Working in Doha , Qatar, was her first expatriate experience. Now in her fourth year in Qatar, she was happy to provide information about her experiences, and the inside scoop for, as the song goes, all the single ladies. Would you describe yourself as an extrovert, introvert, or somewhere in between? I am an artist, so if something is happening in my creative identity, I tend to close myself up and try to hone in on it, and become pretty detached form everything else.
But I often need the inspiration of my fellow humans, as well. I am more extroverted here in Doha than I was back home in the United States. I am working full-time and working on my Master's, so right now I'm doing more studying and in-house work, but I do get out nights and evenings.
After I finish speaking to you, I'm going out dancing. Is Doha your first overseas job? I had never left the United States before I left for Qatar. Well, I've been to Canada. What is your job in Doha? I currently work as an art teacher for high school students. How do you find this teaching experience? High school students love doing arts. There's no apathy with these kids! Of course, you still have occasional lazy students who don't do their work, and won't get the automatic A they think they will get in an art class.
The class isn't easy! Our women candidates often ask about safety. Do you feel safe in Doha? I have never felt as safe anywhere as I do here. I go back to the United States, and I forget some of my defense mechanisms. There is disparity everywhere not always the same, but economic, religious , but here, it's very checked. The Qatari government keeps things under a fine check that no one is willing to cross, so I feel safe from being robbed.
I feel safe leaving my purse in a restaurant, but at the same time, I think, "What am I thinking? I've never felt unsafe here, ever. Where do you live? I am in an apartment provided by the school, in a building housing its single employees.
But it is my own space — it's huge and beautiful. I am pampered here. In fact, I have as big a space as my friends who have bought a place back home. The quality of buildings in Qatar is not very good, but having so much space is really good. And I don't have to deal with anything repairs, etc.
But at the same time, I feel like I don't want to forget the lifestyle back home, where I need to be more active about cleaning and repairs. I don't plan to be here forever, so I don't want to become complacent. I don't want to forget how to budget and do things for myself. How do you get around in Doha? I rent a car. When I got here, I had anticipated it being a short-term thing, but now it's four years. I could probably have bought three cars now with the cost of renting! But if something breaks down, I have no problems dealing with mechanics, or with overcharging by mechanics which can happen anywhere, especially with women — the rental company picks the car up and gives me a new one the same day.
Was it hard to get used to driving here? Back home in the Midwest, drivers tend to be kind and passive, and only occasionally aggressive. Here, people are very aggressive. Some seem to feel if one car length is sacrificed, the whole journey will be delayed an hour or more. I've adapted to being very aggressive and acting without doubt in my driving. When I go back to the States, I have to adjust to be kinder. About five times I've flashed the smile: And now I prefer roundabouts.
And I guess I am more aware in my driving — aware of that land cruiser coming at top speed, or people running across or walking along the road. Prior to coming to Doha, what did you do in your spare time? In the United States, I was near family, so most of my time was spent with family, and a few core friends.
I am from a small town near a larger city, but it's still a very rural area. Where I come from the rural Midwest, social life is going to a smoky bar and talking of hunting. What do you do in your spare time now? I have a good active group of friends, so every night, if I want, I could go out, e.
One of my friends is a DJ, we go to one of the lounges at The Pearl to dance and talk. It's easy to isolate oneself, and I've seen people do it, but I think it's a depressing place to be alone and isolated — more so than back home.
And there are the standard pastimes of movies, shopping, dinner. It's not nature-based here, but there are cultural things to do. Katara, the Cultural Village, has just opened, and they had a Latin event with dancers and films a couple of weekends ago. They have family days. The also have the philharmonic and the theatre. There are also always huge tennis matches, so people can attend these.
And there are opera events, DJ events, etc. Can you tell me about the dating scene in Doha? There are a lot more expat males employed here than females. I find the opportunities are better for me than back home in the Midwest. There are more intellectual men here. I can have better conversations. If I wanted to find something long-term, I could find someone who is successful, if that was my goal, but it isn't.
I have only dated one guy, but it would easy to date others — even much younger than me! Even year-olds are interested in me, and I'm in my 30s. It's easy to be involved with someone who has short-term intentions.
It's easy to get wrapped up in fears and expectations between starting to date, hoping for the marriage and children When you go out as a single woman, it's hard to not be approached by a man. And so it depends on what kind of woman you are. If you are a single who can get used to it and just shrug it off, fine.
If you want it to lead to other opportunities, it's not difficult. As in any place, you have strange men, men with questionable intentions, men with the usual intentions I'm dating a Lebanese man who is Christian , which I identify with, but I don't practice.
It makes for a lot of cultural differences and things to discover. I have seen a lot of Western women who marry Arab men. The "market" is huge. What was your greatest challenge as a single woman in Doha? Although this can happen anywhere, the biggest challenge is men with a wife and children back home, who are not being upfront about that. Being older, I am more likely to find men in my age range who are married back home; a younger woman might not have this problem, or may have an easier time ascertaining what a man is really about.
I also have an issue with the sense of hypocrisy in some cases. I see many Arab Muslim men as viewing Western women as an easy date — an easy everything. You have to be a strong individual not to take it personally, and just shrug it off, as it's an assumption some people were raised with.
Is it easy to meet people outside of your place of employer general in Doha? It's much, much easier, even than back home. Maybe because at home you have your family and core peer group, so you stick in your clump, and someone may enter, but it's an outsider coming in to history that's way before them.
Here, you're all starting from the ground up. When I first came, at a club, I saw a Japanese couple, and I thought they looked cool, so I just went over and talked to them. I'm just like that.
Then we were introduced to a Lebanese man named Mo, and then he introduced us to four others, and we have become a real core group. Right now I have more than 1, Facebook friends of people I've met here. You go out to dinner with a group of five, and you'll meet five more.