Browsing Tag

Expat

Expat, Qatar

How I Got Here

May 27, 2015

Qatar Expat

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I was commenting on World of Wanderlust’s blog a few weeks ago on her post about 20 Best Jobs for People Who Love to Travel about what I do in Qatar. It dawned on me as someone asked me in the comments that I haven’t explained to you all how I got here! People in Qatar are also asking me why Qatar, so I’ll tell you my expat story.

We have to go back to 2009. In 2009, I took a volunteer job in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Not only did I fall in love with the island, Grand Turk, but I was also mesmerized by all the expats I met living there.  They had lived in all kinds of places and were from all over the world. I thought to myself, “You’re doing life wrong!” Meaning I should be living abroad and having all these wonderful experiences. I had always wanted to travel, and this seemed like the best of both worlds!

Now the real issue is that I have a fairly obscure day job. I am an archivist, and there just aren’t a lot of jobs for us in the U.S. and even less so abroad it seemed. Not only that, I mainly only speak English. My Spanish is in a sad state. Another hurdle to overcome was being American. Being American limits you in what jobs and countries you can work in. I guess the reason is many countries have their own economic crisis, and the U.S. is still doing okay compared to some. Some countries will let you come if you meet certain requirements and have a job offer. So the hunt began. I applied almost anywhere. Most of the job applications I filled out never went anywhere. I never heard so much as thanks for applying from some.

At first, I never considered applying for this job because I didn’t think it was a good idea for a single woman to move to the Middle East. About a week after I saw the job posting, I attended a webinar on International Librarianship. One of the speakers featured was working as a librarian in Qatar. As you can imagine, I asked a lot of questions about being a woman here. She was also single and had lived here for a long time. She said she loved it. It was then I decided to apply. For a long time, I didn’t hear anything, and I thought it was another dead-end. Eventually, I was called for a phone interview. This did not go as well as I had hoped. Part of the reason being was that it was at 7:30 am so the people in Qatar could attend. I am not a morning person at all.  Through a bit of luck, I was invited for an “in-person” interview at the home campus in the US. The waiting began!

Then my dream job offer came along! No, it wasn’t the job in Qatar. There was a job in the Caribbean! My ultimate dream location and probably my future retirement home. The job was perfect, and the person I would be working for was great! Trouble was the pay was just too low considering I was still paying off my student loan debt. At this point, I was very confident I was getting the job in Qatar. I also knew that the pay and benefits would be better in Qatar, plus I could travel which was a huge draw. Traveling from the Caribbean is not so easy.  With pains in my chest, I said no to the job in the Caribbean with the hope that the job in Qatar was coming through. The very next day, I was told I was being offered the job! And almost two years later, I am still here and loving it!

How did you end up where you are?

 

Prep, Travel

Apps for Travelers and Expats

February 17, 2015

 

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Every time I travel, I discover that I use the same apps frequently and I am also recommending these apps to my fellow travelers and expats all the time. This may have something to do with being a librarian! (We love information!) So here are some of my favorite apps to use while traveling.

Whatsapp – This app is used by many Europeans and Middle Easterners as an alternative to traditional text messaging. This is because they don’t usually have post-paid cell phones plans and that means sending a traditional text message costs money.  This benefits the traveler because you can text anyone in almost any country via Whatsapp. They must have it installed though. It is free for the first year and the $.99 per year after that. It’s a great way to let friends and family know you have arrived at your destination without making an international call.

The Converted – All your conversion needs in one app! This app helps you convert currency, length, weight, temperature, speed and the list goes on.  It took me some time to figure out how it works, but once I did I loved it. It does cost $3.99, but I think it is worth it since you don’t need any other conversion apps.  The currency conversions are updated daily and all of this is available offline.

TimeTape – Ever scheduling a meeting or call with someone in another time zone and need to figure out what time it will be at the meeting time in the other time zone? This app takes all the guessing out of this process. You can enter several time zone “tapes” and swipe through them to see what time it will be where you are and the time zone of the person you are speaking with. This saves you of making the mistake of scheduling a meeting with someone and calling an hour early! There is both a free and paid version. The free gets you three tapes. The full version costs $1.99.

 Skype/Skype Wifi – We all know Skype by now and most of us have used it at one point in our lives. If you have a Skype credit, the added benefit is that you can find Skype Wifi spots with the Skype Wifi app.  This means you can use your credit in places where Skype Wifi is available. And, of course, Skype is great for keeping in touch with family and friends. I have also used it to call places abroad so I don’t have to buy a local sim card.

Swarm/Foursquare – You may be thinking, why would I want to check-in everywhere? Don’t you want to boast to your friends when you check-in to the Eiffel Tower! Just kidding. I use it to remember where I have been. This is especially helpful if you went to a restaurant and want to go back and can’t remember the name or where it was!

Of course, there are tons of travel apps to use. In addition to all of these, I also have downloaded what ever airline I am flying on that particular trip.  What are your favorite travel apps? Share in the comments!

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Middle East, Qatar, Travel

Do you like it there/here?

February 4, 2015

Watermarked-2711I get this question a lot, amongst others. It is either from someone back home or from other expats. I almost want to laugh when I get asked it. Not because it’s not a legitimate question, but because knowing me if I didn’t like it here, I would have been gone long ago!

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Why do I like here? That is harder to answer. There are also days where I wonder why I live here, but I have felt that way about many places I have lived.

I like living here because every day I interact with people from all over the world. A few weekends ago I had breakfast with friends from four different countries! (New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland and the Philippines) By the end of breakfast we were talking about the kinds of roadkill we have in our home countries!!

Travel! Seems cliché, but it’s true. It is one of the main reasons for me to move abroad. I can travel easier from here than if I was living in the U.S.  Rome is a four-hour flight away. London is about six. India is three hours. I could go on. Plus, I can afford it now. I was lucky if I got to leave the state of Texas before I came here.

Qatar is growing every day and I am getting to see it all. Not all of it is fun, but still I can say I came to Qatar before the World Cup did. I was also lucky enough to see some of the famous roundabout monuments before they tore them down. Qatar has changed so much since I arrived. Even when I came back from Christmas, there were changes. (I was only gone 12 days!)

I actually like the weather the here. Not that it is much different from Texas in the summer. However, I specifically left New York City for this reason. I enjoy snow about every 5 years now, not every month in every year in winter. Right now the temperature is about 77 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and in the low 60s to upper 50s during the day. It is lovely. Of course, I am now a wimp when it comes to cold and need a jacket if it dips below 70!

The things to do here. Yes, there are things to do here. Unlike when I lived on the small island of Grand Turk, which is 7 miles long and about 1 mile wide.  My favorite thing is to go to Souq Waqif at night and people watch. So many cultures meet there. I am sure we are all watching each other. The Souq is the traditional market in a middle eastern country. You can buy just about anything there including a falcon. My other favorite thing to do here is to go to the water be it the beach or the mangroves. In fact, I am heading to the mangroves this weekend!

Why do you like about where you live?

 

Food, Qatar

You know you’re an expat when

August 21, 2013

You know you’re an expat when you get excited about American food on the grocery store shelf.  Almost since the day I arrived, I have been looking for canned black beans. I checked several places.  Most people told me they don’t exist here and that I would have to find a bag and cook them myself. Of course, I didn’t even see dried black beans!  The other piece of this is that everyone kept telling me about this grocery store called Megamart and that they have lots of American and British food.  Last Thursday, I headed to Megamart with a co-worker.  Megamart is heaven to an American grocery shopper!  I found the canned black beans! Plus a ton of other goodies!  Some of it I assumed I wouldn’t get again until I returned to the US, particularly Velveeta and my favorite butter, Brummel and Brown.  Here is some of my haul:

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