30 is a nice number to end on, one could say, 30 days, 30 posts!
I packed up all my stuff the night before – I should also mention that the university has someone come by to do an inventory of the villa a few days before the departure of the tenant – they’re extremely on top of things.
On campus, we had a big lunch with the IT Staff and the students as a job well done get together. Incidentally enough I finally got some real middle eastern food, albeit in a packed box!
All in all, or at least for the sake of a short note on a blog post, I had a great time in Qatar. The first week or two were hard, but being able to stay there longer than a business trip was able to help me get better acclimated into the grind/routine of things. I was able to develop some actual friendships with people there, rather than a short hello and good bye.
There are always things you think about modifying if you had to redo this kind of experience, but honestly it’s true I have no regrets, though I might just have some suggestions for future candidates heading over there.
It’s also true that this blog is purely personal, and it will stay that way. After all, who really wants to read about the technical stuff I did there? 😀
As a “so long, and thanks for all the fish” dinner, Shams took Madhav, JP, Haris, and I out to eat at Asha, one of his favorite places to eat at the Villagio. Madhav is a pure vegetarian, and Asha is known for really nice veggie dishes – which worked great for me too.
The food was great, though it was the first time in a while that I had eaten Indian food (yes I know, just a little ironic).
We cracked ourselves up at the end of it because Madhav accidentally gave the restaurant ratings of 5 (which meant the opposite we thought it did (apparently 1 = good, 5 = bad). He scribbled over and rewrote it – I’m going to miss Madhav a lot, he’s quite a character!
A neat thing that happened during my trip was all the student IT consultant desks getting new monitor arms. In my mind these are extremely practical, and from now on I’m going to always think about investing in a monitor arm for my computer.
They save a ton of desk space and add a ton of mobility and view-ability to your screen.
Hmm they’re in deep thought about something. What could it be?
I didn’t realize this at first, but oddly enough a ton of my coworkers lived in the same housing lot as I did. Many of them have families there, and they like to have barbecues and get-togethers with friends around the area.
In the middle of lot is a large park like area including a playground for kids. If I had known about that area earlier I probably would have taken some more evening strolls over – it’s a really nice quiet and serene place at night.
I wanted to spend a post to talk about the process of renting a car, and how I managed to get around during my weeks here.
The program allowed me to get a standard size car without much money out of pocket. There are several companies that the university has partnerships with, but really your choice is going to be dependent on what vehicles are available.
I dealt with the rep pretty much only on the phone and online, and ended up with a Mitsubishi Lancer EX (2.4 L engine). They brought the car over straight to campus, and I just needed to sign the papers and pay for it in cash. Of course, I didn’t know I needed to pay cash up front right then and there – and I didn’t have enough. So what follows was a very hilarious moment where I asked them to drive me to an ATM so that I could take the car.
Even more hilarious – the person driving me secretly admitted he didn’t have a driver’s license!
I should tell you I got my international driver’s permit back in Pittsburgh from a AAA downtown without any grief at all, so make sure if you plan on driving yourself in Qatar you take a trip over.
I had them pick up the car on the day I was leaving, and one of the student consultants drove me to the airport.
Here’s the car in all its glory, I’ll miss the short time we had together!
I visited the Museum of Islamic Art, one of Qatar’s most prized points of interests. It’s definitely something the country is very proud about – and for good reason, it’s absolutely gorgeous.
Don’t think you’ll just get stuck in there for hours – while the Museum is quite big structurally, there are just enough collections to keep you interested and amazed without making you feel like you’re dragging your feet around.
The art is very beautiful, they have artifacts from all over the Middle East, including Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Egypt.
I bought an Iranian War mask replica from the museum store for my parents (who love masks).
So I thought about what I could bring back with me from my trip for friends/family/coworkers from my trip here. I’m not a particular avid shopper, and for the most tourists shop in the big malls, where you basically find the same kinds of things you would find in the States. I wanted to check if I could get something local that’d be unique to Qatar.
Back at Souq Waqif, you can get all sorts of trinkets and souvenirs, bronze camels, wooden boats, and a whole lots of different types of pots/bowls. What I also found which I didn’t see at first was a whole section of animals – parrots, lizards, insects, all sorts of furry and scaly creatures!
The one thing that freaked me out: MULTICOLORED CHICKS!