Many of you are might be wondering a bit about what its like to live in the Middle East. Although I haven’t experienced it yet, most expats would say: HOT. Its only upper 60’s and into the 70’s at this point but remember its January. I can’t imagine the middle of summer, I’m going to melt like a popsicle.
When choosing a house, we were told that we should get a big place so the kid would have plenty of room to run around when going outside was out of the question. I think what they meant was, more room for you to run away when they are driving you crazy…
So far Kuwait is not too bad. Coming from a place like Hungary where there was hardly a town and 45 minutes to a McDonalds, this place is unbelievable! I mean, at any hour of the day you have can have any fast food delivered right to your door. Pinkberry at 12am? Sure, getting fat sounds great!
Kuwait is a very rich city which they get from their oil. As a Kuwaiti, you are given land and an interest free loan to build a home once you are married. Most families live together and separate themselves by floors. The family homes here are huge. Im talking 10,000 sq. ft or more. Celebrity status, people. A lot of them have more than one home and rent it out to expats to make income. For instance, our home is 4 stories. We have the top 3 and the bottom layer is a 2 bedroom “apartment”. Ive learned why so many people have maids. You can’t begin to understand how much cleaning is involved. Our 4th floor is dedicated to the water room, laundry room, and the maids bedroom and bathroom. Its more like a nice prison room. Ours is pink and not nearly as tiny as the “closets” we saw in some houses. Seems almost inhumane. Usually the maids are from the Phillipines, Nepal, or some other country. The women leave on work visas and send money back to their families. A typical “live in” maid makes about 130KD ( $350 USD) per month. They like to work for American families. You will see one or maybe 2 with families ( mostly Kuwaiti) in the mall taking care of the kids while the parents shop. They are usually dressed like a nurse so you can always spot them. Back to the houses.. Most homes come with air conditioning although heating is not likely unless its a newer built home. The worst part about homes here is there lack of attention to bathrooms and kitchens. We Americans LOVE a big bathroom and kitchen, its where we spend most of the time. Here kitchens are for the use of the maids only therefore, no need to build a nice one. They often put them in the back of the house and sometimes, like our friend’s home- it is almost a separate building where you have to go outside to get to it. We got lucky with our house, the landlord went to college in the States and studied architecture before building. We got a big american kitchen and so so bathrooms:)
Most Kuwaitis don’t work. They get plenty of money from the government. (Sound familiar to anyone?) At anytime of the day, the malls are clogged with people. Malls are on every street corner and some can take up miles of land they are so big! Apparently people don’t get up too early here either b/c thats the best time to do your shopping. Weeks run from Sunday to Thursday with Friday and Saturday being the days off for rest. Call to prayer is 5 times a day starting around 4:30am. Luckily we didn’t choose a house across from a mosque, the speakers are super loud. Just like malls, there is a mosque on every corner. People warned us, if someone is praying, be respectful, don’t stare or take pictures of them or the mosques. I have to say, I have only ONCE seen a person pray and that was in the airport in Amsterdam…
The most asked question from back home: “Do you have to wear a berka??” No. I don’t have to become Muslim, although in Saudi Arabia, you have to wear one. (Saudi Arabi is the country next to us.) Im learning summer is going to be a bit hot for me. You are not required to wear their types of garments but don’t be caught dead in a tank top or shorts. I know…right? Im going to die in 130 degree heat. I have to be careful what I wear, what I say, or what I do. Potty mouth isn’t acceptable here ESPECIALLY for women. The other day I stubbed my toe in the grocery store ( don’t ask) and started to yell obscenities then quickly caught myself. I mean could I be arrested?? I don’t know, lets don’t find out. As for the beach, you can wear a bathing suit but you need to be covered as well. Private beaches such as the hotels, you are more free as to what you wear but be prepared to be stared at. A lot.
Heres another one for ya… NO drinking. like, at all. zip. I sometimes can’t remember why I signed up for this. Maybe I was drunk?;) Ive been sober for 3 weeks now. Its horrible. No, just kidding. Its not that bad, but when your child and husband and dog are on your last nerve, you’ve burnt dinner, the house is messy again, it would just be nice to know that eventually you can settle down with an episode of Revenge (its getting really good isn’t it??) and a nice glass (bottle) of wine. Now I drink pure grape juice with seltzer water. Gross. They have bottles of alcohol free wine but its $15! As I have said before, things are expensive here…
I can’t imagine being a teenager here. Our relocation specialist told us that teens get pretty bored around here so they take up driving their cars around as fast and as reckless as they can for a bit of a thrill. Hence, the terrible scary driving.
Video link here:
They have Lambos, corvettes, porche, Mercedes, BMW, you name it… it’s insane. If you see one coming, jump out of the way. They will pass you in an emergency lane. No joke it’s scary. In less than two weeks we have 3 large cracks in our car window. ( this is due to bad roads) You also NEED to drive a large SUV. The chances of wrecks is higher here. They even leave cars on the road to show people the dangers of driving too fast.
Back to the teenagers… You aren’t allowed to date. You aren’t allowed to drink. ( well duh but still…) There is really not much they can do here except for smoke cigarettes. Yes, Ive seen a kid as young as 11 or 12 smoking a cigarette with his friends. So they drive around, smoke, and go to malls. Come to think of it, I didn’t really do much more than that as a kid… ( minus the terrible cigarette thing, yuck.)
Living here so far is pretty awesome, I’m learning a totally new culture. The greatest part unlike Hungary is that pretty much EVERYONE speaks English. Thank god.
This really doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of Kuwait. Im praying I can be better about this blog. Im hoping to post the youtube video of the tour of our house so please keep checking back with me!