I fell into a little rut today.. And realizing that it’s totally understandable of why the culture shock hits you early here.
Unlike Korea, where you can find multiple Americanized food chains on every corner, natives with a similar sense of style, and same rules/restrictions…Saudi Arabia is the total opposite. Abiding by a strict way of living, being gender segregated, living in a new language, around new people, being away from loved ones, and starting a new job… perhaps, I could have brought a Xanax or two. I was reading the stages of culture shock on Wikipedia, and this “negotiation phase” is supposed to hit you on month 3. I’m on day 5… BUT, instead of looking at this negatively, I have high hopes that the “adjustment phase” will come early as well. I can see many personal, professional, and financial benefits that will come from this experience, it’s just a lot to take in at once! I also don’t to want to make this KSA blog all nice and frilly. Gotta keep it real. So with all that said, I will definitely have my moments here.. I’ll just have to find ways to keep my life as close to what I’m used to, try to understand their culture, and realize that they will not change for me.. aka: I must Adapt! Here’s the plan:
- Figure out what the health-conscious Saudis eat.. It doesn’t seem like turkey is as easily available and can easily go into carb overload.
- Drop expectations! Being a control-freak, especially with time/planning, this will be the hardest one.
- Get a schedule of their 5 daily prayers, because everything shuts down for 45min prayer. To wisely use of this time, avoid shopping and replace with an indoor activity
- Buy a treadmill!!! With the prices of the limited female gyms, and it being near impossible to run outside.. in an abaya and hijab.. w/o someone assuming you stole something, perhaps its beneficial to build an at-home gym. Thank God, I brought my P90X and Insanity!
- Do things to make life feel “normal”.. Although this country seems to operate thanks to the abundance of servicemen and women, I found that maybe I prefer to do my own cleaning, taking in of own groceries, picking up my own food orders.
- Make connections with expats: Find groups that fit all of my interests, whether its physical activities or social gatherings
- Make connections with natives: This could help with language exchange and a better understanding of the culture.
Culture Shock. Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_shock>
Ash, We all miss you and are thinking about you. I figured it would happen sooner or later on the cultural shock. I really can’t imagine he whole deal. Talk some more. Stay SAFE!!! Jim
I miss you guys too! Thankfully, safety here seems to be the least of my worries. Genders are so strictly separated, that it’s probably more likely that I’d battle w/ another woman, than a man..
Ashley, you are doing all of the right things for your situation: you are aware of the cultural differences and figuring out how to adapt, you are respecting the local culture, and you are reminding yourself that culture shock is a natural reaction to your situation. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would move abroad and experience a completely new environment, and challenge themselves as you are doing. Keep reminding yourself of all those positives this experience offers that will allow you to evolve as a person, and keep acknowledging that there will be negatives too.
Thanks Jaclyn! Great points, and something I’ll have to keep in the back of my mind. Today, was much better!
Thanks for this post… for keeping it real. I’ll be a newbie to living abroad this year and I found this post extremely helpful (as well as Jaclyn’s comments)!
Yeah, I actually re-copied her comment into my own notes, as a reminder of how culture shock is to be expected.