Life and Lexis


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

I recently took this quote a little too seriously and accepted a one year English teaching job in Saudi Arabia. I haven’t been off the North American continent in more than two decades, so this will certainly be interesting!

One year ago, it was just a far-fetched dream to travel to the Middle East. I’ve always wanted to see the world, improve my Arabic and experience life in a Muslim country, though I had no idea how to go about it or thought I would muster up enough courage to pursue it. One year, a Bachelor’s degree and a CELTA certification later — I’m preparing for what is certainly the most adventurous thing I’ve done in my life. Life in Saudi Arabia will be profoundly different from life in the States, but I’m hoping to learn as much as possible in this next year, God willing.  Lists are a traveler’s best friend, and I’ve started to make lists of anything and everything. Shopping lists, packing lists, to-do lists, to-see lists. I’ve received a flurry of comments and advice from my well-wishers and it’s been a struggle to organize all my thoughts and emotions. It’s been difficult to balance the excitement and anxiety while attempting to prepare for the unknown.


  • Teaching – There are probably few professions as rewarding as teaching. I’m really looking forward to having students and to see them progress and learn throughout the year (inshaAllah!)
  • Learning – There is still so much I have to learn about the World and moving to the other side of the World alone will definitely be a good start.
  • Food – I’ve heard that the food in Riyadh is amazing. As a big fan of shawarma, I’m pretty sure I’m headed to the right place. I also can’t wait to to try the McArabia. Plus, everything is halal!
  • The Adhan – This may sound silly, but I’ve never heard the adhan outdoors, over a loudspeaker. I can’t wait to experience being in public and seeing everyone stop to pray.
  • Ibaya – I love wearing the ibaya and wish I had more excuses to wear it in America! So comfy and elegant in my opinion.
  • Shopping – Many people have told me about how great the shopping malls are in Saudi, can’t wait to check it out myself.
  • History – After studying Islamic history for years, living in the country where it all began will be unreal.


  • Missing America – Every person and everything I care about is in America. It’s going to be tough being away from family and friends for the next year. Also, I’m used to the way things are done here. I’m sure I’ll be very homesick.
  • Being a single female – Life in Saudi Arabia is different for women and being a single woman is going to present its own set of challenges.
  • Weight gain – I’ve been warned that it’s difficult to stay fit in the Saudi but I’m hoping this isn’t true!
  • The adjustment period – The beginning will be tough while trying to sort out all the logistics of living in a new country.
  • Being truly independent – This is my first career-type job and the first time I’ll truly be on my own as an adult. This is both exciting and scary!

“Twenty years from now …