In the Middle East, is it safe to work there especially if you're a woman?
What kind of culture does the country have? Is it absolute?
Would it be worth the time to work in an Arabian Peninsula without prior experience emerging into a diverse customs and traditions?
These were some of the questions I have ever asked myself since I passed the interview for that teaching job I have applied online bound for Doha.
It was an experience of a lifetime.
The struggle was real and I felt like giving up in 3 months! Not only the weather but mostly the people I have to deal with. The culture shock was an understatement.
The Desert Plan? Are You Kidding?
My friends teased me about my "desert" plan. We don't have the same road map right? Despite them being pessimistic, I chose to stay optimistic on the other hand.
What am I getting myself into? I never had any idea what kind of people I will be dealing with.
My utmost determination to work overseas opted me to submit my application and my CV online to those reputable schools I have thoroughly checked whether it's legit or not, yet God's plan was always better than mine. Middle East opportunities were joke to my friends as it's not so cool working in the desert. It was lifeless if not dead. Wearing an Abaya and following an absolute law was crazy for them. NOT for me.
What about the FLIGHT?
As it was around Eid, our flight was quite exhausting knowing that we had three airports for a stopover. The direct flight was out of the issue according to the staff in the agency due to the celebration of Eid in all of the GCCs.
I thought it was okay but the timing was contradictory to what I was expecting. We reached Qatar around 11 pm on August 2, 2012, and the next day was of course our working day. Jet lag was out of the topic so forget about it.
The moment we set foot in the Middle East, work was our only option. We never had the chance to rest even for a day just to recover from the long and tiring flight.
How to maximize Day Off?
Going out on a Thursday night was also very tiring because we felt like working 24/7! Worst when it's our Foundation Day in the school that we left around midnight with an hour travelled, reached our accommodation around 1 am, and needed to go back at 5 am! Our driver had to do a wake-up call as soon as we reached the school the fact that we all dozed off to sleep while travelling.
For three years a maximum of 4-5 hours slept were enough for me thus Friday would always be my lazing around, sleeping day!
No wonder I weighed only 49.5 rounded off to 50 kg as I preferred to sleep than to eat.
Or I was even doing half of both thus my colleagues would always describe me as petite if not "skinny!" Although some were able to manage going out to chill around, I loved the company of my pillows because it was my only time out. Maximizing my rest day so that by Sunday, I would be fully energized and start the week fresh.
My Determination to Work Abroad
Perhaps my strong will and determination helped me survived for three straight years without taking my 42 days holiday as my dream of buying that property and minivan were my goals at that time. Anyhow, survival to the fittest was what we fondly called with my best buddies at school. If you're the type of person who would give up right away, then, by all means, one month would be enough to stay!
The process of going there was a learning curve for me up until today. As I have applied for school based job, the agency only my visa and my ticket bound for Doha would be shouldered by the employer.
I needed to pay my accommodation, medical expenses and authentication of documents. 50,000php was what I needed to secure everything.
Where on earth am I going to get
50, 000 pesos?
50, 000 pesos?
I only have 5000 in my savings. I did not inform my parents as well because I know they won't allow me and won't support my plan abroad. So I sourced things out myself. I asked my friends and my relatives whether they could spare me an amount of money and had shown them a copy of my visa as proof that I got a job bound for Qatar hence I can assure to pay them in less than 6 months!
Unfortunately, all of them turned me down. At the back of my mind, two voices were telling me to GIVE UP and to GO ON! I always had sleepless nights thinking about giving up on my dream, yet I was never disheartened, my DETERMINATION was my constant companion at that time.
I CAN NOT and WON'T GIVE UP on my dream.
It was my lifeboat."
It was my lifeboat."
My last resort was my mother's eldest sister whom I haven't spoken in years, and she just came to my mind, hoping that she would understand my situation. I took a trip to her place and on that day she was at work. Relieved I was given the chance to enter the school where she was teaching as I couldn't wait for the next day.
She was surprised to see me unexpectedly and at once I have shown her my visa. It seemed an angel heard my prayers that she said she will do her best to lend an amount of money with an interest. She has given me her blessing and a week after I spoke to her, she told me to come and take the amount necessary for my trip.
What's the Rationale?
Giving up is never an option to me. I have so many challenges overseas working with different people from all walks of life and respecting boundaries was an essential factor to have a harmonious relationship. In view hereof with being able to surpass that call of work abroad, I stay FOCUSED with my goal and never disheartened despite the challenges. It was an insane ride, rather than complaining, I diverted my thoughts into enjoying more the PROCESS, not just the Journey itself!
Images used in this post are mine.