Tuesday was a great day!
The day began very early (before 4 am) by waking up to the call for Morning Prayer. It was a nice reminder that I am not in Ohio anymore. I fell back asleep for a little while until I woke up to get ready for the day. I caught a ride to campus with my supervisor, who is very supportive and had been wonderful in welcoming me to Doha. Justin and I then boarded a small bus at 7:30 am to head to the department of health for the next step in getting our resident permits. The bus was packed with professors, other administrators, housewives and children – all a little curious about the process that awaited us. I was lucky enough to have heard of other’s experiences and felt prepared for what was to come.
Upon arriving at the department of health we were unloaded from the bus and lined up outside the building. We were all handed 100 QR, but not told what it was for or what we were to do. As we walked into the building the men were seated in the first room and the women and children were lined up along a wall and then walked to another waiting area. No one really spoke to us, but we were yelled at as if we were expected to know what to do without being told. After sitting a while we were taken into a staff only area where we were able to jump ahead of the men in line to check in and receive our numbers (this is where we gave them the 100 QR) – I was told it did not matter if my name matched as long as my number matched. During this process a man told me he had been to Florida and California and I looked like I would be good to take to California. He then said if I wanted to leave here I could go to California with him… I passed on the offer.
We continued to be herded through various lines and were separated into two rooms for our chest x-rays. We all stood in the room while each woman received the chest x-ray (wearing gowns that were clearly not clean --- I told them I could just wear my cotton skirt and tank top). I am not sure how safe all of those x-rays were, but I figure it was only 10 or so, so I will be fine. We then left the x-ray area fot the phlebotomy area to have our blood drawn. The women again were placed in front of all the men. While it was extremely awkward to cut in front of people in line I convinced myself it was ok because women wait in line forever for a restroom while men just go right in, so they can take their turn and wait. I was assigned to a doctor who felt he was very funny. He kept telling me I had to get 10 shots and 10 vials of blood drawn. Anyone who knows me know I do not like needles and I found nothing funny about these comments. After having one vial of blood taken he kept me sitting there telling me he would take more, eventually he laughed and said I could go.
Overall the department of health was not that bad and it did give me an experience I will likely never have again.
After a few more hours at work with nothing really to do we headed home to get ready for FANAR. Several individuals from my office took Justin and I to FANAR, a Qatari and Islamic educational center. Our guide was a very enthusiastic brit who had converted to Islam. He was very knowledgeable and passionate, but he was also slightly awkward. I learned a great deal about Islam that I had not learned in classes earlier, but I wished I had learned more about Qatari culture. Following the tour of the center I was able to stand at the back of the masque for the evening prayer. All the women were very welcoming and several came up to me after to see if I had questions and to find out what I thought.
After FANAR Justin, Caleb, Mohammad and I went to an Iraqi restaurant for dinner. It was an amazing meal, but I was reminded that I am a Schuster because I thought the best part of the meal was the bread. I am also growing as a person because the chicken looked like a chicken and I still ate it (I usually only east boneless, skinless chicken breast, or chicken that is cooked into something). Mohammad is a local Qatari who used to work in the office and is working on his graduate degree in Student Affairs in Kansas. He has been extremely helpful in explaining local culture and in ordering new foods (he steered me away from a few interesting dishes).
I am so excited this is my life!