Monday, 29 April 2013

Destination: Doha!

A Weekend Getaway!

When I found out a good friend - K - from Canada was making the trip to Doha to visit her parents (also living the expat life) I had an impromptu dance party and immediately made travel arrangements. I could NOT BELIEVE I was getting to see her and on THIS side of the world none the less!

Our friendship has developed from being friends of friends to occasional drinking partners to study buddies and weightless partners. Today I see her as a sister that pushes me to be better, stronger and smarter.  Sure it has been almost a year since I was able to see her, but what is the small matter of time to good friends? She is the kind of friend that I could call any moment of any day  (even if it had been 30 years) and it would be as though nothing has changed. I would do the same for her.  Anyway - enough with the sappy stuff.

Best believe I was on that plane as quickly as I could humanly manage after school and dancing in my seat the whole way there (Sorry Mr. 18 C)! Not only was I going to see K, BUT I would also get to explore a beautiful country! 

I arrived at the Airport to K holding up THE BIGGEST welcome sign. Just the most adorable experience ever. I literally RAN towards her - yea yea we all know I am a dork. If the car ride to their home was any indication it was going to be a weekend full of laughter and incomprehensible conversations. After talking each other's ears off the whole way home - and her mum's - we settled in for another long chat over a glass or three of wine. Something that we both love and enjoy together - a good (or cheap) bottle (or box) of wine. 

Dune Bashing, a Wonderful Museum,and Souk-ing.

We woke up pretty early on Thursday and headed right out to the desert to go dune driving on those beautiful white sand hills. This is an experience that I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone! It feels like a mixture of a roller coaster and falling off a cliff (or so I can only imagine). We asked our driver to go all out and he was more than willing to oblige. He knew the limits of his car and at no time did I feel unsafe. It was a very enjoyable day. We dubbed me the squawker - because I didn't quite scream when I was nervous but I did make a sound a little like a chicken.

We immediately returned to our insane/dorky selves and took many a picture trying to do yoga and jumping in the desert ( I only wish I had the patience to post all 1000000 failed attempts - as they are quite funny). We spend the day in and out of the car, taking pictures, playing volley ball, exploring the ocean and laughing - there was SO MUCH laughing! 

The Museum of Islamic Art

We spend Friday at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. It is an incredibly beautiful building. You could spend all day exploring the architectural features and not even make it to the exhibits. If you are heading to the area it is something that you MUST see. Even if museums 'aren't your thing.' The collection ranges across many era's in Islamic art and across many countries. But it is not overwhelming. The way things are displayed allows you to take in a little of each and then a little more. It is not overflowing with information at each section  - it gives you just enough to inform you and allow you to absorb what you are seeing and reading. It is a wonderful experience and I will definitely be going back!

After we lost ourselves in the museum for more than a few hours we headed over to Souk Wadif. While I have been to many souks, this is probably my favorite. All the original buildings have been refurbished and look stunning. I really appreciate being able to envision how it looked when it was the CBD of a city. The old alley ways are still there and are winding and confusing as all get out to navigate. But this is what I find so interesting. While to shopping is similar to most souks in this region, there are some interesting points and a few unique items to be found. It is absolutely worth spending a few hours exploring!

The rest of out weekend was spend sipping sangria in the sunshine by the pool, shopping and catching up! I could not have asked for a more perfect weekend or more gracious hosts. Felt the family love and was glad to be able to visit with everyone!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Living in Kuwait: How 'real' is life?

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately...a dangerous game, I know. Thinking about my job, my life here in Kuwait. I've been wondering if I have made the right decision in staying on for another year recently. I must admit, I have been a little homesick.

Maybe it is just because school has been hectic and the final push of the year is upon us. Maybe it is because those friends of mine who are still in University are all finishing up school and finals and getting ready to head back to their hometowns for the summer - and I am still here working away.

I have been thinking about how much my life would change if I were to take a job in Alberta, and bide my time waiting for a teaching position to open up that is made for me (a fantasy, I know). 

Well, in Kuwait I have certain luxuries that lead me to often ask the question: "Is my life real?" Certainly I go to work everyday, I earn a salary, I take work home, I grade papers, I create appropriate assessments for my students; BUT, my household responsibilities are significantly less than what I would have living in Canada. 

I equate living in Kuwait as something of a fantasy - the cost of living for me here is dramatically reduced thanks to an international contract. I think that it will be difficult to adjust to what is 'normal' for most people. 

Let me run it down for you: this year I have been able to afford to travel for extended periods to Thailand and Sri Lanka. I have also been able to take weekend getaways to Bahrain, Doha, and Dubai. I was able to afford to fly all the way home for Christmas. I will also be spending a month travelling to Indonesia and Australia this summer before finally making my way home to Canada for two months. Some parts of these trips have been generously paid for by others - for which I am grateful, but the majority of my travel expenses have been covered out of my own pocket. 

The memories of these trips, the delightful experiences I have been lucky enough to take part in, and the cultural enrichment that I have gained are incalculable. 

 My experience as a teacher has been wonderful here. I believe that I have grown as teacher and as a person. I don't believe that I was ever closed minded, but I do believe that living over here has really made me open my eyes and look at everything with a fresh view. 

My worldly knowledge has gained exponentially and I pay more attention to news abroad and back home than I ever have before.

I may have been able to afford some of the same experiences living and working in Alberta, but would I have taken the opportunity? Living out here has taught me one thing: take advantage of any opportunity to better yourself. Travelling is one of those opportunities.

So, while life my not be the same as in Alberta that doesn't make it any less real. I truly believe that moving across the world has made me appreciate how global society is, and how lucky I have been to experience many different cultures. 

If I am able to do so much in one year, what is possible in my second year?

I suppose this serves as my official announcement that I will be moving back to Kuwait after a summer at home. Can't wait to see what the rest of this year and next year will bring!

So, If you are considering moving to Kuwait or anywhere abroad I say: Go for it! The memories will last a life time and you will not be disappointed that you went for the opportunity!