Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ring Day in Qatar

What, two posts in two days?  I know, I know... but this was SO COOL, y'all!

We attended our first TAMUQ Aggie Ring Day today. Now we are seasoned veterans of main campus Ring Day and it's unique brand of chaos- we have delivered a few Rings on our time to some very excited Aggies.  So we wanted to see how they do it over here, and it's every bit as much of a big deal as it is at the Mothership (that nickname shamelessly stolen from my friend JP from TAMU-Corpus Christi!)

The event was held in the student center cinema, which is NICE.  (Sorry, Rudder Theater, you've been bested.)  We walked in and heard the Aggie Band playing and I'm not ashamed to say I had to fight back a lump in my throat and my eyes may have been a bit watery.  The Band has always had that effect on me, from the first time I saw them march and especially after I became an Aggie.  Anyway, I digress.. Seats were reserved for the Ring recipients, and as we made our way up the stairs I saw friends and family with flowers, balloons, etc and the excitement was palpable.  I know many think that, being so far removed from main campus, that the Aggie Spirit isn't really a thing here- but I beg to differ.  It's alive and well, and the Ring is just as powerful a symbol here as it is there.  Many students have noticed my Ring and commented on it (and I think are a little surprised that I am a graduate.  On main campus we Former Students are a dime-a-dozen, here we're a little rarer.  I digress again...)

The emcee was great, funny and very personable.  Each student receiving their Ring was called out and individually presented their Ring by the Dean of the University, and photos were taken of each one with him.  The students there to support their friends and classmates were yelling, clapping, cheering, laughing, and really it was incredible to see and hear.  Flowers and balloons were given, and afterwards there was CAKE.

A HUGE cake shaped like the Aggie Ring, with delicious chocolate and yellow cake and the best fondant icing I've ever had.  Usually it's too dry and flavorless for me, but this was really good, soft and sweet.  Mmmm...

Student Affairs was responsible for the event, and they did a tremendous job.  I recognized several of the students getting Rings, and it was nice to witness the camaraderie of the students and be small part of the excitement again.  It was a really great way to end the week.

I know main campus Ring Day is tomorrow, as part of the annual Parents' Weekend, and I know lots of my former students and cadets are getting their Rings too.  I'm sad I won't get to be a part of it, as I know exactly how hard they had to work to earn that shiny piece of gold, but today helped soften that a bit... something tells me, though, that the students here don't know about the unofficial Ring Dunk tradition of main campus.  Probably for the best...

Congratulations to all those who get their Rings this weekend, you've earned it and I'm proud of you!

4 days to Texas...


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

5 DAYS TO TEXAS!

T+3 months, 2 days.

What a busy last couple of weeks!  Holy crap.  Trying to get approximately 500 students preregistered in at least 2 classes as the only academic advisor in the school is lots of fun.  Then trying to get through the drop deadline (q-drops, if you saw  it on Facebook) AND lifting holds for the 40 or so who didn't bother to come in for advising and trying to placate those who don't like the classes they were assigned...

I had my first student yell at me on Sunday.  He didn't like that he didn't get his way (I get the feeling that this was a new thing) and didn't get resolution immediately, but I held my ground, even though my heart was pounding and I was absolutely quaking.  Not from fear, but I hate being yelled at.  I told him repeatedly that he could take care of the issue during his registration time later this week- and guess what, he came back yesterday, was much nicer, and he was able to get the class he wanted.  I've had a few others that were less than pleased when I told them no, I don't think it's something they have heard from the advising office prior to now.  New sheriff in town...

Random:  One of the radio stations here has a "Country hour" on Mondays, from 4:30-5:30pm, and we happened to catch it on the way home that day.  This week's show was all about Willie.  Yes, please... I was singin' along all happy, then they went and played "(Mamas) Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys" and I. LOST.  IT.  Ugly cry.  Caught my poor husband way off guard!  It just brought back SO many memories of my dad and uncle, both guitar players, pickin' and grinnin' and singin'.  I love it here, but I don't think I had admitted to myself just quite how homesick I am for Texas.  Fortunately, we are going home in 5 days!  Not that I am counting or anything... but I am ready for family and friends, to see my dogs, for Whataburger and Mexican food and bluebonnets and wide Texas skies.  I've never lived outside the great state until January, and no matter where I am it's always going to be home to me.  We've been building a stash of souvenirs for everyone, we are gonna need a giant bag to get it all home... Thomas also has a pretty extensive list of things to bring back to Doha with us, topped by Polish sausage (beef, of course) and Kraft mac and cheese (hard to find and expensive when we do.)  I've also done some online shopping and it's all waiting for me at Mom and Dad's house.  I am so ready to be there, I really need to learn how to Apparate and just skip the flight bit altogether...

We have gotten approved for Global Entry fast track for US Customs, and we have the Qatar version of that called E-Gate.  So hopefully that will make things a little smoother along the way.  We have our passports, our residency cards, our exit permits, I guess at some point we should pack stuff... I would honestly go with nothing just so I can hug my mom and dad again.  Skype has been such a blessing, we talk on Sundays for at least an hour.  I don't know that I would have made it this long without it.  If you stop to think about it, it is pretty impressive that I can say something and they can see it and hear it 8,000 miles away!

We are continuing our weekly 10K treks to Ric's on weekend mornings, we feel pretty good about eating the giant breakfast burrito (we do share it) once we do that.  It's steadily getting warmer, though, and before too long it'll be too hot to do that.  Guess I will have to get my arse up to the gym and get on the treadmill instead... This week as we walked along the Corniche we came across a movie set, neat to see- they were filming a dhow in the bay, first one I've seen with sail raised.  Made for a pretty picture on a sunny day.

Otherwise things are puttering along here, get up, go to work, come home, eat, sleep, repeat.  It's a pleasant routine- I do like my job, even when it's stressful, our friends here are wonderful and lots of fun, and I genuinely like our life.  I am happy to be here (and I realize typing this that it sounds like I'm trying to convince myself!), I just miss my people, that's all.  But I get to see them soon!  Keeping me going...


GOD BLESS TEXAS.

Friday, April 3, 2015

More firsts

T+... Oh, about 2 1/2 months, give or take.

This week was another week of firsts for us, in a couple of ways.  We had our first really big sandstorm (we've had our share of dusty days, but this one was epic.)  Like, so big as in the campus and all other schools closed because it was dangerous to drive, as in zero visibility.  Can't say this was on my bucket list, but it's now checked off...
We were in the bedroom at about 10:00pm on Wednesday night- Thomas was piddling on his iPad and I was reading, the TV was off so it was quiet in the room.  I was sitting near the windows, and kept hearing them creak.  Eventually I turned around and looked out, but all I could see was what looked like white fog- but was really sand and dust in the air.  I couldn't see the street in front of our building, no lights in the buildings by ours- everything was blocked by dust.  The wind was blowing hard (eventually we read it was up to 70 km in some places!) and we heard things hitting the windows.  We went to bed a little later with it howling, and we were woken up at 6:30am the next morning (well, I was, Thomas was already up.  He's weird like that.) saying that due to the storm, driving conditions were hazardous and our campus would be closed for the day.  Well, hello, 3-day weekend!  No complaints here... we got up a little later, and the air was starting to clear.  By the afternoon it was mostly clear.

Which was good for today, as today turned out to be gorgeous.  Even better as we had plans to walk over to the W Hotel for their Easter Brunch.  We had heard about Friday brunch in Doha- apparently it's quite the thing to do, and most of the hotels have a lavish spread each week for this.  The W did theirs from 12-4pm, and silly me, I thought it was a come-and-go anytime between those times.  Dummy.  You ARRIVE at noon and STAY 'til 4, eating and drinking the whole time.  It's a marathon, not a spring, and you seriously have to pace yourself.  Can you say bottomless mimosas?  Also the signature cocktail, which this week was a Pimm's something or other which was absolutely delicious.  Yes, please.  And then there was the food.  Sushi? Yep.  Waffles?  You got it.  Steak, lamb, veal, mac and cheese?  Just over there.  Oysters on the half shell?  Of course, have some!  Creme brulee, cupcakes, cheesecake, ice cream, chocolate mousse (anyone else think of the movie Top Secret when you hear those words?  No, just me?  OK.) chocolate cake, caramel popcorn, crepes, chocolate fountain?  Sure, have at them! OMG  it was all SO GOOD.  We staggered home.  I felt like Mr. Creosote:

I don't have the foggiest idea HOW people do that on a weekly basis.  I have to walk to Ric's AND BACK tomorrow to work that off... but it was certainly a great time with great people.  I should be ready to do it again around Thanksgiving...
 
Happy Easter from Doha!