Except for that today, there was flooding. And a lot of it! They even closed down my school for the afternoon. It was a mess . . . But I was sick at home and safely tucked into my covers, doped up on DayQuil. Thankfully all of my friends were able to get home from school. It took almost 2 hours for them to actually get to school this morning! 2 hours!!
About two or three weeks ago--just out of the blue--the temperature dropped. It now averages between 68 and 75 degrees fahrenheit (20 - 23 degrees celsius). The skies are completely clear and the brightest blue you could ever see! (Well, not today, because of the rain. But normally.)
I have been living in Doha, Qatar since August 16th. It's been three and a half months, and I absolutely love it!
For the first month that I was here, I lived in a hotel. It's a hotel that you can also rent rooms as apartments. It's not that much cheaper than finding a place out in the city, so I ended up finding a place in Al Sadd.
Al Sadd is a nice little neighborhood that feels more authentic to me, like I'm living in another country. Well, authentic if you choose to look past the Toys R Us on the corner and the Applebee's down the street. (I really wish chains from the US would stop invading the world.) But other than those things, it's great. I can easily walk around my neighborhood and I absolutely love my apartment.
I love the people I work with. The teaching staff at SEK is so great! Immediately upon arrival, we all just kind of started hanging out together. This was not the case in Singapore. I loved the people I became friends with in Singapore. But it was pretty lonely during my first year there. But, here? Instant support. It's fabulous! We hang out on weekends together and occasionally go grocery shopping together, ride to school together and have pool time together. It's awesome. In two days, 20 people are coming over to my house for a day-late Thanksgiving dinner. I can't wait! My first international hosting experience, and I am definitely looking forward to it!
As for the sensitivities of living in the Middle East, I haven't found any. I mean, there is a 1000QAR deposit to be able to buy alcohol. And when you pay it, you have to show a letter from your employer stating how much money you are allowed to spend on alcohol per month. It sounds like a lot to deal with. But honestly? The amount they've allotted me, I will never spend per month. Ever. Who can afford to do that? It's a substantial chunk of my salary for Christ's sake!
And clothing-wise, there's really no difference. I wear the same things here that I wore in Singapore. I just can't wear my dresses to school without wearing pants or leggings with them. But when I go out with friends or hang out at the Souq, I wear whatever. It's no big deal. People stared at me before I moved here. People stare at me in Baltimore. In Singapore. Wherever. So, I feel no different here.
The only ridiculous thing is that I was asked repeatedly to change my hair color. I had maybe 5 blue streaks in my hair. I told them I would change it within a month's time. And I did. I felt instantly sick to my stomach about it, but I changed it. No worries! In two years time, I will be able to have whatever color hair I want again! Hooray! (Just recently a friend posted a picture to me on FB of the Art Teacher of The Year in her state: fully blue hair. Like, unicorn/mermaid blue hair. She was wearing knee-high Doc Martins, tights, a short skirt, and a long-sleeved sweater. Cute as pie!)
I've found a really wonderful community in VCUQatar, Virginia Commonwealth University's Qatar location. I will be working on some projects with them in the spring and early next fall. And I'm so pleased! So incredibly pleased with the people that I've met there. All different types of artists, from all over the world. And I even got to see my most-favoritest-artist-ever-on-the-planet-of-artists at their campus. And sit on the front row of his lecture. And run up to him, in a not so subtle way, and tell him how much I loved him and how his work changed my life. So, yeah: VCUQatar is pretty much the #lovebomb!
The last thing I'll say about Doha is that I love the city's timing. Everything starts very early in the morning. My school starts at 7:20am, so I am there by 6;45am every day. Our school ends at 1:30pm everyday, and I leave campus by 3:30pm daily. And the sun goes down almost every day by 4:30pm. It's beautiful actually, because from my bedroom I can hear the prayer calls. Each of the five times that they ring out, everyday. It's kind of comforting. Sometimes it's speaking and sometimes it sounds like chanting. And there are cats everywhere. I'm told at some point Doha had an overabundance of rats. So, someone decided to bring in cats. Now there are no rats, but lots of cats. And sometimes, along with the chanting in the mornings, I hear the howl of two cats arguing. It's hilarious and surreal, all at once.
Carry on, Doha! I love you!
Oh yeah! And follow me on Snapchat . . . It's super fast and fun! See below!