The Value of Friendship

 
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ABODE Magazine, Articles, Qatar-based magazines

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Published in the February 2012 issue of ABODE magazine. Unedited version appears below. Download a PDF of the published version.

By Christina Maria Paschyn

Many expats will admit it’s hard to make friends in Doha. Colleagues and neighbors stream in and out as contracts expire and opportunities arise elsewhere. But as Deliah, Laurence and Megan will tell you, when you do finally meet a woman you’re willing to call a true girlfriend, nothing life – or Doha – can throw at you will be able to keep you apart!

Deliah Furcoi, 30, is the sales and marketing manager of ABODE Magazine. Ethnically Filipino, she was born and raised in Qatar. Laurence Udo, 35, hails from France. A former public relations and marketing manager at the Marriot Hotel, she is currently in between jobs. Megan Bret, 28, was an interior designer at Forum Design (owned by ABODE Chairman Ahmed Hassan Bilal). Her contract recently expired and she is heading home to Nebraska to start a business with her family; nevertheless, she is determined to visit Qatar regularly.

These three ladies met through work, but now their friendship extends far beyond the office. They may come from different countries, professions and backgrounds, but the best friends say they share a connection that will stand the test of time long after they have left Qatar.

Q: Describe your spark – what is it that connects the three of you?

Deliah: I think it’s because we are all working women trying to do something amazing in the recession, trying to prove ourselves.  And I don’t think we are quite where we want to be just now, so we are still soul searching, I guess. I think it’s a journey…and I am lucky that I have these two to help me through it.

Laurence: The first work meetings we had together, like, after five minutes, it was no longer like a professional meeting; it was like a chat! I’m one of those kinds of people that if [the spark] is not there, I’m not going to make the effort for people that I don’t think are going to be positive in my life. But once you have a connection, even if your friend hasn’t called you in a month and then she calls and says she’s had just a terrible day, you will be there for her. That’s what a real friend is and it doesn’t matter how busy you are. If your friend needs you, you have to be there. And that’s why these two girls are real friends for me; they are there when it counts.

Q: How has this friendship helped you to transition to life in Doha?

Megan: I think that when you live in Doha, you’re usually here by yourself – no family, no close friends – and a lot of us have that in common. Outside of work everyone deals with the same stresses: living in a foreign country and getting used to a different culture. So you need a support group and network you can rely on.

Deliah: I think the most significant thing for me is that because we are so far away from home, finding amazing friends, like Laurence and Megan, is important. I find it very challenging trying to open up to things because most of the time I am at work. And when you do let your hair down, it’s tough trying to find common ground with somebody who can see eye-to-eye with you on issues, especially personal ones too.

Q: Describe a painful moment that your friends helped you through.

Megan: I broke up with a guy I dated for two years in September, and that same week all of us went out and just danced our butts off! Really, I was a complete mess, and Laurence was with me almost every night. And Deliah got her friends together and we went out that first weekend, and I tried to just forget about everything. Not having that, I would have been sitting at home in my pajamas with my tissue box and a movie and a bottle of wine.

Laurence: I’m, at the moment, in a bit of a difficult situation [in between jobs], and I have to say that if I didn’t have those two girls, I probably would have packed up already! I’m really thankful that they are here. It’s actually quite rare to find people you can rely on for everything.

Q: How have your different backgrounds affected your friendship?

Megan: We all have similar mindsets in that it doesn’t matter where we come from. We’re independent, strong-willed and we want to accomplish success and happiness, personally and career wise. And I would say that our cultures make it interesting. Laurence would tell me stories about where she grew up, how she grew up and the things she’s been through. It’s completely different from me, but, bizarrely, we still have things in common because bits of those stories will be similar to what you’ve been through.

Q: What pet peeves do you have about each other?

Deliah: I’m awful in getting back to people and these two will tell you that! I plan and I’ll say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this amazing idea, let’s do this’. And then I’ll be late, or I’ll disappear or I don’t answer.

Laurence (laughing): She’ll say “I’ll call you in an hour or two.’ And three days later she hasn’t called back!

Deliah: I don’t do it intentionally it’s just my work!

Megan: But I think that since we know her job and we know what it entails, we are really understanding about it.

Q: How do you maintain your friendship with your busy lifestyles, and what do you do for fun together?

Laurence: We call each other pretty much every other day. It’s planned but more like ‘what are you up to tomorrow night.’ We organize get-togethers for certain events, like the InterContinental Hotel Beach Party,

Megan: We meet up after work just to chat and catch up. I would say it has become a weekly routine to get together at least one night a week. Other than that, it usually just depends on what’s going on.  Life can kind of get away from you, and we have to get Deliah’s head out of work once in a while! Laurence and I, we probably hang out once or twice a week. Deliah is the busiest – she always has events and stuff.  So you squeeze it in when you can. But it’s one of those things that if we didn’t see each other for a month, you wouldn’t know it. You pick up where you left off; it’s not weird.

Q: What advice do you have for maintaining friendships?

Deliah: Just as a normal relationship with a guy, it’s the same thing. Even girl friendships are like a relationship and you’ve got to work at it. That’s one of my resolutions this year: maintaining and nurturing my friendships, because, without these girls, I really can’t be grounded.

Megan: I would say that the friends you meet here will be lifelong friends and to make sure that you appreciate that and give it the time it needs. And be good about staying in touch and letting people know how much they mean to you. It’s easy to kind of take people for granted – you assume they’ll always be there but they won’t. Doha is a transient place. We’re not settling down here, we’re not getting married and having kids in Doha!  So we’re all going to be scattered at some point and it’s going to be rare that we’re in the same place again. So you have to enjoy the moments that you have together and make the time to see each other, because you don’t know how much time you have together.

Q: Do you think your friendship can survive beyond Qatar?

Deliah (laughing): Please don’t leave me here! I don’t know what I would do without you guys! Seriously, I may be extremely inaccessible when it comes to work, but when there’s something up with my friends, yeah I’ll jump and I’ll fly and go! What’s great about Qatar is that we’re smack dab in the middle, so it’s so easy to fly to the States or to Europe. I would drop everything if my friend needed me.

Megan: We’ll definitely stay in touch. We’ve talked about it – as soon as Laurence gets her situation sorted, I’m planning her first American trip to find a husband! For me, I’ll always be here visiting, so I’ll still see them. Even if we end up in different places we’ll stay in touch.

Laurence: Wherever we end up, I’m sure we will be there for each other’s lives. We’ll see each other get married and have kids!

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