“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

That was my mom’s favorite bible verse, so naturally I have always been drawn to it as well. This phase in life is has really been about stepping out on faith; hoping and praying for things to come to fruition. When I started this journey back in November of 2017, I could literally see myself living in another country. Just in case you’re wondering what it takes to get here after a job offer, here you go:

Attestation of degrees, transcripts, background checks at the FBI, state, and local level (I have always followed the law). These documents are notarized and attested at the state level. The documents are then sent to D.C. to be signed by the Secretary of State. Once those documents are cleared by the United States, then you send them to The General Consulate of Qatar in Los Angeles to complete the process. In terms of medical, you are required to submit blood type, HIV/Aids testing, TB test (chest x-ray) and letter from doctor stating you are physically able to complete job duties. This took March through May to complete.

In the meantime I had to make some decisions that were obviously based on having faith that it would all work out.

  • Am I going to sell, rent or just maintain my home in Arizona?
  • If I keep my home, who will manage my property? If I keep my home, where will I store my furniture?
  • What am I going to do with all of these clothes and personal belongings that have accumulated over the years?
  • What am I going to do with Blueberry (my car)?

The questions just kept coming, I can’t even recall all of the things I had to process in my mind during this time. So, I decided regardless of the outcome, I was done with Arizona and was ready for a new phase in life and God would place me where he thought I needed to work. Ultimately, I sold my home for a pretty penny. After lots of research I chose to sell my home with Open Door. You would be amazed at how some business people tried to get over on me profit wise. I am so grateful for my friend Danielle that allowed me to move into her home with my 10 bins. My clothes, car and important documents are the only things that I own right now. Do you know how freeing that can be? I will write a blog about purging one day. Let me tell you… I let go of some things when I was cleaning my house.

But back to the purpose of this. I have been operating in place of strong faith. I was told that Qatar is one of the hardest countries to get a job. So they don’t care that you came here medically cleared. During the first week they take new hires to the Ministry’s Medical Division to redo all test. It’s kind of like an assembly line. Sign in, blood drawn, and chest x-ray. So this is where it gets unstable for me, because I need stability in life (most Libra’s do).

At 7:00 a.m. the next morning, HR calls and says you have to go and get a TB test. I was like shit, “Did I get TB in South America this summer?” I go and get my squirt of TB in my arm. I spend the next two days analyzing TB results on WebMD. That wasn’t a good choice. I go back to have the results “read” on my arm. The HR guy sends be back in and is like you need to know if you are okay. I go back. Just my luck the team that reads the results are in a meeting and then heading into the Eid break. I was told that I couldn’t come to work until they received clearance. So I spent 11 days stressed, but trying to enjoy the break.

I prayed every night and morning and included my Tribe for support. How could I not be available for my students the first day of school? Around 7:30 a.m. Sunday HR called to say I was cleared (insert praise dance here). It all worked out because there was an alternative schedule for the first day and I was able to be on campus in time for my third period class.

My purpose in sharing is to be transparent for those of you that may consider this path one day. This is not for the faint of heart. You must have faith and endurance.

When I got up this morning, my friend Aimee had this picture posted and I asked her for permission to use. Everything always aligns and this is truly where my faith has grown.

On a side note, I am excited to start looking for a church home this weekend. Christian or non denominational services are on Friday mornings.


Living Like a Tourist

I did some crazy things (insert $&*!). I like to think I have a healthy dose of fear and adventure. I mean what’s a life not lived? My teammate suggested that we go on this excursion through 365 Adventures. It was inclusive of camels, sand dune bashing, yoga and BBQ at the beach under the moon and stars all for 200QR or $50 USD. Daud, who is Pakistani was our driver. He picked the six of us up in front of our apartments in his black Land Cruiser. We headed on the freeway out towards an area that looked industrial. I couldn’t tell if we more excited about western wear or leaving the compound.

Our first stop was for a ride on the camels. This was the first of 68 times I thought I was going to lose my life today. The camels are just chilling waiting to give you the ride of your life. So the man told me to climb onto the camel. It feels like your trying to get on a big Harley Davidson. I made it up and threw my legs over. But all I could think about was the video I saw on Facebook this week where the camel couldn’t stand because the man was a little chunky. The camel handler (is that a thing?) gave three distinct sounds and the camel rose up in phases. All while I was screaming. We took a ride around in a little loop. Not to bad. I think I would like to do it for a longer duration.

While we were waiting, Daud was letting the air out of the tires so that we would be able to drift in the sand. About 20 Land Cruisers lined up to head into the desert. We popped on some tunes and we burned sand for what felt like two hours. I don’t know how to verbalize this experience other than share the pictures and videos. It was scary and exhilarating at the same time. Claire said “It’s raining sand and roll it!” No chick we trying to survive! Also, Daud was texting, recording and taking pictures while driving. Dude.. I forgot to sign the waiver, I need you to focus.

We took a stop at the Inland Sea. To the right is Saudi Arabia and to the left is Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It was a picturesque scene. Not something you get to see everyday.

The BBQ…. Our driver said it was camel and chicken. Maybe it was; maybe it wasn’t. My meal consisted of chicken (hopefully) that was coated in some seasoning that I had never experienced, veggies, hummus and bread. I ate it with my hands (thank goodness I’m the wet wipe queen). Very satisfying. While some choose to do yoga I relaxed on my towel. I was actually writing this blog.

I ended my night laying in the desert, reflecting, catching the breeze and following the moon and stars as they gleamed from God’s ceiling. All while bumping some Rick Ross. #classic

Last but not least, we stopped by the beach for night dip. Oh, don’t forget we had to get out of the desert.


My teammate Richard reminded me that I needed to blog about cockroaches. #nasty

Working internationally typically means that your organization will provide housing on a compound or a stipend to secure housing. I currently reside at ECCH Lot 2, 191 67c 2A1-4. That is a mouthful and probably means nothing to you.

The accommodations actually remind me of apartments in Arizona and are beige in color. Each unit has four apartments downstairs and upstairs. They also have some lovely villas. There is a lobby in each building and the condition of the hallway is dependent on the occupants. My neighbors have plants, a kid sized four-wheeler and a pet carrier outside of their door. Seems as though you put these items in the apartment, but I digress. Also, I’ve never seen them.

So the newbies are sitting around talking about the condition of their accommodations. In comparison, either the previous occupant was a clean freak or they new I was arriving. They mention things such as old couches, broken shower heads, yucky stuff along the shower and so on. Then someone mentions killing 10 cockroaches. Do you understand the level of breakdown I might have if I had to kill cockroaches?

I’m happy with my apartment. It’s a 2bd / 2ba with a nice kitchen, living room/dining room combination, laundry room and storage room.

Here is a look at my home and neighborhood.

Pampering Day…Starts on the Wrong Foot (Literally).

So today I decided it was time to take care of my eyebrows, manicure and pedicure. It’s Eid and there are great specials going on around the city. A coworker shared with me that there is a salon in the Lulu Express, which is about 400m from my apartment. Additionally, I found Aysel Beauty Lounge which had pretty good reviews. She confirmed it was a nice place.

I get my life together and decide to walk over to Lulu Express. It’s only 107, I’ll survive. But after yesterday I learned a clothe should always be kept in your purse. The sweat is insane with the humidity. Before leaving I was paying for an outing for tomorrow (which might include camels and a “western beach”).

I get over to salon, lay back in chair and she does her thing to my eyebrows. I’m pleased. I get to counter to pay 20QR ($5.49 US) and yikes!!! My passport holder is not in my purse. I completely freak out. These people are going to think I’m trying to steal eyebrow services. I start explaining what happened, that I live across the street, I promise to come back, take my iPhone- just please don’t call the police. I walk back 400m to my apartment and there it is on the bed. This time I called an Uber. I wasn’t walking back. I walked in and payed and left 10QR tip. I’m so happy they trusted me to return.

I hail another Uber to get me over to Aysel Beauty Lounge. The ride was about 20 minutes and his air was ice cold. I walk in and I’m amazed at the decor and warm feeling. I didn’t have an appointment, but they still took me in and offered water. It was very cool and nice music playing in the background. Just what I needed. You do see a theme here…. It’s has to be cool and inside.

This place really hit the spot for me! Cha gave me a full manicure along with great conversation. What I loved the most was she told me that she was not putting gel on my nails because they needed a break. It’s not about out the money for them. It’s about healthy client nails and hair. Uhh yea, not a chance in the US. Pick yours colors and keep it moving. We selected “Sugar Daddy” for my nails. Does she know me? Lynn did my pedicure and told me white toes were played out. You need Marshmallow. Who knew? Now for 2 hours of pampering it was 120QR ($32 US) due to my 20% discount as an employee of Qatar Foundation.

Here is the kicker… I didn’t have my work ID with me. Cha said “I believe you.” Text it to me tonight.

Moral of the blog: I started off on the wrong foot by leaving my money behind. Also, good things come to good people. The threading place didn’t have to believe me and neither did Cha. But they did.

By the way….getting out of the Uber, I scrapped some of my Marshmallow off.

2022 FIFA World Cup

As many of you know Qatar has been selected to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Because they won the bid, there is construction everywhere. Like every corner you turn in many parts of the city. Especially close to the Corniche and Education City. The main stadium is under construction about one minute from my campus and five minutes from home. In addition to that Qatar Vision 2030 is in progress. I can’t even begin to imagine the traffic situation that will take place in Education City. Anyway, I thought I would share some of the progress.

Dust, Skycranes and Construction.

Did you know that Qatar has the most cranes in the world? Qatar is a peninsula in the east of Arabia, bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia. It occupies 4,416 sq mi. The United States is 849 times larger than Qatar. For a little more perspective, you could place Qatar in the outskirts of Denver, and the state would still have plenty of space.

Now as I have mentioned before, I did some research before coming and trying figure out the lay of the land. But a simple google search of Qatar will produce these images. If you head over to Pinterest you may end of with pictures similar to the one below. I am wondering which clear day of the year this picture was taken.

The really funny thing about all of this is I keep looking for some mountains to hike when it is not 120 degrees. All I see is dirt, haze, and construction. The construction is primarily due to the World Cup 2022. They are really pulling out all the stops to make this epic. What a time to be in Qatar!

*I do not own these images

Date Night…

Ha! You thought I found a man out here in the desert. Not quite yet. It’s just as dry as Arizona.

I’ve been reading a few articles that talk about not needing to leave the home or compound when living in the Middle East. Well after two days in the house I decided to take myself on a date night. Might as well since it’s Eid Al Adha. I choose Urban Jazz Kitchen located in The Pearl, North of Doha.

Date night for me equates to ordering an appetizer, main course and dessert. This is a big deal because I typically just grab the main course if I’m having dinner out.

Here were my choices:

Onion rings with cajun sauce

Davis Double Burger with Chipotle Sauce (I couldn’t leave it there, right?)

Somewhere over the Rainbow Cake (someone should have warned me that it was a whole mini cake!)

UJK Iced Tea (unlimited refills)

Overall, the meal was great. I enjoyed the assortment of dips for the cajun fries. The menu has a New Orleans flair with po boys, gumbo, and jambalaya as dining options. They play the jazz greats. The walls have paintings of men playing trumpets and framed art. When you look out the window, you see the luxurious apartments and yachts. The Southern hospitality of the staff won me over. I also believe that they thought I was a food blogger or critic of some type. They constantly came over to my table, managers and all. Then they dropped off a Trip Advisor card asking me place a review on the website and Instagram. I think Aleem asked me 14 times if I posted it yet. I guess it’s because I was writing this in between bites.

As a side note, I’ve lost about 6 lbs since arriving. My taste buds are struggling to adjust. There are not many things that taste the same. Not even the same brand hummus I would pick up in the USA. Maybe it’s the authenticity of the food.

Date night was a hit and I see myself visiting here for a nice brunch.

How do you like to spend your date night?

Last but not least, now that you know what Riyals are, my dinner total was 173QR. Do you how much that was in US dollars?

Show me the Riyals- Student Population

During my interview I was asked to share information about my previous and current student populations. I shared at-risk , ELL, SPED and low SES or just plain middle class. They described the students lacking motivation. I thought to myself great! I had those same kids. I think I do a decent job of motivating kids to meet goals while reminding them what intrinsic motivation feels like and extrinsic carrots. I mean I’ve chased kids up and down 16th Street and Van Buren. Asked kids if they were high or intoxicated on campus. Even better.. I bet you haven’t had to help FBI and police extract a student who committed murdered the night before and still showed up to school.

The onboarding process included the organization spending time introducing the newbies to the characteristics of the students. A former student that spent all of her K-12 education at QAD came in to speak with us. She was well spoken and charismatic. Additionally, she is married to the guy who is planning World Cup 2022. Holy shit (sorry dad).

So here is some information about the students:

Some students are royalty and the Amir’s students attend the school

They all have electronics (multiple)

Their own credit cards

Will inherit businesses

Life is about family and religion and then maybe school

If you want to connect with the male students, ask about their birds

Males enjoy camping

The female students are all about fashion

The male students are the “men” of the house due to fathers obligations

Many parents are diplomats, CEO’s, lawyers and doctors

They have nannies and drivers (multiple)

Males are not responsible for much

There is no expectation to leave home upon turning 18

Very traditional in the sense of arranged marriages

However, as an educator I am going to keep in mind that they are kids. Regardless of the number of riyals in their bank account, students look for unconditional positive regard from educators. That’s what I plan to give them.

If you happen to work in a school, what is one thing you love about your students?

And in case you’re wondering what riyals are, click here!

Making Friends.

Here is a secret and you probably will not believe it if you know me. I am shy and slightly introverted. In new settings it can be exacerbated for me. I get really uncomfortable and might exhibit loner qualities.

But somehow I managed to make a friend. Like I legit need to know this chick the rest of my life. For the purposes of this, we will call her Adnaloy. She hails from Southern California with stints in Kuwait and Asia. I first noticed her in some of the international Facebook educator groups. I thought to myself she looks cool. I think I could be her friend. Then all of sudden she showed up in the QAD Newbies group. I was like yes!! Let the Facebook creeping commence. Don’t act like you don’t creep and fall down the black hole of so and so’s 18th cousin’s profile on social media.

From the first day we clicked. We have some differences like she is not lifting a weight or stepping foot on a workout machine. I had the nerve to ask her if she wanted to play volleyball after work and she gave me the side eye! According to her cleaning the house burns calories. But, her sense of style compliments mine and I’m just trying to figure out when I can get a makeup session from her.

We have been to the grocery store and shopping malls together. She even put me onto these mini pancakes with Nutella like dip. Catching lunch in the school cafeteria, walking to meetings and Ubering to work this second week have become our norm. Last night we went to the mall and had dinner. I helped her pick out work clothes and the most important part was finding watermelon mojitos at the Monoprix (cross between Whole Foods and Frys).

Adnaloy is entering her 8th year as an international counselor and we have some great conversations based on our previous experiences. I truly believe friendships should have a mix of fun and mental stimulation.

According to my friend Asina, I am “Genuine, loyal, adventurous, and a little boy crazy — but in a good way!” Speaking of boy crazy… Adanaloy and I have already figured out that there will never be an issue of dipping in each other’s man pond.

Hopefully I can continue to show Adanaloy all of those characteristics to grow our friendship.

I found an article on Refinery29 that discusses the difficulties of making friends in adulthood. I encourage you to read it if you are a female or you have ever had to make a move away from friends. Just click the link above.

Special shout out to my tribe in Arizona!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts about the blog or experiences making friends as an adult in the comment section.

Homesick…. To be or not to be.

I find myself in an unfamiliar place with new people, work space and life in general. I did as much research as possible before coming to make sure it was a good fit for my lifestyle. It’s early in the game, so I am not sure if I am homesick or not. 

This also leads me to the question of what place would I miss? Is it Arizona? That’s where the majority of my girlfriends reside, I owned a home there, community ,church  and sorority involvement, attended graduate school and had a great career and colleagues that I left behind. It surely can’t be York, SC. While I miss my family, it’s difficult to visualize it as home because I left there at 17 years old.  I knew York was not a place that I could advance professionally or personally. Arizona made me grow up and become a mature, responsible adult. I had my share of battles and lessons in The Grand Canyon State.

What is home for you? Is it the place that you were born? The city grew up in? The state you attended college? So many questions and too little answers.

Maybe home is where you create a family made of relationships, memories, experiences and physical items. One way that I create home is scents. So during my shopping excursion I found Bath and Body Works. I purchased some plugins and candles. Now every time I enter my apartment the smell makes me feel like I am home.

I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s song  “Coming Home” from the movie Country Strong (that’s my country music fan sneaking out).  Take the time to listen to the song and reflect on your home.  

Pictures top to bottom- My home in Arizona, York and Qatar.