As cliche as it is, life is a whole lot easier when you have to opportunity to buy anything you want. Here in Doha, I can practically find anything and everything under the sun, making this move possibly the easiest for me. Not only can I find everything, it is all in a language that I understand! My prior moves to Norway and Denmark were definitely not easy for me and I think the key factors were that I couldn’t find everything and anything under the sun when it came to food. Maybe it was because the sun actually did disappear for months there!
Of course it wasn’t the sun but laws that limited choices. Norway had strict import laws. Denmark was definitely better in that sense, and it was cheaper than Norway. But here in Qatar, where practically everything has to be imported, they do it. And I can usually find it all in one store! Very convenient! When I think back to the days when we lived in Norway, I remember times when I had to go to completely different neighborhoods to find certain products. The best memory by far now is the year when there was a butter shortage. For awhile, Norway refused to import from other countries and some began to churn their own. It slowly became serious enough that it made international news, as seen by the clip below from the Steven Colbert report!
Not only can I find everything in the grocery store, there is no shortage of restaurants here in Doha either. There are of course their own great local restaurants to more familiar restaurants to me such as Johnny Rockets, Fuddruckers, Shake Shack, Papa John’s, IHOP, TGIF, Krispy Cremes, Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Pinkberry, Coldstone’s, Magnolia…you get the idea! Those may not be the best restaurants when speaking about being healthy, but at least I have choices! And in the case that I do gain too much from eating at all these places, I don’t need to worry much about shopping for new clothes since there also seems to be every possible clothing store here as well! And if I can’t find something already made, I can probably have it custom ordered. For example, my husband and my father had the luxury of having a bespoke suit and shirt made here for a reasonable price.
As I write more, I realize that this may seem bizarre to some, but if you have ever lived abroad, you understand that feeling of joy finding something that you never thought would be so hard to find in your new surroundings. And half of the battle for me at times was just the translation. I specifically remember a friend who was living in France having a hard time finding white eggs to color for Easter. Click here to read her story! I have my own hard time of saving onion skins to color the eggs in Latvian tradition. Something I never thought would be a problem because in the US, I would be able to just collect them from the bins. Elsewhere, it seems like any extra onion peels are cleaned out before they are placed in the bins…first world problems, I know…
But life as an expat is already hard, and anything that makes life convenient is huge. And we all have to eat, so food is probably the biggest deal when living abroad. It is for me at least…and the sun! Where I get a decent amount of it now!