The Subjectivity of Normal

Confession time.

After nine months in Kuwait, I realize that my normal is very different from the normal that I left in Canada. Reading this, it might be something you have already realized. You might have had thoughts about this before, or even (but hopefully not) made some judgement as to the life I live.

While I’m used to my normal, I still can understand truly how different it really is.

My normal is living in a country where you can get anything delivered to your doorstep. 

Kuwait has not one, but two apps where you can order food to your house. It goes beyond your typical “let’s order pizza on a Friday night” kind of deal, and extends to every type of restaurant imaginable. Applebees, Dairy Queen, Burger King, Johnny Rockets, sushi, Pizza Hut, Cinnabon, doner, shawarma, Krispy Kreme, Pot Bellys, Subway, P.F. Changs, Quiznos, TGI Fridays, KFC, Jollibee, Ruby Tuesday, and so much more!

For the sake of this list, I named American brands that you might be used to, but for as many of these as there are on Talabat, there are so many more local/ Middle Eastern cuisines. The possibilities are endless. (You can even order your groceries to your door).

Due to the extensive list, I literally order take out every day. And yes, I understand how excessive that is. Here are the questions people usually ask when they hear that:

  1. Isn’t that SO expensive?!
    To which I say: It costs more than if I was to home cook my meals each day, but since I don’t buy that many groceries (just enough for breakfast and lunch), it’s not that much more expensive.
  2. But cooking is easy!
    To which I say: Hahahahaha.
    Cooking for one is not fun (nor do I like eating the same leftovers for a whole week because recipes only exist for families of four), so that’s not gonna happen.

My normal is using weekends to travel to neighbouring countries.

On any given weekend, there’s generally a handful of people travelling to neighbouring countries. You have to remember that Kuwait does not have all that much to do. A weekend trip to Dubai (1 hour and 20 minutes away) or Bahrain (45 minutes away) are so fun and act as a nice break from the daily routine here.

I think this is still probably the craziest version of normal in Kuwait. For many people back home, I’m sure this looks like I’m not teaching at all or just living this extravagant lifestyle. I understand where these observations come from. But the truth of the matter is, if you were here, you’d probably do the same.

My normal is living in a country where the rules exist but also cease to exist at all.

For example, the driving in Kuwait is crazy.

Technically, there is a speed limit, there are police on the road, there are speed cameras, and there are signs telling you to wear your seatbelt (I think).

But on any given day, when you’re on the highway, you see kids playing around in the backseat without any seatbelt on. Kids sitting on their mother’s lap in the front seat (again with no seatbelt on). Kids standing through the sun roof (obviously no seatbelt on). People constantly drive down the shoulder of the highway because they’re not pleased about the speed of the other four lanes. Cars cutting in front of you constantly. Kids driving underage (and I mean really underage) – my friend Alex learned this the hard way when she was rear ended by a driver who turned out to be TWELVE YEARS OLD with no parents anywhere to be seen!

Kuwait has rules, but rules that (apparently) can be bent.

I write this in preparation for the questions I will be asked when I move home.

Understand that some parts of my life here probably seem crazy, and they are – and feel free to ask about them! But what I’ve learned through my experience, and what I hope people can understand, is that normal can look different depending on where you are; and that’s okay.


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