Confessions of a Saudi Diva: FAQ’s about being Saudi and Arab Culture (Part Twenty Three)

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The journey to follow your dreams may not be easy, but it’s certainly rewarding


These days, it seems like almost every conversation I have with a stranger or a friend sparks new culture post ideas and topics. The flow is so intense that I now have lists of future post ideas in notepad files on my work PC, both of my personal laptops (one of them needs a battery replacement and has died just this morning) and on physical paper notes scattered all over my apartment.

The challenge now is to write those diverse and interesting ideas into posts in a way that best matches the style of this series of posts. With topics ranging from pre-teen arranged marriages in Yemen, to whether I can get a paid job in Saudi, to how my parents feel about my rebellious move and relocation to a foreign land, I can assure you that the upcoming series of culture posts will be highly entertaining and amusing!

Today’s post answers a reader’s question following a post where I wrote about my time at the American College of Switzerland and how I ended up leaving that school and going back to Saudi. Feel free to follow my blog’s Facebook fan page and leave any comments or questions that you may have on there and I will make sure to answer them in future posts.

The reader asked: But why didn’t you look for other universities in Switzerland while you were there?

To answer Ahmed’s question, I actually did apply to a number of colleges and Universities in Switzerland while I was there. Since this was back in 1999, I honestly can’t remember how many I tried applying to. What I do remember is that I got an acceptance letter from Business School Lausanne and I was offered to enroll there and everything. Business School Lausanne is a small-campus college in Lausanne, Switzerland. It’s more of a commercial – I think private – kind of college. What I mean by that is that it’s not a proper University or college. It’s more like a privately-owned educational institution with a miniature campus aimed at affluent International students who are looking to study business in English in Switzerland. Basically, since most of the “authentic” Universities and colleges in the country offer their courses in either French or German (the main languages of the country), the ones that don’t teach in those languages, are generally commercial and not very legitimate.

If I had made the decision to accept that offer from Business School Lausanne and go ahead and study there, then I would be basically repeating the same mistake that I did when I enrolled at ACS (American College of Switzerland). Why? they are both small, commercial, private colleges with no solid background, faculty or accreditation to back them up. What I was looking for at that point in time (as any fresh highschool graduate would) was a solid University degree from a well-known and reputable educational institution. That’s why, I transferred to University of Bahrain. And it was still not up to International standards.

Other two reasons that have influenced my decision were: a) The fact that I didn’t attend an international school while I was in Saudi. I believe that this is an essential defining element when considering applying to international Universities. I remember finding the math courses particularly challenging while I was a student at ACS. Mainly because when I went to school in Saudi, I had studied math in Arabic, not English!

Another reason that made me decide to just forget about the Swiss chapter and head back home was the negative family influence. Despite being a fighter and one who does things my way at all costs and in all types of situations, it can still be deterring and challenging to keep going on your own and fighting a strong wave all by yourself. My family were trying to make me go back and enroll at University of Bahrain, so that I can be closer to them and under their supervision. Of course this is no strange thing in Asian and Arab culture. I’ve heard this story endless times from many women who I’ve met since leaving home. Many of them have reluctantly listened to their parents’ opinions just to save the healthy family connections and bonds. Are they happy with their decisions? of course not.

In the end, I believe that we all have only one life to live and we must spend every single moment doing something that we choose to do and that will give us joy and personal gratification. Why should we listen to other people’s views, thoughts or opinions in how we should live our own lives?!

Despite all the struggles, I’m happy to be living in Dubai, writing on my personal blog, helping people learn more about Arab culture and lifestyle, all while meeting interesting people along the way, learning new things and taking up original challenges.

The journey hasn’t been easy and it definitely won’t get any easier. But I’m enjoying every step, happy to be living to tell the story and I would not replace this life for anything.

Saudi Diva signing off XXX

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Saudi Diva talks Arab culture

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