Noemi: The Greek Pinay
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Doha, etc.
I'm Noemi, a Filipina who recently moved to Doha last December 2014. I was working in the travel industry in Dubai for 7 years where I met my husband. When my husband was transferred to Doha, we made a decision that I should go and move with him to this new city. So I packed my bags, left Dubai, spent about 4 months in the US with my family while I wait for my Qatar visa to be finalized. Once done, I took a one way flight to Doha to be with my husband.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I had the blog since when I was living in the Philippines, it started out as an online journal which was meant to be read only by myself. Nobody knew that I had a blog then. It was when I moved to the Middle East and started traveling a lot, that ‘pinay flying high’ got a lot of readers especially among the Filipino community living in the Middle East. I'm quite happy to say that my blog has helped and inspired some people to get out of their comfort zones and travel just like I did.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
My favorite blog entry would be the Top 10 Reasons to Visit Greece as it was an entry which I never really had a hard time of writing. I love Greece and it's my favorite travel destination. It's so beautiful, unique and just amazing! It's hard for one not to fall in love with it.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Doha differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
Moving to Doha I thought would be a piece of cake for me, having already lived in Dubai for 7 years. However, there's actually a huge contrast between these two cities that I never really thought of before I moved here. Dubai is much more modern while Doha is much more conservative in ways that I'm pretty sure Dubai was like before it became a huge tourist city. I wouldn't say that it was a culture shock for me, though, as it only takes one’s open-mindedness to understand these differences. It is different yes, but not entirely shocking.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Doha? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
I thought I was fully prepared but you never really know until you've lived in the city. I had a few concerns but the biggest concern for me when I first moved here was driving, as petty as it may sound. I never really had to drive in Dubai as there were a lot of public transportation options available for us which is definitely not the case here in Doha. During my first few days in Doha, I had to immediately drive around to be where I want to be and I hated it! It stresses me out every time but that's because I was never used to driving anyway anywhere for that matter. I've gotten the hang of it of course but I really detested going out of the house, running errands during the first few weeks that I arrived in Doha.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Doha?
- Expect the very worst of the summer heat. No matter how much you think you've prepared yourself for the heat that you're about to experience during summer, it's not enough. You won't really know how bad it can become until you arrive in the city.
- Be open-minded and give respect to the culture and religion of Doha. You'd basically do the same when visiting someone else's house anyway, you'd respect their house rules.
- Enjoy it! :)
How is the expat community in Doha? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
With the influx of expats in Doha, it's not very hard to find like-minded people and fellow expats in the city. I have joined some of InterNations’ meet up groups and also some other events hosted by other expats which made it very easy for me to expand my circle of friends in such a short span of time.
How would you summarize your expat life in Doha in a single, catchy sentence?
Doha, a place where the storm is sandy, the heat is unbearable and where life is (surprisingly) just as normal as anywhere else.