Word of the Day: Celebrate

It seems like everyone is celebrating Christmas, New Years and birthdays (mine is soon) with family and close friends so it’s hard not to miss home. Also, it’s easy to forget to celebrate, especially with our work schedule here. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in the hours my coworkers and I are putting in to this project. That’s why the word of the day is celebrate. I realized that just because I’m not celebrating big days with loved ones doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate life in general. Despite the lack of sleep I’ve been getting recently there are so many little victories that happen along the way. If I add those accomplishments to the holiday’s it feels like I should be celebrating something 90% of the time. And I learned that celebrating doesn’t always mean ‘doing it big’ but can be anything out of the ordinary.

A few coworkers and I decided to spend our Christmas holiday (2 Days) in Dubai! We had so much fun and definitely kept busy. On the 24th we went the Mall of Emirate where we got our ski tickets squared away for the 25th and had a full feast for lunch. From the Mall of Emirates, we took the metro to the Burj Khalifa, since you have to buy tickets ahead of time we weren’t able to go up…but we had something better in mind for the evening. After walking around the Burj Khalifa (and even sneaking inside for a little bit) we walked over to the Dubai Mall to see the fountain show. It was 5 minutes long and had the Burj Khalifa in the background, it was so beautiful especially against the sunset. The Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas blow me away more than this one did but it was still very cool to see. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and I made arrangements to have drinks at the top of the Burj Al Arab. I didn’t think we would actually be able to get a reservation on Christmas Eve but somehow it happened and it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The inside of the hotel is indescribable and it was well worth the $100 to enjoy good company, great drinks and awesome views. Next time I want to come during the day so the views are better. I thought nothing would beat that experience but the next day we got to celebrate Christmas in the winter wonderland inside the Mall of Emirates. We purchased the full experience which allowed us to touch and hangout with penguins (the best day of my life), ski, zip line, sled and so many other activities that we ran out of energy for. By the end of the day we were exhausted. We came back to the hotel and decided to order a movie to end Christmas night the right way. We ended up watching The Purge, which didn’t really go along with our festive mood at all, dumb idea but hilarious in retrospect.

Dubai gave me a much needed break, I hope the work-life balance becomes more manageable once the first few weeks are out of the way and more associates are coming in. I want to be able to enjoy Doha more and take it all in, I can’t wait to see what this city offers for New Years!

Float on!


Happy National Day!

Word of the Day: Silence

A majority of my coworkers are very personable, confident and interesting. We all have amazing stories to share about something or another. Lately it seems like we’re subconsciously playing the ‘one up’ game and before you know it, people are competing for the “Wait you did that? That’s so cool!” affirmation. Silence goes a long way, I’ve realized that sitting back and watching the show is more fun than being the center of it. Being more observant and quiet helps in the listening department too, which is good because I could learn a thing or two from everyone’s experiences.

Today was Qatar’s National Day! Celebrations were going on all week but December 18th is the official holiday. Cars were decorated with flags, streamers and important Qataris. There was a parade, airshow, and a flawlessly executed fireworks display, which spanned a half mile over the water. About halfway through the show some jet ski’s went out and shot fireworks off the back. It was synchronized perfectly and it was really cool to see the entire night sky light up.

The wealth this country has is unreal. The celebrations for the holiday clearly showed that, they spent months preparing for it. The city seems like it is perpetually under construction with some of the most beautiful and intricate building designs I have ever seen. Everything is so new and luxurious, they go all out and don’t hold back. I can’t wait to see how different this place will look 10 years from now. I really feel like I would be happy living here, except I’ve heard the summers are “offensively hot”.

Aside from National Day, today also marks day 10 of being in Qatar! The days just melt into each other, especially when trying to keep up with the time change back home. Work has been great so far, there has been a lot to do with little free time so a weekend is much needed. All the local professionals I’ve interacted with are so genuine and welcoming. The next round of associates are coming next week, which is exciting because I’ll see some familiar faces. Hopefully it keeps going well over here. Sometimes I do get pangs of homesickness, yesterday I had a dream about my mom and woke up hugging a pillow. 😦 Back in the Midwest its been snowing and the holiday season is in full swing, it is completely opposite here. Staying busy is definitely the key to not feel like I am missing out on life back home. My coworkers and I are trying to plan a small getaway for Christmas, so stay tuned!

Float on!



Word of the Day: Relax

I finally made it to Qatar! The flight was 14 hours long and although I’ve been on much longer flights before, I was mentally unprepared for this one. Around the 6 hour mark I got a serious case of cabin fever and a minor panic attack that I had to talk myself out of…something along the lines of “Beyoncé doesn’t freak out on planes, get yourself together” is what I kept saying. This is why the word of the day is ‘relax’. Adjusting to a different culture, climate, work day and overall home takes a strange toll on your mind/body so I find myself taking a lot of deep breaths and doing what I can in the moment to calm down.

There was a pretty quick turn around from finding out about the trip to Qatar to getting on a plane and arriving here. I scrambled during the week to get my life together to spend 2 months in the middle east. The stress was worth it, the city is so beautiful! The hotel is the nicest one I’ve ever stayed at, it’s connected to a giant mall with familiar stores and anything you could need, including the biggest grocery store ever (called a “hyper market”). The views are insane whether it’s from the gym, pool, or the rooftop executive lounge (which only certain guests have access to)–so fancy but just know the tab is all on the company I work for! Speaking of fancy, the breakfast spread is off the chain! They have so many options and manage to integrate other culture’s breakfast foods also. I’ve found dishes that my mom makes on special occasions being served here along with some unfamiliar foods that I plan on trying.

The hotel isn’t the only thing that speaks to the mix of cultures, it seems like the entire city is really diverse. It’s strange not being a minority but there doesn’t even seem to be a minority here. I have seen people from all over the world so far: The Philippines, India, Africa, America, Jordan, Germany, England…the list goes on. With the variety of people comes a variety of languages which is really awesome. One night here, I went to the Souq Waqif and was looking for the ladies restroom and a man who spoke Arabic, English and Urdu successfully directed me there. Being able to understand all three was neat and actually finding the bathroom was even better.

The Souq Waqif is an outdoor market with a ton of restaurants, it’s an overall bazaar-like area. It is ideal for people watching and shopping for little trinkets. Smoking hookah (called “shisha” here) is very common, all the restaurants offer it and almost everyone is enjoying shisha while eating dinner. There is also an animal market at this souq, I was surprised to see toucans, sugar gliders, kittens, puppies and so many other animals. It’s most likely illegal in some sense considering the animals probably end up dying… which is why I don’t think I could go back to that area of the souq, it’s heartbreaking.

After most of the jet lag had subsided and everyone was able to get settled in we focused on work. I felt myself getting anxious again and then to a point where I could not catch my breath so this idea of relaxing myself has come into play many times already…that plus a little help from loved ones goes a very very long way.

Float on!


Thanksgiving Week

Word of the Day: Awareness

Being aware seems like a relatively simple thing to do. But from being aware of how you feel, your reactions to certain scenarios to how other people are feeling and their interactions/reactions, being actively aware is pretty hard. I’m pretty oblivious at times so I want to get better at this awareness thing.

Earlier this week I found that I am going to travel to Qatar for a work assignment! I’m thrilled, nervous, anxious…you name it. It doesn’t help that there aren’t many details available now so I’m not too sure what to expect. I do know that the weather there ranges between 70-80°F so it seems like the perfect time to go. It will be great to travel to the middle east and get closer to my roots (kind of my roots but not really). Since Qatar is an Islamic country it’ll be more conservative–modest clothing, no pork, drugs or alcohol, stricter rules on male/female interaction and the Adhan will be heard throughout the city everyday so that’s cool.  I hope my coworkers are ready for it! I’ve been taking Rosetta Stone Arabic lessons so maybe those will come in handy. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Dubai is just a short flight away, I’m very excited about that.

Also, T$ came over to my parent’s house for dinner on Saturday! My mom made Biryani and managed to not poison his food, so that’s a bonus! We kept the conversation casual, there weren’t any awkward moments and my dad even brought out some old family photos. I think it’s really nice that my family can spend however much time they need to get to know T without there being a harsh deadline…though I do hope everyone gets on the same page soon. Eventually these casual conversations will turn to more serious ones (hopefully) and some will probably include minor interrogations, just so they can make sure he’s the one. Whatever it takes, I suppose. Either way this week was a win, another baby step in the right direction.

Float on!