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A Year away from Home: Tips and Takeaways

Taking the Plunge

Have you ever thought about getting up and leaving your comfort zone to experience something new? That is what I did in 2014 and couldn’t be happier.

A year away from homeMy year in Qatar changed me in so many ways that I hope by reading this you will be inspired to try something new.


First of all, I am not going to say it was really easy to leave the States, but having my parents in Qatar helped. I know when trying to live aboard many people do not have family members to help with their move. But there are a lot of groups and events you can get into to build that family overseas. Even with having my parents there it was still hard. I was determined to learn Arabic, which was the reason I moved over there – BIG FAIL! But if I could go back I wouldn’t change anything, focusing on that gave me the courage.

How I keep busy?

I started my arabic classes shortly after arriving in Qatar. I went to Translation and Interpreting Institute at Education City. The classes were only twice a week for an hour and 30minutes so I had A LOT of free time. Most of my spare time was me sitting in the house staring at the walls, but that got boring fast. I wanted to go out and meet new people. So I got on Tinder and joined Meetup groups that would have different events planned for us.


It was a good way for me to get out. The only downside to the Meetup group, was not being able to meet people in my age range.

Find a job

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Next option was to find a job so I could try to interact with people who speak Arabic. I looked on Indeed and Doha groups on Facebook to help. Two months in and I got a job in HR at Doha College, which is a well-known British school. So go figure it did not help at all with my Arabic.

IMG_9820Working there was the one thing that kept me from leaving and going back to the States. I meet some great people who I still keep in touch with. There were a lot of young professionals and a sports division called Evolution Sports that recruited young coaches from all around the world. So of course there were a lot of distractions.

The best thing was having a job where I worked 7AM to 2:30PM and getting 30 days of vacation time to spend. On top of that they had a lot of holidays so it gave me the opportunity to travel back home or to other places. I got to go to Dubai, Philippines, Thailand and back to Gambia.

Join a gym

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After adjusting to the work life and classes, I decided to find a gym. There was a CrossFit gym connected to the school I was working for, so I decided to sign up in January. It fit my schedule and was convenient. First there was a two-day beginner course before joining which lasted 4 hours each. Once completed you can go as much as you want each month. This is a great way to meet expats, it was more like a family which I loved.

OFF PEAK (Before 4PM) –750QR (205.95USD)
Up-Front – 6 months – 5500QR (1,510.26USD)
Up-Front – 12 months – 10,000QR (2,745.93USD)

What I gained?

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In the end, I made some good friends, learnt a lot about myself and built up my confidence.This was a great experience, even though I did get homesick. I know for my next journey to take more advantage to visit different countries.



  • I have always had a hard time making friends, so putting myself out there and trying to gain friendships was nerve-racking. But if you want to get the experience and learn more about the country you are living in, finding those friendships are the way to do that. You have to be willing to be open to it.
  • Take the opportunity to travel around. Even though my job was great with giving the flexibility to travel, I did not take full advantage of that. I’ve been afraid to travel solo but I wish I did. Don’t let your fear stop you.
  • Just like in any other country, do not be drunk and on your own especially if you are a women. Use your judgement on who you trust when you are drunk. Sometimes you can’t even trust the taxi drivers. I heard many stories of women getting hurt because of this.

Learn about the top places that are worth visiting in Qatar!

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