By Anna Christy
I came to Saudi Arabia after my wedding in 2015. My husband was working in one of the reputed companies in the kingdom. Back in India, I had a busy life. I was working as an assistant professor at a college and was enjoying all the benefits of my job. The love and respect of students, a pretty good pay, weekend trips, paid holidays, I loved everything about my job. Even before the wedding, my fiancé and I decided that we will stay together no matter what. As he was working in Riyadh with a pretty good pay scale, we decided that it is better for me to resign my job and join him rather than him leaving his job.
So I resigned from my job and came to Riyadh with him on a visit visa. New experiences, new places, late-night dinners, daily shopping, long drives, cooking experiments, sightseeing, spending quality time with my husband, everything was great. I was happy and content with the new life, being a stay at home wife. I resumed doing bottle art, making art pieces and started getting recognition from family and friends.
Everything was perfect, except for one thing. I started missing my professional life. I was a teacher with a busy schedule. I had so many things to do in India, I was independent, I had responsibilities…
Here, I had nothing as a professional. I would wake up at 5:30, make light breakfast, send my husband to work at 6:30. Then I would go to bed again, without setting the alarm. Some days I would wake up at 12 pm, some days at 2 pm. When I woke up, I started cooking dinner and for the next day’s lunch. By the evening, 6:30 or 7 pm, my husband returns from work, I would make some traditional Indian snacks. Then we would go out for shopping or for a drive. Some days, we have small get-togethers with friends. Some days, we host the gathering. Some nights, we go out for shopping at 10 pm, then come back to sleep at 1 or 2 am…. This was my routine. The once well-organized life became very unorganized.
I started to think seriously about getting a job. I started applying to the university, various hospitals in the province, schools, private medical centres…. but nothing worked out. I passed all the interviews. But the problem was my visa. As I was on a visit visa, I couldn’t join for a job anywhere. The employees were not ready to issue a new visa.
Time passed by and I got adjusted with my life. I firmly believed that I wouldn’t get a job anymore.
In October 2018, the company where my husband was working decided to shut down their projects department. Long story short, he lost his job. They had him released and he was free to find another sponsor. In the same month, my visit visa was about to expire. So I went home, hoping that everything will be alright soon and I will be back in the city within a couple of months. But God’s plan was different.
In December he got another sponsor. Thank God. Then I expected my visa to be ready soon. But it wasn’t. Each day I woke up with a hope that this day my visa will be sanctioned. But there were some hurdles. My husband started a small firm in the construction field. He was adamant that this time he won’t bring me in visit visa. He tried for a family visa. For some reasons, the process went on and on. I was hoping that we could spend the new year together. But I was forced to be in India till July 2019. It took 9 months for me to come back to this country. This was the first time I was away from my husband for such a long period. I don’t have words to explain it. I missed him so much and It was painful.
In July, I came back to this country on a new visa. I got my iqama. Yay!!! I thought, this time I will get a job for sure. I started applying for the same jobs which I couldn’t join long back because of my visit visa. But still got rejected because of no openings at the moment. Months went by. My routine was the same. Wake up, cook, eat, shop, sleep…
I started feeling worthless as I was doing nothing productive. Previously I had an excuse that I don’t have an iqama and that’s why I’m not getting a job. But now, I have an iqama, and still, I’m unemployed. Again, I believed that I won’t get a job in this country. But I didn’t give up. I sent my CV, wherever I could. I googled every day to find jobs nearby. If someone sees the sent-box of my email account and my LinkedIn message box, they will be shocked. How many job applications and enquiries I had sent out ! On LinkedIn, I sent requests to anonymous people who are working in my field. Some people say that they woulld inform me if any openings arise. Others tried to convince me that the expat life is very difficult these days and it’s better to leave this country. Some people don’t even reply. This continued for some months.
In November, I applied for the job of a teacher in one of the international schools near my home. The pay is less. The environment is different. But still, I applied. They asked me to come for a demo class. It went smoothly. And on December 3rd, I joined the school as a teacher. Yes. At last in Saudi Arabia, I was granted a job. Thank God.
Today I wake up at 5:20 am, after prayer, prepared and packed breakfast for me and my husband. He dropped me off at 6:45 am and left for work. He came back at 1 pm. Picked me from school and we both went home together for lunch. After lunch, I’m taking a nap and when I wake up I will do the chores. This is my new routine. My life is a whole lot better now.
The pay I signed up for is very less compared to the pay that was offered to me when I was on visit visa. The job I’m doing is teaching kids below 10 years. I was an assistant professor in a professional college for 2 years. The scene is different. There are a lot of things to complain, to be worried and see the negative side if you want to. But still, I’m happy and thankful. When I look back at the days when I felt worthless and depressed, I can feel how different my mindset and my life is now. Interacting with innocent tiny humans has made my life sweeter. I enjoy every bit of it like how I enjoyed every bit of my college teacher life in India. It’s not about the money you earn or the position you hold. It’s about your inner healing, self-acceptance and the feeling of being worthy.
I have learned a few simple but important lessons from this.
- Don’t give up on yourself. Try hard. Don’t lose hope.
- Appreciate the simple things in life. Try to find happiness in everything.
- Be content in what you have. Look back and see why things are different now.
- Don’t compare your life with your friends’ life. Everyone’s life is different. They have their stress too. Maybe you don’t know it.
- Sometimes things don’t go as we planned and expected. But hang in there, Trust God. Better things are coming.
Happy New Year 2020.