Friday, August 26, 2011

Different Country, Different Customs - Saudi Arabia

I am beyond thrilled to end Expat Week with a bang....and a vlog! My namesake Terri made a vlog just for us!! Terri Lundberg is an American expat who has been living in Saudi Arabia for three years. Originally from California, she is a self-professed travel addict, photographer, trailing spouse, and mother. She's been to 85 destinations in 22 countries and looking forward to more. She writes about her travels and produces hilariously opinionated and honest vlogs about her life as an expat. You can keep up with her on her blog - T

In this video, I discuss how I feel about being a female expat living in Saudi Arabia and how I'm affected and not affected by the customs and culture of Saudi Arabia. Even though I reside on a "Western/Expat" compound, it's not just Americans on the camp. There are people from all over the world (think 3rd world), including Saudis. It makes for a weird mix. So, even though I'm on a compound and I pretty much live like I would in the United States, there are still some things that make me conscious of where I am. That's typically related to what I'm wearing. You can watch the video to hear more about that.

Also, in the video I make reference to a situation with my vacuum cleaner. LOL. :) If you want to get the back story the link to the post is here: Check it out for a quick laugh.


Daphne said...

First of all, Terri is 47? I hope I look that fabulous at 47!

Thanks to Terri for sharing her perspective. The video was short and sweet, and I think highlighted some key points. For example, how women should dress in Saudi Arabia. I certainly take showing skin for granted! I would consider myself rather modest in dress - I show skin in the summer, but it's usually the arms, maybe a little d├ęcolletage. Sounds like it wouldn't fly in Saudi Arabia!

I have to admit - being able to drive is something I take for granted! Shoot, sometimes I get tired of driving, and wish for a driver, lol. All a matter of perspective.

Anyway, I like this post because it reminds us to be cognizant of cultural standards in the countries we visit/live. Thanks, Terri!

Try Anything Once Terri said...

@Daphne - Totally!! I am sooo hoping that I look as good as Terri does as 47. I actually didn't realize that the ban on driving for women extended to expats. I too found this pretty enlightening. Thanks again, Terri! :)

Caroline said...

Earlier this afternoon, I drove to Starbucks with my music cranked up and my windows down wearing a tank top and shorts. I did in fact take it for granted! Love the perspective this video gives.

Terri said...

Caroline, I'm totally laughing at your comment. Thanks for the laugh.

Terri, thanks for letting me share my experience with your readers.

Diana said...

She's just so cool, I love her! She has guts too, I would be too nervous to travel to a place like that and stay there for three! PS...I hate vacuuming!!

Also wondering where she is, whats with the ships on land and is there an airport, sounds like planes going by a few times?

Anonymous said...

im an expat woman and i live in saudi. first things first - i have to say that the lady in the video is extremely negative about life her in saudi. her disparaging remarks about 3rd world country folk and how she is being kept "in constant lockdown" makes me wonder if she is one of life's Negative Nancies - always looking at the glass half empty, never happy, never satisfied.

saudi is very beautiful - the desert at sunset, the awesome diving in the red sea, camping amongst camels, driving on sand dunes (yup as i woman i do drive in the desert). i buy beautiful furniture and rugs at a fraction of US prices. i eat dinner with Saudi women - the friendliest, most hospitable people i know. i can make friends with people from 69 nationalities. sure, i cant drive, but if this lady's sole purpose in life is to crank her music up when she drives wearing a tank top, i feel sorry for her, what an empty life she must be living.

what else? hmm... europe is 6 hours away, asia a short 5 hour plane ride. alcohol? let's jst say you dont come to saudi for a detox. all im saying is - its all a matter of perspective. every expat woman in saudi is trying to make the best of a pretty ok situation. no one here likes whiners, and i will be surprised if this lady has more than 3 friends.

and no, im not a white expat. i'm not an american but i've seen 342 cities/towns in 34 countries..i know what i'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

Please, anonymous, this lovely lady has many friends, and is actually speaking the truth. My husband is over there and I have been over there twice so far, and hey, yes, the Saudi women are absolutely lovely, and yes, rugs and such are beautiful, but you are basically consigning yourself to a life of vapid social occasions with yrt again the same people, who tend to think they are just a bit too precious...

It's a crime the way that Saudi women are treated and disregarded by the male society, and I frankly feel a bit ill when I am there knowing the money I spend supports such a regime...and I have been all over the world as well, as a twenty year expat. Terry just tells the truth. Think that over at the next "fancy dress ball" or at TraderVics soiree.

Laila said...

"crime the way that Saudi women are treated and disregarded by the male society" - there you go imposing your western morality and virtues on a country that prides itself in being tourist free (read: free from fat slimy americanized tourists). many people (like this video lady) get off the plane and instantly see how bad everything is, how repressive, how dictatorial, how regimented. but how on earth do you know what a regular saudi woman wants? how do you know that they are disregarded by the males in their society? geez, talk about generalizations... most middle class saudi women love being taken care of by their husbands. sure, the women (myself included) would like to drive and go places. but i am amazed at the awesome ties the saudis have as a family. their sense of sticking together, of caring for their elderly and children, of protecting their kin with their lives if they have to. there are no old age nursing homes in saudi....... yes, sure some men are pigheads and some men are chauvinists but dont you dare tell me that there are no chauvinists and pigheads where you come from (i somehow am assuming you are american).

western women bray about how arab women are repressed because they have to wear the abaya and the veil - but try speaking to an arab woman and they tell you going out without one makes them feel naked and vulnerable. they wear it because it protects them from the sun, protects them from sandstorms in this part of the world. many of them look oh-so elegant in it. just because some white women do not want to wear it does not make it wrong/repressive/oppressive etc. yes you might think it is borne out of the need to control women - but many saudi women want to wear it!!! no one actually thought to ask a regular saudi woman in the street if she disliked it. so when this "lovely lady" in the video complains about not being able to wear her tank top to starbucks - i say, you're in rome, do as the romans do. the company certainly rewards you handsomely (salary wise) to live here, if you dont like it, leave. easy.

what part of camping involves tradervic's? i camp with bedouins and their camels. i drink tea with the women, speak broken arabic and leave their homes with sweets and dates. is this considered a vapid social occasion? i dont isolate myself in the compound and i do not see what the big deal is not being able to go to starbucks. you dont live here, madam. a visitor only sees what they want to see based on pre-conceived misconceptions they have from listening to people like this "lovely lady".

i admit life in saudi is not everyone's cup of tea especially when you bring with you the idea that you can replicate your old life in a foreign country. please abandon all old desires/ideas about how things should go according to how you think they should go. and live with the flow, you will find your ill feelings kinda evaporate into a "holy cow i am enjoying myself" kind of a smile.

ps: i cant believe you as a twenty year expat didnt have more sense than this.... i for sure am glad i dont know you.

Black Chick in Saudi said...

See...the problem with speaking anything about Saudi Arabia is that if you don't say love it, some will say you hate it. This I've never said I hated Saudi Arabia. When you dig your head out of your preconceived ideas, you will find that to be the truth. And, if you can prove that I've ever said that.

I've never proclaimed to speak to what Saudi women want...personally I don't care what they want or how they want to live there lives. I've never once it all of my blogging and video making mention how men treat women. Yet you go off on this rant. Take it somewhere else.

It's amazing how people can listen, read, yet have an inability to comprehend. Or, how they can take a 2 minute video and use that to think that they know you. Get a clue. When I mention that I miss being able to drive...that is just one thing. One Thing!!! Because that is how women are affected in Saudi Arabia. This video is about how I'm affected being a woman. And, I'm only affected by my inability to drive and what I wear, that's it. So that's why I mention it. You're a dumb ass to turn that into that being all that I'm about. Sounds like you're an angry woman, who puts that anger into anything that she doesn't agree with. If you've seen any of my blogs, you'd know I have a fabulous life, I'm into many thing, many hobbies, and I have many friends.

The fact of the matter is, this is my experience, my truth. You're a fool if you think that I expected Saudi Arabia to be like the United States. I've never stated that, either. Stop listening to the negative voices in your head, and putting that on what I'm saying.

If you had actually read my blog, you would have read on several occasions that I mention that my life is good.

So...relax, and get over yourself.

Roxy Hart said...

1. "when i say life is not that bad, it means "not that great".

2. "in constant lockdown".

3. "everyone is watching me".

omg you should listen to the video again and hear some of the things you said. you sounded like you live in a bootcamp!! you really gotta worry that you showing some skin? really? who is looking at you? so you live as an expat on camp (probably never left camp except to go drown your sorrows in this tradervic place), you dont care about saudi women, you keep trying to convince yourself that you have a good life. sigh. i was horrified to listen to you, im sure laila and the other anonymous lady from sept 24 thought you were a hoot. yeh this bleating video might be your truth/your experiences blah blah but you do come across as trying to scare people into thinking you are a martyr for living in saudi. hahaha!

and i think if you took your head out of that cloud around your high chair *pun intended* you might read that laila quoted words from the post just above hers, that laila's message is more a reply to that post as opposed to yours.

sorry to burst your bubble - you got some haters and it seems to me that you cant handle a little opposition, why you gotta go calling laila a dumb ass just coz she dont agree with you? name calling, tsk tsk, feeling threatened that not everyone agrees with you?

uhhhh i started to read your blog but reading the vaccuum post made me realize what a spoilt little thing you are.

Try Anything Once Terri said...

Hi, everyone!

My name is Terri, and this is MY blog not Terri Lundberg's. While I understand everyone is very passionate about the issue of the everyday life of women in Saudi Arabia, I would like to think that this debate can be done so in a way that is constructive. Since that doesn't seem to be the case anymore, I am now closing down the comments to this post. If you would like to debate with Terri Lundberg further you may do so through her blog or other web-based means of communication. I am closing the comments for this post.

All the best to you all,
Terri of Try Anything Once


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