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Saudi 101: teaching and living in Saudi Arabia

Wondering what life is like for teachers in Saudi Arabia? Read this Q&A for a little more insight.

What have you found to be the toughest cultural adjustments about living in Saudi Arabia?

As an American, I’m used to more social freedoms. There were several adjustments for me, including limitations to the kinds of meat that I eat, my public interactions with the opposite sex, and my alcohol intake.

What has changed about your public interactions with the opposite sex?

Men and women aren’t allowed to speak to one another in public unless they’re related or they are married. This also means that you’ll see many shops that don’t have female clerks.

What about the cost of living? How much money do you save and how much do you spend?

For me, it’s very affordable and I manage to put away quite a bit each month. I make about 3,500 USD each month, and it’s impossible for me to spend all of that each month. I spend about $400 a month on food and leave some money for taxis and shopping. Then I either save the rest or use it to pay off student loans. It’s allowing me to pay off my debts really, really quickly.

What about rent?

My accommodations are included in my contract, this means I live rent free. This is pretty typical of teaching contracts in Saudi Arabia.

Can you share a little information about your life on the compound then?

Compounds do have quite a huge expat community and it’s easy to meet friends because you’re surrounded by likeminded people. It also allows you more freedoms than public life.

The compound is guarded by Saudi military. It looks scary but it’s for the protection of the inhabitants, though Saudi is generally much safer than most American cities. But you might see guards with machine guns. The compounds allow foreigners some of their usual freedoms and the Saudi laws are relaxed here.

Is there anything unique about your life in Saudi Arabia that you enjoy?

The geographical landscape here is really something that I’m in awe of. For example, sometimes I leave my compound and go visit the desert outside of Riyadh – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

Also, though some people might not expect it, I’ve formed a really strong circle of friends.

Do you get homesick? How do you mitigate this?

It’s not a big deal – firstly, I get to travel home once a year. I definitely take advantage of that. Plus, I get lots of vacation time and a pretty hefty salary, so I could supplement another trip home if I wanted.

Secondly, whenever I miss my family or friends, I just reach out to them on Skype or Facebook. We do a pretty good job of keeping in touch that way.

If you’d like to see what jobs we have available in Saudi Arabia right now, take a look at our job board.

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