Hi wonderful people. I haven’t posted for a little bit, mostly because I’ve been hibernating in my apartment, but more because I’ve been an absolute misery the last week or so, so I thought I would return to normal pleasantness before I bombard this blog with posts of distress and madness. Gosh, I am so homesick. I am so homesick that I almost feel a physical pain in my stomach – usually at around 8.25am. The other day I was feeling so low and my four year old darling of a brother sent a voice note on Whatsapp saying “We miss you so much” and I just wailed. I’m sort of in a place where I genuinely feel like I have reached the end of my tether. I’ve been laughing at all of the absurdities that comes with working and living in Saudi Arabia, because that’s really all you can do, but now I’m crying. No, screaming!
And it’s mostly the university that bleeds my soul dry, not necessarily the country. Like I have mentioned many many times before, there’s a lot I can and am willing to deal with and accept and most of the time I’ll just take it all with a pinch of salt, but the university is just wow. I’ve never in my life been in an environment that is so micro-managed. It’s suffocating. But here is what really grinds my gears. As I’m sure you’re aware, the working life in Saudi Arabia is worlds apart from the UK or any Western country for that matter. It is very, very, relaxed, meeting times are just a mere guideline and “come at 9am” could mean anything between “come sometime before noon” and “you can come at 9 but I probably won’t see you till about 1pm”. Nothing gets done when it’s supposed to be done and the response to almost everything is ‘inshallah’. If you are not Muslim and you do not care for this word, it will make you eventually rip your hair out. But that’s not what gets to me, that I can handle, that I can learn to love if I bloody have to.
What really stings is that despite the management at the university being almost entirely Western, they still somehow uphold these Saudi ways. Like, I can accept this kind of ridiculous behavior from Saudi’s who are completely and totally accustomed to this lack of professionalism but seriously? You’ve just come from the UK or USA, you know how you’re supposed to act, why are you adapting to this bizarre situation? And to act as though as it’s completely normal too. It’s scary. At least acknowledge that these new ways in the workplace and odd and inefficient, don’t act as though it’s normal. It’s incredibly frustrating.
That’s a lot of what makes it so miserable. That, and the intense micromanagement. It always feels like the staff are under such intense scrutiny all the damn time. It makes me feel like a teenager, always worried that I’m going to get called to the headteacher’s office. It just takes all the fun out of teaching too, because you’re always so paranoid about attendance and grades and messing something up because apparently even breathing is a sin here. It really stresses me out. Funnily enough though, you hardly get told anything, what with the rules changing more often than I change clothes. You only know how not to do something until you royally fuck something up. That’s how I learned and that’s how it was when I started. I wasn’t trained or prepped or anything like that and I had to teach myself the rules and customs of the university because nobody else was going to.
The last couple of weeks have just been very dreary. The days are dragging on, work is getting intense and I’m just getting more tired. Maybe when this week is out things will look brighter. It also doesn’t help that my thighs and bum are in so much pain from yesterdays workout so even sitting down isn’t relaxing anymore. Ah!
Anyway, I’m really trying hard to not spiral into negativity and to just take each day as it comes because I know what I’m like. Once I get it into my head that I don’t want to be here, there’s no going back. I’m not usually this miserable, I’m just missing home and missing my friends and family. I realized that it’s so easy to feel alone here. Saudi Arabia is a shining example of the feeling of being surrounded by so many people but feeling incredibly lonely. I’m trying to shake off that feeling but it’s hard. I need another holiday. I think I may need holidays every two months. It’s only fair.