The past three weeks have been spent existing in a consistent state of mild to medium stress, where I have been working on a “to-do” list about 50 items long that never seems to get any smaller.
From rolling all the petty cash from piggy banks I still have, to figuring out bigger, more adult things like what my Canadian residency status will be, the list really hasn’t ended since I got back from Jamaica.
Leaving is hard.
I am tired, stressed, excited, and also nervous. Pretty damn nervous actually. A lot of people upon hearing about my decision to move to the Middle East have tossed around the “b” word a lot: brave. I laugh, because to me, this is just something that I have decided to do. It’s become a normal fact of life for me.
When people hear that I am teaching in Kuwait, they usually have one of 3 responses:
1) Are you crazy?
Either people say this outright, or it’s evident through their facial expressions while responding with a congratulations of some sort. Both are humorous. This response is generally a result of one watching only CNN or CBC news, and feeling ‘informed’.
The “CNN effect”, which is a term tossed around a lot by international educators, is when one’s impression of a place, region, or country is solely based from the news they receive from one or two media outlets. This is why everyone assumes Kuwait is unsafe; when in reality, it is a peaceful and prosperous nation. We forget that these news outlets have to make money too, and they get our attention through fear mongering.
2) Wow! Are you nervous?
Yes. I am very nervous. But I’m most nervous about the teaching. My very first year of teaching. I really want to do a good job.
3) That’s awesome! Congratulations!
And thank you. I am so excited and so happy.
These responses are usually then followed by many of the same questions:
– will I have to wear a hijab there (no)
– what kind of food do they eat (not sure)
– where will you live (an apartment)
– what are you teaching (grade ten English – and no, not ESL but English literature like you’d learn here in Canada)
I too, have my own questions about this move. A lot of which will be answered once I’m there (I think)
– what is the Netflix like there? (aka what shows will I have to binge watch now before I can’t access them later)
– how close am I to the nearest McDonalds?
– what’s the Kuwaiti music scene like?
– is there a place I could maybe try to learn some Arabic?
– what does 54 degrees C actually feel like?
These are just a few.
What will I miss the most? This is a question that has been asked by many, and it was a little tricky to answer it at first, mainly because I had never given it much thought. Now I have, and here is my list in no particular order (and subject to revision at any time).
- timbits (I LOVE TIMBITS, specifically chocolate and old fashioned glazed)
- knowing how the culture works (moving to Kuwait and entering a culture that is so different from my own is an exciting challenge, but I’m nervous I might do something wrong or unintentionally offensive)
- iced capps (god bless iced capps)
- nanaimo bars
- pounair (kingston friends you know what’s up)
- family and friends
Kuwait has been the topic of most of my conversations with people the past few weeks. I think the funniest conversation I had was when I called my credit card company to indicate a travel notification on my card, and the person taking my call got side tracked for a good five minutes because he was asking me questions about my move to Kuwait, just out of curiosity. So it will be nice to finally go and to experience it for real.
So I have been packing on and off for days now, and I’m still not done. I’d be really happy with myself if I can fit everything into three suitcases. Well, one travel backpack, and two suitcases. But it’s tricky. I want to make sure I pack enough appropriate clothing for life and teaching there, because it’s a more conservative culture than North America.
This aspect of packing has been the most difficult part. Not to say it’s been hard, but you really don’t realize how ‘not-conservative’ our culture is (for lack of a better word) until you have to shop for a nice shirt that covers your chest and shoulders. Keep in mind the daily high is 45C, so what you’re buying should be light-weight.
So tonight, instead of taking the QEW to the 401 East and heading back to Kingston for another year at Queen’s, I’ll be driving to Pearson and embarking on a new journey. My journey will take me first to Germany, and then from Germany to Kuwait.
Now it’s my turn to take all the knowledge and skills I’ve learned from my previous teachers, and apply them. I am so excited to teach!!!!!
2016 has already been a wild year of ups and downs, and it’s not nearly over yet. There are so many new experiences to come. Some will be exhilarating, beautiful, and uplifting, while others will be challenging beyond belief. But, like all experiences, I can only take each challenge as they come and rise to the occasion. The goal is to learn and grow from each unique experience in a way that makes me a better person and educator.
So here’s to new experiences!