...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

already Monday...

...sheesh.  The start of my last week here.  Time has flown by.  Yet here I am.

I had a great (but long) day of interviews, along with a focus group that made the day go quickly.  The students have been very willing to share their experiences, and my second school has come through as well for access which has made things much easier.  I'm hopeful that I can still get a few students from the second school yet, and have another bunch ready to go for tomorrow.

In a bit I'm going to head out to Souq Waqif to do some bargaining on gifts, and then will wind down for the evening.  Maybe I'll stop by the Italian restaurant my USD group liked so much the first time we were here...the food is excellent.  Care to join me?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

time for a travel post

I'm way overdue for a travel-related post - hope you can forgive me while I've been conducting dissertation research in Qatar!

Thought this might be a fun time to do a quick update on my success so far in the last month - overall I've been pretty happy:

- Both of my CC bonuses from AA were posted exactly as they should have, and so I am now 100k miles bigger in my AA account for future travel (although in the last week their on-time average has been only 47% because of their pilots...hope that gets straightened out quickly or they might be more in trouble)
- Bonuses correctly posted for my BA account, and so my flexibility has also increased with an additional 50k miles
- I successfully used Hyatt award nights for my brother, and in so doing also managed to get some points re-credited as I save up for Maldives (and also happened to discover how to properly say it: mall`-deevs).  If you're wondering why the Maldives, these pictures should tell you:

- Helped out another friend with sign-up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card - the points are great and flexible for use across BA, Hyatt, United, and others
- My research trip this far tipped me into United Platinum status - happy for no fees to book award travel, no cancel fees, and more mileage accrual for every flight.
- There are fantastic cross-country fares right now on United and American (found as I was kayaking the river of fares) for the first two weekends in November - jump on these while they're hot!

Not sure when my next churn will be, but I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at, even for domestic travel in the next three months.  Right now its looking like I will be on the move...

the last push

Tomorrow begins my last push for final data collection - its a bit surreal that the time has gone by as quickly as it has, but I've been so very grateful and thankful to be here and for Cyndy to host me.  I've got more interviews lined up along with class and a focus group - tomorrow will be a busy day. 

I've certainly spent more time than I realized on logistics related to setting things up, but that comes as part of the deal for being here and working within the culture.  Another way to look at it is that the connections I'm making will be helpful later on down the road when I'm writing and analyzing all of this data from what the students are saying.  So a silver lining.

My weekend so far has been good as well - was definitely lifted yesterday and was happy to have the time.  I also got to Landmark and did some walking and shopping...although I don't like to shop all the time, I was pretty successful in bargaining.  Seemed as though everyone wanted to make a deal.  :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

better day

My Thursday (re Friday) was so far the best day of the week I've had - I conducted several interviews, and all of my students showed up like they were supposed to.  It always helps when that happens.  :)

I have more scheduled for Sunday, and then the push will be on to make sure I've got enough by next Thursday - technically my last day.  Cyndy's class is on Sunday morning, so I will be able to get one of my focus groups done during that time as well. 

Now the weekend is here...time to relax a little - or at least try to.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Would Bach roll over?

This has been the trending talk of EC so far in the last 24-48 hours - I've heard (or overheard) the fact that there's a huge group of people going to go see this thing called "Red Bull Flying Bach" tonight down at Katara Village.

Now, I feel as though I keep pretty up to speed on things, but I have to admit that I wasn't really sure what the heck Red Bull and Bach had in common.

Apparently...its break-dancing.  Yeah.

I'll include a link below so you can see for yourself, but apparently this group (named Flying Steps, based out of Germany) breakdances to the Well-Tempered Clavier and/or variations on it, and everyone thinks its awesome.

(If I was to do a mini-rant, I might vent a little about how people tend to disregard the arts in general and don't want to fund things like orchestras and other fine arts activities, but then turn around and mix breakdancing with Bach and call it a mixture of 'high culture' and 'urban art'??? Maybe they're trying to bring more attention to Bach, but I doubt it...)

keeping perspective

Yesterday I wrote about the river...my hope and plan for today was that the river would drop me off at my first student interview and I would be off with all of them that I have scheduled.

Only problem...it helps when the student actually shows up.  (sigh)

Yeah.  And so I roll forward.  I'm trying to get in touch with him to reschedule, and have more scheduled for tomorrow. 

Just a little bummed...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ebb or flow?

I'm working to stay positive today, as I navigate the rivers that contain life and dissertation research.  Sometimes they flow smoothly; other times there's a big ol' tree branch that falls down into your boat and pokes a hole. 

And sometimes, on very rare occasions, there is a sea turtle present to pull you out.

I've got an interview coming up this afternoon, so I'm in preparation for that - very happy.  I've also been in meetings and correspondence today about student access at other schools, and those experiences have contributed to my river analogy. I'm thankful for the results I've been able to get so far, but I know I have a lot more scheduling to do in the next bunch of days. 

Anyone want to join me in the boat?

Monday, September 24, 2012

hot and cold

I've discovered now in my short time here in my new office that they really like to keep the AC on full blast most of the day.  I'm not someone who usually gets cold, but I heard even one of the other staff members complaining late last week about it (apparently there is a problem with some of the 'shut off' valves controlling the amount of AC?).  They thought it was fixed, but something must have happened again because I was just about completely chilled out this morning.  The director across the way from me even has a 'heating' fan on his desk...something doesn't seem right about that...ha.  I took a walk over to ABP for lunch which warmed me up, but still...not good to always go in and out of extreme hot and cold.  Anyway.  It's only 100 out today...not awful.  :)

I've got a meeting coming up over in the neighbor building at 3, and then will call a driver to get me home.  Maybe the Packers will win tonight.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First day of the new week

I'm very happy to report that I was able to get my first interviews scheduled today - they will happen later in the week.  I also was able to hear from several QF administrators about possible interview times, and got those scheduled as well.  Overall it was a very promising day, and tomorrow I will have a meeting with one of the schools about student access, with a second later on. 


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Zurich

I don't give out many five star ratings, but in the case of the Park Hyatt Zurich I am happy to do so. My brother and I stayed here for three days on a recent trip, and it was one of the finest hotel stays I've had so far. The room was immaculate - very clean, and we found out on check in that the TV had just been replaced for us. Our bags met us in the room while it was being serviced, along with complimentary refreshments. Housekeeping visited twice a day, and we were never lacking with service. The beds were soft and very comfortable and the bathroom clean and sported a tub along with two showers. Complimentary Internet was much appreciated, thanks to Platinum status.

While the location is a bit away from Zurich Hbf and other busier sections of town, the walk down the Bahnhofstrasse did not take long - the tram is available should you need.

Would be pleased to stay here again the future and look forward to another enjoyable experience.

Recommendations: Breakfast is pricey - eat out for best variety!

You can also find this review on Tripadvisor at the following link.


So far today:

More Reading

Will probably be repeating the 'reading' part often for the rest of the day...

Friday, September 21, 2012

first weekend day

Fridays are Saturdays in Doha - the weekend is here!

Here's a quick roundup of my day so far:

- Helped my host family purchase a new computer - a very nice HP system
- Ate lunch at one of the "fun" places to eat in Doha, Rik's
- Did some flight shopping for December/January - I always love flight shopping
- Confirmed that I am now a United Platinum member - no fees for flight changes or refunding award tickets/bonus mile increase/regional premier upgrades for myself and a companion
- Looked at Hyatt's new promotion for stays and reviewed my upcoming bookings

Overall, not bad...oh, and I got to sleep in too.  That was really nice. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 3 - a slight 'bump'


Day three is winding down, and while I've definitely made progress on the research front, I ran into a little bit of a 'bump' in the road today when I was finally able to meet with my contact at the second site...who promptly conveyed to me that she didn't have much confidence in me being able to access any of her students.  I accepted her reasoning (which I won't get into for the sake of things here), and we left it at her contacting the Assoc Dean to see if there was any possibility of me getting access.  But she wasn't at all optimistic, which was a bit of a frustration since I had made in the initial contact weeks ago and hadn't heard anything back.

As I've come to find out from previous research done here, one has to take these things and roll with them.  I was able to get in contact with students from my first site this afternoon, so I was pretty happy about that.

This is all a process - and life throws you challenges sometimes.

Thank goodness its "friday".

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Qatar Airways and BA to join?

Wanted to pass along some news (since I'm over here in Doha) about Qatar Airways - looks as though there is a rumor going around about QA joining up with British Airways.

You can read the article here.  From Doha News here.

I tend to be skeptical about these things, but always wonder when it hits the airwaves about where the actual "rumor" came from.  I have to believe that there was some discussion at some point between the two parties about a potential joint venture.  Ever since Qatar and United ended their agreement, I've hoped that Qatar would find a new home alliance - I never liked the fact I couldn't get PQM's when I flew them, but their product is vastly superior to United's. 

Time will tell.  Stay tuned...

Day 1 underway

My first day on campus in Education City is underway - happy to report that I'm back again in the office I used during my last research trip.  It's a bit surreal to be back here in the same building I was before, but I'm sure I'll get over that quickly.  My day so far has been working on research articles and journals to finalize my literature review, and I'll also be starting to get students scheduled.  I still need to take a trip over to the other site building, probably with Cyndy.  I'd like to get my contact there on board so that I'm set with both locations. 

I'm heading over shortly to CM to watch a special presentation on the state of education in Qatar (and future trends, I believe).  I'll be curious to see if the new EC university model is discussed and what reactions are.  Still forming an opinion on that...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Made it to Doha

Good morning, everyone -

I'm happy to report I've successfully made it to Doha!  I'm getting things a bit organized today, and will start in tomorrow in earnest on arranging my interviews and meetings.  All flights went very well to get me here, and I'm excited about what is to come.

It's still a little hard for me to grasp that this is it - dissertation research (followed by just a bit of writing).  But I'm hopeful and (as I said above) excited to be here and work with the students and staff.  I'm also very grateful to be able to stay with Cyndy and her family for the next number of days.  My best friend told me that this all will probably go fast...but I will do my best to get as much out of it as I can.

Email is probably the best way to get a hold of me if needed - or feel free to post a comment below.

More updates to come!

Monday, September 10, 2012