Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Different World

My husband and I arrived here in Riyadh last August, and now we are just few months ahead before we go home. I even hardly noticed that we are approaching almost half of my husband's one year working period. Indeed, time flies so fast. And I can still vividly remember my experiences when I first got here.

I have already worn my "abaya" or Muslim veil the moment we stepped out of the plane, as I'm told to do so. I also remember how anxious I am the first time I saw their intimidating crowd and felt their hostile environment. There were a number of people of different nationalities falling out of line in the immigration area of the airport. They were brusquely approached by an airport personnel to stay in line. I also noticed that there were no female employees unlike in the Philippine and Hongkong airports.

We finished the necessary procedures on the immigration almost nine in the evening of Saudi time. I was struck by a mass of very warm and dry air the first time I stepped out of King Khalid International Airport. It was as if my face was stretched and burned. When I told my husband about the weather, he just told me, welcome to Riyadh.

It's good to look back on these incidents because it became one of my firsts. It was my first actual knowledge of life in a foreign country. My first adherence to a culture that is very different from what I was born with. It was actually a good experience.