Halfway through my first school year in Qatar!!!

As for me, this is home, at least for the next few years and I have no regrets. This is my life and I plan to live it and enjoy it, for ME!

Time really does fly.  It has been 5 months since I arrived in Doha so what’s been up…

Doha Sunsets: One of the things that I love about Qatar are the sunsets and sunrises.  I hate waking up at 5:00a.m every day but driving past Al Wakrah beach and watching the sunrise some mornings helps.  Some days the sky is absolutely breath taking.

Vegan in Doha: There is an artificial island in Qatar named The Pearl.  It has a European feel to it and looks different than the other parts of Qatar.  You won’t see a bunch of construction or un-walkable pavements.  I don’t visit it much because it’s like a 40 minute drive from where I live on a good day but I can see why some people opt to live here especially families with young children.  It just feels different than the rest of the state.  I had a day to myself so I ventured to the Pearl to try out the first vegan restaurant in Doha.  It’s name is Evergreen Organics.  First of all, it’s quite nice to just park and walk around Mercato, Palazzo 1.  The restaurant has a very naturalistic feel.  It is quite expensive but healthy eating always cost more.  I had “the baddest burger” and a “be green” juice.  I am funny about textures of food and the burger did not have the firm texture of a beef burger but it was very tasty.  On the side I had sweet potato wedges.  I took home two detox juices, one for me and the other for my son and two desserts, a rasta cheesecake slice and some sort of chocolate pudding. I spent over $300 QR so I won’t be dining there weekly but once a month would be nice.

An Experience with locals: Recently one of my student’s parents invited me to their home. She was hosting a talk on Islam.  The American in me was like “no, don’t go”. If you can read in between the lines, you know why.  I have to be mindful about what I post, but what I will say is this, many things have their beginnings in curiosity.  The Expat in me was like, “go, you are here to experience”.  At the last minute, the expat in me won, with the convincing of my son and husband I went and am glad I did.  It was an interesting experience and I was able to see the home of a vey prominent family here.  I did not convert but I did learn some things about Islam.

Mall of Qatar:  The boys and I and a co-worker visited the Mall of Qatar (Qatar’s new largest mall) two weekends ago.  The Rotunda is beautiful and this mall has some American treats like the Cheesecake Factory (which you know we ate at) and Pier 1.  There are many sweet treat shops, enough to give you diabetes.   The mall is located passed Ed City and uber is the best choice for transportation to get you there, but you will wait awhile for a driver to pick you up.  The mall seems pretty good for one stop shopping as there is a lot there.  I will have to go back since I didn’t see the whole mall but it might be one of my favorites.

Boys Abroad: My youngest son misses home, alot.  In fact, so much that he has requested to go back.  I remember when I was first considering moving abroad and I was talking with another mother who had done it.  She actually advised against bringing the boys.  She said that boys have a rough time adjusting, but I knew my boys were used to change.  I mean I wasn’t expecting it to be easy on any of us but I definitely wasn’t expecting this.  I don’t truly know why he wants to go home.  Maybe it is because he is 13 and different than my oldest son.  Maybe it is because he hates school and hates IB even more.  Maybe it is because I am very strict when it comes to education and I left his gaming system in the states hoping that it would provide opportunities and a break from the distraction of it for us to bond.  It can be for numerous reasons but parenting doesn’t come with a handbook and you take it day by day.  My oldest son really likes it here but wants to finish his last year of high school in the states, an option that I gave him before we even came here. There is no relationships with girls and no prom here either, so I understand that. He has a vlog on youtube about his life here, that you can check out too (ZamirTv).  I don’t want my sons to go back to U.S. for several reasons, one because I am not going back there to live any time soon and I know that the best place for them is with me, also because it is very dangerous there for my black boys.  But, I believe that the best lessons are learned through experience, so we shall see what happens.  I will tell you, if you are considering moving abroad, please consider that you may lose some things, some friends, and even some family members on the way.  I have.

As for me, this is home, at least for the next few years and I have no regrets.  This is my life and I plan to fly and to live and enjoy it, for ME!


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.

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