Finding My Viking Mama Feet

I can not lie. Living in the Middle East quickly can spoil one. It spoiled me for sure. Now that I am back in Denmark, I am slapped in the face daily of no one is going to help me. Don’t set any expectations! (As I had mentioned in my post way back when I made my trip to Banana Island.)

So I had low expectations as I left Qatar this late spring. The kids and I moved back in with my parents in California while my husband closed up shop in Qatar. Then in August we flew to Denmark, and from the moment we landed, I was quickly reminded that I am now in the land of the Vikings. Case in point: traveling with a large number of baggage… 7 bags, 5 carry-ons, two kids and a stroller or two…baggage

Three countries. Three very different experiences. Qatar, by far was the best. People were willing to help out. From the curb side, to check in, through security, the flight (thank you Qatar Airways!). People were helpful. And they had always been. One of many reasons why I will always love Qatar.

Next stop, Los Angeles International Airport. After a 16 1/2 hour flight, I was delighted that we were able to skip the line in passport control/customs and have some priority or just simple kindness shown, since I had a four year old and 4 month old in tow! Then at baggage claim, we were offered help, for a price, but at least I had help to get all by bags off the conveyer belt and out pass customs.

Final stop: Denmark. Again, I didn’t expect much, but when I approached the baggage service desk for some help, I think I could have heard crickets. I asked for their suggestion of how do I manage by myself, two little ones and at least three carts of baggage. They seemed to be dumbfounded as to why I would even travel! I said I don’t mind pushing one cart out of customs at a time, knowing that my husband was on the other side and can collect them. That seemed absurd but I wasn’t offered any help or any other options. Then I spied a larger cart that was off to the side. After what seemed like the longest consideration, they said I could take the larger cart. I put on my Viking hat, loaded up the cart and tried to push it all through the doors. A lovely officer guided me, but didn’t even offer to help me.

I get it Denmark. Land of the vikings. Survival of the fittest. I have my hat this time around! Just need to find my feet…

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THE expat problem

I had written about my expat problem (link here) and now I am sitting in anxiety, dealing with what I believe to be THE expat problem. Demobilization. Moving again!

And I want to write about it because for those who aren’t expats, being an expat isn’t as glorious as we portray it to be through our pictures that we post. Especially the expat who is on global mobilization, like my family is. Meaning we move around from country to country for work. (One can categorize expats into two groups. The other group are what we like to call love pats, they have moved to the country where their spouse is from. They usually don’t move around.)

Some may think it is just another flight and move to a new city. There is so much more to it for an expat. Residency permits need to be turned in. Plants and cars need to be sold. Bank accounts need to be cancelled. Schools need to be notified and applied for, again. Pets need to have their accommodations sorted out while we move into temporary ones. Food needs to be passed on. We have to say goodbye to our friends, or rather see you later.

I have heard it from many of how great it seems to be living an expat life, but there are plenty of downsides, and demobilization is one of them. We make the best of our last days in each country, checking off our bucket lists. The grass is greener where you water it! Even if there for only a short period of time!

Good to be back

After any long vacation, it is always nice to return back to your own familiar surroundings and personal things. This summer, I spent one month traveling and came back to Doha not realizing certain things that I had missed, and probably will miss when we aren’t in Doha.

  1. My own bedroom, bed, sheets, pillows, house…This may not come to a surprise to many, because who doesn’t like their own bed with their own sheets? And now that we are back home and not living in hotels or staying with relatives, I literally have my own bed since my son is back in HIS OWN room! Bliss!
  2. The people in Qatar. I had barely been in Doha for an hour, when a local man handed me a plastic bag so that I can put my produce in. Then, the extra help at the cashier register that I had missed apparently. One man was placing my groceries onto the conveyor belt, while another man was bagging the groceries after being scanned. Perhaps not necessary, but it is nice to have the help, especially when jet lagged. I probably have written before, but have to write it again, the people here are genuinely kind and helpful.
  3. Karak shake. I have not written about this, and didn’t think I would miss it. But if you haven’t had karak, you are missing out! Karak is a blend of black tea, milk, sugar and cardamom. I had my first karak at the souq here, and have my favorite go to
    place since every place makes it slightly different. Some may make it with sweet condensed milk instead of regular milk and sugar, making the drink even richer. It is a personal preference. There are many places here in Doha that you can even drive up to, honk your horn and order a cup of karak. Even at the very popular Chapati and Karak in an area of Doha known as Katara. There they also offer a karak shake, which is divine in the heat of Doha in my opinion. Apparently they are also located in London, so if you are there, have one! Absolutely delicious!IMG_7166

Continue reading Good to be back

Expat problem #2: Being sick as an expat and understanding the local approach

I have been in a rut for a couple of weeks and it all began when I got sick for the first time living in Qatar. Needless to say, it is never easy being in a foreign country and needing to see a doctor. Without questioning, you take the advice of your newly made friends and go see their recommended doctor and hope that their doctor understands you, the illness and your approach of how to deal with it. To no surprise, this all varies from country to country.

Continue reading Expat problem #2: Being sick as an expat and understanding the local approach

Gold Souq

Going behind the scenes is always exciting in my opinion, and once again, with the fabulous American Women’s Association here in Qatar, we went behind the scenes of the gold souq. I have mentioned the souq before as the traditional market. There is the general area, and then there are particular areas devoted to items, such as the gold souq or the fabric souq. It is absolutely daunting walking into the gold souq and not knowing which store is best. One could just be blinded by all the gold! But, the ladies knew of a reputable place and in this case, it was Kingdom Gems & Jewellers, where Yaseer gave us a very informative lesson about gold in general.

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Anything and everything under the sun! I love Qatar! Part 2

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! Continue reading Anything and everything under the sun! I love Qatar! Part 2

Singing Sand Dunes

Another great trip with the American Women’s Association here in Qatar was to the Singing Sand Dunes. We drove in a caravan style to these dunes, which are located about 40 km southwest of Doha. Only a few places in the world can you find these sand dunes that “sing”. When going down the dune, one can hear a hum from the friction that is made. We went on a day that was a bit windy, so not much singing was heard unfortunately. But I did manage to disturb a skink and capture it on video which you can view here!

Before actually climbing up the dune and coming down, we walked around it and admired the beauty. Enjoy my pictures by clicking through below!

 

 

Banana Island

Based upon our previous moves, I moved to Doha with little to no expectations. After living in Scandinavia and reading Michael Booth’s book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, I learned to lower my expectations. In his book, Booth suggested that perhaps the secret of the Danes’ happiness is because they have generally low expectations. I have applied this to my own life, and surprisingly I am happier when I have lower expectations. So, when I had the opportunity to go to the Banana Island Resort, I had absolutely no expectation. But in all honesty, I didn’t even know what it was. An island with many bananas?!

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My Expat “Problem”

Problems, we all have them. Living the expat life may seem glorious, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have our problems. One of my personal problems has been where do we begin with our social life, or to put it more correctly, where do we find our social life? Where do we find our local friends?! I have joked with other expats saying that our husbands have it easy. They go off to work within the first week of arriving in the new host country while us “poor” wives are stuck navigating the new city without any friends. Or vice versa, where the wives go off to work and the husbands are left to figure out the basics. In any case, the first lesson that should be taught to any new expat is to find and join a club. Of course I can only write this now confidently because when we initially moved to Oslo I didn’t have a clue.

Continue reading My Expat “Problem”

New year means new adventures continue!

Happy New Year! I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging because we have been busy moving into our permanent “villa” and my family was visiting. Now I am slowly getting into what may be a new normal routine for me. Asides from my “just” being a housewife routine, this year I hope to be blogging at least once a week, join a yoga studio, start volunteering and to continue exploring my new surroundings.

By far my favorite place in town is the Souq Waqif. The souq is the local traditional market where one can spend plenty of hours getting lost in the labyrinth of alleyways, searching for anything from spices to cashmere scarves to gold. I could write more, but I think my pictures describe the amazing place better. Enjoy!