In a year so much can change. At this time last year, I was living in temporary housing at Al Safa Hotel; needed to catch the shuttle every morning at 7am like a schoolboy, regardless if I taught in the morning (my first course was at noon); and was focused on completing the myriad steps for establishing my residency in Doha and lifting my probation at Qatar University (QU).
Now, a year later, I am living in an apartment in Lusail City, waiting for Housing at QU to grant me a meeting so that I can plead to move into the slightly larger apartment neighboring mine. I drive my car to work every morning, and on most days, during the break between my morning and afternoon classes, I go home to eat lunch and take a nap. Finally, I am a resident of Qatar, grinding away at QU, teaching four courses (20 contact hours per week), prepping for two courses (one of them is new), participating in two department committees, compiling the department’s weekly memo, doing my part to keep TEFL Qatar viable, mentoring a new faculty member, and trying to cultivate seedling ideas into possible presentations for my year’s professional development quota.
However, if you might be worried that I am all work and no play and at risk of becoming a dull boy—or changing my name to Jack—rest assured that the inverse is the case. My weekends lately have been filling up quickly! For example, this past week, I attended an open mic night with a couple friends, hosted a bi-weekly RPG campaign at my apartment, had dinner with a distant member of the royal family, and attended another dinner for Mexican Independence Day. In a blink, my weekend was halas, and it was time to get back to teaching.
With all this recent activity, you might be wondering, is there anything more to my life? Yes. While I am, at this moment in the semester, focused on putting one foot in front of the next, I did study the horizon at the start at this race and noted, in my mind, some distant markers that I wanted to eventually cross. For example, I am waiting for this month’s salary so that I can buy the plane tickets for my boys to come visit me in Doha at the end of this December. This will keep me occupied during this year’s winter break—so no more traveling to new countries in 2018! Then during spring break in 2019, I am planning on flying to Helsinki, Finland and taking the ferry over to neighboring Estonia in order to visit a friend who is completing a Fulbright there. And, since the summer break following this academic year will be quite long, I will try to teach a summer course in June, visit Turkey during Eid al-Fitr, travel back to the US for a couple weeks in July to visit family and friends (maybe take my boys to Cuba if I can get decently priced plane tickets), visit Brazil for a week or two while back on the American side of the world, and then make my way back to Doha for the third and final year of my three-year teaching contract!
I have my long-term goals for the year listed and am working towards them, but I am having troubles resuming my short-term goals: working out daily, blogging weekly, and taking and editing photographs intermittently. Last semester, I didn’t teach until 9:30 or 10am, so I had an easier time working out in the morning before classes. This semester, I teach at 8 or 9am and can’t seem to motivate myself to lift some weights and run before heading to the gristmill. In regard to blogging, because my weekends have been so full, I haven’t had the time to sit in my armchair and leisurely sip my coffee while I type out my expat musings from the week. Just a normal day, had a traditional Moroccan dinner with a Brit and Syrian. Can you believe, I can’t smoke shisha at my favorite restaurant in Souq Waqif! Or, I’m so sad and I don’t exactly know why! Finally, in terms of taking and editing photographs, it’s too hot in Doha to go out and take photographs, and I don’t have the motivation at the moment to wade through the thousands of photographs that I took this summer and just randomly edit them. I need a clear project before taking a deep dive into my hard drive of photographs. However, maybe I just need to make more time for my hobbies.
Still, despite my early morning grousing (it was 5am by the time I finished writing this blog), Doha year two is underway.