Everybody who has spent time in a different country knows that expat life is not quite like anything else in the world. The confusion of the first few days and weeks, the slow, but steady process of acclimation, the little peculiarities and quirks that might strike you about your new surroundings: almost any situation you encounter can make for a great story. If you are so inclined and want to blog about it, of course!
Our InterNations recommended blog section features talented expat bloggers from around the world. Their offerings to the blogosphere have been selected for their great entries and high quality, whether they may be funny, informative, interesting, deeply personal or a combination of all of the above.
Let’s hear from our featured blogger in Saudi Arabia:
I was mistaken for a housemaid! My Saudi husband and I were living temporarily at a Saudi community that was gated. The only non-Saudis in the community were domestic workers. My Saudi husband was working one day when I had a doctor’s appointment so a private limo service was collecting me. The limo driver was not allowed on the compound until the security guard called and spoke to someone at the residence. He did not speak any English and my Arabic was still limited at that time. I was able to tell him I needed to go to the hospital for an appointment. However, since I had an accent, the security guard automatically assumed I was a housemaid who was wanting to run off with a foreign driver. The driver was only allowed to come through the gate and collect me after my husband called and spoke to the security guard!
Everyone experiences culture shock; people just go through it differently. I think I had an easier time than many because I had previously lived and worked abroad and was used to scenery changes since childhood. My culture shock presented itself as an unexplained anxiety and restlessness which I treated by keeping myself active and making many friends as well as getting to know and understand the local culture better
Culture shock never goes away here. It happens on the daily, you may experience it all day long, once a day or week but surely it never goes away. All aspects of the Saudi culture may appear to be shocking at first if you are from and are used to Western Nations. The way they work, school, socialize, communicate, parent and think definitely differed from what I knew and was use too. At first the culture shock resonates with you and has you baffled with emotions; but like all things with time it gets easier.
I don’t remember experiencing cultural shock because I basically grew up here and since my homeland is also a Muslim country so there wasn’t much difficulty in adjusting to the culture of either country. What I really did find difficult here was the language barrier as I still can’t speak and understand Arabic well.
Obviously Riyadh is a very big change from rural Ireland , everything from the climate to the culture, to social norms, yes it was a culture sock but somewhat lessened by my previous experience in the region, the heat takes some time to get used of, and also adapting to the social and cultural norms here, as that is obviously very different than home, the city is expanding at a fast rate and Saudi Arabia is in a massive growth and development stage both economically but also I feel socially, it’s a very interesting time to be right now, and obviously being away from family is tough also…
Come with an open mind. Saudi can be a challenging place to live, but one that is very unique and endlessly fascinating. Be open to having new experiences and trying new things and you will meet some amazing people from all over the world. Bring patience.
Extreme gender segregation is something I still haven’t fully accepted and do not like. I’m not going to lie — the first couple of years were exciting, yet at the same time, extremely difficult. But life has gotten better as I have made some great friends and learned the ropes. Culture shock seems unavoidable in a place like Saudi Arabia. My brain seems to be wired differently than the Saudi brain, and so many customs and other things do not make sense to me.