Coronavirus & The Expat – Doha, Qatar

I’ve been contemplating whether I should write this post or not. While my blog is focused on more light hearted & humorous stories, I decided it was ultimately best to give a post that was more real & serious. You’ve been warned, this will not be a post that brings a giggle.

The world has been rocked by the virus &, although these are starting to be lifted in some places, most of the world’s population was subject to lockdowns & strict isolation restrictions. That meant going home & simply staying there. Seems simple enough, but what did that mean for the expat? What do you do when your home & your job are in different countries? This is the situation I found myself in.

I first heard about the virus in mid-January & it quickly became a great personal concern because of the very high number of people I came into contact with on a daily basis as well as relying on the travel industry for an income. Admittedly, I didn’t think things would get as serious as they did. By the first week of March, the travel industry was seeing major disruptions & travel restrictions started being put in place by some governments. This was when I knew I would have to make a decision on whether to stay in Qatar or to go home to South Africa. Qatar closed its borders on the 18th of March & South Africa on the 27th.

I decided to stay in Qatar. I made this decision because I didn’t know if I’d been exposed to the virus & going home would be putting my family at risk. The healthcare system in South Africa was struggling at best before all of this & that was a concern for me. If I did go back, I wouldn’t know when I’d be able to come back to Qatar & considering this is where my job is based, it would make the future uncertain for my career. It wasn’t an easy choice to make & it has had consequences, but that’s just how life goes.

It is a very unusual feeling to know a place you love & know so well is going through something major & you aren’t there to experience it firsthand. Your home is going through a historical event & you won’t see if for yourself. You will only get to read news articles or hear stories. You feel like you’re missing out which is pretty ridiculous because if I were home, I would be doing exactly what I’m doing all day now anyway. I guess it’s just a way my brain processes this.

The homesickness is far more extreme than I’ve ever felt before. When I think of it logically, it is ridiculous because this isn’t the longest I’ve been away for & because of all the free time I have, I’ve been contacting my friends & family far more frequently than I normally would. However, the homesickness is here & it is very real. I’ve recognized that having the option to jump on a direct flight home is a massive mental safety net. The option to go home is now simply just gone. Knowing it will be months before you even have the option to see your loved ones is very difficult for me to deal with.

I know these problems are nothing when compared with people who are struggling health wise or who are facing severe financial problems as a result of the virus. I’m also extremely grateful for the people who are working tirelessly in the healthcare, science & other essential fields to get us through this.

My next post will bring a smile (hopefully a chuckle too).

Keep traveling, keep safe.

DanVenture Travels

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50 thoughts on “Coronavirus & The Expat – Doha, Qatar

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  1. Hey Dan, I’ve read everything and feeling that extreme homesickness in this time of pandemic is very normal. After all, even those who stay with their families feel lonely too sometimes. These are just really hard times but I know that you can do it. I feel you’re very considerate of others and that really makes you a gift to humanity. Stay safe always there in Qatar and remember that eventually, all will be well. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well expressed! I too struggled with the decision to remain in Mexico rather than return to Canada. But it’s been 10 years since I’ve lived in Canada. But my children and my granddaughter are there and it’s really hard to be so far away. Stay safe!

      Like

  2. Stay strong, a lot of expats are going through a similar experience right now. It’s a really tough time for everyone. You were thinking of your family first, and that’s pretty selfless.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Our families are like the world, international, many of us are now separated from the rest of our families because of border closures. In many ways it is safer for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your feelings on this whole thing. This is a time where I think we need to share these real feelings to keep us going. People are not alone in feeling the way they feel, and by you sharing this, it helps immensely. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Your problems are just as real as everyone else’s. Don’t ever feel bad for dealing with an issue that’s not as worse as anyone else’s.

      It would be hard living in a country away from family during a time like this. If I had the choice like you, I’d go back home and ride it out with family. But everyone decides differently.

      I do how you’re surviving!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely relate to and understand how you feel. I have been living away from my family for a long time. Although we are in the same country my parents and I live about 3000 kms given the length and breath of the country and I cannot help ponder when will I see them without any worries. It certainly is upsetting and throws one in the pathos of despondency but I am trying to be hopeful and believe that better days await us soon. Stay safe and well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dan these are difficult times for everyone which doesn’t make it any easier for you … I know! There were many factors you had to consider when you decided to stay for your work and as lonely as it must be, you did the right thing.
      You can imagine how disappointed I am, at not being able to visit my special people on the other side of the world when I was meant too.
      These times will pass and then we can see our families again. Lots of love x

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been wondering how this has affecting an expat, and specifically if you had stayed in Qatar. Not being with family through this pandemic is something I can definitely relate to. Best wishes to you and your family/friends. Stay safe and thanks for the well written post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Getting homesick at random (normal) times as an expat is totally normal and it can hit you like a ton of bricks! When the world has been turned upside down it’s natural to want to be close to those you love, but this pandemic means even that is difficult for everyone. It sounds like you made the best decision and were thinking about others. Stay strong and healthy, this too shall pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A lovely post Dan…very well written from the heart. Yes very difficult times for all of us – we all have happy memories of each other and now is a good time to call out some of them and dwell on the positive… keep writing… there may be a cool topic right where you are. Remember…”work with what you’ve got!”
    You are a special young man – Be blessed!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes, it’s best to stay where you are or where you can get better service in case. I know that some UAE residents are stranded outside the country and cannot go back to work. For us, we stayed in NZ as we are back at home. Thanks for checking my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Dan! I’m from Australia, but I’ve also decided to stay put in Spain as an expat (which I’m pretty sure is way worse off than Qatar). The same reason as you- didn’t want to take a long distance journey and increase the probability of getting infected by the virus.
    Being homesick is totally normal and don’t feel alone or weird about it. I think it’s happening to everyone pretty much, the major factor being uncertainty of the future.
    Staying in touch with friends and family on a more-than-regular-basis definitely helps. What also helps is keeping busy- not to the point of exhaustion, but just at a steady pace making sure that we’re engaging in different types of activities throughout the day. And I guess, writing blog posts is a pretty good one 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. No worries. We’re all feeling strange these days whatever the reasons….it’s so bizarre all over the world right now. I have also written posts about what’s going on….and then deleted them….so I empathise. This is lovely though….very honest. My heart goes out to You. It was very thoughtful of You to stay put….so many people where I live are not thinking of others in this manner. It’s crazy. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m from the US but I’m an expat in China and I’ve felt very similar things throughout this entire experience. Logically, I know that there’s many more like me in my city, and all over the world, but it’s different to actually read someone else describing almost exactly my thought process about going home and feeling homesick since this all started. Thank you for sharing this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That must be so difficult. I too am an ex-pat, but I have rooted myself in this little Mediterranean village and am grateful for the excellence of the French healthcare system not to mention the people that welcomed me with open arms. It is nearly thirteen years since I sold up in California and came to a place I love.

    All the best, Léa

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Stay strong! There’s hope that things will calm down in the next few weeks. I had a similar situation, but was lucky enough to find a place to self-quarantine and return home. At the end of the day, everything being done is for their health right

    Liked by 2 people

  15. You don’t have to be apologetic as this is a very insightful post!

    I may not experienced being an expat but I can totally empathize with you. Being away from your loved ones during times of uncertainty and emergency will always have a chilling effect on a person. But what you did was more noble than logical.

    May you stay safe and resilient during this pandemic.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. The whole debate about going home resonates with me. I requested time off to visit my family for the first time in almost two years in the middle of March. Before that point, I didn’t have the funds to take the time off work let alone pay for gas for the trip. As it was, I worried they’d close the state border behind me, and though I like my family, I had no desire to wait this out with them. I took the chance and slipped over for a couple days. They shut down the state border the day after I returned home.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Dan, take care and stay well. I am in my own country and cannot freely travel back to my home state where my family lives. Even if I did go I would not be able to hold my 92 year old mothers hand as she is locked down in a home. Keep writing. I enjoy reading about all the wonderful places to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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