to happen repeatedly, people touching things that clearly have pictures of hands with an x through it. However, there are workers in the museum to keep order and alarms that go off if you get to close to certain displays.

There are small eateries in and around the museum and two gift shops. One of the gift shops is just for kids, which brought a smile to the face of this teacher on spring break. I did not go near that one. But in the other gift shop I was able to purchase this…

My very own desert rose replica, made in Qatar!

Once your tour concludes, you will be in the courtyard where the restored Palace is located and where you can take great pictures like these..

To sum it up, I enjoyed the museum more than any others in Qatar. Visiting the Zubarah fort is a good complement to this museum as well. You will learn a lot here. Take some time to read some of the signs. I used to think the structure was awful, but now I think it’s absolutely beautiful. Well Done!

What Summer Breaks Are Like for an Expat Teacher- Part 1

**Written June 25, 2018**

It’s been exactly 30 days since my summer vacation began and I’ve been living out of  suitcases ever since.  It started with my first solo trip, to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Copenhagen is just about a halfway point between Qatar and the U.S.A., so it was a good stop over point for this girl who didn’t want to fly 12.5 hours straight alone.  Click here to read all the details about my trip.  I spent 4 days 5 days there.  It was supposed to be 4 days but due to flying a budget airline and a day long delay for a flight out of Copenhagen, it turned into 5 days.

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I’m staying with my sista/girlfriend Michele while I’m in Philly, which is about a total of 3 weeks in all, a few days here, a few days there, a week here, a week there, in between my travels and trips.

A few days after I arrived, my oldest son graduated from high school.  This was the whole point of leaving a week before the official end of the school year.   I can’t believe I am a mother of a high school graduate.   He will be going on to attend my Alma Mater, Temple University in Philly to start our legacy.  Words can’t express how proud of him I am and blessed I feel that we’ve made it this far.

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Proud Mother

 

Three days after my son’s graduation, I took him on a 8 day cruise along with my niece whom graduated college.  We cruised on the Carnival Horizon cruise line.  It’s a new ship to sail from New York.  We sailed to Turks and Caicos were supposed to sail to Turks and Caicos but due to an unfortunate event missed that port of call.  However, we did stop in San Juan and the Dominican Republic. D.R. which is where I zip lined for the first time and absolutely loved it.  D.R. is also where we had the most fun.  We spent several days at sea where I gained many pounds from eating and sitting around being lazy and it was glorious.  LOL!  Read about our fun on the water and to find out how I got my scary ass on that zip line and more by clicking here.

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Three days after we returned from the cruise, my sistas and I flew to New Orleans.  I spent 4 days further enjoying food but also doing a lot of walking.  New Orleans is an interesting city, full of history and culture.  Here is where you can experience New Orleans through my eyes..

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I will spend the next 7 days relaxing, visiting, shopping and enjoying Philly before the boys and I go on to our next vacation spots.  I’m enjoying my summer so far but missing my husband and the comforts of home.

See when you teach overseas and summer comes, there is so much to do.  You try to cram so much into two months, visiting friends and family, doing the things you don’t get to do in your new home, traveling, relaxing and unwinding.  You also spend a lot of time being uncomfortable because your new country becomes home and some things and people change while others remain the same in your native country and you start to wonder where exactly you fit.  The more time I spend overseas, the less I feel connected to my home country.  I’m starting to understand how some people have difficulty with repatriation.  Check back later for Part 2 of, What Summer Breaks are Like for an Expat Teacher.

What has your experience been when you travel to your native city after teaching overseas for a few years?  I’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment.

 

What’s this Expat Been up to…

It’s March 2, which means about 75% of school year number 2 overseas is complete.  It also means I am less than 30 days away from my first trip in over 6 months.  Let me just say, it was extremely hard keeping my feet on the ground for the last 6 months, watching others fly above me.  But I had a goal to meet and that was more important.  Now that, that goal has been met, I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am for this upcoming Spring Break.  I will not reveal where I am going yet, but I will say, it has always been in my top 5.

So what have I been doing, you might ask, since I haven’t been trippen’, a lot actually…

I began this year, training for a 5K.  I’ve always wanted to run a 5K but never stuck with the training.  So I dowloaded the ‘couch to 5K’ app for the 3rd time with determination.  By the end of January, I was ready.  The farthest I’ve run so far has been 4 miles straight in under 50 minutes.  And that is really saying something for this girl that couldn’t run more than 5 minute straight less than 4 months ago.  Everyone knows the  ‘Happiest 5K on the planet’ is the Color Run and I completed it on January 27, 2018.  The weather was perfect and I was amongst thousands of people.  It actually wasn’t a real 5K but I ran the entire 2.65 miles while most people walked.  I felt accomplished!  It was fun but I’ll probably never do it again.

I didn’t particularly like all that color dye being thrown in my face as you can see from this clip;

Indeed I was fighting the colors.

And all that smoke from the colors almost sent me into a panic attack.  Next time, I will just stick with a regular run. But boy was it fun!

Since the color run, I’ve really gotten into fitness.  I even tried my hand at Aerial Yoga.

20180207_202130.jpgI enjoyed the one class I went to, but I did not enjoy the headache I endured afterwards.  So unfortunately, aerial yoga is not for me.  I have been working out 5 days a week for the last few weeks, abs and core classes twice a week, circuit classes once a week and weight lifting the other two days.  The student center at QF offers free classes and I wish I knew about them sooner, because everywhere else charges.

On February 4th, I witnessed my hometown Football team win the Superbowl!  I couldn’t believe I wasn’t home to participate in the festivities.  But I was cheering from afar.      GO  E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!!!!

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There is a huge indoor trampoline park here in Doha called Bounce.  One night they hosted a teachers only night.  Prior to this, I never went out on school nights, but it was for teachers and it was free so why not.  Me and a few of my teacher friends had a damn good time bouncing around like kids.  The next day, we were so sore.  Who would’ve thought jumping around on trampolines would be so exerting?

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Two week ago I won tickets, from an online sweepstakes with Virgin mobile, to the premiere of Black Panther.  It was so good, that the next day, Darryl and I dressed up in our African attire and went to see it again with the BSOQ Facebook group.  Well I had already purchased tickets to see it on opening night with the group before I won tickets to the premiere but I enjoyed seeing it twice.

I’ve been to two embassies within the last 30 days, but not for the reasons you may be thinking.  For the first time in my life, I gave blood.  I saw on Facebook that the embassy of Sri Lanka was hosting a blood drive and I signed up for it.  They seemed very happy to see us there and surprised to see Americans and a female.  It felt good, well not afterwards, because my arm was sore for days, but helping others felt good.  I went to the Thai embassy for a cultural event they were having.

And of course what would fun in Doha be without Brunch..

And with all this fun, my girlfriend Britney and I with our camera man Quahn managed to shoot our first food show.  Stay tuned for more on that soon.

So as you can see I’ve been pretty busy.  As far as work goes, it has not been the happiest place for me, but I’m not miserable either.  I actually learned to love my students this year, after a rocky start, but they are actually my happy part of the work day.   I don’t fit into a certain box that gets you promoted here and I believe in turn I was turned down for a promotion for which I am highly qualified.  Also, my whole team is different this year and we don’t mesh well.  I could go on and on about what I don’t particularly like about work this year but honestly there is more to being here than work and ultimately I won’t be here forever, but for now, it’s not so bad that I feel the need to leave.  So there is no need to bore you with complaints.  I hate when people complain and complain but don’t change their situation, so since I choose this situation for now, I won’t complain any further.  But if you really want to know what work is like here for this teacher, drop your email in the comments and I will send you some real talk.

Anyway, 28 days ’til my trip, and less than 3 months ’til the end of the school year.  I have managed to find fun things to do outside of traveling but it’s about that time to get another stamp.

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A picture of the Doha Skyline during the Supermoon

Arabic 101: Lesson 5

I survived ‘Survival Arabic’.  You heard me right.  Darryl and I made it through.  It wasn’t always easy but I learned so much in 12 weeks.  I know all of the Arabic alphabet and can write it and I can recite many general phrases.  When people are speaking I can pick out some words and get a gist of what they’re talking about.  I can greet you and say goodbye.  I can tell my students directions and they understand.  I can read signs even if I don’t know what the words mean.  I can tell you what I’m doing and describe some things.  So, yes it was well worth the money and I’m glad I took the course at TII because several people took Arabic in other places and still wound up in the same class as me with the same struggles.

We are considering signing up for the next level but not right away.  After working all day, the last thing I want to do is go back into a school.  Maybe next year.  I feel like it would be such a waste to stop now with very limited comprehension of the language.  I’m inspired to learn more so that I can hold a conversation and improve in my ability to read it with confidence.  I know that learning the language will make me more marketable especially over here.

Seeing the Beauty in my Imperfection

When I first decided to blog, I knew I did not want to focus on my disease but then something wonderful recently happened.  More on that in a minute…

I have alopecia totalis, hence the bald head.  Alopecia is a skin condition in which my immune system attacks my hair follicles, mistaking them for foreign.  It started out as alopecia areata, hair loss in small patches, then I would get needles in my head with a cortisone to make it come back.  To make a long story short, after years of getting this done I got tired of it, so one day I shaved it all off knowing that without the shots it wouldn’t grow back.  It also spread to my legs (a blessing in disguise), eyebrows and eyelashes.  The summer before I moved to Qatar I had microblading done for my eyebrows.  They’re like tattoos.  Learn more about alopecia by clicking here.  There is even a national agency, National Alopecia Areata Foundation.  To learn more about microblading, click here.  I also have a Facebook group called ‘Women Living with Alopecia‘.  It is a support group for women like me.

…on to the something wonderful that recently happened.  A little over a week ago I happened upon an article on Dohanews, about a women here in Qatar who does henna on bald heads for free, for women who have suffered hair loss from cancer. You can read it by clicking here.  I contacted her and asked would she do the same for a women living with alopecia.  Her answer was a resounding “YES!”  Then she asked me if I’d be willing to do a photoshoot.  And my answer was “YES, of course.”  [In my former life, when I was taller, I dreamed of being a model, so I was super excited.]  It took less than a day for her to set up a Whatsapp group between me, herself, a make-up artist and the photographer and two days later they were all at my flat.  For a day I felt like a runway model and didn’t I look like one.

bomb beauty

henna head bomb

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All three of these lovely Sri Lankan women provided their services to me free of charge.  They have renewed my faith in the good in people.  I feel so blessed.  Thank you Nazma, Lucky and Nadeesha with all my heart!

the gang that made me beautiful for a day

Henna by Nazma Mazhar.  https://www.facebook.com/qatarihennastudio/  http://instagram.com/qatarihennastudio

Makeup by Lucky Allure  https://www.facebook.com/luckyallure1/

Photography by Nadeesha Rathnayake  http://www.instagram.com/nadrat_photos

Even almost a week later, my henna is still beautiful. [unedited picture below]

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I have a brief interview coming up on a Qatar TV show in a week focusing on “People of Qatar”.  I plan to rock my bald head with a henna crown, thanks to Nazma, and speak about my activism.  And for all my fellow women living with alopecia, I leave you with this quote.

Don’t ever let your imperfections make you weak, instead use them to give you strength!˜Me

Arabic 101: Lesson 2

Ahlan Wa Sahlan- Welcome, Hello

If you ever want to know what it’s like to be an esl student, become one. ≈Me

I’ve never been a very empathetic person but this class is causing a change in me when it comes to my class of first graders.  Even though they understand a lot of English, they are still learning English as a second language and many of them are spoken to in Arabic at home.  I have to repeat directions several times in class and I’ve become more mindful of how fast I speak.  I’ve been told by multiple people that I speak rather fast.

Darryl and I have had 4 Arabic classes now and my confidence level has gone wayyy down.  This class is intense.  I am having a lot of difficulty with reading the letters and remembering what they mean.  However, I am catching on to bits of conversation pieces when the Arabic teachers at my school talk.  I assume it is a lot like this with some of my students.

Anyway this week we learned the Arabic numbers 0-10. Ten is just a combo of 1 and 0.

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Here is my favorite phrase that I’ve learned:  La Atif– it means I don’t know.  I use it quite often.

Other Phrases:

Ayna taskunu- Where you live?

Ana Askonu fi Bin Omran- I live in Bin Omran

Ahamaloo fi- I work in___

Come (not the right spelling but same sound)- how many, Becum- how much

A few Adjectives: Kabir- big; Jadil- new; Jamil- beautiful;

A few nouns: Baab- door; kitaab- book; cowlim- pen, wajib- homework, Bayt- house/home

Possessive- Kitaab- book, kitaaboka- your book for a boy, kitaaboki- your book for a girl, kitaabohu- his book, kitaaboha- her book, kitaabi- my book

Until next time- Iilaa aliiqaa [Ela licka]- See you