Back in the Classroom: Return from Vacation (Week 4)

There is a little story I must tell you all in order for you to understand my situation. First of all if you aren’t familiar with Saudi Arabia than you do not understand the “sponsorship system” or “kafeel system”. In Saudi Arabia in order to get into the country you must be invited; either by work, a family member, or for a conference or education. Unfortunately, due to the way the regulations are written and enforced, the sponsor as an entity can own you. You can become a slave in 2014.

I was on the sponsorship of a major contracting company that feeds the oil industry like Saudi Aramco. I worked for Saudi Aramco under the sponsorship of this company. I started my contract in September 2012 and got married in the country in January of 2013. After finishing my contract I decided I did not want to renew my contract and wanted sponsorship to be transferred to my Saudi husband. My company refused. Thinking that we would be able to rectify the situation, I overstayed my “final exit” which is essentially the paper that tells the passport offices my company has washed their hands of me. We issued complaints to the Ministry of Labor and the Amara (Governor’s Office) of the region. It has been months and we have not received a reply. My iqama (residency permit) is going to expire in a month, which will render me illegal in this country. My bank accounts and telephone numbers will freeze.

I am conflicted because:

1) I have already wasted so much time with this situation I do not want to exit. I want them to be punished!

2) I love this new job and I do not want to abandon it!

3) I’m stubborn.

4) Medicals (which are required to come here) are ridiculously expensive in the States right now and I no longer have insurance there.

I am not sure what is going to happen with my situation, but I feel lucky to have this job at this moment.

Good Things About Week 4

1. Midterm marks the halfway point of the semester!

2. I got my computer, internet, and a phone in my office!

3. It is now over since it is Thursday! (In Saudi Arabia the work week runs Sunday-Thursday.

Back in the Classroom: Week 3

Since I was not sure if I wanted to take the job or not; I pushed myself to try it for three weeks. After three weeks of working, there was a strategic break…the Eid Al Adha 2014 holiday.

I spent this entire week trying to figure out a few things.

1. When does the break start?

2. How long is it?

3. Do the students have a mid-term exam when they return?

4. Where is my computer and internet?

I never figured out any of it.

I did get three phone numbers (from other teachers) and “asked out” to hang during the break by the Saudi admin assistant that had so graciously offered me coffee. Since my sister-in-law had interviewed for a position here, she also knows a little bit about me and my husband’s family. I felt like I was being interviewed or hit on. I hate how the gender dynamics are so different here. I always feel like I’m getting hit on by the women because they come on so strong!

After talking to other teachers, I decided not to come to work the next week.

That Sunday, I got a WhatsAp message from the person that hired me asking if I went to work. I decided to tell the truth: “No, I didn’t. I was told not to”.

All he asked me was to make sure.

Laid back, huh?

After a week of quizzing, answering to “Teacher, teacher” and wading through the bureaucracy and incompetence; I gladly welcomed the next two weeks of vacation into my life.

Back in the Classroom: Week 2

The first week at my new job passed in a whirlwind of activity. Choosing to return back to the classroom was the best decision I ever made for my happiness and state of mind in this country. Although this college is private and small; it has the same difficulties as larger institutions here. Despite my warm welcome I received little information about my expectations and how things are supposed to run in the place. I was given an office, but not a computer and the since my office is in the second floor of the basement; there was no internet. My office is actually four floors away from the other English teachers, which is good for a number of reasons. Since I am not in the English department I escape the drama for the most part. I was told that my working hours were 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM but after a week of sitting lonely in the dark for two hours, I started to feel comfortable to leave early this week.

I was accosted by the supplies manager for English lessons, served Arabic coffee and sweets by the admin assistant and chased around for this “English curriculum guide” that I supposedly was given but never saw.

I received my badge, but it doesn’t work. I also was told about my email address by another teacher…not by administration.

I started my battle for a computer and internet so I would not have to haul my supply of materials up to the noisiest library in existence in order to plan.

It was an interesting second week…but I survived.

Back in the Classroom: Week 1

Due to privacy reason, I cannot divulge the name of my new workplace. It is just too small and it would be easy to discover my identity!

My return to the classroom was just this simple:

I got a WhatsAp message from a friend asking if I wanted to teach. It listed an attractive salary and required response ASAP.

I answered and had a three minute interview about an hour later. They wanted me to come in the next day. I was still not sure if I wanted to work, especially due to my residency papers being in flux.

However, after much agonizing and negotiating on my part (I negotiated a driver!); I was off to see the wizard.

The Wizard turned out to be a young Saudi lady in her mid-thirties. After interviewing me for all of ten minutes, she asked me if I would be ready to start on Sunday.

My head spinning, I took off to agonize yet again over the weekend. After a few fights with my husband and some major soul searching, I decided just to take the leap and go.

Sunday morning came and my driver arrived at 6:69 to whisk me away to wonderland. On the way there I realized how much this could change my situation. Not exacting being happy with the new title of “housewife” on my resume, I was hopeful.

When I arrived at work, no one told me where to go or who to see. I simply returned to where I was interviewed. Although surprised I actually showed up, Mrs. Saudi showed me to a classroom and that was that.

The students were lovely. After teaching for my first time in two years, I was feeling great.

I was given an office and a key.

I was not given; books, a curriculum, scope and sequence, pacing guide, or any other clue as to how things worked in the institution. Typical Saudi style.

True to my form, I just showed up, did my thing, and trusted that it would work out.

I’m sure it will.

Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators

This article in The Atlantic details why writers are the worst procrastinators. I thought it was extremely interesting and I started thinking about the reasons why I procrastinate. Typically I put off deadlines and I suffer from a pseudo writer’s block until the looming deadline is dangerously close. I have no idea why I do this!

My editing projects do not affect me in the same manner. Although I meet deadlines in both cases; editing is always less stressful in a way I cannot understand. For some reason unbeknownst to be my editing projects part themselves into manageable chunks, while my writing assignments blossom into mythical creatures of doom. It isn’t until the final hours in which I am able to unfreeze my brain and begin to type out the words that have been stuck in an aimless loop in my brain.

The ways in which my procrastination manifests is cleaning. Whenever I have a deadline that is freaking out my house suddenly appears disgustingly messy and I must clean it! It is extremely frustrating. I can never muster feelings for cleaning without a deadline! If I could only get myself motivated to clean without a deadline and write without a close deadline I could rule the world.