Many people in Qatar live transient lives, coming and going based on employment contracts, family situations and other factors.
Since 9 out of 10 people living here are foreigners, it’s common for people here to daydream about how much better life could be “back home.”
But those who have left Doha say things aren’t so black and white. In a recent blog post for Doha Family, a new website by Doha Mums, a former expat explained how difficult it has been to re-adjust to life in the US.
Melissa Downham, who lived with her husband and two children in Doha for three years, highlighted three key aspects about leaving that she found hard:
- Losing good friends;
- Taking a financial hit; and
- Re-adjusting to her “home” culture
Downham points out that despite Skype dates, it was hard to maintain long-distance friendships with people who were not from the same country, and for whom Doha was the common thread that bound.
She also spoke about giving up some of the comforts her family enjoyed while living here:
“Financially, things are very different as well. We came back to the United States making less than half of what my husband was being paid in Qatar. And we definitely didn’t have a free house, free electricity or free private education for our children.
While we were grateful that our experience in Doha helped us pay off student loans and a good chunk of our mortgage back home, we couldn’t help but be a little bitter that we were back to living like “regular” people, as spoiled as that sounds. Going from paying almost no bills to suddenly having at least 15 to 20 bills per month to pay is a hard adjustment.”
And finally, she spoke frankly about trying to settle back into life in the US, which was more difficult because communities were not as fluid.
“Trying to meet people in a new place without the ‘expat culture’ where everyone is trying to make friends, is emotionally draining. ‘Coffee mornings with Doha Mums’ don’t exist and it takes months, if not years, to forge friendships in the real world.
I got involved in as many playgroups, mom’s groups, etc. as I possibly could when we moved to Denver and it took me well over a year to find anyone who wanted to connect with me as a friend. The first two years in Denver were dark, dark days. I just wanted to go back to Doha—as crazy as it is—and relive the whole expat experience all over again.
The former expat’s advice to those planning to repatriate soon is to expect stumbling blocks, and to let go of the past and embrace the present.
What (constructive) advice would you offer to people leaving Doha? Thoughts?