It feels very surreal to think that my first academic year in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is coming to an end. Holy shit, what a journey it’s been. It’s funny, I’ve been putting off writing a new post for ages now because of utter laziness, and now I’m writing this post because I’m putting off packing. Lol. WHEN WILL I CHANGE?!
The last few weeks have seen me crawling towards this week with so much anticipation. I’ve missed home so much that at times, I’m sure I felt a physical pain. But now that I’m a few days away, I’m feeling an odd kind of sadness. This year has been intensely educational for me, and in the time that I’ve been here, every day has been some kind of an obstacle, a revelation, a test, a lesson or a journey. There hasn’t been a dull moment and even if there had, my mind was sure to whip something up to stop that. I’m living in a most bizarre part of the world – a place where a lot of people will never visit, a place where a lot of people wouldn’t want to visit, but most of all, a place where I now believe that everyone should. The reason why I started this blog was because before I moved here, I tried to read as much as I could about this place and when I got here, I felt so deceived! I hadn’t seen a single expat blog that spoke honestly about what living in Saudi Arabia is really like. I felt like everything was so sugar coated, so censored and just a bit shit. I started writing because I knew that sugar coating isn’t in my nature and really, I wanted to paint as accurate description of my experience here as I could.
That being said, people who have read my blog and who know me will know that I’m dramatic as fuck and I do love a scandal so I often post about the shocking things that I’ve experienced here. But I also wrote about the good times, and I guess it’s because it’s usually in the shocking moments where my mind goes “I HAVE to tell everyone about this”. I guess I don’t really feel that when I’m having a good time. I think I keep those things a little private, although it’s not really intentional. It’s like when you have an amazing night out and then the next day you realised that there were hardly any photos taken and you get annoyed but then you’re like, “that’s how sick the night was, we were having way too much fun to stop for selfies”. Yeah, it’s kinda like that. So I hope I haven’t painted a negative portrayal of Saudi Arabia entirely. Just check my Instagram 😉
So to round off my first stint living and working in the ancient Arabian Kingdom, I thought I’d write a little about some of the things that I love about Saudi Arabia
Things I love about Saudi
- The SUN! This country has glorious weather all year round, it’s magical. And although it’s not really enjoyed much, there are parks, beaches and compounds (think resorts, where you can relax in the sun, go for a swim and lounge around tanning in a bikini) where you can definitely enjoy the 40 degree heat
- The amazingly low cost of living – Coming from London, I had several heart attacks and near death experiences when I first moved here and realised that I could quite easily survive on about £200 a month. I mean, I don’t, because I’m a reckless spender and because you know, holidays. But the point is that people do.
- The hospitality – I can’t lie to you, some Saudi’s are complete wankers but most of them are so friendly, welcoming and inviting. When you meet someone, it’s very common to be invited to someones house almost instantly for food, coffee, shisha and general banter. Again, coming from the UK, it is natural to assume that one is about to be murdered and disembowelled, but you get used to it!
- FOOD FOOD FOOD – Being vegan, this one doesn’t really apply to me but for all my meat loving babes, this place will fatten you the fuck up and you will be so pleased about it. The portion sizes are generous and because food is a way of socialising here, you will get ALOT of it. My students are always bringing in food from home to put at the front of the class, that’s just normal here. Food, sweets, cakes and coffee are plentiful here and it’s wonderful
- Special treatment for the ladies – you would think that women get the shit end of the stick here, and whilst they do in a bunch of ways, we’re also kind of revered here. The entire time I’ve been here I swear I haven’t carried a shopping bag myself, picked up anything heavy or stood in a queue. It’s like like “A WOMAN has arrived, move out of the way and let this fine maiden proceed”. I mean, I kinda dig it. I don’t like waiting around and I don’t like carrying heavy things unless I’m in a gym so this works for me. You’ll never have to wait for anything or do anything yourself basically. If your lazy like me, you’ll dig this too.
- The hustle and bustle of the many markets – From traditional clothes to Arabian spices, these little gems are so precious. Always busy, always alive, this is where you’d go to buy all things Arabian. Gold, jewellery, perfumes, incense, traditional dress and more. And FOOD. Women will cook massive, massive pots of traditional Saudi food and line them all up to sell. A medium sized bowl (stuffed to the brim) costs 10 riyals, which is around £1.70. It’s one of my favourite places!
- The big chill – If anyone remembers when I first came here, I had such a hard time getting used to the relaxed manner in which the entire country operates, and I used to rant a lot about it but believe it or not, I’ve grown to love it. Sure, it can be frustrating when you really want to get something done, but on the flip side, deadlines are such a loose term and it means that you don’t really stress too much about, well, anything because the motto here might as well just be “don’t worry, it will get sorted”. Works for me.
- Best till last – BEAUTY – I don’t think anyone really gets it. When I say the women are beautiful, I mean if these chicks were in London you would CHASE them down the street and beg them for their number. Hot DAYUM. For real, this place will turn a straight girl gay. I guess nobody needs to be told twice that Arab women are a treat for the eyes, so yeah. GIRLS.
Sound lovely? I think it does 🙂 I’m really hoping that I’ll somehow bring some of that Arabian heat with me when I come back to the UK because I genuinely don’t think I can cope in anything under 30 degrees right now. Summer, come to me! I guess this will be my last post for a while – at least until I come back anyway. I hope you’ve liked one thing or another about my blog and I hope it was fun to read too. I noticed that my views decreased loads whenever I posted something about being happy/grateful/having fun etc and they rocket whenever I post about something depressing or shocking. I guess misery really does loves company, you depressed bastards.
Anyway, until next time then. Next stop: LONDON! xoxo