A few weeks ago I was about to unleash a rant post about how Americans suck at representing themselves abroad. My examples would be, of course, the students at the bar in Barcelona...the woman who refused to wear the abaya at the mall (and was a righteous you-know-what to boot)...I knew that I would be the perfect person to mention all this stuff because we all know that I'm not like that...
...But I am! I like to fancy myself as the Hemingway-esque expat...sipping tea with my Arab colleagues and imagining that I understand their perspective and how they think about issues. But I'm just not that guy. I still cannot escape my inner ugly American. I refuse to eat things because they look/smell weird...I complain because things are done differently than I'm used to in the states...I get annoyed when my colleagues break into Arabic...I don't even want to mention how many times we've eaten at Chili's since we moved here in September. Just writing these down makes me cringe a little.
One of the teachers I work with believes that the key to a better relationship between the west and the Arab world is better communication and that we need to visit each other. I would agree with that, but I say living there would be better. I got here in September and have spent so much time thinking about how different everything is that it's been hard to enjoy myself. I'm only now starting to really get comfortable and be able to really absorb the great stuff that the Kingdom has to offer, and more importantly get to know how Arabs look at the world.