What KSA Has Taught Me…..Part 2

In the West, people tend to be in hurry to do things.  In a hurry to get to work, school, etc.  If you come to Saudi Arabia, you will need to learn to slow down and just relax.  Things are not as fast paced as they are in other parts of the world.  And when I say other parts of the world, I mean America.  I know that we’re the only ones who seem to be in a hurry all the time.  It’s an adjustment and it was one I had to make.  It didn’t come without a few growing pains though.

It started with getting the job in the first place.  I had signed an initial offer and I was supposed to receive the actual contract after that.  It would be sent by DHL.  Even with international service, the longest it should take is about five working days.  But these five days turned into about three weeks.  I called and when I finally got through, the man in HR told me, “Yeah, your contract’s right here.  I was waiting for you to say it was okay to send it.”  Being that I wanted the job, I didn’t say what I was actually thinking which was something like, “When I signed the initial offer, didn’t that mean you were supposed to send it, dimwit?”  He was apparently suffering from hunger pains which caused him to be unable to think or act.

So, I got to KSA with my same “in a hurry” attitude.  But actually being here has taught me to chill, relax, chillax.  Am I too old to say things like that?  Maybe.  But please don’t tell anyone.  People who know me, really know me, will tell you that generally my demeanor is calm.  I don’t get angry quickly, though I do have little to no tolerance for stupidity.  But I am a typical American.  I believe in being on time and following schedules.  I believe in efficiency.  If I have an appointment, I won’t eat or do anything else just to make sure that I’m not late.  I would get really upset if I couldn’t make it to any sort of appointment on time.  Needless to say, my first semester at YUC was, well, a learning experience.

Whenever it was time for class, I’d head out in a mad rush as so many Americans would.  My mom told us that, “If you have an appointment at 8 o’clock, you be there at 7:30.”  Of course I didn’t go to class a half hour early but, I did want to be there before my students were.  There was just one problem.  The students!  Here I am practically running and they’re walking down the hall like they’re strolling down the beach on a beautiful spring day.  I was new so I didn’t want them to see my “crazy” side but I was screaming in my head.  I’d be shouting to myself, “Get out of the way!” And I was always perplexed by the fact that they couldn’t “sense” that I was trying to get by.  Nope, they were in their own world.  Not worried about a thing.  I kept wondering why they were so relaxed.  And I know I shouldn’t say this but I wondered what they were smoking to make them oh so mellow.  Was it something in the air?  Perhaps the gases coming from the refineries gave everyone a contact high and it calmed everyone down.  I don’t know.  I always got, get the sense of, “Just ride the waves, dude.  Ride the waves.”

Their laid-back attitude caused me to think, a little anyway.  Teachers complain all the time about any number of things.  In fact, we complain so much it seems to be part of the job.  Our office was more like the Dr Phil show.  This one has problems with her students.  That one has problems with her schedule.  Blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda.  With that I remembered one student telling me, “Miss, مشي حالك.”  And that was some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten.  I learned to ride the waves and slow down when going to class.  I don’t run, especially since we moved to the new campus.  S3ee between admin and faculty building A requires walking, strolling in fact.  I also stopped expecting things to arrive or be done on time.  On time is a “state of mind” if you will.  All I ever got out of being in a hurry was, tired.  It didn’t change anything.

Now, when new teachers come to the department, I let them know how things are.  The first thing I say is, “Forget about wherever you were before.  This is KSA and they have their own way of doing things.  Learn from them, you’ll be the better for it.”

So they’ve got it right.  What’s the rush?  Live and love your life.  Make the most of it.  What will be will be whether you’re walking or running.  So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Thank you students of YUC for showing me “the way.”

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