We made it! We had a CRAZY week leading up to getting here, but we made it with few problems.
Where do I start? I’ve been here 1 day and I have volumes I could write already about my new life. I have heard so much from my family before I came I felt like I had already lived there, but actually getting here and seeing everything for myself was a different experience!
Hmmm, so much to say so little time (it’s almost 1 in the morning here and being up this late isn’t going to help my jet lag)!
I’m experiencing a little bit of culture shock… Okay a LOT of culture shock. I’ve lived and visited overseas before, but no place I’ve been is like here. It’s totally different but at the same time similar to America. We got into Kuwait around 11 last night. It was so awesome to see the city at night. Everything is alive then. The Kuwaitis don’t get out much in the day because of the heat, so atlike 9:00 the city awakes and would be similar to our early evening in America. That is when people grocery shop and do their errands and stuff.
After we got our visas and had some help with our bags we went into the main airport area and it was like everyone stopped what they were doing and just started as my American family came up and hugged and greeted us. There are a lot of western employees that live here, but I still think blondes are a rarity, so it was awkward and I’ll have to get used to that (tonight we went to Applebees and this cute little girl and her brother followed us in and just looked at me and smiled and waved and then went back out. Not used to that…
We got our things last night and headed to my parent’s apartment. Guys, the driving is horrific. I’m not even joking. I thought California and Mexico was bad… this is like no other. You will be on a single lane ramp getting ready to merge onto the highway and three cars will be beside you in a SINGLE LANE merging ramp, and they cut you off and get antsy if you aren’t going fast enough and flash their lights and honk. It is very scary! I have issues driving in Oklahoma City, so driving here really terrifies me. Anyway, so that was an eye opener! My parent’s apartment is AWESOME! It has a beach view from their balcony. It is so pretty. We talked a little and found out more about what would happen in the next few days as Will gets ready to start work. Thursday and Friday is the weekend over here, so I keep thinking it’s Saturday night since my parent’s are off, but its not. Will’s first day is Saturday. I’m nervous for him, but also excited because I thinkw e will get to meet some nice people.
Today was an overwhelming day (I have a feeling I will feel like this for a while). We went down Gulf Road, which is like the “main“ and most popular strip in the city. We got to see all the beautiful houses and architecture, so that was nice. We ate breakfast at Ruby Tuesdays, which was really good. The “day Kuwait“ is much different from the “night Kuwait“ I quickly am learning from what my parents are telling me. The “caste“ system seems very prevalent here. There are divisions of people here and each get treated differently.
Kuwait Nationals: These people are rich. Really rich. A national has no reason to be poor if they are smart. They make a large monthly stipend just for being Kuwaiti. Even the kids do! My sister goes to school with kids who drive Bentley Continentals and Land Rovers like its no big deal. A lot of them don’t work because of the stipend, and if they do they own a business or work in government. You wouldn’t believe all of the Mercedes and Land Rovers and Porches I have seen on Gulf Road. They are like Neons or Cavaliers in America.
Western Employees (WEs): This is what my family (hopefully I will be soon too!). We are probably considered 2nd on the “food chain“ here. Most Kuwaitis are favorable towards us, especially those about 25 and older who remember the war. Some of the younger generation isn’t as friendly. There are a lot of WEs that live in Kuwait and do business like embassy stuff and military stuff. We (or at least the company my family works for) live in apartments spread throughout the entire city for free. They are already furnished which is nice too. Workers share a car with a few people they work with and don’t have to pay gas or maintenance or anything. We receive money each day on top of our wage as a living allowance, so a lot of people just try to live off of that and bank the rest. I really look forward to getting a job so we can save money. They only down part to working here is that they are 48 hour work weeks and a lot of the car pooling begins at 5 in the morning to get the long day started and to beat traffic.
Third Country Nationals (TCNs): This group breaks my heart. I have heard story after story from my parents about this group and I have teared up a few times for these people. There are several “sub-levels“ of this group, but I won’t get into all that. These people are mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh., and a few more places I can’t remember. They literally work as indentured servants. They work the “working class“ type jobs that Kuwaitis won’t work themselves. So, almost everywhere you do, it is not the nationals who help you, but the TCNs. A lot of these people have degrees but can’t get a good job in their own country so they will work here at McDonalds or some other restaurant and send money home to their families. One guy that works for my mom has a masters degree in computer science and is living this poor lifestyle just to have a job. They are bused in each morning and work 6 days a week. They get paid daily and in exchange for their wages they have to give the companies their passports and will get it back in the morning- so as you can see it’s like an indentured servant kind of system. They have little to eat and are housed in tiny apartments they share with lots of people. They are really treated bad by a lot of people. My mom made brownies for her TCNs and they were so grateful. I am really going to strive to show them Jesus when I start working.
Kuwait is strange. I think they need a city planner. Its a pretty dirty country. The Kuwaitis throw large sums of trash everywhere because they know that eventually a TCN will pick it up. There are houses that take your breath away, and others you wince at.
Also, everything is under construction here, but you don’t know if it really is or not because they will start a project and just stop in the middle of it with a lot more to go and it will just sit there forever. There are still messes from the Gulf War. Crazy huh?!
So as for my first impression, it is very mixed. Theres some bad, but theres also some good. I guess that is everywhere you move. It is really strange being the minority here. You get a lot of strange looks, so that isn’t the greatest, but I am just going to have to learn to live with it.
Will and I got to see our aparment today. The outside of the building is really pretty and the foyer was really pretty too. Our place is REALLY small, but cute. We have all tile floors that get dirty again 5 seconds after you clean them. Our kitchen is really small. I MAYBE have 5 cabinets. And lucky me, I’M the dishwasher! A lot of WEs hire maids because they are really really cheap, but I don’t know what Will thinks about that. I guess we’ll see how busy we are when we are both working. Also, there are no outlets in our bathrooms! How strange. Who wants to have all of their appliances strung out all over their bedroom!? On the other hand, our decorations are pretty and I really like our drapes and living room set.
Did I tell you the “best part?“ Our apt. is right across the street from a mosque so every morning around 3:30 their prayer call begins for the day and they do it over a loud speaker so everyone can hear it. It is really loud and kind of scary sounding. It will take me time to get use to that, talk about a wake up call! We are staying with my parents until Saturday because we have no groceries or car or any concept of where we are going. I sure am ready to know my way around!
So many more things I want to tell you all but it is almost 2 here andI need to get on some sort of schedule for the 4:00 mornings when Will starts work. By the way, I took a shower last night and the water was turned to cold and it was still hot! That is the kind of weather I’m living in- not so great for staying dry.
I guess I need to get off for now. Will and I don’t have a computer yet, but hopefully I will be able to use my parents a couple times a week to share my culture shocking experiences with you!
Thanks for listening, have a nice evening