1 year anniversary

Well – it’s almost been a year.  I left Canada on August 22, 2014 for a new work adventure in Doha, Qatar.  It’s been quite the journey too with its ups and downs, frustrations and joys.

First – the ‘downs.’

It’s beastly hot here.  Today it’s 54C with the humidity.  For those of us who can’t figure that out, it’s 129 Fahrenheit.  It’s ridiculous.  You can’t even walk outside in weather like this.  Our buildings are sweating and we’ve protected our library shelves with sheet plastic. I’ve learned though that come late October or early November, it will cool down, I’ll be taking fewer taxis and will be doing a lot more walking to my destinations.

All the pictures of the beautiful city ready for the 2022 World Cup?  Well, it exists in pictures.  What I see on a daily basis is anything but beautiful.

This is a land without water – no rain, no rivers, no lakes.  No gardens, no farmers markets, no local produce.  Food is shipped in from around the globe and we pay dearly for it.

I’ve had to move 3 times.  First from a dark, depressing apartment, to a huge open apartment where the septic system always overflows and to my final mosquito infested apartment.

The mosquitoes arrive with the winter.  Hopefully this year I will have a better barrier in place for them, since the landlord doesn’t believe that I’m experiencing a problem.

There is no democracy and I have no privacy rights.

The ‘ups.”

I haven’t experienced a cold day (except by choice) in over a year.  Winter here is like the best summer day in Canada you can imagine.

I’ve become quite the globe-trotter!  I enjoyed Christmas 2014 with cousins in Germany.  It was wonderful.  I spent my first Eid break (it’s one solid week of statutory holiday) in Crete.  I love Greece so much that my next Eid break will be on the island of Rhodes.  I’ve been to Turkey TWICE for a fast weekend vacation with my colleagues.  I took a February 2015 break at a resort on the island of Mauritius, near Madagascar and near the now-well-known Reunion Island.  My passport is getting maxed out (and I love it)!  Wouldn’t you do the same if you had 7 weeks’ vacation every year plus two 1 week Edit breaks?  That’s 9 weeks of paid vacation time each year!  Plus and paid return trip ticket to Canada as part of the deal.  J

There are so many nationalities here that I can have food from every corner of the world.  And, if I avoid the over-priced hotel restaurants, I can eat pretty cheap.  Take a look at this chart from 2013 for a breakdown of nationalities here in Qatar: http://www.bqdoha.com/2013/12/population-qatar

I have met some wonderful friends from across Canada during my time here.  Not only friends, we are each other’s sisters and brothers when the time calls.  We are the people who share cab rides together.  We go to yoga classes, spin classes and lectures at Georgetown University together.  We share spontaneous meals and movies together.  We depend on each other and have gone through the best and the worst together.  We are each other’s source of ‘little known’ information that makes life easier here.  We share time on the bus going to and from work together and have the shared stories about the horrible drivers and traffic.

I have the best job I think I’ve ever had in my career.  I have a wonderful working environment with other Canadians who are all going through the same experience as I am.  We have a budget in our library that would be the envy of any college in Canada.  I have a collection budget that permits for almost any kind of purchase.  Teaching library skills in a college environment is just a perfect fit for me.  I love teaching and I love it even more when I have no marking or administration!

Work is inspiring me to conduct academic research.  It’s been so very long, likely more than 20 years, when I was last inspired to do research.  The last time I did a study was very early in my career when I studied the economic impact and time savings achieved by the government library I was the manager of.  As instructional librarian – the librarian who goes into classrooms to teach students how to use the library and its electronic resources – I am challenged by a culture that has no public libraries and student whose experience with school libraries was more akin to a textbook warehouse.  I’m challenged by a culture which does not punish copyright infringement or plagiarism.  I’m also challenged by students who did not have to pay tuition (85% are sponsored) and have a guaranteed job after graduation – whether they cheated or not, no matter what the grade – they have a job waiting for them.  So, the motivation to achieve and stand out from the crowd doesn’t exist.  How then, do I inspire students to locate high quality trusted information and to use it in an ethical fashion?  How indeed.

Research study #1 will start this September.  The college instructors will be surveyed to ascertain their perceptions of students’ information / library skills based on an internationally recognized standard of information literacy.  Once the data is collected and analysed, my colleagues in the library and I will have even more information on how to target our marketing and instructions to students.  My hope is to have my study published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.  Timeframe – sometime after January 2016.  More research will naturally tumble of the findings of my first study.

So – is life good here?  It’s hard to say.  Every day seems to bring its own struggles, frustrations and head-shaking.  Work is inspiring and is such a good fit for me.  How can one balance the distance from home, with the crappy living arrangements and frustrations with a fantastic job?  I struggle to have an answer to my own question….