Since the beginning of 2019, I have been thinking about how I want to spend my summer break—not because I am unhappy and itching to escape Doha—more so because I have 11 weeks off, and I want to make sure I maximize my work and vacation opportunities.
Last summer, I had nine weeks off. Because I was trying to keep my visit in the US under 30 days in order to establish myself as a bonafide nonresident, I spent 10 days in Canada, spent a week in London, flew back to Doha, and took another trip to Sri Lanka before the start of the 2018 academic year. This year, because of the dates of Eid al Fitr and Eid al-Adha, my summer will be two weeks longer (May 26 to Aug 17), so I have more time to play with.
As part of my Qatar University salary package, I receive two months paid summer vacation. Additionally, I receive an annual allowance for my return ticket to the US. While both of these amenities are quite generous, summer expenses add up quite quickly; so, instead of spending my entire summer incurring expenses, I first wanted to see if I could teach for part of the summer. However, many instructors in the Foundation Program Department of English had the same idea: there was a long list of potential instructors! Thankfully, I was selected to teach two six-week summer courses (May 26 to July 11) and serve as the lead for ENGL 252, and once I found out that I was teaching this summer, I was better able to plan the rest of my summer travels.
During the 2019 summer semester, there will be one week of classes before Eid al Fitr (May 31 to June 9). Consequently, I planned to spend the first Eid holiday in Taiwan. I have two friends from graduate school who have been living there for the past ten years. After a decade in Taiwan, they will be returning to the US, so now is the last opportunity for me to visit them there. I had been tracking the prices for plane tickets to Taiwan on Google Flight, and on a whim, I decided to check the prices through Qatar Airways (QA). To my surprise, tickets through QA were only 100 QAR more expensive than the flights that I had been tracking through other airlines; thus, I bought my first tickets for the summer (May 31 to June 8).
Next, while I am back in the US, I want to plan a trip to Brazil. At my last university of employment, I worked with a large number of Brazilian students who were always welcoming me to visit them in their country. This summer seemed like as good a time as any, so I investigated prices to both São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. I was planning on visiting both cities while in Brazil, but for some reason, flying into São Paulo seemed more appealing to me. Again, I was tracking prices on Google Flight, and before plane ticket prices started to climb too high, I decided to purchase my tickets through LATAM Airlines (July 25 to Aug 5).
Finally, it was time for me to purchase my tickets back to the US. While I could buy direct flight tickets through QA, I wanted to spend a couple days in a European city before jetting to the other side of the pond. I was considering Paris, France; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Lisbon, Portugal; and Dublin, Ireland. After comparing the price of multi-city flight tickets with three-day layovers (July 14-17), Dublin was cheapest option. For a little less than the cost of flying through QA, I would spend a little more time flying on British Airways but visit one more new country (Ireland) this year—seemed like a good plan (July 14 to Aug 16)!
That leaves me to plan one more trip this summer with my boys. After I come back from Brazil, my sons and I will spend about a week in Boulder, CO (Aug 7-14). They haven’t visited the Rocky Mountains yet, so this will be a good opportunity for me and them to have one last summer adventure. Then after we return, I depart from La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug 16 and arrive in Doha on Aug 18 at 4:30am. I will stumble off the plane, and the start of the Fall 2019 semester will literally begin.
(Note: I still have to book Airbnbs for my summer trips, figure out how I will get to Chicago for my flight to Brazil, and decide if I need to rent a car for my trip to Boulder. However, the most mercurial expenses of the summer are now concluded.)