Friday, 20 July 2012

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ramadan begins...
Today marks the first day of this year's Ramadan (the Islamic month of prayer and fasting).... So, to everyone fasting and celebrating throughout this sacred month--wherever you are in the world--Ramadan Kareem!

Crescent moon: it's Ramadan!

Home sweet home!

DH and I made it safely to Toronto last week and we're both back up and at 'em, having overcome our jet lag pretty well now. The first week here I had a pretty yucky cold, but alhamdulillah I'm feeling much better now. Already, our time home has been full of fun times and busyness. My 16-year-old sister's come to Toronto a couple times from just east of the city to visit. Our condo is really close to a GO train (commuter train that goes from the suburbs to downtown Toronto) station, so she's able to hop on and then I can meet her easily. My second night here, we went to a concert for her belated birthday present (Train with lead singer Pat Monaghan). Train is her favourite band, and she managed to get backstage passes to MEET the band!!! She was more than ecstatic and I was happy to be a part of this kick off to summer fun!

Train performing at the Sony Center, Toronto

Living the life
I've been catching up with friends, eating too much sushi (but how can I not!?), and visiting out of town family. DH has been studying away to write the GMAT exam for admission to an MBA (master of business administration) program, so I've been free to run about here and there. We spend evenings together enjoying the amazing weather (we can actually enjoy the outdoors here unlike in nearly-uninhabitable summer Jeddah! lol), going for evening walks, and enjoying breakfasts and dinners on the balcony. It's just like a cottage retreat out back, although the condo (facing the other side) is right on the streetcar line.

A view from our much green!

Looking for a foster home for Oreo... Anyone?
Being back in Canada is wonderful, but on the downside, when I visited my parents, my cat, Oreo, who I left here, is extremely angry with me! (Yes, I'm aware I sound like a cat lady, attributing these feelings and emotions to my little ball of fur, but I KNOW him, really I do!!) The first time he sniffed my hand, he ran away from me...but yesterday he finally let me pet him and he even purred a little. The current task, however, is to find him a new adoptive home for the next 10 months. Two of my brothers moved back in with my parents. They have a cat, too, and my dad said one is more than enough... So, any Toronto or GTA-based readers who want to foster Oreo for a few months while I'm away? Send me a message or comment on this entry if you're interested. :)
My handsome, well-behaved, playful Oreo!

One more year?
Speaking of the 10 month time frame...DH and I have reached a pretty sure decision about our time in KSA. He's been there for over three years now (where the time went I don't know!) and although I'm enjoying the experience and have learned so, so much, because of his MBA, we will inshallah be moving back to Toronto for at least two years (the program's duration) while he finishes the degree. I'm a little sad about the move, although we will still have a year back in Jeddah. I've made such amazing friends, and LOVE my work and colleagues. There's so much unknown back in Canada with the economy still being quite shaky, and jobs still difficult to come by. Nothing is for sure, but hopefully once DH completes his MBA we can return to Jeddah. Or, who knows, I'll go back to school for my PhD? I'd so love that!
Applying for an MBA...

With more money, we can live a much better life in KSA. Part of our decision to move is pretty simple: women can't drive. As I mentioned in a previous post (see here:, this was something I was completely aware of when I decided to move to Saudi, but a rule that neither DH or I realized would affect us with such gravity on a day to day basis. Since I can't get behind the wheel, and a full-time driver is quite expensive (especially when our goal is to SAVE money in Saudi!), it is really frustrating and trying to be immobilized. DH is an "indoor" kind of person who is happy to stay at home for probably a whole week (lol!!) without going out. I, on the other hand, go crazy after spending the better part of a full day in the house. On weekends, once I clean the house and get some cooking and laundry done, I'm itching to get out, visit friends, go shopping, or just do something--anything!!--that involves escaping the four walls of the apartment (well, to be fair, I guess we have more than four walls...but you get the picture). My dad jokes that DH and I are like my grandparents who have the same preferences: BonneMaman loves getting out and can't sit still, and Grandad loves sitting inside and reading the days away. Going out isn't his priority, just like my DH. My grandparents have been married for over 50 years, so of course these differences can work, but in KSA it's another story when I can't come and go easily on my own. That's been quite a source of frustration for us this past year, and it's something that we don't want to have to continue to face right now. 

One year anniversary!
The 22nd of July marks our one year wedding anniversary. Wow! Yes, family and friends who cautioned us, spending our very first year of marriage in foreign country--and Saudi Arabia at that!--has been quite challenging! I'm not complaining--I truly value the experience and look forward to our next year in Jeddah--but it's more than either of us thinks we're able to manage at the moment. With his school situation pointing us back to Toronto, too, it seems like the best move, for the time being, to return to Canada.

First year of marriage...

I can't help but think of how true this line is, though: "Make plans, and God laughs." So maybe we'll end up staying in Saudi. Or somewhere else. Only time will tell! For now, though, we're looking forward to the rest of the summer in Toronto, and to catching up with everyone here! :)

Thanks for reading...and Ramadan Mubarak to you all!!!

Ramadan Mubarak!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Off to Toronto!

I can't believe how fast the past month has flown by! DH and I decided to stay in Jeddah a bit longer and work the summer semester, so only now are we flying home. We leave this evening, and I thought I should pop in and say hello and give a little update!
Upon arriving in Toronto Tuesday afternoon, we'll be staying in a subletted condo in Toronto's beautiful, bright Beaches neighbourhood, and we're looking forward to enjoying the milder Toronto summer weather! It's been at least 40 degrees here in Jeddah each day, and on top of that it's super humid (I'm used to humidity in Toronto, but Jeddah's humid climate on top of the heat is something I've never experienced before!)

I just finished packing and now must go and clear out the fridge. I hear DH in the kitchen starting to tackle that mission. I'd better go lend him a hand.

I'll try to update my you on my latest adventures (including a little road trip to Makkah) once I'm over my jet lag. For now, happy summer, enjoy the sunshine, and keep smiling!!

Salam alaikum,

Julie :)