Monday 11 February 2013

Culture From the Inside

Living inside of a different culture is both interesting and challenging in more ways than you could ever imagine. 

It sounds interesting to challenge your thinking and go beyond your comfort zone. And it is. Trust me. I lived with a completely different culture for about 3.5 months. And it was cool. It was interesting to live with people from a totally different nationality. I learned about respecting space, crossing lines and how others live. 

I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. 

However, it is easy to misunderstand people who are not from your culture or nationality. It's incredibly easy to feel offended by someone who doesn't know your history, your culture, your norms and boundaries. 

It is easy for people from the same country to live together because they know each other without having to know each other. They have similarities that are engraved into them from birth. So, living with a different culture is difficult at times because both parties come from different worlds. 

I learned about their language, their culture, their past-times, their food, customs and religion. And it was fun, to say the least. 

This also factors into my Experience with Saudi Arabia. I didn't live in Saudi, but I lived with two of them. So, as my argument goes to say I had a bad experience with Saudi's, that's not 100% true. I had a bad experience with one, because we had a relationship. But living with them and being friends is a whole different jurisdiction. 

Saudi Food. 

I had a great time living with Saudi people. 
I liked the people I lived with and I wouldn't trade the time I had. 

They treated me very well and we got along well. 
I moved out because one was getting married and he said his wife was going to be moving into the house soon. So, I had to relocate. I chose to leave early because I went back to my hometown for the school break. When I came back to the city, school started again and I asked my former roommate how his wife was. He said she was great. Little did I know, she wasn't even here yet. 
She was expected to arrive on the 1st of the month. I saw him on the 4th, expecting she was there. 

I went back to the house to say Hi and saw that there was someone new staying in the house but it was not his wife-to-be. So, I assumed I was lied to. 
It turns out his wife came for only one week, not 3 months. She stayed with a friend of his and that was it. It's very possible things could have changed quickly. But, I felt like I was lied to. 

I like to listen closely to what people say. I will always remember what you said and how I felt. So, when my ex-roommate told me he was inviting his wife to stay in the house and that the rest of us had to move, I accepted it and I trusted it. 

When I found out that what he said wasn't exactly true, I asked him why he lied to me. I felt that he said what he did only to ask me to move without having to be straightforward about it. In my opinion  that's a coward. 
I have a roommate now and I was feeling annoyed with him when he didn't do the dishes or clean up. Instead of feeling disappointed  I simply just talked to him and asked him to start helping out a little more with cleaning. He listened to me. And that's how it should work. That's the key to friendship, relationship, marriage, family, etc. Communication and honesty. 

While I was expecting honesty, I didn't receive it. I'm not sure what it is I received. I would have been understanding if my roommates talked to me about how ever they were feeling. I would have appreciated it. There are culture differences. I am not the easiest person to get along with. I am messy. I am lazy at times. I would have understood if they didn't want to live with me anymore. I just would have appreciated it and respected them if they were honest with me. 

Honesty isn't easy. But, what are you going to do? Go through your life with lying to people?
I called my roommate on a lie and that was it. 
I saw him a few times after that and we waved a hello but nothing more. 
He deleted me from Facebook and that's all. 
So, this makes me dislike the culture. Maybe I did something wrong. But he will never tell me. Maybe he is upset because I asked him if he lied to me. 
He is not going to tell me what I did. If he cared for me, he would care and talk to me. 

This is when I feel like being myself isn't good. I could have accepted it and not said a word. But, I am not that kind of person. I am myself and I say what I feel while having my best interest at heart.     
If someone is rude to me, I will not be their friend anymore. 
If someone uses me, I will open the door for them while I kick them out. 
If someone lies to me, I will ask them why. 
If someone disrespects me, I will tell them where to go. 
If I don't stand up for myself, who is going to?

For example: 

If I leave my apartment messy, my friends are more likely to leave it messy as well. If I clean up after myself, my friends are more likely to clean up after themselves. The same thing goes for myself. 
If I don't stand up for myself, people will walk on me. If I stand up, they won't. 

If I can lose a friend overnight by asking them why they lied to me, then they were never my friend to begin with. 

To wrap it back around, my experience living with Saudi people at the time was great. I wouldn't do it again. I would never date one again. I learned too much about the culture, the double standards, the disrespect, the polygamy, and many more things that are difficult to accept. 

I'm not an angel. I am messy. I leave my dishes for a few days at a time. I don't do laundry for a few weeks. I like to drink alcohol (Saudi Muslim's don't), I like to have sex (it is not allowed before marriage), I do not have a god, I do not pray (unless I am in serious trouble at the moment), I eat pork and I love it, I drive my own car, and I am me. 

I could understand why a Saudi man would not want to live with me. But I would respect it and appreciate it if he would have told me directly. 
He deleted me from Facebook, I deleted his number. And that's it. 

No going backwards. But I can still remember the good times. And I can keep my experience close to me for the future. 

So, I feel lucky to have the experience and gain the knowledge I did. I feel disappointed for how it turned out. But somethings are meant to fall apart I guess. 

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