Tell us about your experience working in Qatar and Cambodia?
Qatar: My working experience in Qatar was one of my best working experiences in my career. I have worked as a Buildings Mechanical Engineer Consultant in Doha and Al Khor city for 9 years with Qatari, British and Australian companies. I was responsible for all the Mechanical works on site and site office.
In addition, in some projects, I was acting as the Project Engineer and the Assistant Project Manager. I was daily dealing with various nationalities and backgrounds from around the world, fact that I really loved it. Moreover, the opportunity to work on very big projects and enrich my working experience as an Engineer was priceless. The difference of working abroad than in my country, Greece, was mainly the career development prospects and the knowledge transfer of my superiors and colleagues.
Cambodia: Regarding Volunteering, it was something different and life changing indeed! I was in a non-profit organisation in the town of Siem Reap. My responsibilities with other 10 volunteers, were included cooking, cleaning and distributing food to local villages around the town for around 700 people. The best moments were the smiles, the thankful gestures and the hugs of those poor people during the delivery time.
Why did you decide to move and work abroad?
Since my University years, I always wanted to travel and work abroad. I am inspired by different nationalities, languages and way of life. I usually get bored when I stay in a place for a long time and I could not imagine keeping staying and living in Greece after my graduation.
I wanted to learn, explore, work in multinational environments, feed my travel bug and develop as a person. I believe whoever has the opportunity to work, study or travel for a while it changes his / her way of thinking and they become more understanding, flexible, educated and mature as a person. The deliberate way of thinking through the world has always been interesting to me.
How did you get your job working in Qatar?
I have worked for the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 – my boss was Canadian. During the Doha Asian Games 2006 in Qatar she was one of the managers and she offered me a position. After the end of the of games, I submitted my CV to various Engineering companies where I have worked as a Mechanical Engineer.
What did a typical day look like working and living in Qatar?
Working: Depending on the project, a typical day on site usually starts at 7 am, attend the morning meeting with the other colleagues where we discuss the various issues on the site. The day continues with visits to the site to carry out all the inspections, return back to the office and deal with emails, letters, review of drawings, the design of works, meetings with contractor, clients and suppliers. Normally every day is different, depending on the difficulties and the type of work. In addition, some days require site visits to other countries, main office and client’s office. During Testing and Commissioning, the schedule changes mainly to site works and Handover documentation, close up procedures and project handover to the client.
Living: Normally the working days ends around 6 pm or at 3 pm. After work, I normally used to go out with friends, cook a lot, swimming and exploring the city. During the public holidays and my vacations, I was always travelling out of Qatar. Fortunately, public and paid holidays in Qatar are a lot (approximately 2 months!)
What were the challenges of living in Qatar?
First and the most important was the heat! During summer months the temperature can reach up to 50 degrees.
Other than that, Qatar is a Muslim country which makes it a challenge for some nonmuslims citizens, but not so much for me. Other than the religion, Arabs have similar behaviour to Greeks (they speak loud, have pride, they are stubborn and have a great sense of humour), so for me, it was quite easy to adjust. Moreover, another challenge was to work with so many different nationalities, mainly Asians and deal with huge projects.
There are a few trade-offs to living abroad that come with being an expat.
What was the best thing about living in Qatar?
Multicultural, comfort of life and great Shawarma (a traditional pita bread wrap).
What advise would you give those moving to Qatar?
Accept and respect the culture as it is.
How did you find a position volunteering in Siem Reap, Cambodia?
I met the owner of the organisation through Facebook, I contacted her and during my travels, in Siem Reap, I was accepted as a volunteer.
Can you describe a typical day living in Siem Reap?
Normally, the volunteering days were from early in the morning (around 8.30am) up to 4pm in the afternoon. As soon as I was returning back to my hotel, I was resting for a while and afterwards, I was roaming around the city, visiting places, meeting people and photo shooting.
What advise would you give others who want to work or volunteer abroad?
Just go for it without any second thought even if it is for a few months. It is about taking time off from your normal life to discover and experience the world on your own terms. It not just a plan of action, it is an outlook on life that emphasises creativity, discovery, the growth of the spirit and your employment skills.
What advice would you give to others looking to teach abroad?
I’d encourage it. What a great way to see the world AND make some money! But if you do, be prepared to have difficulty going back. The longer you are away, the more difficult it is to go back “home” both in terms of employment and culture shock.
It’s great to see other ways people can work abroad and travel the world. Thank you Penelopi! Any questions, experiences and comments – leave them below! 🙂