When someone moves to another country, they are forced to awkwardly navigate their way through a foreign culture, stumble through the process of learning another language, and learn about local politics and government. While coming to understand another culture, it is natural to compare it to the one from which they came. What many do not realize (until their first trip back home) is how differently they will view their mother country after becoming used to another one. Of course, this concept is called reverse culture shock.
This Spring Break, some friends and I decided to do something bold. Instead of jetting off to Egypt, Dubai, or Nepal, we decided to save some of our funds and see what Kuwait had to offer. A staycation. Things my friends and I enjoyed doing this week included: tanning by the poolside (after all, it’s currently reaching the upper 80’s); acquiring new pets (my new kitten, Leila, is purring by my side at this very moment… adorable); enjoying family dinners; going for manicures and pedicures at my favorite spa in Kuwait, Pretty Petals; shopping at Kuwait’s biggest luxury mall, The Avenues; and enjoying a free showing of the classic play Love Letters. Kuwait has treated us rather well this week. Sadly enough, the week has flown by (like all vacations do) and Spring Break is coming to a close. What is great, however, is that unlike my friends who will be returning from their exotic Spring Break destinations within the next couple of days, I get to stay in this fun country.
According to a poll conducted last year, only 27% of Americans view Muslims favorably. After living in a predominantly Muslim country for three years and getting to know Muslims as friends, coworkers, and students, the only way that I can understand this statistic is to assume that 73% of Americans do not know any Muslims. I know that the way Muslims are portrayed in news stories, on TV shows (Homeland), and in movies (American Sniper), has affected the way that Muslims are viewed in the West, making many people believe that Muslims are violent, extreme, barbaric, and old-fashioned.
On the contrary, I have found that Arab Muslims are some of the most humble, social, considerate, generous people I have ever met. Coming to understand more about their religion and culture has undoubtedly been one of the best aspects of living in Kuwait. Continue reading
When trying to explain what Kuwait is like to people back home, it’s like trying to tell somebody about a piece of art you’ve seen in a museum by painting it for them yourself, right there on the spot. I get overwhelmed trying to describe this place because it’s complex, yet formulaic. I both know that I have been to places that are far better than Kuwait and that this is where I belong for now regardless. I sealed the deal by signing an 18 month contract for wifi service yesterday. That and telling my school I would be back for the 2014-2015 school year. I highly doubt that I will stay beyond 2015; after all, by then I will have been here for three years.
What is it about this place that keeps me here? And what is it about this place that pushes people away? Continue reading
I called my Gramma on Christmas day, from my parents’ pleasantly warm fireplace-heated living room. We talked about how things were going, said our holiday greetings, then she said “We still have that book of blog posts that Judy adds to. You don’t write in it often anymore though. Why don’t you try to just write once a month? That could work, right?”
As much as I may be too busy for any random reader, or even a friend, I am never too busy for my Gramma. So you can thank her for this post. InshAllah (God willing), I will keep posting, at minimal, monthly. I am grateful that the reason I have been posting less is that I feel really at home here and have found… friends! That and teaching is anything but boring, and means that I have a never-ending to-do list. I have officially signed on for a second year at my school, so I should have an easier second year (though we are switching text books, so my plans won’t be completely the same). Point is that I like Kuwait and, especially, my school enough to return to it another year.
Last night, at around 10 pm, I had the weirdest urge to go running.
I know what you’re thinking: That can’t be safe, Tricia!
But, as difficult as it may be to believe, Salmiya is the first place I’ve ever lived in where I’ve felt safe running after dark, especially on a Friday night. Kuwait may not have much of a conventional night life, seeing as clubs are illegal and drinking is banned, but Kuwaitis are still night owls. Shops and eateries, small and big, are mostly open until midnight (or all night), streets are well-lit, and the people here are happy to shop and eat until early in the morning. Whereas in Topeka, when the clock strikes midnight, you generally only find people out drinking, and there isn’t a huge crowd of fun-loving twenty-somethings (haha… looking back on my Topeka bar experiences, a more apt generalization would be approaching middle-age, should-be-spending-their-disability/unemployment-checks-on-something-more-useful, sound-a-little-too-rehearsed-in-their-off-key-karaoke-hits, leather-jacket-clad, as they say in Almost Famous, real Topeka people).
Well it sure has been a while! School began September 6th, and life has been moving at a neck-breaking pace ever since.
There’s so much I’d like to say about the weather, the culture, the food, the people, the teaching, the parents, my students, the school, but it’s 10:30 on a Thursday (the Middle-eastern Friday) night and I’m too tired to go into all that. I just wanted to touch base and say that I’m still here, doing relatively well.