Velvet: Must Love Dust
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Doha, etc.
I’m a writer and editor from Sydney, Australia. I moved to Qatar in July 2011 after landing a job as the manager of a new publication.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
I decided to start blogging during Ramadan (Islamic holy month of fasting) in 2011. We have reduced work hours during that month and it seemed a great way to spend the extra time I had. In early 2011 there was so little information about Qatar so I wanted to help fill that void. Of course, things are different now and every hotel, restaurant and group is using social media to tell their story.
I didn’t publicise it at first as I wanted to make sure I’d stick with it (there are a lot of failed expat blogs out there!) but about 6 months later I was still loving writing so I started promoting it on Twitter etc.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
I’d say my favourite is about my first day in Doha. I remember that day so fondly and so clearly
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?
Honestly, no. From day 1 this felt like the right place to be. I didn’t have much trouble adjusting and I don’t think I experienced culture shock. Obviously there were elements of my new life that were unusual but that’s to be expected. When you think of all the factors that have changed it’s a lot to deal with: new house, new job, removal from your friends or family. Just one of those things is drastic life change but when you become an expat you experience them all at once! But I saw the move as an adventure so was excited by everything that came my way. If anything unsettled me I just accepted it as part of the experience.
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 was told to have no expectations and I think that was good advice. I think it’s important to keep an open mind.
I really wish I had put some time into improving my French before I came. So many people here speak French and it would have been a great opportunity to use it.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I can’t think of any one story but that’s probably because I tend to find everything funny. Although getting stranded without a car in 45 degree heat and accepting a lift from a total stranger who can’t speak English is always good for a laugh! I’ve done that a couple of times.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Doha?
- Be patient in all aspects of your life here. Everything takes time.
- Define a clear reason why you’re moving here. When times get tough, revisit that reason and remind yourself that it’s all worth it.
- Get excited! You’re about to move to a fascinating country that offers so much opportunity. Try to embrace the craziness of relocating as part of your initiation!
How is the expat community in Doha? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community here is fantastic. I’ve found people to be really open and friendly. And interesting! I can’t believe the fascinating people I can meet in a single night out!
How would you summarize your expat life in Doha in a single, catchy sentence?
Simply put, moving to Doha has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and enhanced my life in more ways than I can count.