We all know what it’s like when you’re working. You leave the office late, battle your way home through the rush-hour crowds and get home with just enough energy to make dinner before you flake out in front of the tv. So is it any different when you’re away on a business trip or working abroad?
In November I got a one month contract to work in Qatar. It was going to be my first visit to the Middle East and I had all sorts of plans to see what I could of the (albeit small) country. It was all a bit last minute so I didn’t have to much time to organise it but I was sure I’d have the chance to see some of Doha’s sights , experience some of the country’s traditions and, of course, most importantly, sample some of its food!
But it was only once I arrived and was all set up in my office that I realised it is hard work. Sure, there’s the novelty factor of looking out of the window at non-stop sunshine in the middle of November and enjoying seeing all of my colleagues run to take photos with their I-phones of the two minutes of rain we had. But other than that I was still sat in an office, calling people, carrying out interviews and working to deadlines. So by the time I left at the end of each day my brain would be buzzing, my body would be exhausted and all I wanted to do was buy a hunk of brie from a French supermarket (strange home-sick cravings) and head straight back to my hotel to watch re-runs of American sitcoms.
So it was with a great amount of effort (and luckily some fabulous colleagues) that I managed to drag myself out and about. Because there were actually a number of sights that I wanted to see. The Museum of Islamic Arts, Souq Waqif and even some of the fancy hotels, which are tourist attractions in themselves, were all on my ‘to do’ list and with only a few days off it was useful to try and see some of them during the evenings.
So I made a pact with a friend that no matter how tired we were we would do our best to see what we could, telling ourselves we could live by the motto “we can sleep when we’re home”. I’m not going to lie, there were one or two times I regretted that pact and often dragging myself away from my comfy bed was the last thing I felt like doing. But once I was out and about I (usually) really enjoyed myself. It was nice to spend time with my colleagues without having to always be discussing work and to see a bit of the city I was living in. Looking back now it was so worth the effort as the best memories I have of my time in Doha are listening to an American jazz band play in a five-star hotel; watching the sun set behind the beautiful Museum of Islamic Arts and sharing many, many, jokes and stories with my lovely colleagues over dinner.
All of which were a million times better than sitting alone in a hotel room eating cheese.