A Travellerspoint blog

When in Rom(ania)...

Spring Break Trip!

snow 26 °F

Romania 2012

Friday April 6

8:28am. This holiday began splendidly with a very sweet man driving me to the airport at 5am. The airport was surprisingly mellow and I got to enjoy two cups of coffee and a good book (thanks Misti!) before hopping aboard for my Romanian adventure. I am meeting Charles at the airport in Bucharest! Super excited Kat face!!

Sunday April 8

6:22pm. I have been a slacker with writing down our adventures, so I will catch you up. I landed in Bucharest on Friday and met Charles at the baggage claim. It was soooooooo good to see him! We waited for about an hour and a half at the rental car place to get our car. We were informed that we were being upgraded...which scared us, because we aren't quite sure what we would have bee given pre-upgrade. We hopped in the car, got gas, and took off in the direction of Brasov.

Brasov was beautiful and in the Carpathian Mountains. We drove around for a bit trying to find the right road to get to our hotel. After a little while, we found the street...which we have renamed Carpathian Highway...which is a little one-lane stone road winding up the mountain. It was very precarious. We quickly remarked that the road would be particularly treacherous in the snow. The apartment, 9 Suites Brasov, was lovely!! We had a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment in a huge villa on the mountain. It was more than enough space for us and very inexpensive. We definitely recommend staying here! It was a short hike down the mountain to old town Brasov. We walked all over old town Brasov.

We had dinner two nights in a row at Gerbal Carpatin- a local brewhouse and restaurant. Delicious food, beer, and atmosphere. We walked all over the square and up the mountain to the Citadel...which coincidently was closed. Good hike though! The parks were lovely, people seemed friendly enough, and the language is beautiful. We really liked Brasov.

We went to Castle Peles and Castle Bran today. We drove out to Castle Peles...were told to park down below and hike up to the castle in the rain...and instead convinced a security guard to let us park closer. :) We had to wait in freezing rain for the tour to start...then we had to wear slippers over our shoes while in the castle. The castle was the most magnificent building I have ever been in. The ornate wood carvings, phenomenal weapons, and gorgeous glass chandeliers were absolutely breathtaking. It was enormous and completely worth driving out to visit. So incredibly amazing.

Castle Bran is the Dracula castle. We were able to park close to it as well...thank goodness, because it was 35 degrees and raining. Brrrr! We were able to tour this castle on our own time, not through a forced guided tour, which was nice. It was also huge and beautiful. I can't really wrap my mind around a building that has been around for that long! It was very cool. We were frozen by the time we left and sought refuge from the rain in a nearby coffee shop. I had a delightful tiramisu coffee latte. :) yumm.

The drive back to Brasov through the mountains was gorgeous. It started snowing as we drove home....down our Carpathian Highway. We are now warm in our apartment looking out the window at the snow thinking of how hungry we are and how all the food is down the mountain in the city. To drive down Carpathian Highway with snow...or to skip dinner...that is the question. We are off to Sibiu tomorrow for the next three nights :) Hope it is as lovely as Brasov has been!

Monday April 9

9:22pm

We are in Sibiu at our new home for the next three nights. Today was an adventure! I woke up this morning to find the sky lights in my room covered with snow. Our Carpathian Paradise was a winter wonderland. We sipped coffee and watched the snow for a while before working up the courage to drive down Carpathian Highway. We safely made it down the mountain in our car, who we have named Hueilui de Pui. :) We quickly rounded up some croissants and coffee and headed out toward Sighisoara. We had no idea that meant driving through snowy mountains up and down windy roads with 180 degree curves in our little manual car. Thank goodness Charles was driving. We stopped in a few precious towns to walk around their citadels and churches. No luck finding an entrance through the fortified walls though.

The drive was lovely...with snow-capped hills, flocks of sheep (with sheep dogs that tried to chase our car off the road when we stopped to take pictures), horse-drawn carriages, and hitch bikers all over the place. Romania is absolutely beautiful. I keep thinking it looks like the Shire on Lord of the Rings. I love the ridges in the hills..not something you see often in Texas or Qatar.

We got to what we thought was Sibiu...and tried to find our B&B for about an hour and a half. It was a much bigger city than we anticipated...and only had street names to go on. We persevered and eventually found our new home. It is a nice little villa near old down Sibiu. We checked in, layered on more clothes, and went wandering around the old town square. We got a bunch of sweets to try at the market and had a lovely dinner at a little restaurant.

It is much, much colder than I anticipated it being in April. It has been between 8 and 40 degrees all day...and I am ready to be warm again. It is times like this that I wish I had a fireplace. I will definitely have a fireplace or at minimum fire pitt my next home. Decision made.

I am loving Romania. I really like the language...and how easy it is to figure things out from their similarities to Spanish. I think the countryside is gorgeous. If it was warmer, I would love to camp and do all of the hiking through the forests. However, I would freeze my buns off in this weather.

Charles is an awesome travel buddy. He has the same spontaneous "let's follow that road!" spirit that I do. I think I have been laughing the whole time we have been traveling...which is difficult, as I still have a pretty wicked cough and laughing leads to coughing. I have gone through at least half a bag of cough drops so far. Totally worth it though. After doing Sri Lanka on my own in December, I know I am capable of traveling alone but I am really enjoying the companionship this time. :)

We don't have wifi at this hotel...which is probably a good thing. I sometimes need someone to forcibly unplug me and disconnect me from my social circle and my comfort zone. Conclusions of the day: 1) I love driving through new countries. 2) I do not like being cold without fireplace. 3) I miss Chad. 4) As much as they drive me bonkers, I miss my kiddos. 5) I love living overseas. 6) I seriously need to buckle down and get back into shape. 7) I love traveling and not counting every penny...aka traveling with a real paycheck and not college job cash. 8) Different cultures fascinate me. 9) I am much more mellow than I was at this time last year. 10) I am genuinely happy...and I needed to get outside of the Doha bubble to gain perspective and contentment with my happiness.

I know I say this often, but being in Romania reinforces my belief that I can live anywhere in the world and be happy. I really think that happiness is a state of mind. I am happy living in Doha for now...but I will be happy living just about anywhere else in the world next. I don't think I am ready to come back to the States yet...but I am enjoying thinking of places for my next adventure. The world is just a big playground filled with playmates :)

Wednesday April 11

9:48pm. Well, I have not been the best at updates this trip! Yesterday, we walked all over Sibiu. It is a beautiful little town. We walked through all of Old Town Sibiu. Very relaxing da. Today, we drove out to Hunedoara- to see their castle. The drive was about 2 hours and beautiful. The weather got up into the 60s today and nary a cloud in the sky. It was absolutely perfect. We spent an hour exploring Kaufland- a local grocery store- and picked up picnic items. We had salami sandwiches in the car (because of bees and dogs) outside of the castle before exploring. The castle was huge and gorgeous. We had fun exploring it! We wandered through the town of Cut and Deva before heading back to Sibiu. We had a lovely dinner and I used the cafe's wifi to upload my first round of pictures. I am finding that I am very tired lately...but it was a splendid day. I just love traveling with Charles. He is a hoot and a half <3 I can't believe how quickly the time has flown. We are off to Bucharest tomorrow and flying out on Friday! Back to reality. I land at 11pm and then I am supposed to golf at like 7:30am the next morning...sigh. I hope I can get rested enough for the week! Romania has definitely helped me relax and gain perspective. It has been a beautiful week. I am excited to see Bucharest!

Thursday April 12

Well today was an adventure. We had breakfast at Pension ELa in Sibiu...where we said goodbye to our wonderful host ELa. We drove through the gorgeous countryside for about 3 hours to Bucharest. That is where the fun began. It took us three hours to get to our hotel in Bucharest. Turns out it is a much bigger city than we anticipated and our little map and traffic in Bucharest is absolutely horrendous. We finnnnaallllyyy made it to our hotel...exhausted and famished. We checked in and headed out for lunch/dinner. Bucharest is interesting but we didn't feel as safe or at home as we did in the more rural towns. I definitely prefer Brasov and Sibiu to Bucharest...but I am glad to be here regardless. I am off to the airport tomorrow and back to the land of the sand. Back to life...back to reality... It has been all in all the perfect holiday. I would definitely come back to Romania. <3

Posted by kjdeichler 15.04.2012 04:34 Archived in Romania Comments (0)

Kat's first alone holiday :) in Sri Lanka

Here's the play by play of my first vacation alone!

overcast 85 °F

The Blue Waters, Wadduwa, Sri Lanka

Day one.

7:30pm. First impressions... Jamal (taxi) late to pick me up for airport. Breakfast with Nico and Barie. Flight delayed. Super fun Brits to sit next to on plane. Hilarious, unpredictable guys. Long bumpy flight. Confusing airport. Great driver waiting with name card for me. Hard rain, which was fantastic, on the way to the hotel. Sri Lanka is so green and rainforesty...like Cameroon. Very pretty. Lots of small shanty shops like Cameroon. Drive from airport to hotel took over two hours. Great driver...very kind and safe. Got to hotel. Room flooded due to the rain. Changing rooms, wait will be at least ten minutes. They brought me a fabulous smelling towel and delicious fruit juice while I waited then brought me to get dinner while I wait.

Currency confuses me. Sri Lanka Rupees are like 100 to the dollar...so everything seems very expensive.

The hotel is GORGEOUS. Christmas lights and trees...beautiful pools...palm trees everywhere...swanky restaurants and lounges. Pretty fountains.

The traveling here alone was super easy. I don't think it will be a problem to be alone on vacation. I also think the hotel might be worth the money :)

I love traveling :)

9pm. So I am trying not to be disappointed. The are two twin sized beds instead of a big bed. The beds are not the comfiest but not bad. The couch is a little dirty. The whirlpool tub didn't work at first and now a repair guy just fixed it....but got blood from his hand all over the bathroom in the process. The Internet is $3 an hour and you have to buy a card from the reception and the wifi is down anyway. There are 16 channels and they stink...although I didn't intend to watch tv anyway. Now the repair guy fixed the tub and I can't figure out how to make it drain. This hotel makes me feel incompetent. Next time, I will not stay in a local hotel...I will stay in a chain that I know and trust. Sigh. I don't think this is worth $200 a night. Maybe the spa and pools and beach will change my mind about it.

10pm. Ahhhh! I have two college degrees and cannot figure out how to turn off the bathroom lights. I have tried every light and power switch in the room...mind you, there are like 10+ different ones. I am tired and cranky and really annoyed. I need things to cheer up quickly. Inside the freaking bathroom drawer under the sink. How on earth was I to know that the bathroom light is in the drawer under the sink!? I mean, obviously it should have been the first place I looked. Silly me. I have been here for 2.5 hours and already had 3 people come to my room to help me figure it out... I am signing off...finally. Goodbye day one.

Day two.

10:30am. Breakfast was lovely. It is sooo humid here. It feels just like Houston. The pool is gorgeous and the waves are huge with danger flags up. It is cloudy and overcast but good laying out weather. I am learning that I need to work on not setting expectations before experiences. I think I will have a much better time in most things if I can master that. I can't help but think how Doha has better beaches than this and better hotels...maybe I should count my blessings more. I do think it is funny that multiple people here have said that I am the first American they have ever seen here. I was approached by two Russian guys at breakfast trying to hit on me but I didn't understand a word they said. They seemed shocked. Apparently I look German. :) Met a lovely English/Moroccan family at breakfast with their two children. Suzanne, the mother, is an English teacher in Abu Dhabi. Very kind people. tanning time. :)

12pm. Things are getting much, much better. The water is lovely. Met a very nice Sri Lankan man, Saman, on the beach who arranged a tuk tuk and took me to the ATM to get cash. He explained that Americans are rare in this part and it is mostly English, Ukrainians, and Eastern Europeans. I bought beautiful decorative wraps on the beach from a lovely woman and her daughter and got a turtle necklace made of wood. There is now an elephant giving rides through the yard of the hotel. It is quite relaxing.

5:15pm. Today was so restful! I hung out by the pool and beach for most of today. I had the "Blue Waters Signature" massage this afternoon. It included 30 minutes of private time in the steam room, jacuzzi, bathtub, and shower...all outdoors and beautiful. Then a 40 minute full body massage followed by a full body scrub of cucumber and sand. It was glorious. After I showered off the scrub, the sweet girl gave me a cup of amazing tea and a sweet treat (brown sugar something?) and let me sit and relax next to the pool and incense. It was amazing. I went back to the pool and talked to Chamila, the nice man who works here, and had a local beer called Lion. It was yummy. I went back to my room, which the maids cleaned and made the two beds into one :) and took a long bath in my now-working jacuzzi tub with glass windows so I can see the palm trees from my balcony while I am in the tub. Awesome. Now I am sitting down to dinner at the restaurant close to the pool.

Reflections of the day: 1. I, Kat Deichler, completely overreact when tired. I should just go to bed and deal with any issues the next morning, when I am rational again. 2. Money doesn't buy happiness, but it does help. I am very fortunate to be able to stay at this hotel and not really worry about money. Of course, the discrepancy between my income and the majority of this country's incomes is shocking. 3. Americans are their own breed. I just so happened to pick the hotel that no other Americans stay in. Everyone seems shocked that I am a real American because "they never come here." that said, I am really enjoying the different climate. The clientele are mainly from the UK and Eastern Europe. I am noticing that body image is not an issue and all types of people wear bikinis and speedos. People seem to be more affectionate with their significant others here...little things, like hand holding and sweet kisses. There are no nannies here. Parents actually watch their own children. It is a nice change of place from Doha and the States. 4. All cultures and religions exist peacefully together here. The area I am in is a Christian area but there are many Buddhists as well...all living happily together. This is unlike Doha, where Christian churches meet in villas instead of church buildings because of the Islamic government. I am a Christian peacefully living in a Muslim country, but I am not as readily approached and accepted by the local religion as I am in Sri Lanka. 5. Sri Lankans are lovely, kind people. Everyone I have met has been genuinely nice and friendly. No one has been pushy in their sales pitches or suggestions. They have all held conversations with me in English and we have each shared parts of our own lives...comparing and contrasting. It has been a beautiful exchange of cultures and lifestyles. 6. I am perfectly happy being alone on holiday.

Day Three.

Recap on morning of day four, 9:15am. Yesterday was fantastic. Dayananda, my driver and tour guide picked me up at 4:48am yesterday morning for our journey. It took us 2 hours to drive from Wadduwa to the Pinna elephant orphanage. We got there early, as the trip can take over 4 hours with traffic, so we stopped in the Cashew Nut Village and got a coffee. The elephant orphanage was lovely. There were about 20 elephants eating about 10m from us. I got to touch a 6-month old baby elephant and then fed an older baby elephant with a bottle of milk. There was one elephant dancing by himself in the field and a blind elephant in a separate area being bathed and fed. Very cool place. Then we went on to the city of Kandy. We stopped at a Spice Garden where I got a tour by a very nice herbalist. He taught me all of the natural uses of spices and then gave me demonstrations. He put an ointment on my knee for knee pain and I haven't had any knee pain since. I bought a small bottle of the ingredients. Fascinating facts. Like using cinnamon for migraines, nutmeg with lime juice for heartburn, and aloe vera mixed with jojoba and sandalwood for skin problems. The herbalist spoke excellent English and was very informative. I think i will start using more natural methods instead of medicating like most Americans.

After the spice garden, we went to Ceylon tea factory. They showed me step by step how the tea is picked, rolled, dried, and sorted into the tea we drink. It was fascinating! After the tour we sat and had a delicious cup of fresh tea. I bought Mom's requested tea straight from the factory :) Then, we went to lunch at a small hotel/restaurant on the mountain overlooking a gorgeous river. It was spectacular. Yummy buffet too! Then we went to a wood craving shop behind the restaurant and I spend way too much money on amazing wood carvings...elephants, Buddha statues, and a amazing inlaid wood carving of elephants in a grove. Totally worth the money. After that, we went to the top of the mountain...which was absolutely worth the view. On the way down we went to a Batik factory. They showed me how each intricate design is made...from the drawing to the dyeing and waxing and more dyeing and more waxing then finally melting the wax off to reveal gorgeous designed fabrics. I am a sucker for handcrafts and hard work, so I had to buy some to decorate my house with. They were totally worth the money. The huge elephant that I bought took them three months to make! It will look amazing in my empty Qatar apartment.

After I shopped my heart out at the Batik factory, Dayananda took me to a beautiful Buddhist temple. We went inside and watched everyone bring flowers and pray. It was very cool. There were monkeys hanging out outside the temple on the hill!! After that, we went to a gem shop and I bought an aquamarine ring :) I was proud of myself...I negotiated down everything I bought and usually down the price down at least 25-50%. Fun shopping! Well the drove from Kandy back to Wadduwa took us 6 hours. My poor tour guide must have been exhausted! I couldn't stay awake in the car. I crashed as soon as we got to the hotel. It was a great day.

Comparisons: Sri Lanka reminds me a lot of Cameroon. The rain forests look similar. The climates are comparable. The transportation is similar but the roads are a bit better here in Sri Lanka. Everything is price negotiable in both places but in Sri Lanka, I don't feel the pressure to buy and the pushiness of the people like I did in Africa. Similar to Cameroon, people here are shocked that I am American. It hadn't occurred to me that very few Americans come to Sri Lanka because it is on the other side of the world. People have hung out and talked to me out of curiosity about America. :) I m happy to share with them. I feel totally safe and not at all alone here. I would be happy to come back.

Day Four.

I woke up around 8:45am, had breakfast, checked email, then headed to the beach. The waves are enormous. I got a great workout swimming against the waves for a while. Now I am laying in the coconut grove enjoying the wind. This is the life. :) I hung out with the family I met at breakfast on Monday for a while. They are fabulous...mom, dad, 4 yr old, 8 month old. They are from the UK but she is an English teacher in Abu Dhabi. I invited them to come to Doha and they invited me to Abu Dhabi. I love how close the expat community is without even really knowing each other. Cool people. There was a Sri Lankan wedding in the coconut grove tonight. It was gorgeous.. The sarees were so colorful and the Sri Lankan dancers and drummers were fantastic. I enjoyed watching it. I read two books today. It was super relaxing. I am really going to miss the rain we have had here. It has rained off and on every day that I have been here, making it feel like Houston. I really miss the rain, living in Qatar.

Day Five.

I love breakfast time here. The coffee, the buffet, the serenity of the coconut grove and waves splashing, before everyone wakes up. The fishermen are pulling in their nets on the shore. I will try to finish my coffee so I can run and get pictures. I can't believe this is my last full day here. I will have to stay longer next time. I would love to come back. I took a tuk tuk to another batik shop and bought more beautiful batiks. I think my house might actually look like a home now! :)

Quote of the day: while in the buffet line for dinner. Wife holding approximately 3-4 yr old son approaches husband with 6 yr old daughter. Wife says, "you might be on your own with dinner. Our son is acting feral." Feral. I have heard a lot of common descriptors for wild behavior, but this is a new one. Lol.

So I am a little sad that this is my last night. I am really enjoying Sri Lanka. I just can't get over how nice people are. When I took the tuk tuk to go to the batik shop earlier, it broke down on the way...so the driver hailed another one, directed the driver, then hopped in to make sure I got there alright. Then he fixed his tuk tuk and picked me up later. So kind. I feel so safe wandering around alone and have never worried about carrying around a purse like I did in Europe and Africa. Such a peaceful country. A bit bizarre hearing Christmas music playing while I am on a beach in a bikini with an elephant walking around the coconut grove... :) It was been the perfect holiday.

Day Six.

The driver is taking me to Colombo to the airport at 11:30am. Back to the sandbox. I am eager to decorate with my new finds!

4:24pm. Disaster. Absolute disaster. It took 3 hours to get to the airport. Then, my flight wasn't listed on the departures list. No one could answer me and kept telling me to be patient and wait for Qatar Airways to show up. They didn't. An airport worker laughed at me when I started crying. That was helpful. Then, I noticed there are only two flights to Doha left today. So I asked how much the Sri Lankan airline was...only business class seating left and it was $557. The laughing airline worker told me to sit down, stop crying, and wait. I tried. Finally I marched up to the Qatar Airways office to camp out and wait for them to show. A nice man helped me finally, a Qatar Airways employee, and all I have to pay is a $52 no show fee because apparently my flight was at 4:20am not pm. WTF. And how did 3 other people make the same mistake. We all thought it was an afternoon flight. What does that say about the online website and it's accessibility?! I am a mess. I have yet again gone running crying through and airport with mascara all over my face and people laughing and staring at me. Fabulous. So I went to the bank downstairs in the airport to get the money for the flight change...because of course it has to be in Sri Lankan Rupees...not dollars or riyals. That's when I realize that my Qatar bank debit card is missing from the only place I ever keep it in my wallet. So now, I am sitting in the Qatar Airways office with no Internet and no cell phone access....unable to call my bank or phone a friend. As much as I loved being disconnected all week...I feel alone and frustrated and just want to go home. So much for ending on a relaxed, good note, hm? :( Did I mention that the only restaurant in the airport is a sit down Sri Lankan restaurant? Despite my current semi-vegetarian state...I would love fast food and a Starbucks latte for comfort. Just when I was patting myself on the back for being so mellow and relaxed this week. I still love Sri Lanka...but their airport seriously needs some work. Then...I got to the security line again and saw the nice Swiss man who was in the same predicament I was in...with mixing up the time of day of our flight. He was great! We went through customs and security together. He bought me a cup of coffee at The Coffee Bean and we talked for a while, then had dinner and hopped on our flight...where we were seated next to each other on the exit row. The flight flew by and we talked the whole time. S much fun. Almost made missing our first flight worth it. We exchanged information and now I have a place to stay and a tour guide when I go to Switzerland. Yay! The international community is so funny. So my new friend went on to Geneva and I waited at baggage claim for 45 minutes for my bag. Then my taxi friend took me home. Finally. It was a loooonnnnngggg day but I ended with a smile. I totally rocked my first alone holiday. :)

Posted by kjdeichler 23.12.2011 21:07 Archived in Sri Lanka Comments (0)

Finding Comfort in Chaos

Curriculum, schedules, and confusion

sunny 101 °F

Well, I am still loving my apartment and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my shipment (all of my personal items). I just spoke with the shipping agent and my items are currently going through customs and should be here in the next few days! I am loving having my Dad here. It is so nice to have someone home when I get home from school. I will definitely miss him.

As far as the work week I have had so far (remember, our week is Sunday-Thursday), I will do my best to explain the procedures we are following. I have been tested for my blood type, gotten a local mobile, gotten a bank account, am in the process of obtaining my drivers license (whole story in itself), have my work laptop, and just got a brief overview of my schedule, curriculum, and students.

The drivers license process is super intense for Americans here due to reciprocity...we are harsh about assigning licenses to Qatari's (because driving here is a bit nuts) and in turn, they are harsh about assigning us licenses here. We sat at DPS for 4 hours yesterday only to be told that the Police Chief would not return before the closing time to sign our papers. We found out today at school that we will go tonight to pay for the license and sign for it. Then tomorrow we will return to DPS and take a driving test (through the roundabouts and crazy roads) and a signs test (totally different on some signs...check it out...http://www.moi.gov.qa/site/english/departments/TrafficPolice/sections/sec742/742.html...my favorite is "Animal Danger" or camel crossing). Inshallah it will be done by the end of the week and I can rent a car. It is not a public transportation society and you pretty much need a car to get around here...as nuts as the driving may be.

So my school schedule is completely different than it would be in the States. There is no standardizes testing. There are no special education labels. We do not work on a discrepancy model but instead work to highlight and utilize the strengths of the students. There are NO TEKS standards. AH! No TEKS? Whatever shall we do?! Yes, I asked that question today. We have approximately six different programs/curriculum standards that we will use. I am not sure whether this is a good thing or a confusing thing. Regardless, it is the plan. Here is my daily schedule:

7:15-7:25 Entry Activity
7:25-8:55 Reading Block
8:55-9:05 Snack in Room
9:05-11:26 PLANNING!!!!! (Kids are at: Arabic, PE/Art/Library/IT/Islam, and Interventions)
11:26-12:11 Lunch (Lunch duty once a week)
12:11-12:41 Math Computation
12:41-1:30 Math Core
1:30-2:25 Language Development through Social Studies and Science (Integrated Units)

So...Reading is the emphasis of the school since almost all of the kids are Qatari and have limited language proficiency in Arabic and/or English. For Reading, we are using the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, Reading, and Writing. For Math, we have no set curriculum or standards...this is to be determined. For Science, we are using SEC Science Standards. For Social Studies, we are using Atlas. For ELLs, we are using GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition Devise). For Writing, we are using Four Square.

This is definitely a big change from teaching in the States. The school runs on entirely direct instruction. All instruction is to be modeled, done with the students, and then independently by the students. Repetition is highly valued. Our goal is to see major improvements in reading with our students this year. I am completely on board, but realize that I have a TON to learn about this method (coming from a primarily inquiry-based education system) and about teaching with this much liberty in curriculum development (as far as math, especially).

I got my student list today! I have seven 1st grade students. They are all Qatari children and I am so excited. Our beautiful, huge, state-of-the-art school building will not be done until around October, so for now I will be sharing a room and/or co-teaching with my grade-level partner and her 8-9 students. She has been at the school already and is much more knowledgeable than myself. I cannot wait for her to get here on September 4. :) We will figure out how to arrange our room and prepare for our kiddos then.

Overall, everything is wonderful. I love the other teachers. I love my apartment. I am ecstatic to have yummy fresh hummus and awesome food at school. I do have a lot to learn and a lot to process though. Bring it on 1st grade! :)

I will do my best to keep you in the loop!

Hugs from Qatar,

Kat

Posted by kjdeichler 04:29 Archived in Qatar Comments (0)

The fun has arrived! :)

Home Sweet Doha!

Well, I have officially made it! Despite visa rejections, shipping problems, and a super long 14 hour flight, I am finally in Doha.

My father and I arrived in Doha at 7pm last night after our 14 hour direct flight. The school personnel met us at the airport along with about 4 other teachers for my school. We were taken by bus to our home in Education City (about a 15 minute drive from the airport). My apartment is FABULOUS. It is about 1600 sq feet comprised of: kitchen, dining room, living room, storage closet, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, laundry room and 2 huge bedroom closets. I am in shock that I live here alone. The appliances are nice, beds are comfy, and it is well air-conditioned!! It is about 105 degrees outside and humid but lovely inside. I am about a 5 minute walk from the clubhouse, fitness center, and grocery store. I deem this area wonderful. I am about a 5 minute drive from the school (with no traffic). Our new school building isn't finished yet but is expected to be finished around October/November. In the meantime, we are sharing a building with Qatar Academy, another school under our foundation.

I've got to say, this has been a smooth transition so far! I begin school-related activities tomorrow and school officially starts for the kiddos on September 11. I'm sure it will be an adventure! As for now, no jet lag and no problems! Will definitely keep you updated!

Big hugs,

Kat

Posted by kjdeichler 20.08.2011 04:41 Archived in Qatar Comments (0)

Uncertainty

The ups and downs of moving internationally...

overcast

It has been a while since I last updated you on my move... so I apologize for the information overload.

Where to start...

Well, I finished my Masters in Special Education on May 7, 2011. I hopped on a plane to Europe on May 11, 2011. My friend Claire and I backpacked through The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, and Portugal. It was amazing. I will elaborate on the places, events, and adventures in the next entry.

Well, my last entry detailed the intricate steps involved with moving internationally. I thought I had successfully navigated the list. I was wrong. When I returned from Europe at the end of May, I learned that my fingerprinting process had not passed through the State Department. Lo and behold, the US Mail is not the best idea for international time-sensitive documents. :) Lesson learned. My Dad's cousin works in the State Department and after her directive, her employees searched through piles and piles of mail to find my documents and attain the necessary clearance. While this search was taking place, I was looking for plane tickets back to Texas to get more fingerprints made and start the process again...as we believed my documents were lost in the mail. It was a complete panic day, to say the least. Now, my fingerprints and police clearance are attested and ready to go to the Qatar Embassy in Houston.

I am currently living in Orange County, California for the summer. I am spending my time nannying for a precious 5 month old baby girl and refereeing water polo games. Although I am in a beautiful area, I don't know all too many people here and it can be a bit lonely. This loneliness prompted my complete meltdown over moving to Qatar. I babysat a pair of horrendous Egyptian children and when I confronted their parents about the lack of discipline and complete defiance (keep in mind that my graduate treatise was on emotional disturbance), they told me that it was Arab culture and I should get used to it if I plan to move to Qatar. I lost it. I spent a few weeks crying every day, completely dreading the move. Compounding my loneliness and anxiety regarding moving was the amazing guy I was dating in Texas and knowing that 2 years of distance dating was not reasonable or fair. Horrible timing...but hopefully we can manage to be friends and keep in touch while I am gone and while he keeps rocking and rolling with his water polo ventures. I feel lucky to have dated him. :)

Anyway...there were many other reasons to doubt moving... The school building isn't finished yet...I will be living alone- which I didn't think would bother me, but after having amazing roommates forever, I am terrified. My roommate in California is wonderful. My Texas roommates were all fabulous. I have come to realize just how much I love coming home and chatting with someone, or even having someone to eat my cooking :) Hopefully I can make friends in Qatar and overcome the loneliness. Another reason that I have been worried is women's rights...but more in the water polo realm. Many of you know how much trouble I have had being a female referee in a male-dominated world...well, I feel like I am finally enjoying my job and not having to watch my back everytime I walk on a pool deck... and moving to a country where I am not even allowed in a pool area with men definitely makes me feel like I am moving backwards. Yes, officiating is a hobby and not a career, but I do love it and I do love the ability to referee without (much) discrimination. That will not be the case in Qatar. The two-year contract is daunting. After my 3 weeks of travelling through Europe, I realized that as much as I love to travel...part of me just wants to be still. To stay in one spot and be able to see my friends and family whenever I like. To not be called a free spirit, gypsy, nomad, and loner. It appears that despite my independence, I do care what people say about me and to me...and a lot of the things that people have said to me regarding my move to Qatar have been negative and hurtful... This makes the competitive side of me want to prove them wrong...which is no reason to move across the world.

As you can see...my thoughts are scrambled, random, and confusing. I have been back and forth on the issue...to the point of applying for teaching jobs in Texas... of course, those are few and far between.

I will admit that I do change my mind almost daily about this, but for today, I am moving to Qatar. It is a great opportunity, a great resume builder, great benefits, and a great cultural experience. That being said, I will need a lot of support and reinforcement to maintain this decision. It is awfully hard to watch most of my friends get married and settle down while I run off to be a free spirit in the Middle East. I'm not sure which is better...but it is what it is.

Whew. I hope you've all survived the crazy stream of consciousness. I know it isn't very coherent...but neither is my life right now :)

I promise to post on the Europe adventures soon. I wanted to catch you up on the latest Kat-happenings first though.

Much love,
Kat

Posted by kjdeichler 08:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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