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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Living in Saudi Arabia: An Interview with Pamela Davis - Page 5

Written by Rachael Repoff
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INT:  What about the challenges of having an eighteen month old baby with you?


PD: That really wasn’t much of a challenge.  There was a lot of help in the compound if I needed it, and it was always very easy to find a sitter if you wanted to go out...


INT: Your job in Saudi Arabia was teaching at as an elementary school; what was that experience like? 


PD: I loved it.  It was all positive.  I usually prefer teaching the older grades, but I was teaching lower elementary kids, and I had an absolute blast - I really loved those kids.


INT: What advice would you give a Western woman packing her bags right now to go to live in Saudi Arabia?


PD: That’s a good question... First, I’d say that before you go, prepare, read and research online.  Preparation is key; there are some amazing blogs out there with tons of useful information about day-to-day life, you just have to look and do a little digging.   

Second, you should try to be aware of all the customs and laws - especially those pertaining to women.  For example, you should know that a woman is not allowed to be alone in a vehicle with a man who is not her relative UNLESS the man is a licensed commercial driver (bus, taxi, limo, etc.). In that situation, the woman should be in the back seat — just like a taxi in the western world.  And it’s no joke, there are severe restrictions on mingling between unrelated members of the opposite sex, which alone is an act punishable by law.    

-You should register with US embassy; Attend embassy events, they throw fabulous parties.


-Always, carry your passport with you and have multiple copies of your passport and any other important documents.


- Be aware of Prayer Time or 'Namaz'.. The world stops! Lights out, doors close - 4 times a day! Between 20 and 45 minutes at a time... You’ll learn to plan accordingly or you will be wasting a lot of time if trying to accomplish anything.  They sometimes list the prayer times in the newspaper, which is useful.


-Have patience in every aspect of your life there - Saudi Arabian’s move at much slower pace than we are accustomed to.  Plans are often up in the air and there is no regular day to day mail service - there are a few post offices, and I’ve heard they are not very dependable.


- Remember to bring your sunscreen - extreme heat a lot of the time, but winter months can be cold, especially at night.


-This one is very important***Make sure to purchase your abaya and head scarf prior to your flight.  One would not dare step off the airplane without proper coverage - you’d be arrested immediately on the spot.


-Make socializing a priority. Meet people, make friends, ask lots of questions - everyone I met was happy to share their information and experiences.


-Join a women's group on the compound. Share your stories, knowledge… having a network of friends (expats too) is extremely helpful AND comforting.


-Remember to explore, there are some amazing sights to see; museums, gorgeous deserts, amazing architecture, gorgeous homes inside and out - if you happen to meet some Saudi families.


Plan to take bus trips to shop or find a dependable taxi driver.  Busses are free from compound, taxis are extremely reasonable and again the only form of independent travel unless you are with your husband, brother or father...

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INT: Anything else?


PD: Yes, try to stay open-minded and be ready for an adventure!!!


INT: Thank you so much Pamela.


©Rachael Repoff


(Page 5 of 5)
Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2013

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