We all know the old saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold.” But how about living by the following rule too.
I came across the above quote recently and I couldn’t have said it any better. Although this has become a lot easier for us in the past month here in Qatar, it’s easy to get caught up in searching for people who are like you in all manners. I will admit there were times in our first weeks here when we asked ourselves, “where do all of the people in their late 20s go?” or “where are all of the Americans?” Why is it that we as people in general are so afraid to step outside of our comfort zones? Is it because we are afraid of losing who we are, learning new things, or possibly being different? Is it because we are so set in the way that things have been and satisfied with what we are used to?
One of the greatest and first lessons that I can say that I have learned here is that the beautiful thing about a country such as Qatar is that it is filled with people of all different nationalities and walks of life. Somewhat like home. During our first weeks here I sparked a conversation with a British lady and her fiancé at a car rental shop about job hunting. Their advice was to meet people and network. The greatest thing they said to me was “we’re all in similar situations.” Meaning in a country full of expatriates we all are similar in the sense that we are all finding our way. That kind lady gave her email address and her phone number and told me to call or email her whenever and that she would love to be of help if I needed it. She even advised us on some places to check out. I finally got around to emailing her to thank them for their genuine kindness as I am starting to understand their advice better and that resulted in an invite to Friday Brunch where we will have another opportunity to meet with them again and some new people.
We have also found many rewarding friendships with in co-workers and neighbors who treat us just as their own family. We have been blessed to have met and are building new friendships with people from Spain, Britain, Scotland, Portugal, Thailand, Latin America, and the list goes on. I am also learning British English which I am enjoying. We learned that leaving some pants that I bought at someone’s house is not only unacceptable, but also quite funny. Pants in the UK are your underwear and the proper term for what we Americans like to call pants is “trousers.” The bathroom is the “water closet. “I enjoy hearing that someone is “lovely” instead of nice and that great and enjoyable people are “smashing.” Not to mention that “to get on with someone” means “to get along with someone.” Even more surprising is that I have had a chance to use my Spanish and Portuguese.
I will admit that I have joined the American Women’s Association which has also been a blessing. Which contrary to popular belief is filled with women of all ages and nationalities. The beautiful thing about the association is that it not only brings us together because of our similarities, but it also commits to providing us with opportunities to learn about Qatari culture and to experience local activities. It encourages women to get out and explore and to build friendships not based on our nationalities, but instead on what has brought us all here and the beauty of sharing this experience with our families and new friends.
Although we are seeing the world simply by moving to Qatar, we are seeing the world through a different light by building friendships with people who aren’t like us. We are sharing culture, language, cuisine, hopes, dreams, and passions with people that we never would have crossed paths with back home.
Ryan and I are both glad that this has been the start of our journey together as husband and wife and learning and seeing the world together. I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and meet someone who is not like you. Meet someone who is nothing like you! Find the beauty in your differences and experience life as you never have before.
See the original post from 9/15/14 on http://www.georgianajourney.weebly.com