It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been living here in Doha for almost a year! As we start preparing for our first home leave next month, I was reminded of this blog post that I wrote before leaving Sydney to come over here, pondering about what I was looking forward to and what I expected to miss the most. Of course, at that time I had never been to Doha (Seriously? I upped and went half way across the world without even a prior inspection??) so I thought it might be fun to revisit those lists and see where I was over-optimistic or too harsh, or got it just right.
These are some of the things I expected to miss the most but really didn’t miss at all:
- Familiarity – it’s been fun learning to become familiar with neighbourhoods, driving directions and place names. Because I was new in town, I had very low expectations of myself. The one thing I have noticed is that I still lack a general sense of where I am in relation to the overall map of Doha, as soon as I get away from my regular haunts.
- Knowing where the best shops and cafés are – the ex-pat network here is such a rich mine of information it is very easy to find out where to buy Vegemite, or who makes the best coffee. I suspect my local knowledge of Doha is as good or better than my knowledge of Sydney! This is a much smaller city, which helps, too.
- Having a history here – actually, not having a history is kind of cool. It’s like a fresh start, a clean slate. As Anne Shirley would say, it’s a new day without any mistakes in it yet!
- My hairdresser – I have found a fabulous new hairdresser 5 minutes walk from our home. Don’t tell Joe, but I might like David even better than Joe!
- My own bed – my new bed became my own bed pretty quickly. Ikea has done very well out of us!!
- Not having to consult a map every time I go out – thank goodness for Google Maps! I still have to consult a map to go most places, but I’m learning. And if I need a guide, Google Maps is always there.
- Speaking the local language – with the high population of ex-pats from all over the world, English is usually the common language, so even if I spoke Arabic I would need English. Not speaking Arabic has not been a problem.
- My car, and being comfortable driving – driving is challenging, that’s for sure. But I love our car, and the freedom that having one gives me. I have adapted to driving on the other side of the road pretty quickly, but I still have to stop and think about which side of the car is the driver’s seat!
- Rain – I do miss rain. This city needs a good drenching to clean the air and the dusty buildings. We had one good rain storm all year – and I was in Dubai and missed it!
- Eating outside on summer evenings – eating outside on winter evenings totally makes up for that!
- Winter – I don’t miss the cold at all. I had a few weeks of it in London & Venice, and was happy to thaw out when I got back to Doha.
These I was right about, but there were other compensations to make up for them:
- My church – I do miss my church – our friends, knowing all the songs, the familiar traditions, but I am loving our new church here, and very grateful for the opportunities and experiences and lessons it has afforded us.
- Green – lush, profuse and all year round. I do miss green! There are a few nice parks and gardens here, and they are very restorative!
- Sydney Harbour – the best view in the world!!
- Live Footy (Aussie Rules style) – we watch the games live on TV, but it’s not the same.
- Gum trees – almost all the trees here are palm trees. Any other tree gets me a bit excited now.
- Knowing which streets to avoid at peak hour – I’m getting there, but still get caught in some serious traffic jams. Not. Fun. At. All.
These are the things I wrote that I was looking forward to. I enjoyed looking back at this list to see whather the reality matched my expectations.
- New experiences – there is no shortage of those! I often shake my head in wonder at what my life looks like now. In a good way.
- Learning about a different culture – I am continually learning about different cultures. Not just Qatari, but many of the different nationalities of people we meet in the ex-pat community.
- Living simply without clutter – loving this! Having few posessions is so liberating. We are not doing without – we have all that we need, but are not trapped by clutter and mess.
- Travel opportunities – We have had some amazing travel opportunities this past year. Ive been to Dubai 5 times, Jordan, Oman, London & Venice. As a travel lover, I couldn’t ask for much more.
- Being part of an ex-pat community – I have met so many fabulous and interesting people, this ex-pat lifestyle is rich and rewarding.
- New friends – friendships are formed very quickly here. People go from strangers to besties in weeks. I love our new friends, and I am so grateful for the lasting friendships we have made already.
- New photo ops – that goes without saying, if you know anything about me!
- Learning a new language (at least a bit!) – I have learned about 5 words in Arabic. But I am becoming fluent in American!
- Visitors from home coming to stay – I love showing our new home town to visitors. I get to visit places and play tourist. It’s fun!
- Getting to know a new church – our new church is all we could have hoped for and much more. There are 82 different countries represented, and we sing as one, united by a common faith.
- Real desert – dry, flat and sandy. It’s not so great!
- Shopping – shopping is both challenging and fascinating. It can be hard to find specific products, but the compensation is so many new and different products and goods from all over the world.
- Air-conditioning – I would not survive here without air-conditioning.
- Getting out of my comfort zone – yes, I’ve had to do that more than a few times. And no, the sky did not fall in.
- Being able to do p2P work full time – I do not miss my old day job one bit.
- Apartment living – no gardening, 3 rooms to look after, and water views. Need I say more?
- Middle Eastern food – I do love Middle Eastern food, but this is such a cosmopolitan city I’m just as likely to be eating American, Japanese or Italian food.
- Amazing architecture – there are some amazing and interesting buildings here. And I love the view of the city skyline across the bay. But before exciting architecture comes dusty noisy construction zones, and there is a great deal of that.
In short – we are loving living here in Doha. I really had no idea what we were in for, but it has met or exceeded our expectations in every way. I am getting ready to order a 99 page photo book of some highlights of our first year. Most of these pages have been posted on our Facebook page, but for those of you who are keen, here is most of the book, in somewhat chronological order, for your perusal. Pretty much every page was created with a pixels2Pages Blueprint or challenge, and all were using Art Kits that are available in the Panstoria Store.