Who are you?
Hi, my name is Kennesha Bell. I am a teacher, wife and mother of two teenage boys. I am in my second year of teaching abroad and loving it!I love to travel, eat and share my experiences and reviews through writing.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
In August of 2016, I moved to Qatar to teach. I moved away from the U.S.A because I wanted to experience life someplace else and earn money while I was there.
What challenges did you face during the move?
It was difficult moving with my two sons without my husband to an unknown place. It was like I was a single mom again. The culture is totally different than what I was used to and I had never lived anywhere outside of Philadelphia, PA in the USA. We moved right into our employee paid accommodation with no internet or cable. That was challenging with two teenage boys. I quickly went through my savings because it was like we were starting over and we didn’t get paid for more than 30 days. We wanted to be comfortable in our new house so we had to make it our own. The unfamiliarity of a new place was the hardest part as well as the difference in manners that I had grown up around.
How did you find somewhere to live?
Fortunately, my employer already had our accommodation ready for us to move into upon arrival. But at the end of year 1, we were given a choice to move to another employee housing compound with all the other teachers or take a housing allowance and find own housing. I took the allowance and had to deal with finding my own place. That was a little challenging. Thankfully we knew of one place that a few teachers had lived before and we liked it, so we chose to move there.
Are there many other expats in your area?
There are tons of expats here. There are more expats than nationals.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
I teach Qatari children in a private school. Outside of my contact with parents, I don’t have a relationship with the locals. No opportunities have presented themselves to involve myself with them and they mainly stick to themselves.
What do you like about life where you are?
I love how safe it is here. I love the weather. I love the expat community. I love the quality of service here.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
I don’t like how busy it is here sometimes and that you have to drive everywhere. If you want to take a vacation, you have to spend the money for a plane ride. I don’t really care for the time difference between here and home and my ability to talk to and see family and friends I have back home.
What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?
Qatar is a Muslim country and not as liberal as the U.S., so you have to be careful about certain things – dress, public displays of affection, cultural sensitivities and being treated differently than the locals.
What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?
I immensely enjoyed going out to dinner here when I first arrived because I ate differently than how I eat now. I recently gave up seafood and went from a pescatarian to a vegan. Now it is more difficult to find good food for my eating preference. My husband lives here with me now, and he does all of the cooking so we eat in mostly. Shopping for food here can be a challenge. You have to shop around and what you may have found last week, may not be there the following week. The food tends to be healthier than in the U.S. but you have to shift through the food as all of it is imported and the shelf life is not as long. I miss Maine Lobster, when I did eat that, it was my favorite and you can’t find it here. There are many ethnicities here, so there is a lot of food to try. You can only drink alcohol in the comfort of your own home or at a hotel. There aren’t any bars here. But that’s okay with me.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
If you’re thinking of moving abroad, DO IT! Be flexible and open-minded. It is one of the most life changing experiences ever!
What are your plans for the future?
I plan on being here in Qatar for a few more years as long as they will have me. Then I want to move someplace else. I don’t plan on moving back to the U.S. to live. I’ve lived 39 years there; there’s a big ole world out here just waiting for me. When I’ve had enough, hopefully I’ll have enough money saved to buy a small house or condo near the water and a restaurant for my husband where we will continue to enjoy life.
You can keep up to date with Kennesha's adventures on her blog, American Teacher Overseas.
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