So today marks my one year mark in Saudi Arabia. What an incredible and equally hard year it has been. In many ways, it feels like I have been gone much longer. A lot has happened, many new people have entered, and left my life. I've traveled far more than I expected to, paid off some debt, and been thrust into the most severe form of culture shock. I've grown as a person, and see the world quite differently than before I left. I'm so thankful to have had this opportunity, but am ready to return to some normalcy. Before heading to Turkey I had decided to re contract for another year. While in Turkey, I realized that there are far too many things and people that I missed, and I yearned to go home. Originally after leaving Saudi I had planned to return to Canada. Years ago I let my BC nursing license lapse, and it will take some paper-work time before I can get it back. For this reason I'll be returning to Seattle, to the close friends that I have there, and am so excited to do so. I have officially given my notice and will be vacating Saudi the beginning of July.
This was a hard decision as to whether I should stay or go. Financially, the money is decent here, but I work many more hours than I did back home. Rent is free, but the living conditions confining, and aging. I have met some amazing people, and will keep in touch with them long after I leave here. At the same time I have met some extremely manipulative, self destructive people as well. Being here has challenged my morals- Saudi has a way of blending right and wrong into various shades of grey. People are transient freely entering in and out of our lives.
There are many things I won't miss about Saudi: the constant eye banging when you step out of the apartment, the lack of respect that comes with being a woman in this country, the religious police, prayer times and the call to prayer. I won't miss being talked down to by doctors at work. I won't miss the double standard between Saudi work ethic, and western. I won't miss the check points, and having a machine gun pointed into the car as a 19 year old Saudi dude tries to flirt.
Things I will miss: the people that have enriched my life, the travel opportunities, and time off to travel. I will miss the lack of responsibility, and social life I have had here.
Lots of things fall into the hate/love category. I hate the abaya when it is hot outside, or I'm tripping over it going upstairs. I love it when I'm lazy and want to wear PJ's to go grocery shopping. I love that we can have almost any type of food delivered to us. I hate that mostly it will arrive cold, and inevitably the order will be screwed up. I love the embassy and compound parties, but hate the hassle of having to get signed in or have tickets organized to everything.
At some point things come to an end, and I'm heading towards mine in 9 weeks and counting. I plan on making the next 9 weeks count, since inshallah I'll never find myself back here. North America I'm home ward bound!!