Saturday, 28 May 2011

Delays and other job offers

I ended my last entry by noting the inefficiencies of Saudi bureaucracy--the HR interviewer of a potential employer who didn't let me know he was rescheduling our Skype interview. Well, I ended up receiving an offer to teach English with that particular company (a private English school in Jeddah), but I think I'm going to wait and see if something more lucrative comes up. (Although I did negotiate the salary he was willing to offer and he bumped up his original offer quite substantially!) I have been a bit annoyed with the university that offered me a job: they won't process my application or make an "official" offer until I actually have my physical degree in hand...and that could be some time, even though I'll be finished my master's degree within a month. I'm trying to be positive about it though, and use this as a learning opportunity that will prepare me for the way Saudis run things. I will undoubtedly run more and more into this kind of bureaucratic red tape before arriving!

This morning, I had a phone call from another university in Riyadh (I'm intentionally leaving out potential employer names right now for anonymity). It was 8am (on a Saturday!), and the director apologized for the early call. Ends up he is from the US, which is really a positive. Westerners have a more familiar way of running things, and I would imagine this would tie into the way (and efficiency with which) my application is processed. I'm consciously trying not to say we have a *better* system because everything I read about effectively adjusting to a new culture emphasizes the importance of being *open* to change and differences. That said, I do think working for an American boss would make the transition to KSA smoother. 
Downtown Riyadh, KSA
The job sounds fantastic, the pay is more than excellent; in fact, we would save nearly twice as much as if we both worked at the university in Jeddah! But there's the catch: the job isn't in Jeddah and that is where my fiancé has settled in. . . and where I've been researching things to do, places to see, cultural traditions. I feel like I already know Jeddah. When my fiancé first moved to KSA and mentioned a possible transfer to Riyadh I was terrified of that possibility. At that point, I knew so little about KSA in general that the thought of him moving to the ultraconservative capital was more than I could handle! The more I learn and read about the country, though--and notably, all this reading is NOT from biased Western sources (more on that in another entry!)--the more open I begin feeling, and comfortable I slowly become with difference. That said, I'm not sure if I'm very informed about Riyadh culture in relation to Jeddah...and I have been looking forward to living in proximity to the Red Sea! 

Also, if we move to Riyadh, my fiancé would have to find a different job. He's already comfortable working at the university where he currently is, and I guess we'll have to have a lot of discussion about which place is the best for both of us. 
Eastern Saudi Arabia - close to fun gulf counties!
On a more positive note about Riyadh, it is super close to Kuwait, where my fiancé and I enjoyed some time this past February, and where a dear friend of mine and her husband will be (probably a 5 or 6 hour drive). It's also close to Bahrain, where many Westerners go for weekends where there is more freedom (there, women don't have to wear the abaya [the long black cloak we must wear in public in KSA], and there are movie theatres, and men and women can mix more freely). Also, Riyadh is closer to Dubai, where we'd love to visit!

I'm going to end for now with a bit of a Carrie Bradshaw-like musing (I can just hear her say this in Sex and the City lol): what is ultimately more important--money, or familiarity and comfort?

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