Sorry for the delay in posting this….we have been busy!
On Thursday August 20th, Dave and I got up at 5 AM to go get our blood tests done for our residency visa. It must be done the first week you are here, and there were numerous other new arrivals, so we got on a bus with about 15 other people from CMU and headed out. Dave and I had heard that the men and women are separated, and this turned out to be true. Thank goodness we had other people so we would not be alone! So when we arrived, we were given our passports and 100 rial to pay for the fee. We went in, and lucky for us ladies, we had the new Arabic teacher with us, so she helped us around.
First, we were ushered by a stern older woman to a staff only area for women to process our paperwork. They asked me if I was married, and then asked numerous times if I was pregnant. (No X-Ray if so!) I told them no every time! Then we gave them the 100 rials, and they gave us a receipt that would be used for our tests.
After we all finished, we were taken to a room with an x-ray machine. The older woman told us we could just take off our bras, not our clothes, but we all decided to disrobe and use a medical gown anyway. We waited in line, and then we each got our chest x-ray. It was very disorganized, and when it was over, they would just say, Jennifer, finished. And you were supposed to take that as a sign you were done and go get dressed. I was amazed as I watched them just lift up baggy shawls of other women to see if they were wearing bras, and if not, they just sent them over to the x-ray line.
After X-rays, we had lost our stern older woman guide. At this point, we were SO thankful for Zanib, our Arabic speaker. We walked around the hallways until we found some one who could guide us in the right direction. We were then taken to a place so they could draw our blood for the blood test. We had to get in line, register our receipt, and they handed us a vial with a UPC code on it. Then we waited in line with lots of other women.
It took awhile, but it was finally my turn! I was hoping that the blood test would go smoothly. Luckily, it did. My phlebotomist spoke English, so we were able to chat while she took my blood. I was more surprised however to see her draw my blood without a turnaket at all! I just sat down, and she put the needle in, and I was done!
So after we had finished all this, we met up with the HR personnel. Turns out the men had been done for about fifteen minutes, and were waiting for us in the bus! There were only 5 women, and probably 8-10 men! Zanib thinks there was much more staff for the men, since they have a large population of migrant workers from other parts of the world.
Dave said his experience was not quite as good. He had no option of a medical robe for the chest x-ray, and his phlebotomist did not speak English, so that was not so great. Also, he ended up with a pretty bad bruise at the injection site a few days later 😦 The good thing is we survived, and will now officially be able to apply for our residency visas!
On Wednesday, we went to get our fingerprints. This was actually cool and organized! We got to enter at the VIP entrance (anyone who is associated with the Qatar Foundation is VIP I think), and we just took a number and waited our turn. It was not too long of a wait, and we were glad for that. They actually have fingerprint machines that require no ink at all! It was really fascinating. The guy who was doing my fingerprints called me Jennifer Lopez, which was funny. I would say fingerprinting was the most painless of the residency visa requirements!
This past Thursday we went (with about 8 other people) to the Traffic Department to get our Qatari driver’s license. We had heard stories of people who had to drive in a roundabout, so we had no idea what to expect. I have been doing all the driving, so Dave was a little nervous! After getting there around 11 AM, and waiting about 15-20 minutes, we were told they could not take us today and we would have to come Sunday morning. (Due to Ramadan, they close in the afternoon).
So this morning, we got up super early, and headed to Education City, so we could meet the others who were going with us (again) for the license. Many of them had class at 9:30, so they were all anxious about being back in time. We arrived at the Driver License Center at 8, once it opened, and our personnel director went into a meeting with some administration. Then we sat and waited, and waited, and waited. And waited some more!
At about 9 AM, our personnel manager comes over to tell us that the director is not in, so we will have to come back. Well this is all ready our second time back, so we all made a firm stance that we were more than willing to wait for the director to arrive. So everyone canceled their 9:30 classes, and we continued to wait.
Finally, the director arrives, but we continue to wait some more. About half an hour to 45 minutes later, we are taken over to do a test on some of the road signs. There was a sheet with all the road signs, and they would point to one, and you had to say what it meant. Luckily, someone had given us a booklet with all the signs in it, so we all passed that part.
Then, we all had to drive just around some back roads by the traffic department. No roundabouts, which was a relief! Once we had all driven, we were free to go! (This was probably about 11 or 11:30!) Hooray! So we passed our tests and will soon have a local Qatari license. What a long day!
Also, our residency visas should go through today, so we will be official residents of Qatar 🙂 That is all for now! 😛