Escaping the Saudi Lifestyle: El Thaltha Thabtah

saudi lifestyle

A friend once told me that I should’ve escaped my confining 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 she made that statement. 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 a New Year’s Eve party. 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 being independent 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, personally and academically.
I guess if you already had the relevant work experience and the matching 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.
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 over-protective, controlling and highly narcissistic. 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 children’s 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 programs) 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 a complete introvert 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 from all around the world. 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
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
A few months after my high school graduation, 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 a Saudi lifestyle 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 magical school semesters later, and I was back to the Saudi lifestyle again!
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 narcissistic, extremely controlling and emotionally abusive mother.
Why was I back to Saudi? what happened? wasn’t I getting my Bachelors degree at the American College 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?

Source: Saudi Feed

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