As teachers all around the world will know, sometimes it feels like the world might very well end but the academic year won’t. The days drag on, piles of paperwork continue appearing out of thin air and the only thing propelling you onward is ‘The Last Day’. We spend so much of our careers wishing our time away for the last day of term/year, pining for the distant mirage in an arid desert, that we sometimes forget about the good things experienced during the year.
The thing about being an expat teacher is that the last day is bittersweet, it’s nothing like breaking up for the summer in your home country with local teachers. You find yourself saying goodbye to a lot more than you anticipated. Yes, you say goodbye to a year’s worth of worksheets you held onto for dear life because they might’ve come handy, and goodbye to the discarded stationary you collected at the end of lessons in case students come back looking for it.
But you must also wish goodbye to the people who have kept you sane through it all, the only people in the world who truly understand what this job puts you through, and the colleagues and friends who won’t shrug at your problems claiming it’s okay because you have too many holidays, or that you have it easy. You wish goodbye to those who will return and those who won’t.
When I first arrived last August, I worried about everything from what the school/my classroom will look like to the commute to and from work…you know, the usual worries of a new teacher at a new school. I worried about how my loved ones back home would continue without me, or rather, how I would live without them. Not once did I worry about the kind of people I would meet out here. For some reason, it just didn’t cross my mind. Maybe deep down I knew this was something I could look forward to instead of panicking about. During my short stay here, I have been fortunate to make friends from all over the world. I have met amazingly talented, passionate, funny, intellectual women who have each become a unique part of my Doha family.
My time in Qatar has been about more than just experiencing a new country or customs, more than trying new food and visiting new places, more than adapting to teaching with different approaches: it’s been a lesson in perseverance and friendship.
It’s been learning not to sweat the little stuff because there were several others experiencing the same and ready to listen to your frustration.
It’s been about learning to laugh at the new, bizarre and strange events we experienced.
It’s been sharing stories that made us laugh till our cheeks hurt, over cups of tea and croissants and biscuits in 5 squeezed-in-minutes between lessons and meetings.
It’s been about sharing teacher memes at ridiculous hours of the night because we knew we’d all be up.
It’s been the staff room banter – as illustrated by my fellow Mancunian in the featured image, which I fear I won’t experience anywhere else.
It has been an amazing shared experience with its fair share of highs and lows.
As I write this, the building is gradually growing empty. My heart aches knowing some of these beautiful ladies will only pop up on my social media feeds and in whatsapp conversations, but I am grateful for the memories we have formed together. While next year’s newcomers might not quite meet the standard set by this year’s group (let’s face it girls, it won’t be the same), the people I have spent this year with will always, always have a special place in my heart.
Read more on goodbyes and expat experiences (written by two of the lovely people mentioned in this post), over at: