It was exactly one year ago when I first arrived in Saudi Arabia. In Istanbul, where I was waiting for my second flight, I put on a pink scarf and embarked on a new adventure. I landed in Jeddah in the middle of the night, and of course Tamer was waiting for me at the airport. We haven’t seen each other for 3 months since we said goodbye in Sudan. Our hug at the reunion was, even though I was in a completely different world, as if I came home.
So a year ago, I was seeing the streets of Jeddah for the first time, streets of this Saudi metropolis, which is no longer foreign to me today. The soul of the city, the colorful mix of cultures of Arabs and expatriates, a variety of food … It has become my everyday life. In this difficult period of time, in which the whole world is in together, things are indeed a little different, they are taking place with a slower pace, but I am increasingly aware that all this still seems extremely interesting to an outside observer. That’s why I keep notes of ideas that I can write about and share with anyone interested in a world that is supposedly so different.
After 1 year, am I any different too? If I weren’t, then I can honestly say that my chapter abroad would be a life lesson wasted.
Nevertheless, I still believe and insist on my values within a culture in which I have discovered that I can also flourish. So I continue writing posts, that sometimes seem almost too mundane, far from the exotic world that many people expect. In spite of this I promised myself that these awaited exotic notes would also have their turn.
It took quite a few months before I started writing these Letters from Jeddah. Looking back, I know, that it took me a while to get used to being able to swim out of the shallows of my new environment. I just lack the courage and motivation to swim sovereignly in the pool of the Arabic language. I can blame security measures and consequently long-term limited socializing, but in reality I know I’m afraid to leave my English comfort zone.
What about you? Do you perhaps have your own experience of a longer stay abroad? Has your view of the world, foreign culture, and last but not least, your homeland changed? Stop by in the comments.