Under the abaya

Expat of the month
  • Under the abaya
Published on 2014-10-01 at 00:00 by Expat.com team
My name is Mandi and I'm originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. I first moved to Saudi Arabia in 2007 with my Saudi husband. We returned to the USA after living here for a year and a half, and then returned again to Saudi in 2011.

My name is Mandi and I'm originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.  

When and how did you decide to move to Saudi Arabia? Is it complicated to settle down there?

I first moved to Saudi Arabia in 2007 with my Saudi husband. We returned to the USA after living here for a year and a half, and then returned again to Saudi in 2011 when our marriage failed as an attempt to establish and maintain a stable environment for our child. I have definitely had a rough time adjusting to life in Saudi and the restrictions I face here as a woman.

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

I have never lived abroad other than in Saudi Arabia. I've also visited other Gulf countries including Bahrain and UAE. 

What do you like the most about Saudi Arabia?

What I like most about Saudi Arabia is the slow pace of life and the ability for kids to remain kids for a little longer than they are able to in the West. I also appreciate the family-oriented nature of life here.

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with the US, your home country?

The culture shock I've experienced in Saudi is much different than I expected it to be, and as much as I am used to life here, culture shock is still a regular occurrence. I also experience it when I return to the States each year. The main and most noticeable difference here as compared to the USA is of course the dress code. But there are more subtle differences in manners, socially acceptable public behavior, and professional behavior.

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

I miss just about everything from my home country. I miss the changing seasons, the ability to drive and be responsible for myself, I miss small talk with strangers, holidays, public parks and pools, being able to take walks, curling up with a book at a coffee shop... the list goes on and on.

What does your typical day as an expat in Saudi Arabia look like?

Well, I'm not the typical expat in Saudi Arabia. Wives of Saudi citizens are in a category all their own. We don't live quite like Saudis traditionally do, and we definitely don't live the typical "expat" life either. My typical day is probably closer to that of a Saudi woman than an expat woman. I raise my daughter, I keep in touch with fellow Saudi wife friends and in-laws, and I am forever cleaning my house! 

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

I started my blog in June of 2011, just a few weeks after I moved back to Saudi Arabia. It was an extremely difficult time in my life since, in addition to moving to Saudi, my marriage was going through its worst times. I needed a way to sort out my thoughts and vent my feelings, and it doubled as a good way to keep my family back home in the loop of what was going on in my life.

Did you make new friends with your blog?

One of the best parts about having the blog is that I've made tons of connections with amazing people all over the world. Nearly every person I know in Saudi has entered my life because of my blog!

Why did you register on 

https://www.expat.com and what do you think of the website?

I think the website is great! I registered because in addition to being a sort of open journal detailing the events of my life, my blog is also a great resource for people moving to Saudi Arabia and people who are already here.

Which advice would you give to the other Expat blog members who would like to settle in Saudi Arabia?

I think it's really important to do your research on Saudi before coming here. Make sure the company you're joining is reputable and try to talk to others who have or are currently working for them. Familiarize yourself with the culture and religion in Saudi Arabia because these two things absolutely rule life here. And lastly, come with an open mind and an adventurous spirit! 

Under the abaya