After 18 months in Doha, I've learnt a few things. It's nothing like anywhere I've been before, so there's been plenty of surprises as well as ups and downs in that time but mainly it's just flown by.
Chatting to Polly over lunch last week got me thinking and these are a few things that I've learnt along the way.
1. Nothing gets done quickly here. I had to go to 3 appointments before my medical (to get my Residency Permit) was even done. I'm starting to get used to things taking so long here. If it should take a day, I'll expect a week, and if it's supposed to be a week, I'll expect a month. For an organised person like me, it's tricky but I've just got to learn to let go or nag everyone around me.
2. I used to be rubbish in hot weather. I would start to melt in anything over 25c but now anything less than 30c is chilly. I've just had my third expat winter abroad (after a year in Spain before I came to Doha) so 16c now feels flipping freezing. This does make time back in the UK rather difficult, and so I spent most of my time in a onesie, but sunbathing in February half term? You just can't beat it.
3. Driving here is not like the UK at all and I'm in no rush to get on the roads for myself. Seat belts, car seats for children and hands free kits don't seem to have become popular here yet which makes for some sticky situations. Give me sedate English roads any day.
4. I knew living in the desert would be different, but half the time, I feel like I'm on another planet. I don't just mean cultural differences though. Between those, the time difference and being 3,000 miles away, I just feel so out of the way and tend to forget what's going on with everyone, even though I'm usually good like that. I even have moments of "omg, I'm getting married in a few months" because it all feels so unreal to me.
5. It takes time to settle and that's OK. This is the biggie for me, as I really hated it here at first. To the point that I cried pretty much every day for my first term (I'm a teacher) and Rich seriously considered if it was worth us living apart for a couple of years. I hated my job and it took time to meet people who I really enjoyed spending time with, but now I have, life is so much better. At first I felt like I was doing it "wrong" but everyone does things in their own time and I've got to a really happy place now.
6. I realise now that I really love my food. I would eat out here every night if I could because the choice is amazing, far better than anywhere I've lived before, and the food at the hotels is just insane. I could either be referred to as a bit of a foodie or a glutton, and quite frankly either is OK with me.
Life away from close friends and family has a knack of changing the way you see and do things, out of interest and necessity, but I do love it and can't see my fiancé Rich and I moving back to the UK anytime soon. Doha is a great city and I'm sure we'll have lots of great stories to tell our grand children.
Thank you so much for your honest and extremely relatable post, Rosalyn! Rosalyn is the author of Dream Days - my first Doha-based guest blogger (apart from Rich of course!), and a new friend out here in Qatar. I've been lucky enough to get to know her better over the past few weeks, and was over the moon to discover that she is as approachable in real life as she seems on her blog. She writes an engaging and honest account of expat life in the desert, including helpful reviews, intermingled with beauty posts and some fanstastic book recommendations. Head on over for a peruse here!