Life in Kuwait: Starting off slowly…
I arrived in Kuwait on Wednesday afternoon, fatigued after 17 hours of traveling from Durban, South Africa. While waiting in transit at Doha airport, I finally started to feel more than just a little trepidation at the thought of moving to this conservative little Muslim country where I literally know no one! Anyway, upon arrival in Kuwait and I do mean upon setting foot in the airport, a lady was waiting with a sign that had my name on it. She whisked me through immigration with ease and after I withdrew some cash, she delivered me to my driver who loaded my bags into a brand new, bright red Jeep, and off we went to my new home.
The apartment given to me is in a building where ALL the other occupants are teachers at my school. I think the school might own the building. It’s spacious and adequately furnished for one or two people.
Note: I took these photos with my wide angle fish eye lens in order to get more of the room into the picture. What do you think of the effect?
Every amenity is provided for; from the flat screen TV to the 102 cable channels; from the 7kg washing machine to the Queen size bed. The entire place is air conditioned too. I had to purchase a few things such as pots and pans, bed linen and a shower curtain but on the whole, I was being well taken care of by the school.
Within 2 days I met soooo many teachers who were so incredibly helpful; from lending me bedding to helping me figure out my oven and giving me a lift to the mall, they are taking care of me as I navigate my way through this unsettling transformation.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know that my neighbourhood is called Fintas. It’s a quiet suburb around 10 minutes away from the sea. There are a few eating-places, beauty salons and cell phone stores in the area not to mention quite a few mosques!
The country is currently on a weeklong pubic holiday due to Eid-ul-Adha being on Monday. So for this week I have focused on making my apartment cosy and unpacking my suitcases. As much as I would have loved to do more exploring, it is just too incredibly hot at this time of year to do anything other than laze in front of the air conditioning. I will elaborate on more of my life here in Kuwait in the next post but for now I will answer some common questions that I have been receiving:
What are you wearing in Kuwait?
Mostly jeans and tees with my sneakers. Nothing too conservative, same as what I wore back in SA. Nobody has given me any trouble and if anyone stared at me, I didn’t notice. I haven’t started work yet and my work wardrobe is considerably different but that will be in a separate post.
What does it look like?
Kuwait? Well it’s brown… very brown. There are plenty of high-rise buildings in Kuwait as well as villas and malls yet everything seems to look grey or brown. Kuwait is very sandy and there are cars everywhere… People park anywhere they like!
Is it really hotter than Africa?
HELL YES. When I stepped out of the airport, I thought I was going to perish… the air is stifling and sometimes the scenery swims in front of you. (It was 45 degrees when I landed). However, it’s a dry heat with little to no humidity- thank goodness. Everywhere is air-conditioned and I have spent very little time outdoors during the day.
Do you feel safe as a solo female?
Absolutely. Two nights ago I went to buy myself a sim card (a painless procedure by the way) and I took a ten-minute walk to the store by myself after dark. I didn’t feel unsafe at all and nobody took any notice of me (I think?). My female friend and I have been shopping together for the last two days and nobody bothered us either.
Are you the only foreigner there?
HAHA! With a population of 80% expatriates, it’s far more common to see Sri Lankan males than Arab women. There are people of all races and nationalities here- from African Americans to Filipinos. My neighbour is from Egypt and my new friend is from the Czech Republic.
Is there a lot of English?
Yes absolutely. Everybody can speak and understand English. The only tricky part is deciphering their accents. Don’t get me wrong, Arabic is definitely their official language but with that being said, there is English everywhere- on road signs, menus and product packaging. At this point I would say that I feel no language barrier yet. (This is a total opposite to how I felt when I moved to Korea). Yes I can read and write in Arabic so this may make my life simpler but right now, I don’t even need to pull out those skills.
I should also add that customer service here is amazing and people really want to help you when you are out and about shopping or eating out. I went to a restaurant behind my building to order take out and they told me not to wait there for the food and that they would deliver it to my door for no charge. I was sceptical but they really did!
All in all, I am easing into my new life here as best I can and hope to really start exploring soon once I have unpacked everything and organised my home to my satisfaction. I know people are curious as to what I have been eating as well so I will start working on a post about that for the future. However, more importantly, I start school tomorrow and I will keep you all posted on how that goes!