My name is Susie Khalil and I write my blogs under the name of Susie of Arabia. I grew up in a small border town in Arizona and now reside in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
When and how did you decide to move to KSA ? Is it complicated to settle down in Jeddah ?
We moved to KSA three years ago. My husband felt a yearning to move back to his homeland after spending thirty years in the states. Moving here was not very complicated for us, but leaving life as I always knew it to settle into a place that is so very different culurally and so restrictive, especially for women, has been difficult.
Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?
I had never lived abroad before, but I had traveled to about 20 countries.
What do you like the most about KSA ?
I guess I like the sense of safety that I feel here the most.
How is / was the cultural shock ? What are the main differences with your home country ?
The culture shock here is immense. Life is so very different from the states. Having to bundle up in the required black cloak and cover my hair and neck with a scarf has been torturous for me. Having lived in warm climates all my life (mainly Arizona and Florida) where I dressed according to the heat, I feel the way women must dress here is very impractical for the weather. As a woman not being allowed to drive or have freedom of movement is also a very difficult thing to cope with. The other thing that I find hardest to adjust to in this country is the strict segregation of men and women.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
I miss my family and friends, of course, as well as simple things like the ability to just grab my car keys and run out to the store or to visit a friend. I miss having the choice to attend various events or functions like movies or concerts.
A souvenir you would like to share with other expat blog members ?
The best souvenir I have gotten was shortly after I arrived here and first met my husband's cousin. She was wearing exquisite silver bedouin jewelry encrusted with various stones and she took it all off and gave it to me. It was such a generous and spontaneous gesture that really touched me.
Your blog: when did you start it?
I started my blog after we decided to move to Saudi Arabia. My main reason for writing it was to keep my family and friends informed about my new life so they wouldn't worry about me. I also hoped to dispel some of the mystery and misinformation about Saudi Arabia and to educate my readers as I myself learned about this place.
Did you make new friends with your blog?
I have made so many new and wonderful "cyber friends" through writing my blog. I never even really knew what a blog was until I started writing mine. Blogging has opened up a whole new world to me. Last summer I even met several other bloggers in person that I had become friends with through blogging. Most of the people I have met blogging have been such a pleasure and have added so much to my blogging experience. Of course I have had my share of whackos too...
Expat-blog : when did you register? Any particular reasons?
I registered with Expat-Blog within the first year after I started blogging. I wanted to get in touch with other expat bloggers who were in my same shoes.
Which advice would you give to people who would like to live in the KSA ?
Be open-minded and accept that you cannot change the way things are. I also highly recommend getting a MagicJack - my elderly mother doesn't have Skype and having the MagicJack has made a huge difference in my ability to speak with her more often.