“I grew up just outside of London and have lived in and around London most of my life. For the last few years before we moved out to Doha in August 2019, we were living in Surrey, to the South West of London. Initially, it was a big culture shock, and there were so many new things to get used to. My wife and I were both starting new jobs, and I was actually starting a new role which was quite different from what I had been doing previously. My background is in marketing, and for many years I had been working in London in marketing roles, first in the theatre industry and then for the last few years before we came out here, I was working in the adventure travel sector. When we moved here, I took on a completely different role. It was my first time working in education, my first time taking in a partnerships-focused role rather than marketing, and then, of course, coming to a new country where neither of us had any experience with this part of the world and the heat! I know everyone talks about it but it’s sort of impossible not to, especially when you come from the UK, and when you arrive in the middle of August and step off the plane. You then realize how hot it’s going to be, and nothing quite prepares you for it. So, the first few months were a steep learning curve just getting used to the new role at work, finding out about life here, settling in, buying a car, getting our driving licenses, getting all the paperwork of settling into a new country, etc. It was definitely a bit of a challenge.
That being said, I think generally it’s a very friendly, safe and comfortable place to be. As hot as it may be in summer, the weather from October to April is fantastic. We do sometimes miss the cold weather because we’re from the UK and we do like the feeling of getting wrapped up and going out in the cold. It’s also lovely to be able to go for a swim in the middle of January and go to the beach. I think life out here feels a little less hectic in terms of work schedule, which wasn’t the case for me back in the UK. Now particularly here because my wife and I are working at the same school, we’re all back home at around 4pm, so as a family we’ve been able to spend a lot more time together, which is really important. That’s been a big change for us living out here.
The fact that I’m working for a school has given me a real sense of community. It’s just that feeling that you’re contributing to a community, and you’re in some way helping that community thrive, that’s really important to me. In any job I do, I like to feel like I’m making a difference to people, and if you’re working in a school you definitely feel like you’re doing that, even if you’re not a teacher, directly interacting with the students – you’re still contributing to the school community and the school life. My role at work is about creating relationships between the school and organizations outside of the school. It can be quite challenging at times but it’s definitely rewarding as well.
We’re quite an outdoors family. Back in the UK, we used to go for walks in the forest and try and be outdoors as much as possible, so that’s been a bit tricky to get used to here since for a good part of the year it’s too hot to be outside. When it gets cooler though, we just try to be outside as much as possible, whether it’s the beach or parks or just walking along the Corniche. Some of the best memories that I have in Qatar are all at the beach. We’ve had some lovely days here at the beaches, in the winter when the weather’s cooler. It’s an amazing feeling of sitting there on the beach with my family, playing games, seeing the stars as it gets dark, and having a barbeque keeping you warm. We do it so often here – that’s why it sticks in my memory, whereas in the UK we’d only tend to do it if we’re on a holiday.
For me, it’s just about making sure that you try and do just as many things that make you happy while making a difference to other people. You also have to try and ensure that the people around you are happy, and whether that’s just finding time to do nice things or making sure you’re doing a job that makes you happy. Change can be stressful and sometimes people settle into life and maybe they’re doing things that don’t necessarily make them happy, but going by experience, sometimes you just have to take that leap to do something that’s going to make you happier, and you’ll be surprised at how it turns out for you.”