Travels to Germany

I have so much to tell you about that it will be impossible for me to capture everything in one blog post.  Let me just say – Three Christmas Markets (Dresden, Chemnitz and Annaberg-Bucholz), Gluhwein and Eirspunsch, three 2014 Christmas mugs from each location, one Christmas parade, a pool party, a visit by the Weinachtsmann, better bread and cheese than I’ve had in years, a Christmas Eve dinner with my extended family, 3 Nussnacker men, 3 Rauchen-dings (is that a word in German??) – one an old fashioned stove, one a cute house and one a plump little Santa – afternoon coffee and tea in 3 different homes in Sachsen/Saxony, 4 new children to be ‘Auntie’ to, the first snowfall of the year in Oederan on December 26th, a tour of a reconstructed church in Dresden (http://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/en/home/), the autobahn at 200km/hr, 144 pictures (a link will be provided soon), a Christmas Day meal with even more family, and wonderful meals and family overall.  For a taste of the pictures – here is me with Lara and Tom Bioly in Chemnitz, Germany…

Auntie Patricia!
Auntie Patricia!
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I got my Toaster Oven!!!!

The Toaster O)ve
The toaster oven, my Nespresso Coffee maker and a spice grinder I’m using ‘grind’ flax with for my morning breakfasts. I’m all set up now. Coffee, Toast and Cereal!

So – one of my neighbours is retiring and I’ve been the fortunate recipient of many of the contents of his apartment.  Between the voltage and the plugs and adapters, many of the things we buy here will never return to Canada.  220-240V just doesn’t like 110V!

I remember when I started this blog, that I wanted a meaningful title here.  Well – here’s the explanation for the name of the blog.

A.  It’s an oven here!  When I arrived, it was 53C.  It’s ‘winter’ here now, and people are bundling up  in jackets.  The rest of us are enjoying the 26C temperatures.

B.  It’s little.  It’s a snippet of my life.  And it’s mine 🙂

C. I had just acquired a fantastic Breville Toaster Oven before I got my job offer.  I don’t have it now.  And the oven analogy just seemed so appropriate to life out here.

So – here’s the Toaster Oven I just got from my neighbour who is retiring to Thailand in the next few days. (I also acquired a decent desk in the transaction too!)

Christmas 2014

Hi everyone – well, it’s been quite a year.  Globetrotting doesn’t even cover it!  Midlife crisis only touches the surface.

Many of you know that I went head first into teaching last year so that I could move into a job as Instructional Librarian.  Instructional librarianship is a new field in my profession that came about due to the preponderance of Wikipedia and Google and how students are assuming that Wikipedia is a peer-reviewed scholarly source.  The overwhelming size of the internet (which grows logarithmically every day – to the tune of more than a 1000 new homepages being created each HOUR) has made information literacy a new field and a new branch of librarianship.  However, the only way to get this kind of job (as an ‘experienced’ librarian) is to jump headfirst into a classroom and teach.  ESL was the quickest way to do this.  After years of working in library software and content sales, it had become evident to me that I loved the instruction and demos more than I loved the sales and I needed to fuel my passion.  However, in the city of Calgary, I can count on one hand the number of instructional librarians working in post-secondary institutions.

Unfortunately, teaching is not a lucrative job and I needed to turn things around quickly.  In February and March, after more than 6 years of contract work at SAIT in the Library Information Technology program, I launched into overseas ESL teaching for 8 weeks in Kazakhstan.  Not a place to get excited about, but definitely worth it financially.

Shortly after returning home, a job posting came up for an Instructional Librarian at a Canadian College in Doha, Qatar.  I applied, as I knew a number of people who had gone out to Doha in the past, one being a good friend from the University of Calgary.  I didn’t expect much, but made a diligent effort and sent off my resume.  The competition was Canadian-wide.  I was shocked to find out I had been selected for an interview and shocked (panic-type shock) when I got the offer.

In August, I turned the house over to a property management company, and the rest they say is history.  I arrived in Doha on August 22nd.

In October, I started a blog at www.mylittletoasteroven.wordpress.com which highlights the ups and downs of becoming an ex-pat and moving ‘halfway around the world.”  I hope you’ve all had a chance to read it and keep up with me.

I’m happy to say that I have a fantastic job, at the College of the North Atlantic-Qatar, which I just love.  I have a great team at work that loves having fun together.  I am surrounded by inspirational leaders.  I have an employer that has supported me throughout the whole process and has been there every step of the way.

Of course, I miss my family and friends more than anyone can imagine.  It’s one of the reasons I started the blog, so that I could share with you what was happening and hear from you in return.

There is no Christmas here in Doha, so I am travelling to Germany on December 19th to be with my extended family, who live about an hour from Dresden.  My gifts are packed and my scarves and sweaters are ready.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the season with your family and friends.  I miss you and will be thinking of you!

Happy Holidays,

Pat

Things to note -  The Pashmina on the right...just in case my clothing is not modest 'enough.' The Pashmina also keeps me warm; our air conditioning is so cold! A green poster on the wall behind me...  Not my monkeys; not my circus.  To remind me that no matter how crazy, it's out of my control.
Things to note –
The Pashmina on the right…just in case my clothing is not modest ‘enough.’
The Pashmina also keeps me warm; our air conditioning is so cold!
A green poster on the wall behind me… Not my monkeys; not my circus. To remind me that no matter how crazy, it’s out of my control.

Only the Best for Qatar

We see those words on every construction site in town.  And, if you’ve been reading anything about Qatar, you’ll know that it’s a country under construction.

Friday (a weekend day for us), I got to experience some of the best, by going to ‘Festive Season’ Afternoon Tea at the St. Regis Hotel, Doha.   http://www.stregisdoha.com/?PS=LGEN_AA_DEMA_CGGL_TPRP

I joined 4 others for Afternoon Tea, complete with the cucumber sandwiches, scones and a menu of teas to choose from.  I was joined by the college Vice-President, one of the Deans, an instructor from the ‘Canadian School’ (K-12), and the person who brought us together, and instructor from Radiology in the School of Health Sciences.

Christmas is definitely a non-event here, and what we saw at the St. Regis was understated for Doha. 2014-12-12 14.09.26 2014-12-12 14.10.14 2014-12-12 14.14.06 2014-12-12 14.14.14 2014-12-12 14.16.15 2014-12-12 15.13.21 2014-12-12 15.31.19 2014-12-12 15.31.29

More from National Day on campus

I was fortunate to receive a picture from a colleague showing a bird handler with his falcon.  This single picture is quite revealing.

First, the falcon itself is a highly revered bird here in Qatar.  There is an entire souk (market) devoted to the buying and selling of falcons.  The asking price is in the 10’s of thousands.  Qatar Airways – the national airline – has special rules for the transport of falcons on their planes.  The bird gets its own seat.  Many young boys have falcons as pets.  Dogs and cats just aren’t part of the mix. The falcon as a symbol is used in much architectural imagery and official publications.

Second, the bird handler is wearing his winter clothes.  The thobe (robe/dress) he is wearing is not white.  As the weather has been cooling, the transition to the heavier weight, brown thobe is happening.  His gutra – the head gear – is fashionably red-checkered.  By allowing the right hand side to drape behind his shoulder instead of in front of it, by using the red check instead of white, he is demonstrating his personal style.  10454312_10154890521490008_4292363149679756962_n (1)

I learn more about this traditional clothing all the time.  What I can say is that the fabric in the fabric stores is absolutely beautiful and of very high quality – especially the blacks for the abayas and the whites for the thobes.  You will never see as  much variation in pure white and pure black until you’ve been to the Middle East!

Camels! On campus!

Yes, camels.  Three of them.

Today on campus we celebrated Qatar National Day.  The official holiday is December 18th, but the College celebrates the event early, before final exams start and both instructors and students ‘flee’ the campus for the semester break.

So, a national anthem, a parade, camels, commemorations, singing, dancing and a VIP tent.  Quite the lunch hour.  Enjoy the pictures.

And, my apologies for no recent posts.  The library is open late during the final week of classes and during exams and ‘you know who’ volunteered to put in some overtime…

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Check out those eye lashes!
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Where one goes, so the other follows…
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Cute little tuft of hair. Wait – is that a Muppet underneath those blankets?
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It is a Muppet! It’s Beaker!!
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Me with Beaker the camel. Note the wool jacket and full length pants. It was about 26C outside and I was getting too hot too quickly. But it’s the dress code at work – modesty. Covered knees (preferably full length pants or skirt) and covered elbows. Back inside the library the air conditioning is full blast and my office is freezing!
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The start of the parade with the College President and the founders.
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The children in the red T-Shirts are students at the Qatar Canadian School. They are all children whose parents work at the college. The school follows the Alberta curriculum and the students are from all over Canada.
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No National Day celebration would be complete without speeches – in Arabic!
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Nor would a celebration be complete without a sword dance and an official photographer getting in the way!

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