Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's your favorite part...

The Mister and I are approaching the end of our first school year in Saudi Arabia. That means the most popular question I was asked by my students this week was, "Teacher, what's your favorite thing about living in Saudi Arabia?"

That's a tough question to answer. I had to stop and think for a while the first time I was asked this, and I think my students interpreted that as me finding it hard to come up with something I liked about living in Saudi Arabia. And I guess that's partially true.

No, the Mister and I aren't totally miserable living here, I enjoy many things about living in Saudi Arabia, but these are not things that are uniquely Saudi. I could meet really cool people anywhere in the world. I would get a classroom full of awesome students that I enjoy teaching at home, in Europe, in Africa...anywhere. That's not something I like about living in Saudi, that's something I like about being a teacher.

Truth is, in the 10 months that we've lived here, I don't know a lot about true Saudi society. At least not enough to definitely say, "I like this about Saudi Arabia." Instead I would have to say, "I like this about such-and-such compound," or "I like this food item that can be found in most international restaurants."

It's really hard to connect with Saudis, especially because I don't speak Arabic and I'm not Muslim. Neighbors don't become friends with their neighbors. They meet in the mosque and then form we're obviously out of luck when it comes to that. The Saudi ladies at work are so busy with their own classrooms, we don't have time to socialize. I can't go to social functions because I'm not invited. All in all, living in Saudi Arabia is a pretty isolated life.

I'm so incredibly thankful for the few Saudi friends I do have, and I'm making it a personal goal to get to know the true culture of Saudi Arabia in the second half of my contract.

Vicariously yours,

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