Every person has different reasons to travel.
Actually, for me, every person is a traveler with different purpose, proclivity, and destinations. It could be for business, leisure, study, immigration, hobby, medical purpose, etc. As for me, I traveled outside my country for the first time to honour my commitment to someone that I loved.
I contrived to go only to a specific town in a specific country just to get a chance to prove myself to my boyfriend’s parents who lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I wanted that chance for them to get to know me so that they would approbate me to be the girl that their son chose to love, having gone against their convention of arranged marriage. It was kind of a romantic gesture, but seriously, it was something I gave my word for the man that deserves the effort. So I traveled 5031 miles for about 14 hours for that one chance of approbation.
I arrived about 9 months ago after I settled with a 2 year job contract. Of course, no one can easily come into Saudi, especially because you have to own an ‘Iqama’ (Residence Permit) or else it’s “jail time if caught not possessing one and God knows what more” and have a place to live. I was certainly not living in his parents’ house which will never be an option. Then I finally met his parents for 6-8 times because I was only able to meet them when my boyfriend is in Saudi, that is when he takes time off from his internship in another country. His parents were solicitous and very kind to take me around with the fact that we have to walk and act with discretion because the custom in an Islamic country is very strict and conservative. The settlement of relationship between woman and man does not entail the family of the man taking the woman out for dinner or strolling. Also, a single man should not be seen with a single woman walking together. It’s already like a heart-stirring indictment if he is walking 3 feet away from me. In spite of that, I still wanted to take a selfie with him and the only way to take it was while he was standing 5 feet away from my back. Anyways, I was able to present myself to his parents and I had a great time knowing them. I was able to learn to cook and bake some edible food for him and his parents which I enjoyed as well!
Then the crucial time came when we were about to get the decision from things we spoke about at the ‘Corniche’ (the city’s waterfront) to a closed room meeting. No matter how much I expected it, I never saw it coming that night and emotions had inadvertently overridden my whole heart. It was the last night that I was going to see his parents, to be with them, to get to know more about the folks that raised such an amazing man, and it was the last time to cook something for them.
A month had passed. Another came and did the same, then there came May. I had to make a decision and had to render my resignation. I settled my flight going back home and now it’s my last month in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was half relieved to be travelling back home, but it seemed that the other half was missing and so in my last month in Saudi, I wandered around revisiting places to seek for the other half yet instead it made me gather all the good things above the bad ones.
I put myself back together with everything that this experience has taught me and molded me into which are the following:
1. I have assimilated to live harmoniously in a different culture, religion, law, and language.
I got the best course for Arabic language which I can now add to the languages that I have already learned before as I can communicate with the locals of Saudi. Best course as in free of charge with unlimited personal encounters.
2. I have molded myself to live simply.
It is mandatory to all women to wear only Abaya and with scarf as head cover. The dress code only shows simplicity, modesty and decency. But hey! Who says it ain’t possible to be fashionable with an Abaya?
3. I survived the strongest sandstorm based on someone who had lived in Saudi for 15 years.
It was surprisingly bad to get off work with the dust everywhere around you, and who knows how much farther it had stormed in. It was difficult to see where my feet will step onto or if any car was heading my way. It was even more difficult to take one step as the wind fiercely blew against my direction. With every step I made, I just told myself, “and this too shall pass”. Many times in life, plights and struggles come in different varieties and intensities, but there is only one thing that I can do in such a difficult time as I am not the patient type who could just sit and wait till it’s over. I will still carry on, one step at a time, giving all my might and heart to break through.
4. I have learned more of the true courage to overcome fears and threats.
I learned how to be cautious as well when we had bomb threats right in my actual workplace and actual bombing nearby.
5. I had lived and enjoyed the hostile environment of the desert.
When its season is at its hottest and the humidity goes with it, man can still adapt and survive, but can he still flourish? Well, I discovered that a flower can still bloom even if its soil is made out of sand. The wilderness of life is not the factor to grow and thrive, rather it is one’s capacity to outlive it.
6. I became a winner from my endeavour to look past through the unaccomplished desideratum and instigated an Oasis that expands with each and every pursuit.
7. I added up my qualification as an asset to be a globally competitive healthcare provider as I had practiced my profession with competence, dedication and diligence.
8. More than anything and everything else, I have discovered that friends are always everywhere to propagate, family is not just made out of blood, and angels are true.
If you wanna know how, you just come to Saudi!
Sometimes we don’t acquire the purpose why we traveled, but for sure, we do accumulate more reasons why we should be travelling.
About the Writer:
I’m a licensed midwife with a passion for healthcare and adventure. I kept the balance of both my travels and activities by scheduling timely. Ever since I was a young girl, I have been known to wander; to explore and venture into sometimes unlikely places and situations, and always had this peculiar outlook about the world. I dream to travel the world, but not so that I can accumulate a list of countries I’ve been. I yearn to encounter the cultures you can only learn about by living among the locals and to know more about life by stepping on something different. Furthermore, traveling is my inspiration to write, to hope, and to kindle another.