A friend recently told me that I should’ve escaped my Saudi lifestyle much earlier. She stated that I had waited far too long before making the decision to leave my home and the country.
We were discussing the topic of me leaving home, and that’s when her statement came about. It’s also because I had mentioned in a previous post that I was 29 years old when I left home.
My reply to my friend’s words came a few days later – when we met for New Year’s Eve. When the topic came up again as we were chatting with another friend. I told her that this was not my first attempt to leave home, that this was the third country that I try to escape to, and that I’m still struggling to make it on my own!
It’s not easy making it on your own in any big city, and Dubai is no exception. However, I’m very thankful for the valuable opportunities this city has given me to learn, improve my skills and grow professionally and academically.
I guess if you already had the relevant work experience and the right qualifications in your field, and you decided to get a job in a big city, then things wouldn’t be so difficult. But since I was trying to start all over again in a new, creative industry, my journey was different. And it was a long one.
Let me take you back in time to the year 1998. In the summer of that year – after my high school graduation, I left home for the first time to study abroad. In the summer before that (1997), I had gone to a summer school in Switzerland and I loved it there. The idea to attend a summer school in the summer break wasn’t my parents – it was completely mine.
My parents – as I mentioned in previous posts – are overly protective, controlling and highly self-involved. To them, summer holidays were about us traveling together as a family and doing grown-up activities (like dining and having walks by the Marina). It didn’t matter that we were kids and we needed to play or do kids activities. We had to follow them and do whatever they chose to do. They both liked to play the role of ‘parents’ a lot and never considered being ‘friends’ with their children.
I’m not sure if this was a common trait for people from their generation, but I’m sure I’ve met some parents of my friends who did not act this way. So I guess the answer is no. It was just them.
No wonder I grew up to be a late bloomer. That’s because I never had an ordinary childhood in the first place!
Back to that summer at Surval in Montreux – the school still exists by the way. In case any of you would like to send their daughters there. I said daughters because it’s a girls-only school. You think my parents would send me to a co-ed school in Switzerland?! Of course, not. My mother even made my middle sister join me to the school (although she was above the age limit for the school) just so that I wouldn’t be there on my own. LOL
So not only was my sister too old for the student age range for Surval, she was also not interested to join but couldn’t say anything to my mom! Another thing worth noting is that my sister is not sociable at all and doesn’t like to meet people or spend time with anyone. So imagine all of that and she still couldn’t say anything to my mom, so she had to tag along.
We spent around three weeks in Surval I think. It’s a lovely place and we made some good friends. I still keep in touch with one Japanese girl who was with us. She was also older than the rest of the girls, so I guess she was a late bloomer like us! LOL
The friendships we made were real and I even met that Japanese friend in London and then again in Dubai. Her most recent visit was to Abu Dhabi and she wanted to meet me in Dubai. But at that time, I was studying journalism at Murdoch University and I had assignments to complete and deadlines to meet. I informed her about it, and I think she didn’t understand. She seemed to have gotten upset and so now asks me to inform her if I make a trip to Asia! LOL
After my short-lived taste of independence at Surval Montreux, the idea of moving to Switzerland to study college sparked. Yes, I was always the one coming up with crazy ideas in the family and still am. That’s why this blog will never end as long as I’m alive! I can’t imagine myself running out of topics or story ideas.
One year after that summer stint in Surval, I was back in Switzerland. This time, I was a University student at the American College of Switzerland in Leysin. Don’t google it as the place no longer exists! they were going through tough times even while I was there in the late nineties. Hence, a few years back, the place closed down. I’m glad that I didn’t complete my education there as I would now hold a degree from a non-existent educational institution! LOL
To be honest, the degree that I did end up getting wasn’t very helpful for me in Dubai. So, maybe the degree from that struggling campus would’ve been more useful for my job search. Just kidding – both places were useless.
In my high school graduation ceremony, each student prepared a sentence or two of what they planned to do after they graduate (the event was held before the end of the year). I remember that when I stated that I was planning to study economics (I think that was my first choice – I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do back then) at an American College in Switzerland, everyone (mostly other students) were highly doubtful. Their reaction was something like: Yeah, right. You have to be kidding. What are you talking about?!
A few months later, I was at the highest mountain-top school campus in Leysin, Switzerland, I was taking a Bachelors in Business Administration course, and I was there all by myself!
Ah yes, the sweet taste of independence and total freedom. After 18 years of living in Saudi with controlling parents, I was able to finally let go and breathe. This huge sense of freedom and comfort didn’t last for long though. Two lovely school semesters later, and I was back to Saudi!
My beautiful Swiss dream had come to an end, and my sense of liberty and living life as I pleased came to a complete halt all over again. I was back home – living with my parents and my over-protective and extremely controlling mother.
Why was I back to Saudi? what happened? wasn’t I doing a Bachelors course in Leysin? that could take up to four years. Four complete years of total freedom and European bliss!
Stay tuned to the next post to find out what happened and why I went back to Saudi before completing the course. Why was that dream to escape my Saudi home and confining lifestyle put on pause mode. What made me go back before completing my degree? wasn’t I happy in Switzerland? It was my choice after all, wasn’t it?
I will explain everything in another blog post soon. But first, a spa review 🙂
Saudi Diva signing off XXX